Ten years ago, a 40-something Lauren Hutton gave up acting and went back to her original career as a model because she felt the business needed someone like her.
“I decided it was important for a grown-up woman to go back to modeling because there were only little girls — and very, very skinny little girls,” she explained to TODAY’s Al Roker on Tuesday. “And so I stopped making movies to go back to modeling.”
She visited TODAY because she’s finally returned to acting, playing the role of Fiona McNeil, a tough-as-nails publicist who joins the cast of the FX series “Nip/Tuck” for its fifth season. She knew nothing about the show for a very good reason.
“I don’t have a TV,” she told Roker, a condition that’s existed in her home since 1962. “I get stuck,” she confessed. “If I turn it on, I can’t let go.”
But Ryan Murphy, the show’s creator, has known about Hutton since he was a kid in the early ’70s growing up in Indiana.
“He’s the one who dug me up 10 years later because he saw me in Indiana in the library in ‘Vogue’ magazines,” she said. “From the time he was 7, he would go in to see ‘Vogue’ magazines, so he knew me.”
Hutton didn’t need the work. In addition to modeling, she has a highly successful line of cosmetics that she sells online and through the Home Shopping Network. She didn’t sound convinced that getting into the business world was a good idea.
“I idiotically started a business, because business is grotesque,” she laughed, cocking her finger and pointing it at her temple as if it were enough to make her end it all. “I can’t kill it because it’s doing so well.”
But she looked at the DVDs of “Nip/Tuck” that Murphy sent her. “I was in bed screaming, because they have real surgery in there,” Hutton said. “Then I realized it was an anti-cosmetic-surgery type thing.”
At 63 — she turns 64 on Nov. 17 — the still-glamorous Hutton has been outspoken in her opposition to plastic surgery. “I look the way I look because of my makeup, not because I’m 462,” she joked.
Still very active
In her free time, she’s an avid motorcyclist and prodigious traveler who has a special affection for Africa.
“I’ve been all around the world. That’s what I do with my money,” she told Roker. “I went around living with different tribes and seeing everything wild I could before it was gone.”
Last August, she spent the month in Africa with her 17-year-old goddaughter, Lily Idle, whose father is Eric Idle of Monty Python fame. It was Hutton’s 30th trip to the continent.
She brought along a picture of herself smiling broadly with a small snake holding a big hunk of her forearm in its jaws, a scene that demanded a story, which Hutton was quick to supply.
“He was under Lily in the shower out behind our tent,” she said. “I looked to see what was wrong, and there was this guy’s head sticking out under her leg.”
Hutton grew up in Charleston, S.C., and is not unfamiliar with snakes.
“I know snakes,” she admitted. “I grew up in a swamp. He didn’t have a triangle head and he didn’t look like anybody I knew. So I snapped him out, grabbed his tail, stuck him behind my neck — I thought he was a grass snake. And then, he pulled his head backward and went foiiinnngg! and foiiinnngg!”— her sound effects were impressive — “he did it three times.”
She said that some at the camp feared it might be a boomslang, a small venomous snake whose bite can kill a person. “Is that a boomslang or not?” she asked, looking at the snake’s picture on a studio monitor. “Everybody says I’d be dead if it were a boomslang.”
Given the amount of life she was showing, it must have been something else.