Ellen Barkin's Rules for Living: MORE.com Exclusive

Ellen Barkin, actress who stars in Ocean’s 13, has developed a few rules for living over the course of her 52 years.

By Jancee Dunn

On Being Alone1. Never trust someone who can’t eat a meal alone at their own kitchen table. "It says something about who you are," she says, "that you’re so uncomfortable with yourself and need to avoid yourself to such a level that it’s difficult to eat a bowl of cereal alone at your table. It says ‘God forbid I have five seconds to think about who I am, what I do, what my relationships are, how I move through the world.’ I’m very comfortable alone."On Acting2. If you’re an actor, make sure you have a life. "Being an actor is a difficult job for a grown-up, if that’s the only thing you do," she says. "If you have a family, children, a range of interests, then it’s fine. But when I look at people that I know who are actors and just actors, I mean, you reach a certain age and it’s a shallow life. I just can’t equate it with being a painter or a composer. I just can’t. You sit at home, you wait for someone to offer you a job, you take the best of the jobs that are offered, you try to interpret it in a surprising, meaningful way. But that’s three months a year." On Living in the Moment3. It’s more fun not to make plans. "There’s never anything on my calendar," she says. "I can never make a plan. It’s intrusive to me. It feels demanding. If you said, ‘let’s have dinner a week from Tuesday,’ and you were my best friend, I’d say ‘call me a week from Tuesday at 5 o’clock.’" She laughs. "And I really like it when I do go out — I’m up for anything, I’m the last to leave. But I don’t go to dinner with a girlfriend. I’d rather talk on the phone for two hours and just have dinner at home with my kids. I don’t want to go sit in a restaurant. And you need to wash your hair. Plus, I went out every night in my 20s. I think everyone in their 20s should be out every night of their lives." On Parenting 4. Don’t micromanage your kids’ lives. "I didn’t schedule my kids’ after-school activities," she says. "If they wanted them, they got them. But when they’re 7 years old, do they really want those Chinese lessons you’re giving them? Give them some space, otherwise they’re completely dependent on you their entire lives. I don’t want a 16-year-old who doesn’t know how to do anything without their mommy."Originally published in MORE magazine, June 2007.

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