Chloë Sevigny Is Totally Worth The Wait
by Jay S. Jacobs
We’ve been watching Chloë Sevigny since she was literally a kid: playing a standout role in Larry Clark’sKids, the hard-hitting 1995 cult drama about wasted youth. Nearly twenty years later and the quirky actress still fascinates. As an actress, she is an odd contradiction: pretty but not traditionally beautiful, somber but with an offbeat sense of humor, dead serious and yet playful.
This odd sense of contradiction extends to her adventurous choices in roles. She fits in to all genres and moods: from tragic real life drama (Boys Don’t Cry) to downbeat hyper-realism (Trees Lounge) to surreal cultural commentary (Dogville) to pitch black comedy (American Psycho) to sophisticated wordplay (The Last Days of Disco).
In recent years she has taken her offbeat talent to television, playing the wife of a bigamist in HBO’s acclaimed Big Love, a tortured nymphomaniac in American Horror Story: Asylum, a transgender in Hit and Miss and currently is recurring on the popular sitcom The Mindy Project.
That’s only a taste of what Sevigny has on her plate, though. She currently is co-starring with Jena Malone in the gorgeously filmed family psychodrama The Wait. In that film Sevigny and Malone play sisters whose mother has just died. However, literally seconds after mother has taken her last breath, Emma (Sevigny) receives a phone call from a mysterious woman who insists that their mother will soon be resurrected. Therefore, much to the horror of her younger sister, Emma insists upon keeping the death to themselves and leaving their mother’s body in her bedroom and wait to see what happens.
Sevigny also is starring in A&E’s new crime drama Those Who Kill, which is loosely based on the Danish series Den som dræber. The show, set to premiere in March, has Sevigny as a Pittsburgh detective who has to work with a forensic profiler (James D’Arcy) to solve a series of serial slayings.
A few weeks before The Wait had its premiere, we gave Sevigny a call to get the lowdown on her new projects and her career.
This is the second time you and Jena have worked with M. Blash, on his first two features. What is it about him artistically that intrigued you and made you want to give him a chance on his debut?
Well, actually he’s a personal friend of mine. We have a relationship outside of working together. We’ve been friends for years. We first met, I think it was like in 1999 or 2000, at friends of mine’s apartment. He had just moved to New York. He had this short film that he had made with these two girls, really awkward, in the kitchen wearing Laura Ashley dresses. He showed it to me. He was like, “I’m trying to make this as a feature.” I was like: send me the script. The short is amazing. I think shorts are really hard to make. Through talking about the feature that never got made, we became friends. I think that Jena and M also had a relationship outside of working together prior to us doing his first feature, Lying. Just being around him and being close with him and knowing what he’s into and going to see art together and bands together, I loved him as a person and trusted him as an artist. I feel like, for me, whenever I work with friends, it’s always the most empowering and the most freeing. Also challenging, in the way that they always know when you are being you and when you are not. Like, “Oh, you always do things like this” because he’s so familiar with my work. “You should just try something you haven’t done.” It’s easier to push it. I feel really safe when I’m working with people I know and love.
The death of a loved one is obviously a very difficult thing to deal with, and your character certainly had an extreme reaction. Do you think she really truly believed the woman on the phone saying that her mom would be resurrected or that she just needed time to come to terms?
I think that she was deflecting. Doing anything she could. After having cared for her mother when she was sick for so long – because she was a hospice nurse – I think that sometimes people just snap and lose the way. This is the way that manifested in that character. I can’t even remember the character’s name right now, for Christ’s sake. (laughs) It was just a way of avoiding what was actually going down, because the character… what’s her name? Do you remember the name?
I believe Emma…
Emma. She is very practical. She’s a nurse. Nurses are almost like someone in the military. Always by the books. This was her chance to kind of lose it and spiral a bit.
It seems the sisters almost have an opposite trajectory.
They do and then they swap. They change 3/4 of the way through.
Your character starts out believing and slowly comes to terms with the fact that it was not going to happen, while Jena starts off cynical and slowly starts to believe. Why do you think they took such different paths?
I don’t know. I think they just have different roles within the family. They are at different places in their lives. I guess that’s more a question for M, but I think it just makes for a more dynamic story as well, if they are not in the same [place]. It also serves the movie. (laughs)
You had some very emotional scenes with Jena. What is she like to work with?
Oh, Jena’s great. She is just very open as an actress. Really loves acting. Loves the movies. Such a cinephile. She’s very spiritual and connected. Always coming with these very strange ideas out of left field. Inspired by colors and weird shit. Because I’m so not that, it’s pretty exciting to work with someone that is. (laughs) Kind of kooky in that way to feed off of their energy. It’s almost like we should have been playing each other’s characters. She should have been playing the Emma character and I should have been playing her character, if we are going to play people that are more like the people we are in real life.