Marlee Matlin on Celebrity Apprentice, Nene Leakes, John Rich, Meat Loaf and Star Jones.
By: Daedrian McNaughton
Academy Award-winning actress and former Dancing With The Stars contestant, Marlee Matlin emerged as one of the two finalist for season 10 Celebrity Apprentice. For Marlee it was not about the entertainment or the drama, it was more about the charity. She was apart of a record breaking Celebrity Apprentice season, raising over 3 million dollars for various charities. In a recent interview with Premier Guide Media, Marlee discussed her worthy opponent John Rich and her overall experience on the show.
How capable do you think your opponent, John Rich is?
Marlee Matlin: I would have to say when I first heard that John Rich was on the show, I have to admit that as a person who’s deaf, I didn’t know who he was as a musician. But I knew as soon as I had heard that he represented country music, and naturally Nashville and the hat that he wore when he came in, and the charity that he was playing for, I understood a very important position that he held here. I mean there was an instant and an immediate sense of respect. It was just about eye contact. I’m good at reading people’s faces, and the moment I looked at his eyes I knew that he was a formidable competitor. In addition he couldn’t have been a more polite and a more gentlemanly presence. What was most impressed was that he was there for the same reason I was there for; it wasn’t about the drama, it was about the charity. His passion for Saint Jude’s is so incredible that we – I finally saw that we both shared a passion for our charities in a way that nobody else could. I knew he was there for a good reason. And I saw that every moment of the day that he worked. He wasn’t – he kept to himself as a good game player would. He was mature, well most of the time. No, I’m kidding. But his sense of humor as well. I mean he got me, and I got him. And that helped me. And I didn’t at any time with him feel as if somehow just because I’m deaf I’m somehow different. And he was very, very proud as a dad with his baby boy and his wife and – who were always there having his back. And as a family person I understood what and where he came from, and his compassion for the kids and the charity. And I really have the utmost respect for John Rich — not only as a country singer but also as a gentleman and person who has good intentions for people and for those in situations where they have to struggle.
Looking back is there a lesson to be learned with Star and NeNe and how their relationship impacted the team?
Marlee Matlin: I don’t know if it’s necessarily a lesson one learned, but I knew myself that whatever the hoopla that was that surrounded the relationship that they had and whatever drama came was not something that was – I didn’t choose to involve it in terms of the way I played the game. Whoever dealt with whatever way they decided to deal with each other was something that – it’s just not who I’m about. It’s not the kind of person that I am. I don’t try to get – or find it entertaining to me to get involved in people’s arguments like that. Again, it was about the two of them. And America – I know a lot of America looked at – as well as internationally, probably enjoyed it. Because of course it’s nice, or interesting to them to see two women go at it. But that’s not how I’ve ever appreciated or approached life. So I think both of them have different opinions. Both of them come from two different minds. And that’s to be respected. They both have different backgrounds, they both have different upraisings. It’s clear – clearly they have different careers. But whatever clash that occurred, I again, I almost felt like – I mean, it – for me it was – it got too old too quick. And I just decided to focus on the task. I really did. It’s not about who I am. And sometimes it overshadowed the purpose and my aim for being there, which was to raise charity. But I would never let it get in the way. So that’s what it was about for me. But they are both women whom I respect. They’re both women who I’m – I know are very vocal. And that’s what’s great about them. That’s why they are game players. One may be louder than the other. One may deal with things in a little bit more discrete fashion. But whatever it is, it is what it is.
Meatloaf is the cry baby of the group, how did you deal with his emotions on your challenge?
Marlee Matlin: Well I’ve got to say is that when I started with the women’s team, I got to know pretty much everybody and how – their individual personalities. And I really didn’t get to know Team Backbone so well until Meatloaf was brought in. Of course, I’ve known Meatloaf, of who he was. I’m not a fan of his music necessarily, but I know his work as an actor. And I know the persona he played in the 70s with his Bat Out of Hell years. And when he joined our team, I have to say that I knew that he – when he started to sort of direct, when we were talking about the OnStar commercials, he assured me that he said, “He was experienced and he knew what he was doing in film and television. And that he was such a seasoned performer for 30 years in front of audiences.” But I really didn’t get a clue into how he worked and I tried to keep an open mind with it, about how he dealt with stress, how decided to make decisions, how he decided to listen. And all I can say is that he’s extremely passionate. He wants to, if he could, take over a task because he just – I mean you have to sometimes have to understand that – as I said on the show, “He’s like a tornado on crack.” And in a good way. When it was his turn and he took over the comedy routine task, I understood that he was very upset one morning. And we couldn’t even find him. And because we normally get together for sound. And he was there in the van waiting and he was sobbing. And that threw me for a loop, because I just never knew that he was this kind of guy. But I learned that this is only out of his heart, this is only out of his compassion for the Painted Turtle charity that he was playing for. And all I saw was a guy who was so compassionate about raising money and how concerned he was that the money would be taken away. Because it was all about the kids and not for him. He is completely selfless. He is completely giving. And yet he can go off track, but at the same time, who doesn’t who’s that compassionate about charity? So all I can say is, “I’d love to do a movie with him.” He’s really fantastic. And I really, really am glad to be him as my friend – to have him as my friend. And to work with him for those two tasks.
Are you happy with the choices that you made?
Marlee Matlin: My choices were most appropriate for my task. Because this is what we’re talking about; we’re talking about the 70s. I understand 70s better than 80s. It’s like – it’s – I mean I grew up liking the Brady Bunch. I looked forward to ever day in the 70s in my neighborhood. And so I understood the icons in the 70s. I knew John would probably be better with 80s because – I mean I just felt because he’s younger than I am. So 80s makes more sense for him. And I didn’t want to play where he was in – I wanted to play to my strength as opposed to weakness if it was 80s versus 70s, music versus sports. And I think me taking on a music task with me being deaf might take away from John’s passion, which is music. I don’t pretend. I don’t like to play fake games. I want to play something that I am strong with. I wanted to accomplish that. So using that, the people I chose were for of course, Meatloaf because he’s an icon of the 70s. And he is – was right there. Richard Hatch was good at – he was older and he certainly understood the 70s as well as I understood the 70s. And La Toya Jackson — I think in all honesty — was my last choice. It was a schoolyard pick, so I didn’t have an – I probably would have probably taken someone other than La Toya. But my advantage was is that she’s a Jackson, and she knows all about performing. And she is all about the 70s. So all three members of my team certainly fit in to the advantage that I wanted to play in this game, and the 70s that I wanted to focus on to have a well rounded, good job eventually for the task I was given. So it was all about 70s for me. And these people all represented that decade as best as I could get it. So that’s why I chose those people.
What was one of the biggest surprises that you saw on the show this season?
Marlee Matlin: I think the fact that when we got together the night before to sit down and talk about the show, it was about who was on the show that really caught me by surprise. I really understood the fact when we sat down, what their true colors were. And I’d had no idea that some of these people had the personalities that they brought to the table. I knew about them in terms of their career. But to know these people on a personal lever – level. Like for example, Dionne Warwick, I mean I knew clearly that she was a music legend, but not really familiar with the music. And I was surprised I would have to say, at her, at the way she chose to play the team member and how she wasn’t familiar with people like myself who happen to be deaf. And yet I took it in stride. And I think it was just a matter of how each person reacted in high stress situations after working 18 hour days. Because I was surprised. I have to say I was surprised how people reacted.
Everyone of the contestants have talked about the strict schedule for Celebrity Apprentice, and how difficult it was to cope, how did you manage?
Marlee Matlin: I think it’s all about that charity and Red Bull. I was drinking Red Bulls and I have to say at the end of the day, the hardest thing about the show is that you don’t realize you have to eat. Because I – you really have to take care of yourself. There’s no assistance, there’s nobody treating you any differently. You’re there on your own. It was really tough. But you stick it out for the charity.