Life story

Disney icon Hayley Mills is ready to tell her ‘extraordinary’ life story

Actress Hayley Mills might just be the most unwitting “Peter Pan” in the real world, and having been a Disney darling for most of her life, the irony of that couldn’t be more fitting. Yes, Mills is a grown woman today, but the English actress was never really “allowed” to grow up in the eyes of much of society, as many still only see her as her beloved. . Blissful character or as those clever twins of The parents trap those sixty years later.

“My career unfolded very quickly and it took me by surprise and amazed everyone,” says Mills at Forbes. “Nobody expected it. I was just a very ordinary little girl. I wanted to ride my pony and hang out with my brother and climb trees and all that stuff and all of a sudden I was in Hollywood. It was great, but it took a lot of tweaking for the whole family.

After taking a nostalgic stroll into the past about five years ago in the Disney offices looking at the archives of her early career, Mills, 75, is now ready to talk about the ups and downs of her trip to Hollywood. in the form of a new thesis suitably titled forever Young. Even though moviegoers remember her as that confident, adventurous, and wildly talkative presence on screen, in reality, young Mills often felt the opposite.

“I think what was really difficult was when I was going through my teenage years I became terribly, terribly shy and terribly insecure. I really lacked confidence. It made it difficult and it was such a waste of time. I look back now and think Uh, what a waste of time, but it’s part of life, right? It’s part of the growth. A lot of people have the same experience. I really found going to social occasions torture. I was okay with some people and I was okay sometimes. It was the weird thing about it. Like I say in the book, everything would be fine and then suddenly this deep monster would want to wrap its tentacles around my ankles and suck me into the mud and I was inarticulate with shyness and people probably thought I was. was just rude or stupid or stuck or something, but here we are. It’s all part of the journey we’re on, isn’t it? When we try to find out who we are and leave childhood behind, when life was so simple and we were living in the moment.

In forever Young, Mills talks about the fun she had filming Disney classics like The parents trap, in which Mills played twin characters Susan Evers and Sharon McKendrick side-by-side, a cinematic trick in the early 1960s that she explains in detail in her memoir. When I asked Mills if there was anyone on set that she would have liked to have had more conversations with or things that she would have done differently on set The parents trap, Mills playfully reveals exactly what she would have changed, especially during her iconic musical number “Let’s Get Together”.

“I would spend a lot more time with Leon Charles, who was the dialogue coach, and I would spend a lot more time on my accents, which wandered between each twin in the most alarming way. (Laughs). I’m surprised I got away with it, actually. And I also think I would have worked harder on my guitar and piano playing, which were appalling. Yes, those three things that I would definitely go back and sort through. My sons play guitar, two of my grandsons play guitar and they think it’s absolutely terrible.

Like many child actors at the time, Mills was under contract with Disney on a five-year contract. During her rapid rise to Hollywood stardom, Walt Disney became a supportive friend and advisor to Mills, early career advice she fondly remembers and frankly discusses in her book. Even though he died in 1966 after his contract with Disney ended, I asked Mills what she would say to Walt Disney today, looking back on her experiences with him and seeing how her life and careers have since unfolded.

” My God ! Well first of all I would tell him that I love him because I never told him that I love him and I hope he knew it. And I would thank him so much for giving me a career and for caring as much about finding the right projects for me as he saw fit. I was offered interesting things and they were not considered appropriate. They didn’t fit Disney’s image at all and nowadays young actors have a lot more freedom because being under contract isn’t quite the same as it was back then.

Over the years and with Mills’ life into adulthood, she began to seek out roles that could set her apart from her well-known Disney character. Mills discovered a great love for the theater in her later years, a venue that she says gave her the opportunity to perform all kinds of things she had never done before. Mills is also quite memorable to younger generations for her starring role as teacher Carrie Bliss in Hello, Miss Bliss, a short-lived sitcom in the late 1980s starring its then-relatively unknown young co-stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Dustin Diamond and Lark Voorhies that would eventually become the popular Saved by the Bell series.

“It was my first time working on television like this,” Mills continues. “It’s very difficult with the script which is constantly rewritten, until the moment of recording. It’s really difficult. The kids were so quick and good and learned things in the blink of an eye. I think this kind of TV is somewhere between two stools, between the kind of attention they can give when you’re doing a movie and the theater because it’s so kinda unpredictable and I was aware that it wasn’t. it was all too easy to fall back on old things that you had done before. Old stuff.

While many Mills fans might think she must have been financially ready for life after her highly successful childhood years with Disney, she actually spent much of her adult life in legal battles surrounding her fund. in trust. When Mills was 21 she was given access to her trust, but her savings were taxed at 91% by the Inland Revenue to help rebuild the UK after the war. Mills says she was able to really rehash those difficult memories around this whole ordeal as she worked with her son Crispian to write these memoirs.

“I didn’t realize how much money I would have had or forgot because what you never had you don’t miss and that was really true as far as I was concerned. I neither cried nor cried. The only thing that would have given me that would have been very valuable was the freedom to say no and the freedom not to have to go to work, to do something that I didn’t particularly want to do but had to because I had to make a living and so that would have been good.

Even though her life has been an elaborate story in its own right, Mills hopes readers of her memoir can connect with her experiences and struggles growing up. “Everyone goes there, don’t they?” I mean, it’s a universal experience. Adolescence, puberty, self-awareness, weight gain, insecurity, self-doubt, all of those things. Anyone can relate to this and although my life has been quite extraordinary in many ways, the situation I was in in my job in my career, my human, personal, private experience was exactly the same as everything. the world. So, I hope people will relate and understand and see each other. “

As I wrapped up my conversation with Mills, which is just as captivating and authentic as you’d hoped it would be today, I had one final question for the longtime actress and now eloquent author, considered at never like the girl who dazzles us moviegoers, generation after generation: if you could go back to little Hayley Mills who had just landed her first breakout role at Disney in Blissful and give her some advice after everything you have been through your entire life so far, what would you say to your old self? Hayley takes a moment to think and responds, “I think I would say don’t waste time. Don’t waste time being negative. Living in the Moment. Embrace it all. Be grateful.”

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