Whether you're watching a drama, comedy, or horror project, if Kathy Bates is in it, you know it's going to be good. From roles like Annie Wilkes in Misery to the unsinkable Molly Brown in Titanic to her hilarious turn in About Schmidt, Bates knows how to squeeze every opportunity out of her screen time. Those who have worked with her consider Bates a daring and talented actress who is as passionate on camera as she is off.
Many stars and directors she has collaborated with have either worked with her again or consider her a friend. Despite having battled both ovarian cancer and breast cancer, Bates has pursued her career with grace and enthusiasm.
This list shares personal stories about Bates from some of the many people who worked with her, including directors Tyler Perry and Alexander Payne, and co-stars Kate Winslet, James Caan, Angela Bassett, and Adam Sandler. Vote up the stories that make you smile.
- Photo: Buena Vista Pictures
Adam Sandler is no stranger to criticism of his comedies, but as he told Josh Horowitz on the latter's podcast Happy Sad Confused, he was worried how the negativity would affect Bates, who played Helen “Mama” Boucher, the passionate and overbearing mother of Sandler's character, Bobby Boucher Jr.:
I remember telling her when somebody brought up critics that I was like, “They’re probably not gonna like it. They’re probably gonna say bad stuff, maybe don’t read it.” And she said, “Well, I like it, so that’s all that matters,” or something like that. She was cool.
Sandler's fond feelings for Bates have only grown over the years. When the Saturday Night Live alum was not nominated for his role in Uncut Gems, he congratulated Bates on her nomination for Richard Jewell:
Bad news: Sandman gets no love from the Academy. Good news: Sandman can stop wearing suits. Congrats to all my friends who got nominated, especially Mama.
- Photo: Bad Santa 2 / Broad Green Pictures
Kathy Bates and Billy Bob Thornton had a complicated mother-and-son relationship in Bad Santa 2. That sentiment clearly doesn't carry over into real life, especially when the Sling Blade actor honored Bates at her 2016 Hollywood Walk of Fame induction:
When the question is “How about Kathy Bates?” the answer is always “of course.” She's the type of actor who is not only loved by the public and the fans and the critics but also actors know how good she is and what she can do.
He went on to discuss who Bates is as a person, accepting those in her life for who they are, which Thornton said he always appreciated. He ended his speech by saying he “loved [her] as a friend and an artist," and that if he could be a woman, “I'd be Kathy Bates.”
- Photo: Paramount Pictures
Kate Winslet and Kathy Bates can't recall how they met, but they remember being there for each other on the set of Titanic. In a 2008 Newsweek interview, they discussed one late night of shooting the romantic epic. As Winslet revealed, she didn't know what to do in the scene where Rose says goodbye to her mother before departing in a lifeboat. She looked to Bates for advice:
It was very windy, and there were lots of extras, crazy lighting, it was 4 in the morning, and I remember turning to you and saying, "Have you got any thought - anything?!" You leaned into me and very quietly said, "Remember, this is the first time and the last time that you're seeing your mother." It helped me tremendously.
When they reunited more than 10 years later on Revolutionary Road, Winslet continued to sing Bates's praises about when they were on Titanic. “I was so young then, and when I knew that you were in the movie, I just couldn't believe that I was going to get to stand next to you," Winslet revealed.
- Photo: Used People / 20th Century Fox
Shirley MacLaine and Kathy Bates have been friends for decades, ever since they played mother and daughter, respectively, in 1992's Used People. MacLaine pointed out their long friendship during her speech when Bates received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:
I trust you completely. I trust your criticism. I trust your honesty about how much and why you like something… And your talent: nothing like it that I have ever seen. Ever.
Bates played MacLaine's spinster daughter in Used People, which also featured Marcia Gay Harden and Jessica Tandy, who also starred with Bates the previous year in Fried Green Tomatoes.
- Photo: American Horror Story: Freak Show / FX5484 VOTES
Angela Bassett debuted on American Horror Story the same season as Kathy Bates. Although they first appeared as adversaries, the actresses became friends.
Bassett played voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, who was at odds with Bates's Delphine LaLaurie, a murderous and racist 1830s socialite. As Bassett told the New York Post, she was initially intimidated by how committed Bates was to her performance:
My knees were shaking in my first scene with Kathy. And her, making a meal of it. Thank God I was wearing a hoop skirt.
She later told the Inquisitr that:
I can’t believe I get to work with Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates in a lifetime, especially at the same time.
- Photo: FX
Like Kathy Bates, Denis O'Hare is considered a character actor: going in, playing unglamorous supporting characters well, and nailing take after take. Although he was her castmate on American Horror Story for its Coven and Freak Show seasons, it wasn't until Hotel that the two worked together.
He told Gold Derby about their time on the show and how taken aback he was about how hard Bates was on her performance:
She has an extraordinary level of commitment to the situation, the character, and the moment. And very hard on herself. If she doesn't like what she did, she really has a hard time letting go of the day. If she feels like she could [have] done better - it's hard to imagine her ever doing better - but she beats herself up sometimes.