Featured, The Women of Maine

FitzWonderful

September 2014 | view this story as a .pdf

Her grandfather almost smoked Fidel Castro. Her father smoked seafood as founder of Ducktrap River. Now Caitlin FitzGerald is smoking hot in front of the cameras.

From Staff & Wire Reports

FitzWonderful-Sept14Desmond FitzGerald (1910-1967) was a senior official in the CIA during the John Fitzgerald Kennedy years, an insider to the intrigues following the Cuban Missile Crisis, with Fidel Castro reportedly on his hit list. Eventually, the Harvard graduate would become Deputy Director of the CIA.

Frances FitzGerald (b.1940), his daughter, is journalism royalty, up there with Woodward and Bernstein. She won the Pulitzer Prize as well as a National Book Award for her masterpiece Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam (1972).

Desmond Sr.’s son, Desmond FitzGerald Jr., is a local hero in Maine. The beloved founder of Ducktrap River of Maine Smoked Seafood took his Cinderella firm from two employees in Lincolnville to over 100 in Belfast. Mainers take pride in the international reputation Ducktrap enjoys but may not realize FitzGerald sold the company years ago. Since 2012, he’s been Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Maine Venture Fund. Still fewer could have guessed that his dad was in the War Room for many Earth-shaking decisions during Camelot and before.

Even the IMDb bio of Caitlin FitzGerald, 31, the actress who first attracted raves as Meryl Streep’s daughter in It’s Complicated (2009), likewise missed the Camelot connection. But with two films in post-production and a starring role in Showtime’s Masters of Sex wrapped up for the second season, this graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts isn’t just Maine’s anymore but an emerging figure on the national stage.

We guessed you might have been one of “those” Fitzgeralds when we realized you went to Concord Academy, the same prep school Caroline Kennedy attended.

No, we’re different FitzGeralds, with an upper case “G.” It’s confusing, because my grandfather was in the Kennedy administration.

Even though you weren’t yet born while your famous grandfather was alive, he must guide your spirit. He was an old Far East hand among diplomats and operatives. Are there any family heirloom mementos from China?

Well, there’s a photo of my dad as a little kid dressed in a kimono when they lived in Japan. But my grandfather died when my dad was only 15. He was deputy director of the CIA then, so my dad’s memories are of life in DC. I don’t know that much about family history. But I do know my grandfather’s prized heirloom is a backgammon set. We’re all backgammon players.

What was it like working with Meryl Streep or Alec Baldwin or Steve Martin?

It was surreal! And Meryl Streep is amazing. She’s so professional and nice; she’s everything you’d want her to be. Shooting lasted about five months. I learned so much from just watching her. I tried hard to keep my fan-girl in check.

What is location shooting like, living in hotels and just working, working?

It’s kind of fun, like summer camp with too much coffee. Masters of Sex films in L.A.,  though, which is unusual now. Everyone’s leaving Hollywood to film.

You sound so sweet. But sometimes you have to play the bad guy, right? Your character Kat in Adult Beginners (2014) “dumps Jake after his start-up fails.”

You never want to judge your characters. Nobody thinks they’re a bad guy. But Kat just didn’t want to be married to someone who wasn’t successful.

In Manhattan Romance (2014), you’re the “unattainable” Theresa whom Danny chases. Are there tricks to conveying…unattainable?

The key is not to play negative. She just wants to be free to do her own thing. She isn’t rejecting him. It isn’t about him. No one is just one type of person. We’re all different people at different times. You have to tap into different parts of yourself.

Do you know any of the other actors from Maine out there working now, like Anna Kendrick, or Greg Finley, or Tim Simons, who’s on Veep?

I don’t know Anna or Greg, but I have met Tim Simons. We were introduced at a party–he’s really fun and funny and kind. Out here, whenever there are two people from Maine at a party, everyone wants to make sure they meet each other.

What acting insight did you learn at Stella Adler Studio that you still carry around?

Discipline. If we weren’t exactly on time for class, we were often not allowed in–as a lesson on being punctual. ‘You cannot be late to auditions or a job.’ And I never, ever am. Being an actor requires being able to really structure your time and do a lot of work that you won’t be paid for. [Laughs.] College really prepared me for that.

What was it like being a Maine Yankee at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in London?

My dad’s mother was English. She went to RADA, so it felt really good to be there. I never got to know her, and attending RADA felt like a nice full-circle moment.

Tell us about your mom’s, Pam Allen’s, book, Knitting For Dummies. Do you knit?

I do. Not very well, but I do. My mother is currently running her own small business in Portland called Quince & Co. that sells beautiful, American-made wool yarns.

Have your parents ever tried acting?

Only in a very amateur way, and not for ages. I think my mother is still sort of amazed I can go to auditions, that I can get up on stages and face strangers.

Considering your aunt Frances, did you ever consider journalism as a career?

I’ve always loved to write and would like to have more time for writing in my life, but no, I never considered journalism. I knew I wanted to act from my first school play. My parents were always supportive.

How do you convince yourself you’re in Maine when you come back for visits?

All it takes is stepping out of the car and breathing the air.

Can you walk around Camden without being recognized and asked for a photo?

Ha! No one is asking for pictures! Walking around Camden can take a long time–but only because it’s a really small town and I grew up here and know a lot of people.

What are your favorite restaurants here?

The mid-coast has incredible food options. Probably my favorite restaurant is Shepherd’s Pie in Rockport. The cheeseburger is not to be missed.

My mother lives in Portland, so I always come through Portland when I come back. She has a warehouse and employs about 11 people. She lives in the West End. I like Local 188 a lot, and Aurora Provisions, Caiola’s. If I could do my work in Portland I’d move there in a heartbeat. It’s the perfect-size city.

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