An Interview With Actress Barbara Bain

Emmy-award winner chats about working on the series "Mission: Impossible" and more.

Jennifer Coxby Jennifer Cox

Barbara Bain won three consecutive Emmys for her work on the popular television series "Mission Impossible," and has been involved in a number of other TV, movie and stage projects, both as an actress and a director. As the release of "Mission: Impossible – The Complete Television Collection" hits shelves, she had a candid chat with CraveOnline about auditioning for Lucille Ball and what's been keeping her (very) busy in 2012.

1- Tell us about what you're working on these days.
It's been a really interesting year – I managed to act in two plays, I directed two plays, and I've done two short films. It's been a fabulous experience for me. One of the plays was developed into a film, and the two that I directed has been very rich.

Another script came to me to directly, but I really only take on projects when it strikes me and I feel that I can do something with it. I turned that one down because I couldn't get around what I could bring to it.

2- What's your best memory about working on the "Mission: Impossible" series?
All of it was an absolute glorious time – it was just wonderful. I can tell you that we were all quite crazy about each other. Bruce Geller was a member of an acting class and the roles were cast on that basis. He had written the role for me but didn't tell me.

I did go in and audition – the ultimate decider was Lucille Ball, who owned the property. I went in and the last interview was with Lucille Ball, and I walked in shakily and all she did was look me up and down and say, "Looks alright to me," and that was it. It was kinda neat.

The entire thing was glorious because I got to play that regular role, which was very glamorous and exciting, and within each script it was an actress's dream to play different parts each week. What could be better? I was royally awarded and it was a great launch of a career.

3- Where are your Emmys?
I have all of my career stuff in a pool house. It's really not my way to have it all around in everybody's face. I know it's there.

4- How have you seen the face of television changing these days?
It has changed so radically. One major thing is all the cable networks and choices out there, which has some merit and not some merit, I suppose. The reality shows have upended a need for writing of a certain kind, but there's still some very worthy stuff out there. There are always a certain number of extraordinary actors and there are always a couple that you wonder how they're up there.

5- Is TV something you'd consider doing again?
Oh sure – why would I not like the medium that sent my kids to college? I would do it if it's where the work is, and the roles are interesting and are something I can have some fun with.

6- Any favourite shows that you're into?
I watch "NCIS" and I got hooked on "The Voice" – I like to see all those amazing people who can sing, which is not one of my strong suits. It's very exciting to me. "Person of Interest" is an interesting show, and I'm hooked on "Downton Abbey" – it's well thought out and the dialogue is quite good.

7- Looking back on your career, if you hadn't become an actress, is there another profession that you'd have gotten into?
I didn't start out as a kid who wanted to sing, dance and act – I was going to be a teacher. I fell in love with my first grade teacher and I simply adored her. Acting all started at the University of Illinois – I didn't want to take PE and took a dance class instead, and it was so exciting that I was never the same. I went off to New York and danced, and I've been taking classes all this time.

8- Have you travelled to Canada? What do you think of our country?
I was in Montreal 800 years ago, it seems (laughs) – it was still "His Majesty's" so you know it was some time ago! And I've been to Vancouver. Canada is a wonderful place.