Frances Hyland quotes a friend’s recent warning: “ ‘If you’re not careful, you’re going to become an icon.’ ” Last week, the actress received a Toronto Arts Award—and this week a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award—celebrating a lifetime of international acclaim and putting an official stamp on her status as the first lady of Canadian theatre. During her five-decade career, Hyland, 66, has played virtually every major female role ever written, on stages from Stratford to London’s West End. Do these plaudits mean she has been declared a fount of thespian brilliance? “I hope not,” Hyland says with mock horror. “That’s a terrible responsibility.” A thirst for challenge keeps her working—most recently in the next TV instalment of the Lonesome Dove saga, in the made-for-TV Harlequin romance Broken Lullaby and in a film version of Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women. “My concern now is getting some time off,” Hyland sighs. “After that, it’s wherever the gods take me, or my agent—whoever comes first.”
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