Biography

The life and times of Chloë Sevigny from 1974 to now.

Sources


Early Life in Darien

An early photo of Chloë Sevigny

Chloe Stevens Sevigny was born November 18th, 1974 in Springfield, Massachusetts, United States, the second child of French-born David Sevigny, an insurance-accountant-turned-interior-designer, and Polish-American elementary school teacher Janine Sevigny née Malinovski. Raised in Darien, Connecticut, although the Sevigny children were considered “poor” in the wealthy Darien neighborhood, the early years of Chloë and her older brother Paul (the latter today a popular New York-based DJ) were for the most part agreeable. Still, both Chloë and her family were scoffed at in the community for their lack of money:

“My parents didn’t have a lot of friends in town. We never had as much money as everybody else, so we were never members of any of the clubs or anything like that. I didn’t have many girlfriends, either. In elementary school the girls were really nasty. They would say, ‘Your mom shops at Stop & Shop because you’re poor,’ or ‘Your dad drives a Volkswagen, you’re poor.’ I remember from day one not buying that and not being part of the clique.” (Paper, September 2006)

“Aryan Darien,” Sevigny likes to call it, where everyone was white, where it was frowned upon to sell a house to Jews, and where nothing ever happened. When she goes home to see her mother (her father died of cancer in 1996), she says it makes her melancholy. “There are so many memories there for me,” she explains, her voice, like her laugh, deep and odd. “So many memories. I know every rock, every tree. I always feel… despondent when I arrive, like the place has an aura of sadness.” […] As a child though, she found the blandness and safety “freeing”, if a little dull. (The Observer Magazine, October 3 2010)

The everyday life of the Sevigny children was also religious, both Chloë and Paul having been raised strict Catholics by their parents. But, as she told The New York Post in 2003, though she rebelled against the family religion in her youth, Chloë is to this day a practicing Catholic:

She tells me she’s a practising Catholic, for instance, a stance that may seem all of a piece with her decision to “go straight”. Then she explains why, having rebelled against the church as a teen growing up in ultra-conservative suburb of Darien, Connecticut, she came back to the fold. In 1998, she starred in a play, based on a true story, called Hazelwood Jr. High. Her character was a Pentecostal killer. “I had to murder this girl every night on stage, and you know, sodomise her and light her on fire and I got really disturbed. I started like having nightmares and thinking horrible things.” Somewhat ironically, given that the character she was playing was intensely religious, church came to provide “some sort of safe house”. “Also …” she says, biting her lip, “I think because my father had passed away, it was just sort of comforting. Receiving communion makes me feel better about myself, for some reason. It makes me feel good.”

I’m about to joke that she makes wafers sound like the perfect E. But don’t, because I can tell from her expression how seriously she takes this. “People always say that you turn to the church in times of need, but it wasn’t only that – the hurting. It was more than that.” In fact, she became so devout that her Polish mother (Janine Sevigny, née Malinowski) began to fret. ” She said, ‘Don’t become one of those crazies.’ But you know to be a good Catholic is really just to be a good person. That’s the core of it – to do unto others…” (The New York Post, August 2003)

Even so, Chloë describes her early childhood as having been a happy one…

Sevigny, who was born in the mid-70s, described her Darien childhood as idyllic, and her parents as “open-minded.” “[…] We had a unconventional household in a conventional town,” she said. […] “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. (The Darien Times, January 22 2011)

… and already as a child, Chloë began interesting herself in both acting and fashion, sewing her own clothes, auditioning for kids’ commercials (which Chloë “was really into” at the time) and attending annual summer theater camps with another Darien alum, the would-be That ’70s Show star Topher Grace (whom Chloë also reportedly babysat from time to time).

“I went to summer theater camp every year and was in a lot of plays with Topher Grace, who is four years younger than I am and also from Darien. He says he has tapes of those shows, which makes sense because he is very organized and type A. When I was eight or nine I did a couple of local commercials and catalog modeling. Acting was something I aspired to, but in high school I lost all aspiration. I took drama, but I didn’t get along with the teacher. Senior year they were doing West Side Story, and I had a shaved head at the time so I auditioned to play one of the gang boys. I didn’t get a part, so I was just like, whatever.” (Playboy, January 2011)

But when young Chloë began attending Darien High School, a school dominated by the offspring of well-off and influential Darienites, she quickly began losing interest in education, often skipping school to hang out with her brother’s skater friends in NYC, and acting, too, soon lost its appeal; the “drama kids” just became too “geeky” for her — “they just weren’t my crowd. I hung out more with, like, the delinquents” (Page Six, February 3 2008).

“I was kind of a depressed teenager. I pierced my nose, and my parents thought, Why is she desecrating her body? But they encouraged me to go into Manhattan, make my own clothes, dress the way I wanted and do all the weirdo things I was into. My mom found my bong, which she and my father confiscated and strongly discouraged. There was regular teenage drama at home but nothing extraordinary. I was into hippie culture, but I was pretty responsible and open with my parents.”

How big into hippiedom were you?

“Enough to have a Volkswagen bus decorated with batik curtains, which is so embarrassing. I’d drive it with my girlfriends up to Burlington, Vermont for the weekend. Looking back, I can’t believe my dad let me do that, but he was so sweet, always saying there is much more good in the world than bad. I was pretty smart and could read people easily, but I had friends who were attracted to skeevy bad boys. I’d always say, ‘No, he’s not coming in the bus with us. He’s got to sleep outside.’ I was the voice of reason.” (Playboy, January 2011)

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. (The Darien Times, January 22 2011)

An early photo of Chloë Sevigny

During this time, as happens with many teenagers, Chloë, too, was introduced to drugs, but says she was never very keen on them.

“I was never a really big drug taker. I was always too paranoid, always afraid the high would never stop. I did valium, stuff like that. I’ve never liked people on uppers, coke and speed. It scares me, they’re… exploding. I haven’t smoked pot in years now; I just didn’t like the high any more. My heart would beat really fast and I’d feel like I was moving in slow-motion frames. I don’t like those altered states.” (The Face, February 1997)

Still, throughout high school Chloë would continue to sneak away from school, particularly to hang out in New York City, and upon graduating from Darien High at 18, she quickly acquired her first apartment in Brooklyn, where she soon blended in with the local rave scene. Taking a job at the Liquid Sky boutique on Lafayette Street, the downtown rave headquarters, she quickly came to know everyone around, and it was through these friends that she would eventually meet writer-director Harmony Korine.

Discovery & Harmony Korine

Then one day in New York, Chloë was, as they say, discovered. Hanging out with her skater friends in Manhattan’s East Village per her usual style, Chloë was spotted by Sassy magazine’s fashion editor Andrea Lee Linett. Impressed with Chloë’s nonpareil street style, Linett immediately wanted to feature her in something.

[…] Chloe was seventeen. She was standing at a newsstand on Sixth Avenue, in the Village, when she was approached by Andrea Lee Linett, the fashion editor at Sassy. Linett was styling a commercial for the short-lived “Jane” show. “I saw Chloe,” she says, “and I thought, Oh, we have to put her in the shot, but the producers said, ‘No, she’s really weird-looking.’ ” Linett stuck her in the commercial anyway and then asked her to do a shoot for the magazine. (The New Yorker, November 7 1994)

Encouraged by Linett, Chloë agreed to appear in a photoshoot for Sassy magazine wearing her own clothes and creations, and interned for the magazine that summer. Her photo spread was published in the July 1992 issue of the magazine.

Then, only a few months later, it happened again. Hanging out a stone’s throw from Washington Square, she was suddenly approached by a woman who introduced herself to Chloë as a photographer for the British i-D magazine, then offered her a chance to appear in what “just happened to be one of Chloe’s all-time favorite publications” (The New Yorker, November 7 1994). This was soon followed by a modeling gig for Sonic Youth-vocalist Kim Gordon’s “X-Girl” label in spring 1994 as well as appearances in e.g. Paper magazine and the album cover of power pop band Gigolo Aunts’ 1994 record Flippin’ Out. She would also later appear in Juergen Teller-photographed ads for Miu Miu’s Spring/Summer 1996 collection.

Chloë Sevigny in the July 1992 issue of 'Sassy'

But despite landing modeling gigs here and there, Chloë didn’t seem particularly interested in promoting herself for more work. As Paper magazine writer Walter Cessna recounted in The New Yorker in 1994…

He also tried to represent her for modeling assignments, but found her curiously indifferent to being marketed. “I came up with serious stuff, like Steven Meisel for Italian Vogue, and she never showed up. It was kind of a fuck-you thing. At the time I was pissed, but now I kind of admire it.” […] Chloe cheerfully admits to blowing off Meisel, one of the most important fashion photographers alive. (The New Yorker, November 7 1994)

However, Chloë herself now says she didn’t actually blow her opportunity with Meisel on purpose:

“People always bring that up, but actually I did not refuse a shooting with Steven Meisel, what happened was that they were doing a casting — it might have been for Calvin Klein — and I was invited. I was quite young, I think 18. I was out the night before, at Limelight or somewhere, having a really long night so I just decided to sleep in instead of getting up and going to the casting.”

“I assumed there would be another opportunity for a Meisel casting. People were using street kids all the time so it just seemed like if I don’t get this chance, then I’ll get another chance, which has been my philosophy throughout my life with my career. Like if I didn’t get that movie, then it wasn’t meant to happen. It may be a lazy way of thinking or an excuse for not working harder than I should. Anyway, as I turned out I never had a second chance with Meisel.”

Do you like his work?

“He’s one of my favorite fashion photographers of all time. I think he’s still so current and I’m always inspired by what he does. He’s such a trailblazer who creates beautiful images that are still fresh after all these years. He’s still one of the masters.” (MUSE Magazine, Spring/Summer 2015)

Still, it was not until Jay McInerney’s 7-page profile “Chloe’s Scene” in the November 7th, 1994 issue of The New Yorker, famously and forevermore branding her “It girl” and “the coolest girl in the world”, that really put Chloë on the map as a style maven. Once the article was out, her style icon status was instantly gilded, but although Chloë says she can appreciate the “It girl”-label now, she initially didn’t understand what really it meant and resisted it.

“I guess [the article] helped me more than anything else. I’m glad I grew up during the last vestige of cool, in the 1990s, when everything wasn’t blogged and on the Interwebs, when things were more on the downlow and underground. […] Anyway, the term It girl gets used too loosely. […] Today the term is used to describe, say, Peaches Geldof — a girl who doesn’t do anything but is just sort of around. The original It girl was the 1920s movie star Clara Bow; then, in the 1960s, with Edie Sedgwick and Warhol, It girls turned into socialites, ladies of leisure — people who had ‘it’ just for being ‘fabulous.’ But Edie was just a rich drug addict, and when I got called the It girl everyone thought I was that too. I looked like a junkie because it was the 1990s and grunge was the fashion. But I felt I was doing stuff, not just being a socialite.” (Playboy, January 2011)

She already, she says, knew ‘who she was’ by the time the New Yorker decided to profile her as America’s “It Girl” in 1992. How did the publicity affect her life? “To be honest? Not at all. In retrospect, people seem to find more in it, more enjoyment, more cuteness. On set the crew were handing a copy of the thing round the other day, but it barely registered with me at the time. I got two things from it — a lifetime subscription to the magazine, and a rubber Helmut Lang dress.” (The Observer Magazine, October 3 2010)

But not even this would be the last Chloë’s East Village hangout would land her.

Keeping company with her skater friends in New York, Chloë eventually became acquainted with one Harmony Korine, an aspiring screenwriter trying to acquire financing for a movie based on his script Kids at the time. Korine soon insisted on casting her in the lead, and in the finished 1995 film directed by Larry Clark, Chloë portrays Jennie, a 14-year-old girl who ends up losing her virginity to a teenage HIV-positive skater boy. Finding out about her HIV, Jennie tries to track the boy down to stop him from giving the disease to anyone else, only to end up raped by one of his friends at a hazy house party. A small but arresting film, Kids gained some attention for its tough subject matter and performances, and Chloë’s acting was hailed by critics, her touching portrayal of Jennie earning her an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Female in 1996. Not bad for a debut performance.

And the acting bug stuck.

Next, Chloë appeared in writer-director Steve Buscemi’s feature film debut Trees Lounge (1996) opposite Buscemi himself, Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony LaPaglia, before moving on to portray Dot in Harmony Korine’s own experimental and controversial directorial debut, Gummo, in 1997, then Pearl in Korine’s equally challenging Julien Donkey-Boy in 1999. By this time, rumors of Chloë and Harmony’s relationship had begun circulating, and according the July 2000 issue of The Face, their relationship had started already during the filming of Kids. As she described it to The New York Times in March 2000, Chloë “was pretty in love with him from the start, but he saw me as a friend first. It took a while for him to want to be in a relationship with me.” The two continued seeing each other on and off for some years before finally calling it off.

Although Chloë hasn’t been particularly keen on talking about her relationship with Korine, an August 2003 article in The New York Post sheds some light on why things ended the way they did with the Gummo director:

According to Sevigny, it was Korine who changed. When she met him, she says, he was entirely “straight edge” – he didn’t smoke, didn’t drink coffee, showered two times a day and spent all his time writing and going to museums and “being inspired”. But then he discovered drugs, “and then slowly it all, um, fell apart. He was much less productive. It just depleted him of so many things”. She notes quietly that to her the best thing about life is relationships with people, or being in love. “But if you’re a drug addict it seems like that’s your only real love.” Addicts, she continues, generally aren’t interested in sex. And surround themselves with drug buddies, who they don’t even like. “And people on methadone,” she says in a sing-song voice, “will forever be on methadone…” I ask her if she was upset about Korine’s increasing dependency or whether she tried to stay laidback and she yelps, “No! I was judgmental, because he was my boyfriend and I was in love with him and he was a drug addict and it was a horrible thing to have to deal with. I mean, what do you do about it? You know, the lies, and everything else.” She takes a breath. “I mean, I have friends now that I think have problems. But I don’t have anybody that close to me, so it’s not as dire.”

Korine was never big on modesty. He once told a journalist that the more Chloë worked with other directors, the less interested in her he became. (The New York Post, August 2003)

Chloë also touched on the subject in a February 2008 interview with The Guardian, in which she described the break-up as having been a “big messy one”, and asserted that she and Korine are “not in touch”.

In contrast to her Kids success, however, in 1996 Chloë also experienced a tragic setback in her personal life when David Sevigny, Chloë’s father and a major influence and figure in her life, passed away of cancer.

“My father used to take me into the city, to Macy’s, or Saks, to go shopping — I was Daddy’s girl, so those were really important days. He’d been a military man, so all of his outfits were very crisp. And beyond that he had some serious style. Fedoras, trenchcoats — very classic. He even wore those straps [garters] that hold your socks up. There was just something about that generation. He used to tell me how much he liked women in hats, so I would wear hats more and more often, because I knew he liked me in them.” (BlackBook, February 2008)

“My dad had a vinyl collection. He was such a cool guy, and we had a unconventional household in a conventional town,” she said. […] “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.” (The Darien Times, January 22 2011)

Breakthrough in Boys Don’t Cry

Following the post-Kids attention, Chloë continued to choose her next roles according to her own preference, appearing in 1998 in both Whit Stillman’s Last Days of Disco with Kate Beckinsale, Jennifer Beals and Robert Sean Leonard, and the largely unnoticed Palmetto, starring Woody Harrelson, Gina Gershon, Michael Rapaport and Marc Macaulay. In Chloë’s own words, however, her experience on Palmetto wasn’t a positive one.

Palmetto […] was just kind of a mess. The movie, the project, the people. It was my first big commercial endeavor and it soured me on working with big stars. I saw how they threw their weight around.” Ms. Sevigny, who most recently appeared in the HBO lesbian trilogy, If These Walls Could Talk 2, said she enjoyed working with Woody Harrelson. “But Gina Gershon hardly ever spoke to me and Elisabeth Shue spent a lot of time giving me, um, acting tips.” (The New York Times, March 12 2000)

Fortunately, her breakthrough role would come soon thereafter.

Chloë Sevigny as Lana Tisdel in 'Boys Don't Cry'

In 1998, Chloë was cast as Lana Tisdel in Kimbery Peirce’s ambitious and hard-hitting indie drama Boys Don’t Cry. Based on real events, the film recounts the life of Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank), a transgender man who falls in love with Chloë’s Lana, but is raped and murdered by his male friends when they discover his female genitalia.

According to the Boys Don’t Cry DVD, writer-director Peirce only ever considered Jodie Foster and Chloë for the role of Lana Tisdel, but decided on Chloë after seeing her performance in The Last Days of Disco. While Chloë had originally auditioned for the role of Brandon, Peirce also saw Lana as a better character for her. In 2000, Peirce described working with Chloë on the film to The New York Times:

“Chloë just surrendered to the part. She watched videos of Lana. She just became her very naturally. She’s not one of those Hollywood actresses who diets and gets plastic surgery. You never catch her acting.” (The New York Times, March 12 2000)

Premiering in U.S. theaters on October 22nd, 1999, Boys Don’t Cry received universal accolades, and both Swank and Chloë earned worldwide praise for their respective performances, Swank ultimately winning the Best Actress Oscar and Golden Globe for Brandon and Chloë her first ever Golden Globe- and Academy Award-nominations for Best Supporting Actress. Said of her Oscar nomination in Empire magazine in 2000:

Chloë Sevigny heard about the Oscar nomination when Julianne Moore jumped up and down on her bed. Sevigny had only just flown into Berlin, for the European premiere of American Psycho at the film festival, and was trying to sleep off her vicious jet lag. Moore was on her way home, and had just noticed that Sevigny, her co-star in the upcoming Map of the World, was in the room next door. Sevigny was asleep at the time, but Moore had big news, so the next thing Chloë knew, her mattress springs were in violent upheaval and Moore, shortlisted for Best Actress, was screaming, “Aaaaaahhh!!!” right in her ear. “She was a lot more excited than I was,” Sevigny notes wryly. “But it was a nice way to find out.” (Empire, May 2000)

Her performance also gained her the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress the following year, but according to Chloë herself the Oscar nomination in particular didn’t really open any new doors for her.

“It didn’t change anything. I think the Best Supporting Actress category… there’s been lots of women who’ve been nominated and nothing’s really happened. Anyway, I think the Oscars now have lost any weight.” (The Independent Magazine, April 24 2012)

However, as with nearly all of Chloë’s films up until then, even Boys Don’t Cry didn’t debut without controversy. In addition to criticisms that the film did not fully adhere to the real story of Brandon Teena, the real Lana Tisdel reportedly sued Fox Searchlight for the unauthorized use of her name and likeness, claiming she was inappropriately depicted in the film as “lazy, white trash and a skanky snake” (the case was settled out of court for an unrevealed sum of money). Moreover, prior to the film’s theatrical release, the production team faced much difficulty in getting the film approved by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) due to its graphic sex and rape scenes, and was originally released in the United States heavily edited to avoid an NC-17 rating. Director Peirce later criticized the MPAA for wanting to do away with a sex scene, but not having any apparent qualms about the brutality and violence of the final murder scene.

The Infamous Brown Bunny

Despite half a decade of more or less controversial movies, however, Chloë entered the millenium with no evident intentions of choosing her roles with more prudence. Following Boys Don’t Cry and a role in Scott Elliott’s A Map of the World (1999), Chloë appeared next as the quiet, mousy Jean in Mary Harron’s American Psycho (2000), a film adaptation of the controversial and graphically violent Bret Easton-Ellis novel. In the film, Christian Bale appears in one of his most memorable roles as the handsome investment banking executive Patrick Bateman, whose secret voracious desire for sanguinary violence escalates into unnerving fantasies(?) of murder. Although generally positively received (including many five-star reviews), the film also raised much discussion regarding the suitability of graphic violence in film.

That same year, Chloë was also offered a supporting role in the Reese Witherspoon-blockbuster Legally Blonde, but passed on the offer. This Chloë says she regrets to this day.

“[I was offered] the Selma Blair character — the bitchy, preppy girl. I wished to God I had done that movie. I really fucked up with that one. Screwed the pooch. And also Drew Barrymore’s Never Been Kissed. She offered me the Leelee Sobieski part, and I should have done that, too. […] I said no to Legally Blonde because I was offered a play in New York, and I’d never done theater, and it was a Joe Orton play [What the Butler Saw]. It was off-Broadway and just something that I really wanted to do. The movie is so amusing and funny, and I can appreciate it now, but at the time I probably thought it was pretty corny.” (Tokion, August/September 2009)

What was it like shooting The Cosmopolitans in Paris?

It’s very glamorous, and beautiful. I’d shot there before — a French film called Demonlover by Olivier Assayas.

Ah, yes. That’s the movie you’d allegedly accepted over Legally Blonde.

Oh, I don’t know. I mean… I wasn’t offered the lead in Legally Blonde. It was, I think, the friend [eventually going to Selma Blair]. But when I made that movie I was quite young, really in love with this new boy, and I chose to live in St. Germain, and it was too stuffy for this twenty-something. But this time, we also shot in St. Germain, as well as the Marais, which is filled with all these beautiful coffee shops. (The Daily Beast, August 2014)

Original poster for 'The Brown Bunny'

The 2002 indie Demonlover was indeed next for Chloë, followed by Party Monster (2003) and the experimental Lars von Trier-drama Dogville (2003), starring Nicole Kidman, John Hurt, Jeremy Davies and James Caan. However, none of these films, nor any before them, would cause as big a controversy as her 2003 appearance in The Brown Bunny — a film that nearly ended her career.

Written and directed by Vincent Gallo, The Brown Bunny featured Gallo and Chloë in the central roles as Bud and Daisy. Haunted by visions of Daisy, his former lover, Bud embarks on a lonely cross-country road trip, during which his and Daisy’s backstory is gradually revealed. The controversy that arose from the film did not have so much to do with the story, however, as with one particular scene, in which Chloë infamously performs unsimulated oral sex on Gallo’s Bud.

The graphic scene immediately caused nothing short of a shitstorm and both Chloë and Gallo received ruthless criticism for their parts in bringing the scene to life. The May 2003 debut of the first cut at Cannes Film Festival was a disaster, and the loud protests of the Cannes audience reportedly reduced Chloë to tears. Gallo apologized for the sexually explicit scene after the catastrophic Cannes premiere, but later reneged his apology when gaining moderate support Stateside for an edited version of the film. It also brought on a lengthy war of words between Gallo and the late film critic Roger Ebert, who cited The Brown Bunny as “the worst ever film premiere in Cannes Film Festival history.”

But the media attention took its toll on Chloë as well. In January 2004, rumors began circulating that famous rep firm William Morris Agency had dropped Chloë as a client as a result of her appearance in the film, a “source” at the agency claiming that “William Morris now feels that her career is tainted and may never recover, especially after rumours began circulating about the even more graphic outtakes that didn’t make it into the actual film” (ContactMusic.com, January 2004). Chloë’s publicist Amanda Horton quickly shot down these claims, however, telling Page Six, that “after being represented by William Morris for eight years, last summer, Ms. Sevigny decided that she no longer wished to be represented by the agency. […] At no time did William Morris try and ‘drop’ Ms. Sevigny, as any official representative from William Morris would tell you if they weren’t all on vacation.” Chloë herself has also categorically denied the story. She nevertheless severed her relationship with WMA and signed up with its rival agency, Endeavor (though incidentally, as a result of a 2009 WMA-Endeavor merger, she is in fact today again repped by William Morris Endeavor Entertainment).

Even a decade after the film and the debacle that followed it, Chloë is still frequently asked to comment on Bunny and that scene:

I’ve got to ask about The Brown Bunny. You got an unbelievable amount of crap for that scene, and William Morris allegedly fired you.

I did — but that’s not true, the agency thing. I love Vincent. I’ve known him since I was really young, and I’m a big fan of his work, and how controversial it’s been. I’ve always been attracted to controversy. I was interested in doing something really transgressive, and I was really shocked by how much of a hoopla it was — I didn’t think it would turn into such a hoopla — and it was really painful to go through. In the end, I think the stress will have taken a few years off of my life. It’s an art film. I stand behind my choices, Marlow. (The Daily Beast, August 2014)

“There were all these rumours, like getting fired from my agency, which is not true,” she says. “And they said things about me not being marketable, but was I marketable beforehand? No. I mean I’ve always been this indie, outside-the-box girl. Afterwards I got cast in a Woody Allen film, and Zodiac and then a big show on HBO. So people can say what they like.” (The Independent Magazine, April 24 2012)

“I seem to question myself every day why I crossed the line in The Brown Bunny, but I really believed in the director [Gallo] as an artist. I guess I just thought, ‘I could go to this extreme once,’ but perhaps it was the wrong choice. I’m not gonna beat myself up over it anymore. I think perhaps if it had come out at a different time people would’ve reacted to it differently. Making it for me was not difficult but the reaction from the public has been very difficult for me to handle. I think a lot of people talk about it without having seen it and that’s part of the problem.” (WENN.com via IMDb.com, May 4 2007)

“What’s happened with that is all very complicated. There are a lot of emotions. I’ll probably have to go to therapy at some point. But I love Vincent. The film is tragic and beautiful, and I’m proud of it and my performance. I’m sad that people think one way of the movie, but what can you do? I’ve done many explicit sex scenes, but I’m not that interested in doing any more. I’m more self-aware now and wouldn’t be able to be as free, so why even do it?” (Playboy, January 2011)

At the time, there was also much speculation as to whether or not Chloë was involved with Gallo during filming. Although Chloë did sometimes give the impression that she and Gallo were lovers at the time, Gallo has since denied there ever having been a relationship.

“Chloe and I were never boyfriend and girlfriend. In 1995 we made out once in Paris. […] I feel Chloe has suggested we were boyfriend and girlfriend to lessen the boldness of her appearance… and to portray herself as a devoted girlfriend and victim rather than a great radical performer. Chloe brilliantly understood that the media would persist in thinking that she did it out of loyalty to me. [referring to Chloë’s 2011 ‘Playboy’ interview] I am sorry she feels the experience was so startling that she needs therapy to resolve her feelings.” (Page Six via NYPost.com, December 24 2010)

Chloë never responded to Gallo’s statement in Page Six, but did have this to say about him to The Observer Magazine in October 2010:

It was reported that Gallo and Sevigny had a complicated relationship, with him admitting that he’s been “obsessed” by her since she was a pre-teen. Today they no longer speak, but Sevigny is careful to stress that she regrets nothing. “He’s a fascinating man,” she says slowly, “but we haven’t spoken for a while. Not that that’s unusual — actors rarely stay in touch with directors after they’ve filmed together. We go back to real life.” (The Observer Magazine, October 3 2010)

Big Love, Big Successes, Big Controversies

As it happens, however, “The Bunny” didn’t end Chloë’s career. Instead (and perhaps surprisingly), her career took a slightly more mainstream turn as she next appeared in small supporting roles first in Shattered Glass (2003), then Jim Jarmusch’s critically acclaimed Broken Flowers (2005). Then, in 2004, Chloë would make her small screen debut, guest-starring as Monet in episode “East Side Story” of the award-winning sitcom Will & Grace. This role was then followed by more small-scale films, such as the made-for-TV thriller Mrs. Harris (2005) and M. Blash’s largely ignored Lying (2006) (not even released Stateside until its North American DVD premiere in May 2009). In addition to another largely unseen thriller, Sisters (2006), Chloë also appeared as the Catholic nun Clara in the movie 3 Needles in 2005, a performance for which she has later gained some critical recognition, despite the film having mostly gone unnoticed due to nonexistent distribution.

Chloë Sevigny as Nicolette 'Nicki' Grant in HBO's 'Big Love'

In 2005, however, after many unsuccessful auditions for various TV series, Chloë was offered a starring role in HBO’s new polygamist drama Big Love, co-starring Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Ginnifer Goodwin and Harry Dean Stanton. Hoping the role would lead to more mainstream work, Chloë seized the opportunity, and in March 2006 debuted the manipulative, ultra-conservative and credit card-challenged Nicolette “Nicki” Grant, the second wife of Mormon polygamist Bill Henrickson (Paxton). Said of her casting and why she took the role:

“I was the first person cast for the show. […] So many people don’t know a lot about Mormon fundamentalism. I thought it would be interesting to try and explore.” (The Darien Times, January 22 2011)

“[I took the role] because I was getting all these small parts and wanted to be able to show off a little bit. […] Does that sound completely narcissistic?” (LATimes.com, January 15 2011)

Chloë’s riveting performance as Nicki earned her much praise throughout the course of the show, which culminated in 2010 in her second ever Golden Globe nomination — and first win. The show’s fifth and final season concluded on March 20th, 2011.

But even Big Love stirred things up for the outspoken Chloë.

Accepting the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her Season 3 portrayal of Nicki at the 2010 Golden Globes, the usher escorting her to the stage accidentally stepped on and ripped Chloë’s ruffled lavender gown, on loan from Valentino. Flushed and breathless, Chloë turned for a moment to the usher mid-speech and laughed out, “I can’t believe you just ripped my dress!” before again going on with the speech. The quip was immediately picked up on on the internet, and in the following days Chloë would gain much attention for it in the press as well as harsh words from people who thought her reaction inappropriate. She later related what happened that night to the monthly LGBT publication The Advocate:

A few days after the Golden Globes ceremony, when I discovered on Greginhollywood.com that the escort who stepped on your dress, Joe Everett Michaels, was gay, I thought, Great, another reason for people to hate us: As if our pesky demands for equal rights weren’t enough, now we’ve gone and ripped Chloë Sevigny’s Valentino!

“Oh, geesh, I know. He actually found me in the ballroom afterward, came up to me, and was going on and on, like, ‘I’m so, so, so, so sorry!’ The poor guy. Accidents happen, so of course I accepted his apology. You know, I had a feeling something was going to happen. I thought I was just going to stain the dress or that I was going to trip, but leave it to the gays!” [laughs] (Advocate.com, March 2010)

And barely had the first media commotion passed when the next one came knocking, when Chloë was “caught” criticizing the recent fourth season of Big Love in a March 2010 interview with The A.V. Club:

The A.V. Club: This past season of Big Love has taken a lot of flak for being so over-the-top.

CS: It was awful this season, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not allowed to say that! [gasps] It was very telenovela. I feel like it kind of got away from itself. The whole political campaign seemed to me very farfetched. I mean, I love the show, I love my character, I love the writing, but I felt like they were really pushing it this last season. And with nine episodes, I think they were just squishing too much in. HBO only gave us nine Sundays, because they have so much other original programming — especially with The Pacific — and they only have a certain amount of Sundays per year, so we only got nine Sundays. I think that they had more story than episodes. I think that’s what happened.

[…] Me and the girls [Jeanne Tripplehorn and Ginnifer Goodwin] definitely were not very happy with where it was going—or more kind of, ‘We really hope it’s going to work. It seems like they’re really pushing it.’ I think next season, they’re going to go back to more just the family. I think that the stuff with Ben and Lois and that stuff was really great in Mexico, but… [laughs]

[…] AVC: Like how J.J.’s trying to inject her with an incest baby?

CS: Oh God, I know. Oh, God. It’s too much. It’s too much. But I hope the fans will stick with us and tune in next year. There’s a lot of people who really love this season, surprisingly. God, I’m going to get in so much trouble. [laughs] (AVClub.com, March 24 2010)

Chloë Sevigny holding her 2010 Golden Globe

As usual, the media immediately picked up on the quotation and made such noise about it that Chloë was eventually prompted to call and explain herself to Michael Ausiello of Entertainment Weekly:

What happened? Why’d you say it?

“[long pause] I feel like what I said was taken out of context, and the [reporter] I was speaking to was provoking me. I was in Austin [at the SXSW festival] and really exhausted and doing a press junket and I think I just… I wasn’t thinking about what I was saying. You know, after a day of junkets sometimes things slip out that you don’t mean, and I obviously didn’t mean what I said in any way, shape, or form. I love being on the show. I have nothing but respect and admiration for our writers and everybody involved with the show. […] I think [the show] is very complex and the content is amazing and it’s just very ironic that this statement would come out and blow so out of control. Because I feel absolutely the opposite. It is difficult being on a show for several seasons and having no control and having things go in different directions where you didn’t think they would go. But that’s also the most exciting part [because] they keep the character really fresh and there’s new scenarios that they come up with.”

The fact is, many people were let down by last season. You didn’t really say anything that hasn’t already been said by a lot of fans and critics. Is it possible there was some grain of truth to your remarks and perhaps it just came out too harsh?

“Maybe it did come out too harsh. I especially think the third season was so strong, and obviously we only had nine episodes so we couldn’t really explore as much this season, so maybe that was part of it. And I really haven’t seen the whole season because I don’t have a television. I’ve only seen about half of it, so I couldn’t even really comment having not been able to see it all the way through.

“[…] And I feel really terrible. And I called Will and Mark and apologized profusely. […] They accepted my apology. We have a great mutual respect for one another, and they know my work ethic, how I treat other people at work and them, and how I never contest anything they write for me. I’m always willing [to perform what’s written]. Even if I have a little trouble with something, they’ll explain it to me in a way that makes perfect sense. So I think that what was so surprising for all of us is that I never really complain or have any problems with anything. I think I was just exhausted in Austin and just spoke out of line and said something that wasn’t really how I was really feeling. […] We talked it out. We talked for a while. [laughs] I was a sob case, of course. I haven’t slept all night because if they said something about me, if they made a statement that they were disappointed in my work, I would feel awful. I always feel, ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’ And I just feel it was very out of character. I feel really awful. I don’t know what else to say except that I’m really sorry, and I’m really proud of the show, and feel blessed to be a part of it.” (EW.com, March 26 2010)

Although both HBO and the series creators were reportedly happy with this apology, some fans of the show felt Chloë actually retracted her comments needlessly and had only said what many people watching were already thinking. The A.V. Club also quickly responded to Chloë’s claims that she had been egged on by their reporter by releasing an audio clip from the actual interview and a statement:

“[…] fair enough. You were caught biting the hand that feeds you Golden Globes; probably best to blame your momentary lapse into candor on everything that’s beyond your control, such as exhaustion and the rigors of doing press junkets. But as the person who conducted said interview, I’m not really sure how a statement like ‘It was awful this season’ can possibly be taken out of context.” (AVClub.com, Mar 26 2010)

After the respective statements of everyone involved, Chloë briefly mentioned the dispute only one more time in 2011:

“I got into a lot of trouble. It was a huge thing on the Internet. Yeah, I got a little talking-to. [laughs] I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me. I loved being on the show; I love my character and my co-stars. The whole experience has been great. I just felt it was a weaker season than others. I shouldn’t have said it. I don’t want to offend anybody.” (Playboy, January 2011)

New Pursuits: Fashion & Other Roles

Alongside Big Love, however, Chloë continued to appear in movies as well and landed among other films her first genuinely big Hollywood production in David Fincher’s crime thriller Zodiac (2007), starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo. Although her performance as Melanie, a small supporting role, went largely unnoticed by the critics, the film garnered mostly positive reviews upon its premiere and continues to hold its own today with an impressive 89% “fresh” rating on the review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com.

Chloë Sevigny for Opening Ceremony

In 2008, however, with no films lined up for release and Big Love on hiatus, Chloë shifted focus from acting to fashion. In addition to appearing in ads for the French fashion house Chloé with actress Clémence Poésy and model Anja Rubik, in February 2008 Chloë debuted her first line of clothing for Humberto Leon and Carol Lim’s hip New York-based label Opening Ceremony. The Chloë Sevigny for Opening Ceremony collection was characterized by its distinctive ’90s vibe and gingham prints, very reflective of Chloë’s personal style, and although sure to divide opinions (as Chloë’s work does), quickly sold out in more than 100 boutiques worldwide.

Describing the inspiration for the collection to Australian Doingbird 2008:

“I was kind of thinking of a store that I used to shop at called Unique Boutique — it was on Broadway, but it’s not there any more. And I was thinking about my junior high, the beginning of my high school years, and what I was into when I was kind of discovering myself and my own style and forming some sort of an identity. I was kind of thinking of that period — it’s not a literal interpretation of anything I wore, but, y’know, things I kind of liked back then. Like, I wore a lot of stretch cotton skirts and mock turtlenecks and things like that, so I incorporated those into the line. And I wore a lot of floral rayon dresses and stuff, but I didn’t want to do rayon so I did all the florals and the cottons. And the boots are kind of sophisticated versions of the combat boots and Dr. Martens I used to wear as a kid.” (Doingbird, Spring/Summer 2008)

Chloë has since followed up the collection with five more — the last being a Spring/Summer 2015 line — all with Opening Ceremony.

Moreover, in 2008 Chloë was announced as the new “style advisor” of UK Elle. In her new role at the magazine, Chloë answered reader questions about style in a monthly column which ran from March through November 2008. (Although the discontinuation of her column was never formally announced, the column hasn’t appeared in the magazine since the November installment.) She also appeared that year in ads for Ellus’ Spring/Summer 2008 collection and Uniqlo’s “UT Project” tees.

But despite her collections for Opening Ceremony, the occasional ad campaign and her well-established reputation as a fashion icon, Chloë maintains that acting remains her number one priority.

“I guess I am stylish, but I would rather have people come up and say ‘I really liked your performance in this or that’ than ‘I really like the way you dress.’ That irks me.” (Playboy, January 2011)

“[Being known not only as an actor] can be good, but it can also be bad. You know, ‘Well she’s the fashion girl, she doesn’t really act.’ I don’t think that people give me enough credit as an actress. Not that I think I’m the world’s greatest, but I’ve done a lot of good work.” (Missbehave, Holiday 2008)

“[…] I feel like I still have to prove myself in more big-studio pictures before the business will be able to look at me in a different way. Once you’ve gotten some label, it’s really hard to shake it, even though I think I’ve played a wide range of roles within the indie world. I still feel like I’m not given enough credit, but I also feel like I haven’t been given that many great parts. I had a really great part in Boys Don’t Cry, obviously. And in a couple of films, like 3 Needles (2005), which played at [the small indie theater] Village East for something like two weeks. It was a great part, but I feel like people aren’t seeing me enough in different roles like that.” (Bust, June/July 2007)

Perhaps that’s why Chloë says she felt a little vindicated in 2010 after finally winning the Golden Globe for Big Love:

“I’ve never even been nominated for an Emmy, goddamn it. There’s no justice. [laughs] Actually, the Golden Globe felt like a little bit of justice, a real confidence booster, having never felt embraced by the industry. It wasn’t a Sally Field thing — ‘You like me! You really like me!’ — more like, ‘Yeah, good. I showed them.'” (The Observer Magazine, October 3 2010)

“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.” (The Darien Times, January 22 2010)

Meanwhile in Chloë’s personal life, towards the close of 2008 rumors began circulating that Chloë had ended her relationship with longtime boyfriend, A.R.E Weapons’ bassist Matthew “Matt” McAuley, and in May 2009, Chloë confirmed to TimesOnline.co.uk (May 17th, 2009) that their “eight-year relationship” had come to a close.

Moving on, however, in 2009, Chloë again turned back to acting, appearing in short films such as Beloved and — brace yourself for this mouthful — The Fragile White Blossoms Emit a Hypnotic Cascade of Tropical Perfume Whose Sweet Heady Odor Leaves Its Victim Intoxicated, as military behavioral analyst Emily Riley in the straight-to-DVD thriller The Killing Room, and most notably as Ingrid in Werner Herzog’s psychological drama My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done with Michael Shannon, Willem Dafoe and Big Love‘s Grace Zabriskie. Chloë described collaborating with the legendary director, whom she’d previously worked with on Julien Donkey-Boy in 1999, in 2009:

“I worked with him before on Julien Donkey-Boy. He played my father, which was terrifying. I think he was doing some kind of Method shit, because he was really mean to me the whole time and kind of chauvinistic. So I was really scared about working on My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done. I didn’t know what I was getting into. But we spoke on the phone before, and he seemed very kind and enthusiastic about me being in the project. I showed up and he was very gentle, and it was completely the opposite of the experience on Julien Donkey-Boy.” (Tokion, August/September 2009)

The film received a limited theatrical release in the U.S., but went mostly unnoticed due to varying festival reviews and modest promotion.

In 2010, Chloë appeared as the nymphomaniac Jennifer in the mainstream (if not big-budget) comedy Barry Munday, starring Patrick Wilson and Judy Greer, before moving on to portray Judy Marks opposite Rhys Ifans and David Thewlis in the Howard Marks-biopic Mr. Nice. The movie, about the real-life Welsh marijuana smuggler Howard Marks, premiered in UK theaters in October 2010. According to Chloë, she took on the role because she was “attracted to [co-star] Rhys [Ifans] as an actor and as a human” (Ology.com, May 2011), but admitted she struggled with both the continual improvisation and Judy’s British accent.

“I was really scared of the accent, and I was so not confident about it. The filmmakers weren’t very specific. If they’d specified a certain type of English accent, then it would have been easier. Also, they didn’t really have a dialect coach for me to work with—they had a PA. They weren’t giving me the right training about how to move your mouth and where the right sounds are in your mouth, because it’s very technical.” (BlackBookMag.com, May 2011)

Mr. Nice is a biopic about a drug smuggler named Howard Marks. Rhys Ifans stars. It was very improvisational, the shooting, and the director is kind of a wild man; he didn’t want to rehearse or block any scenes. Sometimes he wouldn’t even let us see the room we were going to do the scene in until we walked in to shoot. It was very challenging, because I was also doing a British accent. I rehearsed on my own over and over again, but then Rhys of course improvised and I would have to try and respond in a British accent, with improvisation! It was very hard for me, I’d never done that before. But I really love Bernard, I think he’s a great filmmaker and it was really fun to shoot that way.” (Cinematical, March 2010)

Moreover, although the real Judy Marks was reportedly happy with the casting, Chloë later said she regretted not having met her until after filming:

“Judy and I met at the end of shooting, which was a shame, because I think I could’ve made the character stronger if we’d talked earlier.” (The Observer Magazine, October 3 2010)

Her role in Mr. Nice was followed by the short All Flowers in Time and the music video Fight for Your Right Revisited. She also voiced Candy Darling in the feature-length documentary Beautiful Darling (2010), about the titular transgender actress and “Andy Warhol Superstar”.

Hit & Miss

Chloë Sevigny in 'Hit & Miss'

In 2012, Chloë’s work schedule was dominated for the first time entirely by television. Having brought Big Love to a close in March 2011, Chloë next took on guest roles on both Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (a one-off as the mysterious Christine Hartwell) and American Horror Story: Asylum, the second season of the gruesome but all-the-more popular horror anthology. She then took on her next big starring role in Sky Atlantic’s Hit & Miss, a hard-hitting and edgy six-part miniseries set in Britain’s Manchester about Mia, a pre-op transgender female and hitman who one day finds out she fathered a son with her former girlfriend before she began transitioning.

According to Chloë, it was the script by Sean Conway which particularly appealed to her about the show:

“First and foremost was the script. I wanted to work in England, I wanted to work with this director. I didn’t have anything else and I wanted to do something very different from the character I played on Big Love for so many years just to kind of shake that part. I loved doing long-form television and the fact it was a six-hour mini-series, I knew how much you get to explore with the character over time.” (The Age, November 2012)

The five-and-a-half-month shoot in the heart of Manchester, UK was in many ways a whole new experience for Chloë, who among other things had to spend a lot of time undressed on set and wear a prosthetic penis. What’s more, the regional British accent she had to work with was even more demanding than the one she had previously confessed to having struggled with in Mr. Nice.

“Being around the men on set, being naked, and having that on, I just felt insecure and uncomfortable. Plus the process to put it on was very involved. I had to shave myself, it’s glued on, painted, like any prosthetic. It’s not fun to have someone right up in your private parts,” she deadpans before letting out her hooting laugh, a signature Chloë-ism. “I think the root of why I was so upset with having it on was that I wasn’t fully trusting of the producers and directors,” she admits. “Now I can rest assured, because I’ve seen it, and it’s not gratuitous. It shouldn’t be a show about a fucking penis.'”

“I was worried people would be angry that they didn’t cast a real person who was transitioning,” she says. “I asked why they didn’t, and the producers said they didn’t find the right person. It’s a big responsibility toward that community, and I wanted to do them right.” The show’s writer, Sean Conway, was more categorical. “I don’t think anyone else could have played the part,” he says. “She’s hypnotizing and perfectly balances the tender with the brutal. I could watch her forever.” (Out, August 2012)

The series was both a critical and ratings success for Sky Atlantic straight from its May 2012 premiere, and Chloë in particular was widely praised in the UK press for her brave portrayal of Mia. But despite rave reviews and a cliffhanger ending, the UK channel opted not to renew the show for a second series, the reasons for which remain a mystery to fans of the show to this day.

But despite the critical acclaim Chloë received for her performance on the show, it wouldn’t be a year in the life of Chloë Sevigny without at least one controversy — and Hit & Miss landed her in two.

The first one got its start from two 2012 articles in the magazines Interview and Psychologies respectively, in which Chloë described the city of Manchester as “grim” and “full of Chavs” and complained about the weather there:

“It was very hard being in Manchester. […] It was one of the grimmest places I’d ever been in my entire life, and I was there for so long. I hardly had any visitors. I was so alone. […] It rained every single day I was there.” (Interview, February 2012)

“It’s a small town. And I guess I’d grown up hearing so much about it, I had an idea it would be more bustling because of all the students there. Not that I would hang out with students – I’m 37 – but I expected it to have more alternative life. I thought it would be less… I’m trying to think of how to say it in a nice way. […] It’s very mainstream. What is it they call the girls – chavs? They all go out wearing their huge fake Louboutins hoping to bag a footballer.” (Psychologies, June 2012)

As per usual, the comments soon spread across the internet like wildfire, and many Mancunians — including some local papers — took offense of Chloë’s words, taking to Twitter to make fun of and bash Chloë for her remarks under the #ChloeWho hashtag. The backlash finally prompted her take to the press — most notably BBC Radio 5 — to explain herself and what her experience in Manchester had really been like.

“It was hard in Manchester. I mean, the subject matter of the show was really hard, it was the biggest part I’ve ever played, it was demanding physically and emotionally. And so, you know, my frame of mind was really… You know, I was very sensitive. And the weather there is, as everybody knows, not that great. It’s like, in a valley, so it rained I think for four months straight every day. We had a couple, you know, spots of sunshine here and there, but… And, and, the shooting schedule was really tough, and we were out on the moors in like, really strong winds and rain, and I was wearing practically nothing, freezing. It was just very demanding all around.”

So when you were interviewed and you gave these comments, you were just a bit drained, you were a bit low, were you?

“I was, and I was also talking to a close friend of mine [Kim Gordon in Interview magazine], who was in a very famous band called Sonic Youth, and she’s toured a lot and been to Manchester many times. And I think she had a, you know, a sense of Manchester of her own. And so we were kind of finding common ground a little bit.”

Did you? Coz the one quote that stood out was I think the interviewer had said, if this show works and Sky Atlantic wants to make a second series, would you like to make a second series? And I think you said something like, “It depends if I can suffer Manchester again.”

“Oooh. Did I?… [both laugh] I think I would have to go about it in a different way, because I really isolated myself. I didn’t have any friends come to visit because I was working on the accent and all the physical stuff, and I didn’t want them to be a distraction. I think if I went back again, it would be different, because I feel more at ease in the part and with the accent, whatnot, and therefore I could have more people coming in and out. When you’re, you know, away from home for six months and you don’t have any of your friends nearby you, it can get very lonely.”

So you would be prepared to do it, in other words?

“I would, yeah! I would want to have a few extra long weekends. [both laugh] Because you need your release every now and again, you can’t just only be working.”

Do you feel maybe that you just haven’t properly got to know Manchester yet?

“No, I spent a lot of time in Manchester, and of course there’s so much great music out of Manchester and I love the architecture and the beautiful countryside surrounding it. I had a nice time, I just, I didn’t get to meet that many people. My favorite thing when I go on location is to like, infiltrate with the locals, and I felt like maybe… they knew who I was and didn’t approach me, it was just very hard to make friends with locals there.”

You might be slightly intimidating!

“I hope not! [laughs] Perhaps. Perhaps I didn’t try hard enough. I don’t know. […] Plus we were working like, six-day weeks. There wasn’t a lot of time.” (BBC Radio 5 live with Richard Bacon, May 14th 2012)

But it wasn’t long before Chloë was in hot water again when the LGBT community via The Advocate picked up on Chloë having used the word “tranny” for “transgender” in an interview with BlackBook magazine. She later said the poor choice of words had been an honest mistake.

“I got reamed out by The Advocate the other day for saying ‘tranny.’ I guess I referred to her [Mia in Hit & Miss] as a ‘tranny’ a couple of times and apparently, that’s a no-no in the community. I felt really bad! Nobody had ever told me. Did you know that? […] Reee-donkulous. You can’t say anything anymore.” (The Huffington Post, April 17 2012)

Nonetheless, Hit & Miss was a critical success for Chloë and remains some of her best-reviewed work to date.

After Mia, Chloë next took on a number of more or less recurring roles in various American comedies — Louie in 2012, and The Mindy Project, Doll & Em and Portlandia in 2013 — and reunited with her Lying co-star Jena Malone for another M. Blash drama, The Wait. Chloë also appeared in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role as a “feminist journalist” in the Amanda Seyfried-vehicle Lovelace about the life of the controversial “Deep Throat” porn star Linda Lovelace, which premiered in 2013 to mixed reviews. That same year, Chloë moreover began dating actor and art director Rene Navarrette, and moved from her apartment of ten years to another in Brooklyn, New York. The couple are no longer together, however.

In 2013, Chloë also landed another starring role in Those Who Kill, a pilot for an exciting new A&E Networks serial killer procedural with James D’Arcy, James Morrison, Bruce Davison and Omid Abtahi. Based on the Danish original series Den som dræber, Chloë headlined the cast as Catherine Jensen, a brilliant but obsessive homicide detective with a secret troubled childhood. The series premiered on A&E on March 3rd, 2014 with ten episodes lined up, but although critics once again commended Chloë for her work, the show was cancelled after just two weeks of otherwise dismal reviews (and worse ratings). The remaining eight episodes were quietly aired on A&E’s Lifetime channel.

Going into this year, Chloë has so far among other things appeared in a small supporting role in the highly stylized Electric Slide about the real-life bank robber Eddie Dodson (a film largely panned by critics) and in another supporting role as Kendra in the indie drama Little Accidents (released on DVD and VOD after premiering to mixed reviews in 2014). In June, she also completed filming a role in Look Away, a dark comedy about a young woman who is unable to see her own mother (played by Chloë) due to selective blindness, and reunited in February with her Last Days of Disco co-star Kate Beckinsale and director Whit Stillman for her first ever period drama, Love & Friendship, slated for release in 2016. In March 2015, Chloë also made a critically acclaimed nine-episode guest run as Chelsea O’Bannon in the debut season of Netflix’s Bloodline, and is currently set to feature in no less than three upcoming horror features — in Antibirth (2016) opposite actress and good friend Natasha Lyonne, #Horror (2015), the feature film debut of another close friend, Tara Subkoff, and American Horror Story: Hotel, the much-anticipated fifth season of FX’s hit horror anthology.

“I think my brother and I are very grounded people. I think that’s all my parents ever wanted.”
– Chloë Sevigny in The Darien Times, January 22 2011

Biography by Chloë Sevigny Online
November 12th, 2007 (last revised August 6th, 2015) © All rights reserved.


Sources

Interviews:

BBC Radio 5 live interview with Richard Bacon, May 14th, 2012

Press Articles:

BlackBook (US), February 2008
Bust (US), June/July 2007
Doingbird (Australia), Spring/Summer 2008
Elle (UK), March 2008
Empire (UK), May 2000
Interview (US), February 2012
Missbehave (US), Holiday 2008
MUSE Magazine (Italy), Spring/Summer 2015
Out (US), August 2012
Page Six (US), February 3 2008
Paper (US), September 2006
Playboy (US), January 2011
Psychologies (UK), June 2012
The Darien Times (US), January 22 2011
The Face (UK), February 1997
The Face (UK), July 2000
The Guardian (UK), February 2008
The New York Post (US), August 2003
The New York Times (US), March 12 2000
The New Yorker (US), November 7 1994
The Observer Magazine (UK), October 3 2010
Tokion (US), August/September 2009

Websites & Online Articles:

Advocate.com: “Second Wife’s Club”, Mar 2010
AVClub.com: “Chloë Sevigny Apologizes for A.V. Club Interview”, Mar 26 2010
AVClub.com: “Chloë Sevigny Interview”, Mar 24 2010
BBC.com: “Sevigny on what she meant by her Manchester comments”, May 14 2012
BlackBookMag.com: “Chloë Sevigny on Going from Drug Smuggler to Pre-Op Trans Assassin”, May 2011
Cinematical: “Kick-Ass Females of SxSW: Chloe Sevigny”, March 2010
ContactMusic.com: “Chloe Sevigny Dropped by William Morris”, Jan 5 2004
DailyMail.co.uk: “EXCLUSIVE: She’s no longer a Kid: Chloe Sevigny’s dating a dashing art director – and settling down in a new apartment in Brooklyn”, Oct 7 2013
EW.com: “Sevigny expresses regret, blames exhaustion on her ‘awful’ outburst”, Mar 26 2010
Harmony-Korine.com
Independent.co.uk: “Indie kid: Chloë Sevigny on sex scenes, internet lies and loneliness”, Apr 24 2012
Internet Movie Database: “Chloë Sevigny”
InterviewMagazine.com: “Chloë Sevigny”, Jan 2011
LATimes.com: “Chloe Sevigny is happy to be a sister wife on ‘Big Love'”, Jan 15 2011
NYPost.com: “Gallo Bites Back at Chloe Sevigny”, Dec 24 2010
Ology.com: “Chloë Sevigny Sick of Playing the Suffering Wife, Incredibly Honest”, May 2011
SFGate.com: “Sevigny Hits Back at Agency Claims”, Jan 2 2004
The Age: “I’m less of a snob now”, Nov 2 2012
The Daily Beast: “Chloe Sevigny on ‘The Cosmopolitans,’ New York’s Frat Boy Takeover, and ‘Asshole’ Michael Alig”, Aug 24 2014
The Huffington Post: “Chloe Sevigny on ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Role, New Transgender Miniseries, ‘Girls’ and More”, Apr 17 2014
TimesOnline.co.uk: “Chloë Sevigny, Queen of Cool”, May 17 2009
WENN.com: “Sevigny Still Upset About Reaction to ‘Brown Bunny'”, May 4 2007