On "Two and a Half Men," Holland Taylor's character, Evelyn Harper, had been through four husbands. But in real life, the actress is only now in what she talks about as the first truly life-altering relationship she's had.
"I am understood by the person who loves me before I am understood by myself," the 72-year-old said last week on WNYC's "Death, Sex and Money" podcast series. "That is really sort of a stunning experience that has taken me a while to accept it."
No, this isn't your typical trashy gossip story.
The actress described a transformative process she went through after the death of her mother and the closing of her Tony-nominated one-woman show, "Ann: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards," that she would "almost quantify" as a breakdown.
"I just suddenly got the sense that I was living a very shallow life and that I was not very self-aware and that I had not had wonderful relationships," said the veteran of "The Practice." "I had not made them be wonderful or let them be wonderful or sought them even. I had stayed very solo."
At an early age, perhaps influenced by her parents' relationship, Taylor had decided marriage wasn't for her. "I wanted to be very free agent and travel and not be beholden to anyone, not have to do anything for anyone." And so she kept herself at a distance in her relationships.
This time around, however, in the wake of a transformative "goo-like state" she found herself in after "Ann" wrapped two years ago, she's handling her relationship differently, paying attention to it and letting it determine things like where she is and what she does, instead of the other way around.
Still, marriage to this much younger woman — "You know, as they say, 'If she dies, she dies'" — isn't a priority, though Taylor said her girlfriend has brought it up in passing and admitted that, done privately, it could be a wonderful, symbolic thing to do. Seriously, don't expect her to make a big deal about it if she does tie the knot.
"Most of my relationships have been with women," she said, "and I don't like talking about them because I don't like talking about the politics of it all. Because I'm not political about it. I think we're ridiculous in this country about it. Ridiculous."
The interview is a good listen, incidentally, if only to hear the genteel way she spits out that one word. And while Taylor decided not to reveal her girlfriend's identity in the course of the podcast, gossip never sleeps, and "Entertainment Tonight" reported Tuesday evening that the mystery younger woman is 40-year-old "American Horror Story" actress Sarah Paulson.
"It's awkward," Taylor said, "because if I talk about relationships in my life or people that've been in my life or somebody I've been seeing for a while — I like to just be able to say that without having to stop and say, 'Oh, have you come out?' No, I haven't come out because I am out. I live out."
But no longer very solo.