Celia Weston Played Jolene on "Alice." See Her Now at 70.
The actor's recent credit include Modern Family, Poms, and more.
In 1981, Jolene Hunnicutt showed up at Mel's Diner and changed the sitcom Alice for good. After five years on air, Alice introduced Jolene, played by Celia Weston, as a truck driver who became a new waitress at the diner, along with Alice (Linda Lavin) and Vera (Beth Howland). Jolene stood out for sharing about her upbringing in South Carolina, including stories of her grandmother, Granny Gums.
In real life, Weston is from South Carolina, too. And while she is quite famous for starring on Alice until the show ended in 1985, you've almost certainly seen her in other things since then. The now-70-year-old character actor has appeared in a wide variety of movies and TV shows and is still working today. Read on to find out more about Weston's life post-Alice.
She started her career as a theater actor.
Before Weston's movie and TV career really kicked off, she got her start acting in theater in New York City. "I had no agent or anything; I just did what everyone else did. I went to open calls, got there at 7 a.m., had breakfast did my audition and did it all over again," she told her alma mater University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 2018. "I did as many showcases as I could. A casting director hired me for a lead role, and that went well, and then I was cast in my Broadway debut, Loose Ends, with Kevin Kline. Things took off from there."
Weston has continued to act on stage throughout her career and in 1997 was nominated for a Tony Award for her role in The Last Night of Ballyhoo.
She's appeared in many popular projects.
Alice was one of Weston's first on-screen roles, and in the years since she's been featured in many more recognizable movies and shows. She had roles in the movies Dead Man Walking, The Talented Mr. Ripley, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Village, Junebug, and Poms. As for her TV roles, some of her recent projects include American Horror Story: Freak Show, Modern Family, and Bless This Mess.
Weston is known particularly for playing Southern characters, which she talked about in an interview with a publication from her hometown, Spartanburg Magazine. "You know how we as Southerners are, it makes our skin crawl for someone to do a caricature or horrible over-the-top rendition of an idiot Southerner," she said in 2019. "Coursing in my veins is an actor—that's where I start. Having been raised in the South by a Southern belle mother definitely helped."
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She feels very lucky to be a successful actor.
Weston talked to Spartanburg Magazine about how lucky she feels to have made it as an actor and how as her career went on, she stopped being only cast as Southerners.
"I've got a couple of projects in the works. I am not building a career anymore so I don't have to avoid being stereotyped and limited to just Southern roles," she explained. "Thankfully the casting gods were with me and I got to play the wife of the diplomat from the Czech Republic in The Invasion with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, and I was a Park Avenue maven in K-PAX. At this stage of my career, I'm not putting any limitations on myself. I think acting is a gift. Thousands of people train to be one and not everyone is an actor, regardless of how good the school was that you got into. So I am so blessed and so grateful for the gift of being able to do it. When you can live by your gift it is a very big life and I am so, so lucky."
She says watching herself on Alice is a strange experience.
It's been over 30 years since Alice went off the air, but Weston has still caught some episodes now and then. She explained what the experience is like of watching a younger version of yourself on screen in her Spartanburg interview. She shared that there was a recent night when she turned on a channel that plays retro TV shows when she couldn't sleep.
"Alice was on and I sat up for two-and-a-half hours watching it, just mesmerized at how unique and fascinating it is to have an opportunity to really look at yourself from 30-plus years ago," Weston said. "You can't fathom that your body isn't going to be there in that way. I thought about the expectations we have as women—both young and old."