Rita Moreno loves complimenting people ‘it makes the day of that person’

Rita Moreno is promoting her new movie The Prank, where she relished her against-type turn as a meanie. And just like when she stopped by The View a couple weeks ago, Rita is still dishing on what a ball she had thinking of all the women who’d ever been nasty to her and putting them into this character of Mrs. Wheeler, topped off with some bangs trauma. But Rita is bigger than simply being revenge-driven. (Not literally “bigger,” obviously, she’s a fairy-sized firecracker!) She also shared what she thinks is the secret to her longevity in life and the business: making people’s day through simple acts of kindness.

The bitches: “I call them ‘the b–ches,’ the women who were very mean to me when I was younger,” Moreno exclusively told E! News ahead of the release of her new movie The Prank. “Being Puerto Rican, all that kind of stuff, you don’t forget that.” At least she was able to put those painful memories to good use for The Prank, in which she plays a sinister high school physics teacher who threatens to fail the whole class — and two plucky students spread the rumor that she may have murdered a missing classmate.

Laughing all the way: Giving stone-faced, silver-haired Devil Wears Prada vibes as Mrs. Wheeler, Moreno loved every second of it. … “I laughed all through the movie. I thought, ‘Damn, I’m funny.’ But she’s not a funny person — she’s evil.” And yes, she had a specific person in mind. “It’s such fun to pin all that stuff on a character,” she said of channeling her real-life antagonists. … But Moreno thinks she knows what made her vulnerable to other people’s nastiness. “It never even occurred to me that she was jealous,” she said. “I just thought she didn’t like me, maybe because I was needy. Neediness really bothers a lot of people, they don’t know how to handle it. And as a result of not knowing how to handle it, they hate the person who is that way.”

Honest introspection: But Moreno has been jaw-droppingly candid over the years about her own insecurities and personal lows, such as the time she swallowed a bottle of boyfriend Marlon Brando’s sleeping pills after one too many deceptions on the actor’s part. Thinking about episodes from her past that she can’t believe even happened, “immediately the picture comes up, Marlon Brando, with whom I went on and off for almost seven years,” Moreno told E!. “When I think of it now, I think, Wow… But that was my madness then, I didn’t like myself. And I always picked men who were not nice to women. Of course, that’s perfect for them.”

Make someone’s day: “I call it spreading joy. If I see someone on the street who has a beautiful jacket on, I don’t mind just stopping and saying, ‘Excuse me, that is a beautiful jacket, you have good taste.’ I found in my life that that makes people very happy.” Doing things that people tend to not do for each other anymore, like holding a door open or giving someone a hand at the supermarket, are among the little gestures that go a long way. “And people don’t know who I am,” she added. “Don’t assume that everybody knows who Rita Moreno is. They just know that somebody was very kind to them at the supermarket and helped them with their packages. I love doing that because I know it makes the day of that person.”

[From E! News]

Ok, I need to know what supermarket Rita frequents. Because according to her, the supermarket is where she’s picking up friends and, apparently, picking up their packages. I feel like Rita is starring in a sitcom at whatever store this is, roaming the aisles behind her shopping cart even though she has no need to buy anything. No, she’s not there for produce, she’s there for the people! And I can’t explain how or why yet but I feel like Kate McKinnon is her costar here.

But truly, Rita’s words are ones to live by. I wholeheartedly agree with her about paying people genuine compliments, friends and strangers alike — and I say that from having been on both sides. I’ve had days where my whole demeanor changed because someone stopped to tell me they liked my hair. (Though to be fair that’s an easy target for me, I’m very hair vain.) But I can honestly say that I’ve felt an equal amount of joy knowing I’ve made someone smile. Or laugh. Ideally not laughing at me, though I’ve loosened up on that as I’ve gotten older. So if someone would be kind enough to tip me off to Rita’s local market, I’d like to help carry her bags out to her car.

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Photos credit: JKP/Avalon, IMAGO/Jennifer Bloc/Avalon, Jeffrey Mayer/Avalon, Getty

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5 Responses to “Rita Moreno loves complimenting people ‘it makes the day of that person’”

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  1. TIFFANY says:

    I enjoy completing people, especially women. I know when I hear one from a woman it just makes my day better.

    I got a tote bag from a women who I complemented. I was working retail at the time and they went out and bought me one.

    I have always thought that you never know when a person is having a bad day and a inoffensive complement can make their day a little better.

  2. elizabeth says:

    I always complement people! The world is shitty and dark and hearing kind words can just turn someone’s day around. I know it does for me.

  3. Bean says:

    Oh I know I know!!
    She lives in Lafayette, CA and she must shop at either the Whole Foods or Diablo Foods – they’re both super close to her new place over there (a very walkable area). Rita is as charming and wonderful as they come. I’m a huge fan and had a conversation about dogs with her one time.

    • Vernie says:

      Ahhh Bean thank you for sharing your lovely anecdote! Rita Moreno is a national treasure and I’m so glad you got to experience that firsthand.

  4. Jessica says:

    I don’t get random compliments out in the wild, but I have one coworker who is the BEST at them! Every time I see her, she’s complimenting my hair, my outfit, my bag, it’s such a mood booster! As said above- you never know what type of day someone is having and it’s such an easy way to make a connection.