Working with her husband in The Woodsman, Kyra Sedgwick speaks
It's one thing for an actor to take on a dark character, but what do his loved ones think when they see the finished product? Kevin Bacon plays a child molester in The Woodsman, and though wife Kyra Sedgwick even costarred in the film and saw his process, she admitted it's always hard to see her husband succeed in portraying darkness.
"I think his work over the last couple of years has just been astonishing," Sedgwick said. "I have always been a fan, but lately, Mystic River and this, he's been able to commit to his characters in a way that I think he never at the same level was he able to do before. I just think that now, it's almost like he's old enough, he just like opens his heart and he just goes, ‘Okay, just take it.' And I really see that in his work. He was so amazing in Mystic River last year. He was just so solid and so in that character and he became that character and everything. His eyes, the history, he was so embedded in that guy in such a quiet way without a lot of bells and whistles. I think in this movie, every time I see his work, I'm blown away by it because he, to me, really embodied the character so powerfully and so real, so truthfully to me. So it's painful for me to watch. It's very painful for me to watch this and it was painful for me to work with him in this because he's carrying around so much shame as the character. And it's really palpable and it was very sad. It's hard sometimes to remember we're just acting. ‘Can we pretend? Hee-hee.'"
Sedgwick originally turned down the role of lumber yard forklift driver Vickie. "First of all, I wanted him to get a bigger star than me to be perfectly frank, because I just thought it's a great script, it's a great part, let's get you somebody great and hot and sexy to work opposite because it's a business and I'm very aware of this business. And also, I was concerned that people would be distracted in some way. I knew that he would be so amazing in the part and I knew that he would commit himself so utterly. I knew that he would be able to be transformational. And I didn't want to confuse the issue by being in the film with him."
Ultimately, the role was too good to refuse. "I probably was just like, ‘Look, it's such a good part, I just can't turn it down.' But also Nicki [Kassell, director] was very instrumental in just saying, ‘I want you in this movie. I wanted you before I wanted Kev.' If she was here, she'd tell you that she saw Personal Velocity and really wanted me to play this role desperately. And so I think that her belief in me really made me feel confident and I also started to think, you know, maybe we could pull it off. We're good actors, we've been working a long time, maybe we can do it. Honestly, the first time I saw the first cut of it, I was so relieved because I thought, ‘I really buy them. I buy Walter, I buy Vickie, it's all good. Thank God.'"
Then Sedgwick put her comment about finding a younger, hotter actress into perspective. "It's not that I don't see myself as hot and sexy. Don't get me wrong. No, it's not that. It's that I'm 39, I feel hot and sexy, very actually. I feel it inside myself. I don't feel dried up and tired and no longer interested in sex is what I'm trying to say. But this business, you know, young Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, Ashley Judd, young, hotter, bigger stars. Bigger stars. I think it would have maybe helped the movie, maybe helped him. Ultimately [it did] not and of course now I'm really happy with the movie. It's great. I'm happy the way it turned out but my initial instinct was to get somebody bigger, because I'm a producer as well as an actor. I'm in this business and I'm not dumb. It's good to be able to share the wealth a little bit, get a star. It's important."
The still glamorous mother of two downplayed her looks to be believable as a small town factory girl. She admits it's hard to see herself with no makeup, but she's proud of her commitment to the character. "When you watch it on film, you go, ‘Ugh, ew, gag. I'm icky, I should've been lit a little better and worn a little more mascara.' Your vanity comes up but it's done. I have too much respect for the characters I play to make them anything but as real as they can possibly be. I have a great deal of respect for all of them, otherwise I wouldn't do them. And I don't want to screw them by not portraying them honestly."
Sedgwick also learned how to drive a forklift. "It is really hard. Really, really hard. And I was not great. But I did it with confidence. I failed with confidence. I worked with a guy, his name was something like… Bulldog or something like that and he[‘d say,] ‘Yeah, it's easy. You do this and you do this and da da da.' But it's really like one of these things [where] you're backing up and forward. [Costar] Carlos Leon's got a big slice in his leg which he didn't even know about, but I know I was this close to his leg on one of the forklifts. A really embarrassing thing I did was that I tried to take a very large cord of wood and go through a very narrow doorway. I thought, ‘They're still rolling. They're not going to let me go through this. I know they're going to yell cut' and they didn't, so I just [crashed through the doorway]. A couple hundred dollars worth of wood fell on the ground. It was unusable and we had to buy it. We really didn't have the money and it was bad. I was so embarrassed. Everyone's laughing but you know, we needed a giggle, so what the hell."
Sedgwick's next collaboration with her husband, Loverboy, which Bacon also directed, became a family affair when the parents reneged on a longstanding vow for the sake of the film. "We swore we'd never let them do anything professional until they were 18, if they were at all interested, not that they necessarily were, although my son is very interested in music and he's quite the musician. But Sosie plays me as a little girl in Loverboy and it was just so hypocritical of us because we sat them down when they were young, like, ‘Now, listen. Mommy and daddy are very serious about this. I started working on a soap opera when I was 16. I always regretted it, I should've gone to college and I've always regretted it and it won't happen and we're never going to let you and don't even ask.' And then Kevin was like, ‘God, she'd be so good in this part' and [we were] so selfish and really angsted about it and I said, ‘You know, honey, it's just going to be so hypocritical and we really shouldn't do it. But you know, she'd be really good.' She had to sing and she's an amazing singer, so we did."
With a son and daughter now entering their teenage years, defining her role as a parent has proved an ongoing challenge. "So far, my kids are great. They're amazing and it's challenging to learn how to let go. I'd say that's the most challenging thing is to let go and to let them fly and to know when to move in and say, ‘Okay, I'm managing this for you with you.' And when to go, ‘You manage this yourself' because you're so used to managing everything. That's what's challenging about it for me. Both of my kids are really amazing kids, they're really responsible, so far so good. They're among the best people I know. They're unbelievably insightful, compassionate human beings and they're kind and I really couldn't ask for anything more."
The Woodsman opens Friday in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco and wide in January.
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