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Kyra Sedgwick Talks Her Return to TV in ABC’s ‘Ten Days in the Valley’

With ABC’s “Ten Days in the Valley,” Kyra Sedgwick marks her return to series television after seven seasons on TNT’s “The Closer.” But as the saying goes, all she really wants to do is direct.

What made you want to sign on for this part?

I thought the part was really cool. We’re not asking the audience to fall in love with this woman right away. I just loved that right off the bat. She feels so real to me. I’ve heard people say a loathsome comment like, “But is she a good mother?” She’s a real mother. She’s a real human who happens to be a mother. She is working as hard as she can to keep above water, to keep herself afloat. And then this terrible thing happens to her. [Her daughter goes missing.]

She is a very complicated character.

She’s driven and she’s very capable in her work, but she is a bundle of contradictions. Throughout the show, she does one surprising thing after another. You just never know where the character is going to go, which is great. She is a big liar — a big one. People who lie are so fascinating to me. I’m terrible at it. That fascinates me. And she’s a genius and I’m always interested in playing people who are smarter than me.

You say that you can’t lie. Isn’t acting a form of lying?

It is. But I dupe myself into thinking I’m not lying because for me it’s all about trying to tell the truth of the character. So it’s not my truth, it’s the truth of the character. That covers a lot of gray area about lying. But if I feel like I’m lying in the scene, I literally want to throw up. Obviously if I have to [lie] I can do it, technically, but I don’t want to. I’d rather do it in a way that feels much more emotional and tuned in than doing it from the outside in. I’d rather go from the inside out.

As a producer of “Ten Days,” what did you want to see onscreen? What changes did you ask for?

Above all, I wanted it to be really complex and surprising. I think audiences are so much smarter than we give them credit for. They don’t need to be told things more than once. And so I would fight for really deep storylines with really deep character moments. I get antsy with too much plot. I get sad with too much plot. And I wanted us to be courageous all the time. I was constantly like, “Push the envelope,” and ABC was willing to go there for the most part.

How did you push the envelope?

She does find the kid, ultimately. And the first thing that happens is that they get into a gigantic fight. I mean, a gigantic fight. It’s scary to go there because of course you want it to be rainbows and unicorns when they see each other again. But that’s not real — [not] under the given circumstance. Yes, it’s a bold choice. Yes, we’re pushing the audience. But they can take it, and they love me, and they’re going to come on this ride with me.

You’ve started directing, too. Do you want to do more?

Oh my God — so badly. I mean, if I can start directing tomorrow, yeah. Even today. Every day that I get to sit down with the writer or just sit and fantasize or even watch movies and think how did they put that together and look at those shots — it’s just a whole new world. I’m so grateful that at 51 I fell in love again on a really deep level with something that I think I’ve been meant to do my whole life but just didn’t know it.

Does it satisfy a different part of you than acting does?

It satisfies every part of me; that’s the thing. Acting is — there’s a lot of sitting around waiting and I am totally hyper. I want my brain to be engaged all the time and it just doesn’t engage your brain. Directing engages all parts of you: your brain, your heart, your leadership qualities, your empathy, your limitations, your communication skills, your ability to just gather all these people from all these different places and say we’re going to run up that hill and it’s going to be so awesome and you’re going to want to do it just as much as I do. We’re going to go to the top and we’re going to make each other better. We’re going to make this thing that’s bigger than all of us. But that without one of us, we could never make. I just love that.

Things you didn’t know about Kyra Sedgwick

HOMETOWN: New York ON HER NIGHTSTAND: “The Sleepwalker” by Chris Bohjalian GO-TO PODCAST: “On Being” with Krista Tippett FAVORITE APP: Waze

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