Tracey Ullman

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Tracey Ullman

Tracey Ullman (born 30 December 1959) is an actress, comedian, singer, dancer, screenwriter and author, who is most famous for her multi-character variety television shows.

"Q&A: Tracey Ullman" (Newsweek, 19 September 2004)[edit]

  • I love John Waters. There's stuff in it that's beyond the boundaries of my taste, but his movies have always been like that.
  • As I get older, I just prefer to knit.
  • From an early age. I used to dress up and impersonate our next-door neighbor, Miss Cox. She wore rubber boots, a wool hat, and her nose always dripped. My father died when I was 6 and we were really sad, so I put on a show for my mum. [In a mocking American accent] Looking back now, it was a kind of therapy.
  • I left school at 16 and went to Berlin and danced [...] West Berlin, 1976. It was amazing. I wish they hadn't taken the wall down. Now it's full of east Germans wearing Versace shirts.
  • People think I'm a demented little pixie, but I'm not 'on' all the time. I'm sensible. I pay my bills. I've never done drugs. I don't drink or smoke. I eat organic. I'm a goody-goody, really, but I can play bad girls.

"Ullman, By Hook & By 'Crooks'" (NY Daily News, 14 May 2000)[edit]

  • Dear Mr. Allen: I'm sitting here pregnant in my Jacuzzi watching local news programs with men wearing Caribbean sunshade makeup, and I thought maybe I should be in one of your movies. You are an oasis in the desert for me, Mr. Allen. You need to employ me. Otherwise, I'll go straight back to England. Sincerely yours, Tracey Ullman - Fall 1986 HOLLYWOOD
    • One of a series of letters Ullman sent director Woody Allen hoping to get cast in one of his films
  • I'm as famous as I want to be.
  • I thought I'd end up in a Swiss sanitarium. It was brutally hard work. I could barely see my family.
    • On doing her 1980s Fox network series
  • It's very therapeutic, what I do. Other people get this anonymity and thrill from being in an Internet chat room, where they can be anybody they want to be. That's the feeling I get, but to an even greater extent. I physically take on these characteristics. Afterwards, I feel I'm a parrot. I need a black bag put over my head until I become myself again.
    • On playing multiple characters in her television shows

"Tracking Tracey" (Interview, January 1989)[edit]

  • Working with the same people week after week brings out inspiration. You have to have an open discussion or you end up with actors saying fuck you to the writers and writers saying fuck you to the actors.
  • Every character I do is based on someone I know. I try to justify every sketch we do. If it's not working, we find someone to talk to who it has happened to.
  • What I fear most is that you will know where the laughs are going to come, or that you will know a character so well that you know when they're going to sing a song. In some shows, you just know that the audience is sitting there going "Oh no, she's going to sing."
  • They hold onto a small child who's hungry, then go back to their homes and feel good about themselves. That's how I perceive actors getting involved in politics and charities. They want even more attention for themselves, it's in their nature.
  • Why does everyone think the future is space helmets, silver foil, and talking like computers, like a bad episode of Star Trek?


  • I never worked with a dialogue coach before, but I'd hate it if an American did a British accent and didn't do it well. It would be insulting.
  • Every seven years or so I look around me and I want to look at the society and I want to try and be everyone I'm seeing in the world right now. ... And I've done this all my life. I realized I used to do this in my mother's bedroom when I was 6. I used to be everyone in my village and everyone at school and everyone in the news, and I'm still doing that same show. I'm now 56. I think I can do it in my 80s. I'll just, you know, impersonate everyone around me then in the nursing home.
    • Quoted by NPR in 2016, on what what drives her to do impersonations

Tracey Takes On... (1996–99)[edit]

  • I was never a child. I was a menopausal woman within a child's body.
  • Oh, yeah, she's that snippy little Brit girl who takes all the parts so no one else gets a crack at it.
    • Rayleen Gibson on Tracey in "Tracey Takes On... Fame"

Tracey Ullman: Live and Exposed (2005)[edit]

  • I'd stand in front of the mirror and talk to myself until I fell asleep, you know. I'd interview myself as women with problems, you know, like, women in documentaries who had three kids and chainsmoked and husbands in prison that hit them! I'd be in the mirror going, [lowers voice] yeah well, you know, it's not easy since Derrin went into prison. My eyes aren't black anymore, but the twins, Tilly and Wayne, you know, they don't stop crying. SHUT UP TILLY SHUT UP TILLY!
  • My mum went and married a really horrible horrible man, who drove a taxi at night and had a sticky-fingered son and he smoked cigars in the toilet. Smelled terrible! Again, there's no therapy, there's no counseling over the whole situation! Just married the maniac. And there was a new person in her bed now, and I couldn't do my nightly performance anymore. I was nine years old and my show had been canceled!
  • I thought, is this what it's all about? Do you have to be blonde and girly and have freckles and a snub-nose and sort of act the coquette in show business? WELL YES!
  • Everybody in Berlin is gay!
  • As we twirled and snapped our fingers, I felt light and airy and fancy-free. Of course I did, I had no bloody panties on! And the cartwheel lift's coming up! And I'm a brunette!

Quotes about Ullman[edit]

  • Tracey Ullman shot like a sparkler into my vision on the set of [1985 film] Plenty ... I thought I’d found my soulmate: a restless, silly, musical wild mimic, with a dark underlay of sangfroid. I loved her on sight. I was absolutely blackout-shocked to discover she was barely 23 years old (I was 33) and I still feel like her (slightly cowed and aspirant) little sister. She hasn’t changed in spirit or matter in all these years that we have remained close. I have no objectivity, clearly, but I am not alone in this assessment of her!

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