Louise Fletcher obituary - The Guardian

Louise Fletcher obituary - The Guardian

Sep 25, 2022 1 min, 15 secs

The actor Louise Fletcher, who has died aged 88, won the best actress Oscar in 1976 for her chilling and controlled performance in the film version of Ken Kesey’s countercultural novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

The director Miloš Forman envisaged the part as “the personification of evil”, but revised his opinion after casting Fletcher: “I slowly started to realise that it would be much more powerful if she doesn’t know that she’s evil.

Accepting her Oscar, Fletcher ended her speech by using sign language to thank her parents, both of whom were deaf – her mother following a childhood illness at six months old and her father after being struck by lightning aged four.

“I grew up as a parent to my parents,” Fletcher said.

Even so, Fletcher did not use her voice fully until the age of eight and was once sent home by schoolteachers who were convinced she was deaf.

Robert Altman persuaded Fletcher to star in his gentle Prohibition-era crime drama Thieves Like Us (1974), produced by Bick; she was reluctant at first, fearing it would look like nepotism.

“You can call it luck or fate that I met Miloš,” she said, “but it would have been useless if I hadn’t been ready.” In the aftermath of her Oscar win, she turned down the role of the evangelical mother in Carrie (1976) but accepted parts in the ill-fated horror sequel Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) and the comedy The Cheap Detective (1978).

• Estelle Louise Fletcher, actor, born 22 July 1934; died 23 September 2022

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