Extended transcript: Candice Bergen and Jane Pauley

PAULEY: Until, as you write, "As if someone's flipped a switch. The molecules changed." (laughs) And that didn't happen.

BERGEN: Well, you know, now that I'm almost 70, I'll be 69 next month, those years are so far behind me. And I find it so liberating.

PAULEY: You talk about it comfortably without apologizing.

BERGEN: Yeah. Because, you know, of course it was the purest luck. And it's not only luck. It's very complicated. And you have to get to your true self and what you wanna become and who you think you are or who you think you wanna be. It needs to be navigated.

PAULEY: You ask a question that I think is the central paradox of your book. Why did everything come to you so late in your life? The things that really mattered come to you later in your life, you ask without answering. (laughs) What do you think that was? Was that in part that the beauty thing was so complicated and so in the way, that navigating life in the usual course of things was different for you?

BERGEN: I think my reaction to others' reactions was I was just trying to keep my head above water, because it was overwhelming at times. And I didn't understand, frankly. People had such strong feelings about my nose. I didn't ever understand how people could care so much about what one's nose looked like.

PAULEY: In what way did they care so deeply about your--

Candice Bergen in "The Day the Fish Came Out" (1967). 20th Century Fox

BERGEN: Just that that was the nose they wanted to have surgically. They wanted a Candice Bergen nose. (laughs) And I mean people would say, "Where did you get that nose!?" And it's just like, "What?" It was just bizarre to me.

So and then I was always asked to model or to do movies because I looked a certain way, but I didn't have any conviction about doing it because really I loved journalism and I loved photography. So when I wasn't doing bad work in a movie I would go off and, you know --

PAULEY: Wait a minute. That comes up all the time in the book. You acknowledge some good work?

BERGEN: Very sporadically. Until my 30s.

PAULEY: You admit there was an anomalous Oscar nomination.


PAULEY: You say, "I've never been a real actor." In every possible way you diminish -- theatre's greater than film, film's greater than television. And every Emmy you won - five! -- was because the writing was really good.

BERGEN: Well, that's true. It was also just a perfect, eerie match for me, that character. It was just a fantastic role that Diane English wrote. And nobody would have thought of me in it. My agency didn't even submit me for it. And it was only Brian Lord, who's now this sort of agent emeritus in Los Angeles, who sent me the script. And I didn't read it for weeks. I mean, it was just an eerie fit. And the one place in acting where I've always been comfortable is in comedy. But I never got the chance to do it because I didn't look like a funny person.

PAULEY: Oh, but nothing's funnier than a beautiful woman who's funny. (laughs)

BERGEN: And I understand that.

Candice Bergen on "SNL" in 1975. NBC/Broadway Video
PAULEY: As you have demonstrated! I mean, the first woman to host "Saturday Night Live," if you're old enough, you remember the Catherine Deneuve bottle of perfume attached to your head. And it was just hysterical. Candice Bergen funny? Yes. Very. But then Edgar Bergen, your father, was funny.

BERGEN: Yes. Well, I mean, he was a Swede, so they're not supposed to be funny (laughs) in any way. And he always had this kind of secretive, boisterous self. But in person he always sort of presented as a banker or a real estate magnate.

And I'm very much like my father. I'm very reserved and very buttoned down, just because I'm not good on social cues. But where I really find my comfort, and I have no fear of ever looking stupid -- just give me the laughs and I am a happy camper. (laughs)