Judy Davis Interview

Actress Judy Davis discusses A Little Things Called Murder

She's really Interesting, Sante Kimes. They've shown me a lot of footage of interviews that she gave, and you can't help liking her when you see her interviewed. She's very personable and, so [there's] much life in the woman. [Yet,] there's this massive contradiction, because I suppose we have to accept, I have to accept, that she did murder people. And that's what appears to have happened. And just as people who knew her have said, it's just, as a young woman whom she knew in Las Vegas said, "Its just unbelievable!" She just [couldn't] get her head around it. It's intriguing.

It's very hard to tell looking at a person what they're capable of. Who knows what any of us are capable of, given certain circumstances—like need. The thing with Sante Kimes, or Chante Kimes as she preferred to be called when she was younger, she was a woman who grew up in extreme poverty, apparently, literally on the streets in LA, and so she knew what it was like to have nothing. I think that became a motivation, an enormous motivation through her life.

She loved both her sons. She had two sons, and they both adored her. Kent, her oldest son to a different man, wrote a book about growing up with her, and he said she was gorgeous. He said—you know people don't really like hearing this, but—she was gorgeous and generous, but very controlling, very, very controlling. Was she a good mother? Well, I suppose clearly not. I mean if they both ended up murdering people, you'd have to say [she was] a bit of a failure as a mother. But the other thing I reckon about Sante Kimes is that she had no respect for the law, [for] what we all accept as the law. I don't think she hadn't any time for it at all. She was a con artist, you know. She saw the angle everywhere. And it was fun. She got immense fun out of that. And I think both her sons developed the same kind of feeling, that if you can bend around there and get that instead of going straight like everybody else does, its a blast! And it probably is, too!

I think it's quite different. In one sense, if its a fictional character, you have the text, clearly, to explore and create your character and be inventive, but depending on the quality of the script, you can be, especially an actress—I think male roles, indisputably I would say, are generally much better written—so for actresses, we're always dealing with trying to inject a role with more truth, more life, and more contradictions than the writer possibly had in mind. When you're playing a real person, a real woman, I think the writers are generally—it is perhaps easier for the writers to pin that character better in their writing. And for me as an actress, well I think I feel a greater sense of responsibility. I mean, one always feels that anyway for an actual person, particularly in this case, although this text takes liberties, and as you pointed out, it is a black comedy, but nonetheless, I feel a responsibility to give this woman a kind of weight, and a truth. She might, in the end, actually see it! I hope she gets a laugh out of it, really, at the very least.

A Little Thing Called Murder will premiere on Monday, January 23rd at 9 PM ET/PT on LIFETIME Television.