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Kathy Bates loves playing horrible people

AAP logoAAP 24/11/2016 By Peter Mitchell, AAP US Correspondent

Over the decades Kathy Bates has played some despicable characters, most notably her Oscar-winning performance as an ankle-breaking psychopathic nurse in the 1990 thriller Misery.

Her new role in the dark, twisted comedy Bad Santa 2 might be the most deplorable of all.

Bates, 68, plays Sunny Soke, a tattooed criminal and mostly absent mother to the just as disgraceful, womanising, thief and drunk, Willy Soke.

"She's filthy," Bates laughs in an interview with AAP in Los Angeles.

"Disgusting.

"No redeeming characters whatsoever."

In Bad Santa 2 Sunny tricks Willy, played by another Oscar winner, Billy Bob Thornton, into travelling to Chicago just before Christmas to rob a large charity.

Bates was not in the 2003 box office hit original, Bad Santa, and her role in the sequel was initially going to be for a man.

Thornton and the film's producers and writers, however, decided if the character was Willy's father he would likely just be a despicable clone of Willy.

If it was his mum, and Bates was in command of the role, they could take the story to a different, darker, comedic level.

"I love playing horrible people," Bates said.

Asked if that was because she was such a nice person in real life, she laughs again.

"No, because you can do it without getting arrested," she replied.

Born in Memphis, Bates, who has battled ovarian and breast cancer, was married to actor Tony Campisi for six years before it ended in 1997.

Bates does not have children because she has lived her life focused on "nurturing myself and my career, not anyone else or anything else".

It is a decision she is comfortable with and believes was formed while watching her mother, Bertye, struggle to raise her.

Bates was a surprise baby, arriving in 1948 when Bertye was 40, her father Langdon was 48 and her two sisters were years older.

"Suddenly along came this third child at the moment they were just about to retire and enjoy all of their hard work," Bates said.

Her parents "did their duty", nurtured her, but growing up Bates felt the tension that her unexpected arrival brought.

"My mother said to me at one point, 'When do I get my turn?'," Bates said.

"She was 70 something then.

"I said, 'When you take it'.

"But it was too late.

"I remember her saying to me, 'Never have children. You're too selfish'."

Bates also recalls her mother openly admitting in her older years, "I should never have been a mother".

"It took some therapy," Bates said.

"I'll be honest with you."

Bad Santa 2 opens in Australia on November 24.

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