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Amy Irving: In Praise Of Older Women

Actress Amy Irving stars in Bossa Nova, a new film directed by her Brazilian husband Bruno Barreto.

For those who listened to music in the '60s, bossa nova is a familiar term. It's Brazilian samba-like music that filled the airwaves back then.

In the movie Bossa Nova, Irving plays an English schoolteacher leaving in Brazil who is surprised to rediscover love (and a few laughs) in her 40s.

"Well, for women, you know, it just gets better!" says the actress. "They're supposed to reach their sexual peak in their 40s. I'm sorry about the men. You may as well enjoy it now while you got it - while you're younger!"

Irving defines Bossa Nova as "a screwball romantic comedy in which about 8 characters intermingle, the central place being my character, Miss Simpson's, English course."

If the film oozes sensuality, Irving tells Early Show Entertainment Correspondent Mark McEwen, the reason is Rio de Janeiro.

"I mean, you walk off the plane, and your blood temperature gets hotter. It's in the air. It's a very sensual, sexual place," she adds.

She likes working with her husband, who directed the movie.

"Bruno and I do much better when we're on the set," says Irving. "When we work together, he's the director, I'm the actress. I'm there to realize the director's vision, so I'm putty in his hands. It's the one time he has the final say and he's the boss."

She is grateful to her husband for making a romantic comedy about a woman who is over 40.

"I mean, men from South America, from Europe, they don't look at women over 40 as not beautiful, as not sexy," explains the actress. "I think that they just get more beautiful and more sexy, and Bruno wanted to celebrate that in his film."

Irving counts Carrie, her first movie, as the one that put her on the map. And it helped to be nominated for an Oscar in 1983 for her supporting role in Yentl.

"It's just kind of like a little badge, you know, when you're a Girl Scout and you get a badge," she explains. "It's a nice little actor's badge. I like having it."

Bossa Nova just opened in Brazil.

"I would sneak into the audiences in the back, and I would hear people laughing. And at the end, you see people kissing because it brought so much romance into them," she says. "That feels so great. I mean, the results can sometimes be such a high."

Meanwhile, Irving has another new film in the works, Traffic. That movie, which stars the newly engaged Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, is about the war on drugs in the U.S.


  • Born September 10, 1953, in Palo Alto, Calif.
  • Her father, Jules Irving, was an influential theatrical producer/director and her mother was actress Priscilla Pointer.
  • Trained at the American Conservatory Theater and made her off-Broadway debut in 1970.
  • Receved a 1988 Obie Award for Road to Mecca
  • Secured a prominent role in the feature horror film Carrie
  • Nominated for an Oscar in 1983 for her role in Yentl, opposite Barbra Streisand.
  • Provided the singing voice for the voluptuous cartoon Jessica Rabbit in 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Kathleen Turner provided Jessica's spoken dialogue.)
  • Was married to director Steven Spielberg from 1985 to 1989 and reportedly got $100 million in the divorce settlement.
  • Since 1990, she has been romantically involved with Brazilian filmmaker Bruno Barreto.
  • She has two sons: Max, born from her marriage to Steven Spielberg, and Gabriel, with Bruno Barreto.
  • Bossa Nova (2000)
  • Traffic (2000)
  • The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)
  • The Confession (1999)
  • Blue Ridge Fall (1999)
  • One Tough Cop (1998)
  • Stories from My Childhood (1998) (series)
  • Deconstructing Harry (1997)
  • I'm Not Rappaport (1996)
  • Carried Away (1996)
  • Kleptomania (1995)
  • A Century of Women (1994) (mini)
  • Twilight Zone: Rod Serling's Lost Classics (1994) (TV)
  • Benefit of the Doubt (1993)
  • An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)
  • A Show of Force (1990)
  • The Turn of the Screw (1990) (TV)
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
  • Crossing Delancey (1988)
  • Rumpelstiltskin (1987)
  • Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna (1986)
  • Heartbreak House (1986) (TV)
  • Micki & Maude (1984)
  • Far Pavilions (1984) (mini)
  • Yentl (1983)
  • The Competition (1980)
  • Honeysuckle Rose (1980)
  • Voices (1979)
  • The Fury (1978)
  • Once an Eagle (1976) (mini)
  • Carrie (1976)
  • Panache (1976) (TV)
  • Dynasty (1976) (TV)
  • James Dean (1976) (TV)
  • I'm a Fool (1976)
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