Since landing on “Another World” at 16, Kyra Sedgwick has been a versatile thesp who likes to stay working: a go-to supporting player in big-budget pictures and the recipient of meatier moments in critically acclaimed sleepers.
But not until her current starring role in TNT’s “The Closer” did Sedgwick get attention as the undeniable star of a project, illustrated by her Emmy noms and a 2007 Golden Globe.
Sedgwick admits she has high hopes that her high-profile turn as deputy police chief Brenda Johnson will pave the way for bigger parts in bigger films, as early as the next “Closer” hiatus. (She is currently filming season five.) A case study in how limited the opportunities for even the top actresses can be, Sedgwick speaks candidly about the necessity of career strategy, especially right now.
“I think as you get older, you become aware that you know you are part of the business — it’s show business, not show art,” says Sedgwick, whose next bigscreen appearance will be the futuristic sci-fi pic “Gamer” in September. “Being involved in something as fiscally and creatively successful as ‘The Closer’ has been very good. (It’s helpful) for people to know I can bring viewers. I can bring in people to buy tickets, hopefully.”
Sedgwick, whose noteworthy supporting roles in films include “Born on the Fourth of July” opposite Tom Cruise and “Something to Talk About” with Julia Roberts, hopes to build the staying power of the likes of Meryl Streep and Laura Linney.
“I look at Laura Linney, and I feel encouraged,” Sedgwick says. “Laura’s got a career that has spanned two decades, and she’s done so many different kinds of films. I would like to cultivate something like that for myself.”
Sedgwick has a plan mapped, though she’s practical enough to realize she has little script control over her career. Almost no actress does.
“My only real strength lies in my ability to do my art, because ultimately I can’t control whether or not people like it,” Sedgwick says. “I can’t control whether or not I get the part. But what I can do is go in and do the very best I can every time I’m at bat. As an artist … I’m at my absolute best, and getting better.”
In her view, female movie roles are slowly getting more interesting, whereas in the ’80s and ’90s, she got sick and tired of receiving scripts for a mild sideline character, “the girl.”
“They’re writing well for women now,” she says, but pauses to revise her thesis. “I think they could do better, frankly. Especially when we look at the summer releases, we go, ‘Oh, God, a bunch of boys’ movies again.’ I’m always so thrilled when something does well that has female characters, whether it’s ‘Sex and the City’ or ‘Doubt.’ When are we going to stop underestimating the power of women to drive movie sales up?”
Rebecca Miller, who directed Sedgwick in “Personal Velocity” (in which Sedgwick plays a
working-class woman who leaves her explosively violent husband), didn’t originally see Sedgwick as the hard-edged match.
“I thought of Kyra as (too) beautiful and elegant, really,” Miller says. “Then my casting director, Cindy Tolan, said, ‘I knew her in theater — she’s a tough girl, you should meet her.’
“I met her and became convinced immediately: She does have a kind of toughness. Kyra is very upfront; she has an amazing technical ability. She can summon different emotions probably faster than any actress I’ve seen.”
Miller says she expects to see Sedgwick continue to work well into the future and would like to hire her again.
“Potentially, Kyra has enormous staying power,” Miller notes. “It really depends on the chances she gets that lead to other chances.”
What: Kyra Sedgwick receives star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.
When: 11:30 a.m. Monday
Where: 6356 Hollywood Blvd., in front of Cinespace Nightclub