Shelley Long: 'I need a lot of work to become the pretty girl'

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Playing one of the most iconic TV characters of all time — Diane Chambers on Cheers — is just one entry on Shelley Long’s extensive résumé. And while she had the leading-lady thing down pat early on, the actress insists that it has always taken werk to get her camera-ready.

The star of classics including Irreconcilable Differences, The Money Pit, Troop Beverly Hills, and The Brady Bunch Movie opened up to Yahoo Lifestyle about maintaining a healthy regimen in an industry that can be draining. Long, who has been a household name since the ’80s, says she earned a reputation for being a “party pooper” early in her career because it was always more important to her well-being to feel rested.

“I’m not a party girl,” Long, who’s now 68, admits. “Taking care of myself was [always] a big part of the challenge because I would get up at 5 or 5:30 [a.m.]. I was supposed to be the, ya know, ‘pretty girl’ — and I need a lot of work to become the pretty girl. I just do.”

As far as her glamification process, “I would start hair and makeup at 6, 6:30 [a.m.] at the latest,” she says. “My hairdresser, who was the best, would insist that I wash my hair in the morning. Not the night before. The morning. So sometimes it was 4:30 [a.m.].”

Shelley Long on the set of Cheers in 1983. Fun fact: She may have been napping in her trailer right before or right after this photo was taken. (Photo: Getty Images)

And when she wasn’t shooting scenes opposite leading men, from Ted Danson to Tom Hanks, “I would rest as much as I could.” She’d beg for 45-minute breaks between takes, “and I would just sleep. I would go into my trailer and sleep. That was really important.”

On days off, Long, who has been divorced since 2004 and has a grown daughter, always just slept, rested, or read. “I’ve kind of gotten used to being careful when I feel like I’m getting really tired. I flatten out. I just take time off. And I think that’s OK,” she says, adding, “That makes me kind of a party pooper, and I don’t like that, but I got used to it. People knew this about me.”

A party pooper? Pshaw. There are way worse reputations to have in Hollywood.

Shelley Long’s latest film, Different Flowers, is out now. Hear more about the role, in which she plays a grandma (!), or travel back in time with her for an epic story about filming The Money Pit.

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