For years it was unheard of for
movie actors to take roles on television series, but Kyra Sedgwick
has played a huge role in changing that concept.
Throughout the 1990s and early
2000s, Sedgwick had made a name for herself in such films as
Singles, Hearts & Souls, Something to Talk About, Phenomenon, Born
on the Fourth of July and The Woodsman (with her husband,
Kevin Bacon.) However, for as respected as she was, she had never
become the breakout star that so many people expected.
Therefore, she made a bold step.
She was asked to star in a new cable crime drama called The
Closer, which had been created by a Hollywood TV vet named James
Duff (Popular, The D.A.).
was not Sedgwick’s first foray
into television series – she starred in a short-lived but rather
good sitcom called Talk to Me in 2000 – however, her quirky
role as the brilliant, but frazzled Homicide Deputy Chief Brenda
Johnson has cemented her status as a star.
Not only that, it became
fashionable for movie actors to go into cable series – including
Glenn Close, Holly Hunter and Timothy Hutton. However, of all the
acclaimed series now springing from cable, The Closer remains
the most popular and most acclaimed, with Sedgwick winning the Emmy
for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Dramatic Series in 2010 after five
straight years of nominations.
is about to end a three-month
layoff with the final five episodes of its sixth season. Star
Sedgwick and creator Duff were kind enough to have a conference call
with us and a few other websites to discuss the show’s return.
I really enjoyed the upcoming
episode. There is so much political stuff going on in the squad
this season and Brenda is so much not a political animal. Why do
you think it’s interesting to have her in these situations?
I think it’s interesting because of the premise in your question.
She’s not a political animal and she’s having to navigate political
waters. It’s a huge obstacle to her and I think it gives the
character something interesting to play in the character’s dynamic.
Don’t you think Kyra?
Oh yes for sure. Everyone projects their own dreams and aspirations
on to her – whether it’s Mary McDonnell or it’s Fritz [the
character’s husband who works for the FBI, played by Jon Tenney]. I
think that often happens in the world. What she wants gets
completely lost in the shuffle because she’s also a person who
doesn’t really know what she wants until actually the last. I can’t
remember which episode it is but there’s one in these final five
when she finally gets clear about what it is that she wants. But I
think that she’s easily malleable because there are all these people
with all these very strong opinions about what she should do. It
makes great stuff to play and great places for her to go.
Also we’re told throughout our lives that we should be ambitious,
that we should want to climb the ladder. Not everybody actually
does want to do that. It seems like it’s a question of the
pressures that society puts on us to excel – and how they measure
that ability to excel. Excel is oftentimes measured by the position
in front of your name, rather than how well you were actually
performing. By the way, I’ve never been in an apolitical work
place. Even when I was tending bar, I’m not kidding – people
jockeying for the shift and people having all kinds of good reasons
why they couldn’t work Monday. Even Acme rubber stamp company when
I was going to college. Even there. People relate to politics in
the work place.
think the returning episode, “Old Money” on December 6, really
illustrates my question about the tone of the show and how it’s
evolved. We’ve got, in a single episode, very, very strong dramatic
elements. We’ve got sexiness, and we’ve got these laugh-out-loud
funny moments. Now we’ve seen other crime shows on other networks
sort of take on the same tone that you’ve kind of carved out here.
I wanted the both of you to talk a little bit about how that tone
evolved on the show and how the actors and their chemistry in the
ensemble affected that?
I think you should start with that one, James.
The tone evolved after our first episode. Our second episode has
her trying to get to a crime scene with a book of maps and being
utterly lost and then going to make an arrest and trying to make a
statement by going off by herself and Gabrielle following and
saying, “Are you sure you can find the way?” This comes from my own
observation with police officers who are at their darkest and
funniest when they’re standing six feet away from a dead body.
That’s human nature. You know that’s the humor of the hangman. We
visit some very, very dark places in this show. I just feel we need
to bring a flashlight with us. And that flashlight is humor a
little bit. We also decided early on what we wanted was not only
for there to be a mystery about a crime that you could follow but
also a total mystery so that you never knew what you were going to
get when you stepped inside The Closer. So that it was not
so formulaic. We wanted to keep the formula from hardening; I guess
is what I would say.
just to add to that, one other thing, is that most of the cast has a
huge range. I mean all of the cast is rangy but I mean some of the
cases like J.K. Simmons who’s known for his dramatic work, got his
start, his big break is playing Captain Hook in Peter Pan
[the musical version on Broadway in 1991]. Corey Reynolds was
nominated for a Tony for Hairspray. You have all these
actors with comic chops and you don’t want to not use those. You
don’t want to narrow the range that your actors can play when they
can do so much. I think too… and maybe Kyra would answer this… I
think going in and doing an episode like last year where she has to
make a decision about taking this gang boy back home. Doing an
episode like that every week would be hard on the actors. I think
the lighter episodes are necessary to help them not live in such
dark places all day long.
Yes, I think so too. It’s really good for the actors to be able to
do that and it also feels very real and very right. One of our
writers is an ex-police detective for 25 years with that of the LAPD
and he’s laughing all the time about the most horrific things that
happen to him. It wouldn’t have that reality to it if we didn’t
have the humor. Also I think it’s a good break for our audience
too, because we don’t just want to be somber and gloom all the
Remember, too, there was a gravedigger in Hamlet who’s really
And in Macbeth you have the porter who’s very funny. There’s
an element of that, which you have to keep that there to keep the
audience. You want valleys and troughs and as well as plateaus and
hills. We probably over-answered the question.
specifically is going on this season to keep things fresh and
interesting for viewers who’ve been watching several seasons?
[Sgt. Will] Pope [played by J.K. Simmons] is dangling onto his job
by a thread. Major Crimes is on the chopping block again. This is
not just the way the LAPD moves but one chief centralizes everything
and the next chief decentralizes everything. That’s kind of the
human condition, almost, that the person in charge wants to redo
everything and the next person who is in charge comes in and redoes
what they do. That’s what we’re facing. We have a new chief and a
new order is going to be put on top of things. So you have that and
then her parents arrive with a big surprise.
(laughs) That’s fun.
They arrive in episode 14 with a huge surprise and …
And our final two were just the darkest episodes, of course, because
they’re for Christmas, which is lovely. And then there’s also a
moment where …
But they’re also our lightest episodes.
Right, right. (pauses, then a little surprised) Really?
Yes, yes. I mean there’s lightness. I mean if you remember the
business of Taylor in a Santa suit.
Oh that’s right, you’re right. It’s very mixed but I mean the story
is pretty dark.
The story is very dark.
The murder is pretty dark. Then there’s a great moment where you
know Gabriel goes over my head. What I’ve been saying to people –
James, you may not agree with this – but to me she’s more alone than
ever this season. I think that was sort of an unintentional theme
of this whole season and these back five are the same way. Again
that thing of everyone projecting onto her what they think she
should want and need and who she is. She continues to have to make
these decisions that leave her very much alone.
Her antagonism with Pope early on left her alone, because she
normally could count on him. Also her antagonism with Fritz about
this issues both the men in her life having huge opinions on what
she should do. One thing that we’ve always tried to do is play the
pressures of being a woman in the workplace, a woman in power in the
workplace. It’s not so simple. I mean we say it’s all very simple
but it’s not. There’s still so much that has to change that hasn’t
I was very happy that Brenda did
not get the big promotion last season. But now we’re faced with
another one. I was wondering – does Brenda really want to be
promoted? I would think that what she does best, she would not be
able to do.
I think that she really spent most of the season trying to figure
out what it is that she wanted – especially with the influence of
all these people in her life that she respected if not loved telling
her that she should want this thing. I think that ultimately where
she comes to in one of the last five episodes is what she really
wants. That’s great because it’s really hard for Brenda to know
what she wants. She spends most of her life knowing why everyone is
the way they are and what makes them tick and what motivates them.
What is really their driving force in their life. I don’t think
that she really knows. She’s not a self-aware person. It’s sort of
a wonderful moment when she finally realizes what it is that she
wants and what she doesn’t want.
I agree with that.
I was wondering if we’re ever
going to see that lunch with her and Captain Raydor (Mary McDonnell.
Good point. Are we?
Yes we will see definitely see that lunch one day. Not in these
back five but definitely you will see. Oscar Wilde had a great
quote and I’ll hint at this and see. He said, “Woman only call each
other sister after calling each other a lot of other things first.”
That’s the take where we’re maneuvering a little bit with Raydor –
to make her and Brenda surprisingly close in some ways. Although
they still have a ways to go. I would say great ways to go. But
they’re moving in that direction.
was part of my question. It seems like Captain Raydor and Brenda
would be great allies if they got past a certain point. Are they
too much alike to get along sometimes, Kyra?
I think they are a little bit.
I think so. (pauses) Well I don’t know how alike they are,
actually. No I actually think they’re very different and that the
greatest obstacle in their relationship [is] because she… That’s a
really hard question. In some ways they are very similar but in
some ways they are very different. [Raydor] is much more of a
political animal and she is much more of a by-the-rules kind of
person. And I think that she … well,
actually now I’m going to renege on that. Yes, actually, she thinks
that they’re very different but then ultimately
… I guess in that final scene before she actually goes for
her meeting with the mayor, it really becomes clear that Raydor only
took the I.A. [Internal Affairs] job because she felt it important
for a woman to be in a uniform and it was the fastest way to move up
in rank. So it wasn’t that it was her passion to interrogate and to
put police officers in a bad spot but it was the job that could get
her up the fastest. I think that in that way they are different
because I don’t think that Brenda is about getting more, getting
higher in rank. She has no ambitions in that area. In some ways [Raydor]’s
that thwarted desire, she never really did get to do what she wanted
to do and in some ways Brenda is getting to do what she wants to
do. Probably by the end of this season, we learn that there are
more alike than they appear. Right, James?
Yes, and I was going to say, they come from different countries, in
a sense. Friendship seems unlikely between and I.A. Captain and a
Homicide Deputy Chief. I mean it’s just very unlikely in the real
world. Just [look at] the panicked use to the word friend when she
introduces Captain Raydor to her parents …
Right, right, right.
… creates a moment of stunned reactions from her squad. She’s
trying to introduce Sharon Raydor to her Mom and Dad and she pops
out with the word friend. And everybody is stunned by that. So
it’s more of a détente you have to establish first. And they’re
establishing a détente. And you’re right, they would make
formidable allies but how often do we see that in life where two
people who would make formidable allies are at terrible odds and
can’t manage. You don’t know whether they would make better friends
or better enemies.
This isn’t a
question but if I woke up in a hospital bed, I would love to have
Brenda pressed up against me and doting like that. Question for
Kyra, I interviewed James MacArthur years ago. He was Danno in the
Hawaii Five-O. He told me about this great story about being
pulled over for speeding and the punch line is basically the cop
giving him back his license and saying “just a warning, Danno,
professional courtesy – slow down.” Now I’m sure that you’re an
excellent driver but when you hear that story that I just repeated
given the respect that real life police have for the show, can you
relate, like been there, done that in any context or is the opposite
true? Maybe you’ve got a ticket that you now think you should have
gotten a free pass?
No but it is nice to get the respect from our fellow officers or
officers that are actually in the field. I definitely think that we
really do try very hard to just stay real, and true and current. I
actually got a ticket for walking the dog off leash after a certain
time and I really had hoped that it was going to end up by
being somebody who was a fan of The Closer. But she hadn’t a
clue as to who I was or cared either way and gave me the ticket,
anyway. So I hope to cash in on that someday but it hasn’t happened
Other members of the cast have. I know Raymond [Cruz, who plays Det.
Sanchez] was pulled over on a motorcycle and he took off his helmet.
The cop just lit up, started jumping up and down, he was so excited
to meet him – and gave him a warning. But on the other hand, Jon
Tenney – who plays an FBI agent – has gotten three speeding
Well, he needs to stop driving so fast. And then he threw out a
banana out of his car and had to do community service on the side of
the highway. (laughs more)
A banana peel and we actually used that in the show. He said I was
driving a hybrid. I can’t help but wonder if the natural
antagonism between the police and the FBI shows up in Jon’s traffic
us Let us know what you