Terrific article and interview with Chloë Sevigny from The Darien Times, in which Chloë talks about among other things accepting her first ever Golden Globe at the 2010 ceremony, growing up in Darien and her relationship with her family. Full article under the cut.
Chloë Sevigny: Darien native on Golden Globes, Big Love, Weed Beach renovations and teenage rebellions
If actress and former Darienite Chloë Sevigny turned on the television this past Sunday night, she probably felt a variety of emotions.
Not only was it the kick-off of her fifth and final season of her HBO series Big Love, but it was also the night of the Golden Globe Awards — where last year, Sevigny won for best supporting actress in a drama for her role on the show.
Sevigny, also an Academy Award nominee, talked to The Darien Times earlier this month about her hometown, her hopes for a movie that will be her “star vehicle,” the end of Big Love and why, both personally and professionally, she thinks the best is yet to come.
Sitting in a cafe in Manhattan’s East Village, the neighborhood she calls home when not filming, Sevigny recalled last year’s Golden Globe ceremony.
“I couldn’t sleep for a week before,” she said.
Not only was she nervous about the outcome, she said, but almost more nervous to win. Why?
“I have stage fright — even if I have a prepared speech. Especially in that room?” she said.
Her co-star, Jeanne Tripplehorn, suggested Sevigny just look at her the whole time if she won, to keep her focus.
When her name was announced, she said she was so focused on getting to the stage without tripping or some other catastrophe she completely missed the show’s producer, Tom Hanks, trying to give her a high-five as she passed him.
Sevigny said she made it to the stage without incident, until someone on stage stepped on the hem of her dress and tore it, completely throwing off her focus. Her emotions got the best of her.
“They were celebrating my work, giving me accolades. I never really cared about awards, but winning just gave me this huge boost of confidence. It meant something very special to me,” she said.
After 53 episodes, Sevigny, who doesn’t do much television, said her character, Nicollette, or Nicki, Grant, was one of her favorites.
“I was the first person cast for the show,” she said.
Sevigny said working on a series gave her the chance to get deeply into a character that a movie doesn’t offer.
Big Love tells the story of a man with three wives, an offshoot of the mainstream Mormon religion (which does not condone polygamy.)
Bill Henrickson, played by Bill Paxton, is married to Barb Henrickson, played by Tripplehorn. Their marriage has been the “public one” for most of the series.
Bill is also married to Nikki and Margene Heffman, played by Ginnifer Goodwin, who live in adjoining houses to the Henricksons, and publicly are just “neighbors.”
All three wives have Bill’s children ranging in age babies to college students. Sevigny’s character is from a different background than the other wives, as she grew up and still has family ties to a fundamentalist compound. For most of the series, she has adhered to the more fundamental style of dress and view of spousal obedience.
At the end of the last season, Bill ran for and won a state senate seat and went public with his three wives. The first episode of the final season shows the family struggling with their new transparency and a new, confident and more stylish Nikki taking on more of a leadership role.
Sevigny said she took the role on the series after reading the pilot.
“So many people don’t know a lot about Mormon fundamentalism. I thought it would be interesting to try and explore,” she said.
She said ending her working relationship on Big Love with her co-stars wasn’t easy.
“But you do films, you make close friends, you move on. It’s the nature of the business. You just hope you find something that special again,” she said.
One aspect she will not miss is filming in California.
“I’m an East Coast girl,” Sevigny said.
Sevigny, who was born in the mid-70s, described her Darien childhood as idyllic, and her parents as “open-minded.”
“My dad had a vinyl collection. He was such a cool guy, and we had a unconventional household in a conventional town,” she said.
Sevigny’s father, David, died of cancer in the mid-90s.
“My childhood was idyllic. We were young, sheltered and carefree,” she said.
She said her father and mother, Janine, tried to keep her and her older brother, Paul, kids as long as possible, and worked hard to raise them in a town like Darien.
She said nature was a magical aspect of growing up.
“We had an amazing backyard,” Sevigny said.
Especially memorable were her summers at Weed Beach.
“I was the first person in the water in May and the last one out in September, I was there every single day,” she said.
While she didn’t summer in Nantucket like many of the other kids in town, she said her family took advantage of what the town had to offer.
“We didn’t do the fancy things, but we had the town sailing programs and all those great opportunities,” she said.
Sevigny started to look at Darien a bit more closely as she got into her teenage years, she said.
Her father would go into New York City and bring her along with him, so she spent a lot of time there.
“I started to see a diversity in my surroundings, and not see diversity, ethnically, culturally or what-not, in Darien. But that’s just the way it is,” she said.
She began to rebel against her parents as she got into her later teens, and idolizing her brother, who she described as the “coolest guy in school.”
“Whatever he was into, skateboarding, punk rock, I was into. And I had so many great friends who were just not into these sorts of things,” she said.
Sevigny said she and her brother discovered a small percentage of fellow teenagers with the same interests in the Fairfield County area, and locations where those kids would hang out. She said it created a “best of both worlds” scenario.
“I love preppy culture,” she said.
Sevigny said she could hang out with her more eccentric friends while still being able to eat lunch with her friends on the field hockey team at Darien High School.
Her interest in theater started at Royle School, and she did summer theater camps in New Canaan and Camp Nellie Hawkins with fellow Darienite and actor Topher Grace.
She didn’t do much with Theatre 308, but after shaving her head in senior year at Darien High School, she hoped to try out for one of the boy parts in West Side Story — instead, she worked on the costumes.
While in some ways, Sevigny said she wished her parents had pushed her more in high school, she appreciates that they wanted her to find herself and her interests on her own.
“I think my brother and I are very grounded people. I think that’s all my parents ever wanted,” she said.
Sevigny, who describes herself as not “cookie cutter pretty,” is also considered a style icon, and modeled at an early age when discovered in New York City as the latest “It” girl.
As much as she enjoyed that attention, she said she felt it overshadowed her acting.
She’s currently got a fashion line at Opening Ceremony in New York City called Chloë Sevigny. But she said she also wishes she had some creative outlet, aside from acting or designing clothes, and “dressing myself.”
“I’d like to sit down and write a poem, or draw a picture — something on my own, that didn’t have to be a collective effort,” she said.
Sevigny said her father was an artist, and has fond memories of him drawing outlines for her to color in.
Recalling her days starting out as a newcomer to fame, Sevigny talked about whether young female celebrities are held to a higher standard because they’re viewed as role models.
“I wish they were not, but it is put upon them,” she said.
“For the younger generation, they are exposed to a microscope in today’s media society. When I was 19, there was no tabloid craze,” she said.
Sevigny said she empathizes with today’s young celebrities.
“I feel bad for them. I narrowly escaped it,” she said.
As far as what’s next after the wrap-up of Big Love, Sevigny said she’s developing a project for HBO that includes a historical female figure that she wants to play.
While she’s proud of her career so far, she’s looking for her “star vehicle.”
“Something that will really showcase my talents. The girlfriend role — you can’t bring a lot to that part,” she said.
“I’ve had great opportunities and I’m grateful for them, but I hope the best is yet to come. I’m lucky to be a working actor and getting work, but now I want to start taking more control,” she said.
Sevigny is also in talks to star in a Broadway production of Extremities, which tells the story of a woman who takes revenge on her would-be rapist.
While starring in a Broadway show, especially that one, is something she wants to do, Sevigny said after just ending one long-term commitment to a project, she’s not sure she’s ready to jump into another one.
“Maybe if I had the offer in a few months,” she said.
And the stage fright? Doesn’t affect Broadway shows, she said, because it is rehearsed, and she’s talking to fellow characters, not the audience.
“I’ve done off-Broadway, and I’d love to make it to Broadway one day. And I love that play — it is very complex. I’m just not sure now is the right time,” she said.
Her future plans are not just for her career. Sevigny recently told Playboy Magazine she’s interested in finding someone to ‘procreate’ with.
She said working in Los Angeles and living on the East Coast made finding a relationship over the last few years hard, but now, she’d like to settle down.
“I’m open to my friends setting me up,” she said.
Sevigny also has plans for when that happens, ideally in five years or so, she says — a house in rural in Connecticut, and a residence in New York City, after a hometown wedding, of course.
“I’ve thought about my wedding in that little chapel off Mansfield, and a reception and Waveny,” she said.
The house in NYC would have high ceilings, and the rural farmhouse may or may not include some farm animals.
“The man of my dreams will have the survival skills to tend to animals, plus it is a tax break,” Sevigny said.
But wherever she ends up, Sevigny still feels an affection toward her hometown of Darien, and where her mother Janine still lives. She said she looks forward to her future children, also in her plans, coming to visit “Grandma” there.
Now, she’s sure to be home for holidays like Christmas and Easter.
“We go to Christmas Mass. We look for the leftover eggs from the hunt at the beach. We go to Post Corner Pizza, we go to the thrift shops,” she said.
She’s also excited about the renovation plans for her old childhood hangout, Weed Beach.
“The new playground is great,” she said.
Sevigny is full of ideas for how to improve it.
“I think they should let me design it,” she said.
But she isn’t as happy about the other changes in town — including fewer thrift stores, her favorite.
All the trees cut down is sad for her, as is seeing old colonials torn down to make way for huge mansions, and bright floodlights on houses, which she calls ‘light pollution.’
“Can’t they preserve anything anymore?” she said.
“I rebel against the quaintness, but I really love it. Can’t it just remain the way it was?” Sevigny asked.
And though she’s got a lot of long-term plans, Sevigny’s short-term plan is a simple one, and one that might evoke her idyllic childhood days at Weed Beach.
After flying back and forth from coast to coast, Sevigny is going to take a much-needed vacation.
“I’m going to the beach, to stare at the sea,” she said.
’Big Love’ airs on HBO Sunday nights at 9 p.m.