Kyra Sedgwick continues to close strong.
In the alternately hilarious, prickly, and moving film "The Edge of Seventeen," the actress has a choice supporting role as Mona, the widowed single mother of sullen, sharp-tongued high schooler Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) whose already cynical attitude gets raised to a new Defcon level when her brother starts dating her one and only friend. When she isn't preoccupied with her own everyday woes, like her dating life, which send her into occasional tailspins, Sedgwick's character does what she can to keep the peace and struggles to understand her increasingly embittered offspring.
It's another in a long line of affecting performances from Sedgwick, a standout film role after her acclaimed stint on television starring in "The Closer." And she's not done with TV, either: not only does she step behind the camera to direct Lifetime's coming of age movie "Story of a Girl" (starring her husband, Kevin Bacon), she's set to headline the upcoming ABC drama "Ten Days in the Valley," playing the overworked producer of TV potboilers whose life is turned upside-down by the mysterious disappearance of her daughter -- all of which she dives into in a candid chat (complete with reflexive curse word) with Moviefone.
Moviefone: I think, maybe, the most interesting and complicated human relationship is mother and daughter.
Kyra Sedgwick: Oh, me too!
Maybe even more so when it's a single, solo-parent mother. What was interesting to you about delving into this character and this relationship?
I love characters that are complicated, and Mona is very complicated. I think it takes a certain kind of person to really have empathy for her and what she's going through. I definitely think that, as a mother, it's really hard when your kids reflect back to you the deep insecurities that you have about yourself, and that they're suffering through the same kind of pain that you went through. I think it's so hard to separate as a parent, their journey from your own.
Mona is a person that has no one to talk to about that. I think that, honestly, I don't know that she really should have been a parent. But so many people have kids who shouldn't be parents. So I think that she really lost the better parent, and she knew it too. She knew that her husband had the way in with the kids, and she really doesn't. But I do. I think it's reflected beautifully and very, very honestly.
I think that we try so hard. Being a parent is the hardest job -- oh my God, it's so hard, and it continues to be hard. You think when they're infants, OK, it's going to get easier. And it's the greatest thing ever, don't get me wrong, but my kids are 27 and 23, and if they have a bad day, I have a terrible day, you know what I mean? And in your wise mind and in your mature mind, you're like, "I've had some bad days, too, and I got through them, and it's OK." I learn from my pain, but the truth is, you don't really want your kids to have any pain.
I met your daughter, Sosie, when she was having her whole Miss Golden Globe experience. For you to see that, here she is stepping into this industry -- you've been through it yourself. Is it harder as a mom knowing what she's walking into, or is it easier having done it yourself?
I don't know if it's harder or easier because it's my experience. I can tell you I didn't want her to be an actor for a really long time. But once she actually decided to do it, I was like, what's my problem? I've had a great life as an actor. I've worked with the most extraordinary people. I've traveled all over the world. I've gotten to love my work, and not dread going to work every day. So what's my problem? Why am I so negative about it?
I had to do some real deep soul searching about that. She's had some knocks, for sure, but she's also had some success. So that feels really good, too. I think if she had nothing but knocks, I don't think I could handle it. I just don't know. It's hard. It's so hard when the people you love are struggling, even though you know that the only way you grow is through struggle. So it's complicated.
It must have been at least a little bit of a relief that, as your kids were coming into their own, your TV show "The Closer" came along, and that you got to have another great spike in your career as they were finding their own path.
Yeah. That's true. That's true. I feel for the people whose kids leave and suddenly they go, "What am I going to do with my life?" It is like a job you get fired from. When they get older, you really do, on some level, get fired. So yeah, I've been really lucky that I've been able to have a very full career, and also wake up first thing in the morning and know that's what I am as a mother. That is what I am.
What was the fun watching James L. Brooks sprinkle his fairy dust on this new filmmaker, Kelly Fremon Craig -- something which you've seen before, early in your career, as he did it with Cameron Crowe on "Singles."
Yes, that's right! It's funny because I read "Singles," and I met with Cameron Crowe a million years ago, and I was like, "This is the most amazing thing." I knew of the connection of he and James Brooks, that they had sort of a mentor/mentee relationship. So when this came along -- well, first of all, he's one of my idols, James Brooks. Every single movie he's ever done, directed, written, or produced, is extraordinary, and special, and unique, and authentic, and painful, and funny, and everything that life is. Those were always the kind of movies that I wanted to be in when I first started acting.
So it was pretty extraordinary when I heard that he was producing this, and that they had a mentor/mentee relationship. And I read it and I thought, "This is a totally fresh voice" -- which Cameron Crowe was as well -- "and is doing it better and with more layers than anybody else, and that really understands the drama and the comedy of life."
It was very important to me -- I actually bought a book in 2007 called "Story of a Girl" that I just finished directing. It was a teen novel, a young adult novel. The reason I bought that book in 2007 was because I felt like there were no films for teenagers that really reflected what it's like to be a teenager. There was "Twilight," and movies like that, that were like a fantasy. And I just felt so much like, growing up, I had so many things reflected back to me in the films that I saw that helped me to process what I was going through in life. That's what I feel like as artists and as art, people who seek out art in any form is because we're trying to process what we're living through.
So I was so happy and so grateful that someone else thought this was important to talk about as well. So I would do anything to be a part of it. And he's remarkable, and he's a remarkable soul. You see him and he's joyful, but he also has deep pain, and he's very funny, and he knows what's funny. Oh my God, to make Jim Brooks laugh is like ... I don't know if any of the actors have talked about it, but there's nothing quite like getting a guffaw from him, because you think to yourself, "I know that was right in the pocket." I've always felt that true comedy comes from pain. So you just know you've gotten it right when you make him laugh, because his comedy is all based in pain.
There was a big announcement this summer that you're coming back to television.Tell me about your new TV show, "Ten Days In the Valley."
I know. It's crazy. I'm scared. I'm scared sh*tless, to be completely honest with you. Can you say that on Moviefone?
No, it's scary, because I had such a remarkable situation: that family, that world, that I didn't know anything about TV before I started "The Closer." It was a phenomenon in so many different ways. At the time, for me, for a female-led show, of a woman of a certain age, who wasn't 20. So I don't know. It's a great script. It's written by a Canadian -- I seem to be having a lot of Canadian people in my life right now: I just shot ["Story of a Girl"] in Canada; this movie shot in Canada ...
Anyway, it's a thriller. It was originally conceived as a 10-episode show. It'll be on ABC, where I think they're really embracing a lot of the cable-type shows but they're more accessible on ABC -- like "American Crime" is extraordinary. Hopefully, it'll be a very real story about this woman, who's actually a showrunner. She writes and is a creator of this TV show, and it's kind of "Day for Night," kind of "Chinatown." It's a thriller. It's like a film noir kind of thing.
I hope it's wonderful. It's a leap of faith, these things. You read one script and you meet the people and you go, "OK. Skydance is the studio and ABC is the network. We're getting a lot of autonomy. We have Carl Franklin directing the first episode, who's amazing and wonderful and knows that film noir, L.A., 'Devil in a Blue Dress.'" Yeah, so I feel like I'm in good hands so far.
Tell me about what's going on with your directing career. Do you think you're going to direct some of the show as well?
I don't know! This is the first time I've ever directed. I've never directed before. So it was an extraordinary experience. We were shooting a day of reshoots on ["Story of a Girl"], on this movie, when I told James and Kelly about it. What's so amazing to me is the generosity that you get from, especially other female directors. They're so happy that you're doing it. There's no weird competitive thing. They're just, like, jumping up and down out of their skin as excited for you, probably even more so than you are.
It was an incredible experience. I'm desperate to find something else. Frankly, the idea of going in front of the camera again scares the crap out of me on so many levels. I didn't even want to come today because it's so nice being in the background. It's so nice creating a space where people can do great work, but, like, not having pressure on you in that way. Although, directing is pressure, but it felt like less pressure somehow. We'll see if the movie's any good -- I'll keep my fingers crossed! I like what I shot, so we'll see.
What do you feel your strength was as a director? Do you have a sense?
I definitely was working with the actors, and knowing what they're going through, and being able to talk to them about history, and character, and motivation, and all that crap. But what surprised me as a director is that I actually had an an image language that I didn't think I had. A language of imagery that I definitely didn't think I had!
I was like, "I'm going to let the DP do that," but I knew what I wanted. I knew how I wanted to see it in my head. I didn't realize that was the language of film. Just say what's in your head, and then letting them set it up for you, and then going, "That's not quite what I had in my head. How about let's try this?" Then you go, "Wow, that actually works. I didn't even know that it would, but it does." It was very exciting. Like, shockingly, at 51, I suddenly feel like I have a new career.
"The Edge of Seventeen" opens in theaters nationwide November 18. "Story of a Girl" is slated to premiere on Lifetime in 2017, and "Ten Days in the Valley" will air in 2017 on ABC.