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Hollywood Icon Has a Message for Tinseltown That Most Actors Won't Want to Hear


"There's a vast difference in the quality of the work that's being given today..."

Hollywood icon Cicely Tyson sits down with CNN's Don Lemon (Photo Credit: CNN)

Sitting down for a rare interview with CNN, Hollywood icon Cicely Tyson, 79, recently issued some major critiques of both Tinseltown and America's young people.

The "Roots" actress dismissed the majority of contemporary actors as being all-too-willing to "blaspheme" and "bastardize" their craft. And she said young people simply have had too much handed to them to appreciate or understand life's struggles.

Actress Cicely Tyson attends the New York premiere of "Lee Daniels' The Butler" at Ziegfeld Theater, Aug. 5, 2013 in New York City. (Getty Images)

Her candid comments, especially in light of her long history in the entertainment industry, shed light on the way that some Hollywood old-timers might view the industry's current trajectory.

From the late 1950s through today, Tyson has participated in practically every part of the entertainment industry. From modeling to starring in feature films, her career has certainly been eclectic.

The actress recently won a Tony Award for her performance in the Broadway show "The Trip to Bountiful."

Speaking with CNN's Don Lemon, Tyson relied upon this vast experience to highlight her belief that Hollywood puts negative messages out to young people and that the character of the work being produced by the industry has declined.

"There's a vast difference in the quality of the work that's being given today as opposed to -- you mentioned Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman -- those were real actors," she said. "With exception of one or two, you might find someone who's serious enough about their work not to blaspheme it or bastardize it."

But she said that these quality actors are "few and far between."

While she said most actors will select any role without thinking about the ramifications, Tyson is different. She spends a lot of time reading scripts and considering the characters she's being asked to portray.

"I've for the longest time chosen my roles by reading the script over and over and over again -- and one of two things happen," she told Lemon. "Either my skin tingles or my stomach churns. And when my stomach churns I know I can't do it. When my skin tingles, I can't wait to do it."

Earlier in her interview, Tyson spent some time speaking about young people and noting that she believes her generation has given them too much and left them with "nothing to fight for." She essentially argued that these individuals are disconnected from the many struggles that people like Tyson once faced in America -- inequality and an epic civil rights battle.

"We fought for everything so that the next generation wouldn't have to do that," she said. "And we handed them everything on a silver platter."

Watch a portion of the interview, via CNN:

(H/T: CNN)



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