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Roger Smith

Ann-Margret from Jamtland Goes Ordinary After 18 Films

She's no more than 5 feet tall, our own superstar from Jamtland. Her films can be seen all over the world, and now they want to make a complete 're-make' of her. And she obeys!

She has made 18 films in 8 years - because she had signed to do so.

Ann-Margret has built an image of luxury and sex around her persona. The only one who hasn't believed in that image is herself, and her husband, Roger Smith...

He is now putting pressure on her to show the world that she can do more than just dance and be a woman. That she can also do serious acting parts, where she has to dig into herself, and become someone else in front of the camera.

"When we married three years ago, we decided to keep our careers separate", Ann-Margret says. "We were afraid it would create problems both living and working together. But when I got out of my last contract, I couldn't stop myself. Roger wants to change the image of me as a sex-kitten, dressed in silk and fur, who thinks only of sex. And I think I can make it with his help. He now writes my parts, and he won't hesitate to give me incredibly hard scenes. He has forced me to study drama, study other actors, and I have tried to understand how other people work".

TYou could hardly say that Ann-Margret is beautiful - her features are a bit too irregular for that. And she's tiny - just around 5 feet. What she has, however, is a personality that shows both on stage and when she does her TV-shows. The tempo, the rhythm! Her audience sees her as a pussycat with claws. Her eyes spices it up further. They are green and grey and they radiate an honesty who doesn't back an inch. She may very well be surrounde by luxury and she may fit in it too, but still, she really gives you the impression of total honesty.

Is it her heritage from Sweden, the Sweden that she left at the age of five? Well, that's what her Swedish audience wants to believ e anyway...

'Swedish'. That's exotic in the U.S.

"I was doing one movie after the other, doing everything they told me, without even thinking about it. Showfilms such as 'Pocketful of Miracles', 'Bye Bye Birdie' or 'The Swinger'. Now a new era has begun. I'm doing 'R.P.M.' with Anthony Quinn, directed by Stanley Kramer. For the first time, I have no make-up or fancy dresses. It's just me being an ordinary person...".

Roger thinks it's the first real film she has done. Now he wants to push her further - he writes parts for her, and when he says he wants her to appear naked, or doing a lesbian part - she also believes she can do it!

"My first nude scene with Anthony Quinn was really hard for me to accept. I was pacing around like a caged animal, and couldn't see myself performing nude in front of a film crew. Roger said I had to acknowledge what it was that worried me the most. If it was Ann-Margret being nude before the camera that frightened me - then I was on the wrong track. Because now I wasn't being Ann-Margret! I had to become that woman in the part. I trusted him and he was right. Now I'm more getting used to becoming the part that I'm playing".

She wants to change the image of her so much. She was launched as a sex-symbol, and in the end people laughed at her and ridiculed her. "They seem to think that at home, I'm wearing fur and leather boots all week long".

That's not the case, of course. Still, glamour surrounds her. She's guesting on one TV-show after the other, and she has gotten used to wearing furs, having drinks, luxury, chauffeurs, etc.

An attempt to change that image might be the couple's new house. It's hidden in a canyon, and Humphrey Bogart once lived there. It's quite simply designed and the rooms are small. "It's just that we're seldom there", she says, "I love the green surroundings, they remind me of Sweden. Instead, I've been going on these long, tiresome PR-trips, and my latest films have been shot on location. Mind you, I don't mind working hard".

Roger Smith has been married before, and he has three kids. When he married Ann-Margret, they decided to be together just as long as they were being nice to each other. "We're both very interested in cars and air planes, everything to go with speed. And we love kids and animals, but when it comes to me, then we start to argue. Roger wants me to be natural, and with no make-up - while I just love to do my hair an my face".

This hasn't led to any major conflicts however, because they both agree Roger has the best judgement...

Ann-Margret's love for motor-cycles is well-known - and also very true. It started with her going on a motor-cycle trip to Norway with her uncle. But she had an accident a couple of years ago, and now it just isn't hip enough. Roger has therefor made her stay away from them. That is, until they make a film about them!

"In 'C.C. & Company', she plays against Joe Namath - the latest big name in the movie business" says Roger Smith. "This is the kind of film we want to make in the future, not political, not too difficult. We have enough of those kind of films anyway. What we want to tell, is something real and honest, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes dramatic. And when Ann-Margret has proved that she's a serious actress as well, then she can go back to doing the TV-specials and Las Vegas-shows again".

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By Kristina Öström

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