Photographer: Eric Hobbs
Creative Director: Deborah Ferguson
Interview by Jamie Kourt
Okay, a weird way to begin, but I can’t help myself. I adore your scene in BABY MAMA, licking your toddler’s fingers to decipher if they are covered in chocolate or poop. It cracks me up. Are there certain scenes of yours you adore or think about?
I really love the scene on the affair where Helen walks into her store when she is all high and drunk and very irreverent to her customers. I think it is really funny scene.
There is also a scene on “ER” where Scott Grimes character guesses that Abby is pregnant. It’s so funny. I think one of the funniest scenes I did on that show.
Is there was one role you would like people to remember you for?
I would like to be remembered for the ability to play many roles. That is something I aspire to.
There is the role in “Rescue Me”, that is one of my favorite jobs. I love that character. That was the first thing I was cast in after ER. And so very different. I loved Dennis and Peter. I loved that job.
You are always involved in such quality productions, again is that luck or strategized?
I haven’t always been in the most quality stuff, there have been missteps and that’s not fun. I got lucky. I try to care about what I do.
You were raised in Boston to a family firmly ensconced in the civic community of the city. What did the city mean to you growing up and what does it mean to you now?
I mean it’s a really great city to grow up in because it’s very beautiful, there’s so much going on, I love the neighborhoods and the culture and the T.
My grandparents were immigrants and family was first generation. So the city was kind of everything for us.
For me now, it is very nostalgic.
Your father was a politician in a city that was one of the architects/founders of American politics and ideals. It must have been very exciting, gratifying work. What marked Boston politics during his tenure? How did this aspect of your family life shape you?
It was tremendously fun and exciting. We loved the campaign. I loved being at campaign headquarters. I loved the crazy enthusiastic people we met.
One of the most important things my dad accomplished when he on the city council was the transformation of Faneuil Hall.
It was, I believe, one of the first times a sort of broken down historical district was transformed. He was very proud of that. My mother is still working on the same type things in our neighborhood with a theater.
The 70’s was difficult time to be in politics. There was a lot of turmoil and there were both highs and lows during his tenure.
What role do people most associate with you?
I think it is probably the role on “ER”. It really depends on the age and demographic.
Or LIAR LIAR, weirdly as that was 20 years ago. Depends.
You have reached the upper echelons of your career in a business where that’s insanely difficult to achieve. To what do attribute your success? Do you have any stories about “luck” that occurred early on (or even now!)
I think I have been tremendously lucky. Just in terms of the writers I have met. I have been able to work with some incredible writers who worked very well with me.
Starting with news radio and moving to “ER”, I’ve worked with very talented writers and have been lucky with the ensemble of actors I’ve gotten to work with as well.
Do you think as an actor you need to aim for the heights or just doing the hard work is enough?
I think they are all the same to me. Hopefully when you are doing the hard work you are aiming for something you care about. Probably both are important.
Funniest thing you have read about yourself ?
That I do morning yoga on a balcony outside of my house.
Nicest thing you have ever read about yourself?
You split your time between California and New York. Your home in L.A. has remarkable style, and you were very involved in its design.
How does one begin decorating a house from top to bottom?
Well, I have a designer named Michael Angelo Stuno who I work very closely with and he made a lot of decisions.
Had you lived in the space before embarking on this undertaking?
With a specific home “genre” such as yours, do you feel a responsibility to keep your furnishings in that stead or do you have a more eclectic approach?
I have other responsibilities that far outweigh my furniture. But thank you.
Living or passed, who would be your dream houseguest? What would you do to specifically host that person?
I have to say, I really wish my dad could see that house. The year after he passed we had thanksgiving there. It’s close to the ocean which he loved. We had a nice time.
What are the best design shops in LA? In New York?
Obsolete in LA
Old Good Things in New York
Most relaxing place you’ve ever been?
I love being at The Performing Garage.
This last Award Season was busy for you. Can you describe what it’s like to win a Golden Globe- what goes thru your mind as they announce your category?
I was just very anxious.
Then when you hear your name? And later when reality sinks in?
I was really shocked and surprised.
I would have given a better speech if I was less surprised!
What are your favorite and least favorite things about dressing for an award show?
My favorite thing is admiring the talent of those who design pretty things. The stylist I work with, her talent and instinct are really impressive. That is the best part.
What is your everyday personal style?
When you look as good as you do, can you divulge any beauty secrets or advice?
I try to take care of my skin.
HELEN SOLLOWAY the character you play on THE AFFAIR is a beautifully complex woman. What does Helen think about herself and who she is?
That’s up to the writers! I am at their mercy.
This past February you performed in a really cool theater project called THE TOWN HALL AFFAIR. You were the instigator in bringing this true-life event, cult documentary onto the stage. How involved were you in its’ development?
At every level.
I saw the documentary and I was very moved and inspirited by it. And I knew that Elizabeth LeCompte, who is the artistic director, could make a piece out of it and I had worked with The Wooster Group before.
The last show I did was a remounting and what I really wanted to do was make a piece from the ground up.
I Brought the movie to her and she thought it was too perfect. A year later or so she said “I want to do it”. We got together for rehearsals. We worked on the piece for about a year and a half. Then it opened in New York, then Paris and Los Angeles. And it is going to London and Sydney. I am very proud of that.
Norman Mailer was known to be quite savage. Did you have any preconceived notions about him? Has that changed? What would he think of this production?
I love the production.
I did have preconceived notions about him. Notions about his work that is brilliant. Notions about his misogyny and that he stabbed his wife in the heart. Notions about his charm. What I think happened during the play is the concept of him as an artist, the play is a LOT of fun, don’t get me wrong. The art being the most important thing as opposed to political correctness was really important to him.
The play chronicles a 1971 Manhattan Town Hall Panel made up of some pretty strong figures: Gloria Steinem, Kate Millet, Germaine Greer facing off with the likes of Norman Mailer. How fantastic to play Germaine Greer. Did she have any involvement in this account of the evening? Is she aware of it? Did you find it a nerve-wracking role to take on?
I don’t know if she was aware of it. She never showed up. As far as I know she is the only one alive out of everyone on the panel.
Maybe in Australia or in London she will see it. Or maybe she doesn’t care.
It would have been more daunting if I had to play Germaine herself. Her book is truly groundbreaking and resonated with me personally, not just in terms of research for the part but in life. There was no pressure to nail being Germaine. It’s almost a ghost of her. It is impressionistic.
I didn’t feel the pressure to get her right because she was a new being in the piece; it is experimental theatre and I would love to talk to her about it.
You have recently wrapped a film with Steve Carrell about a father struggling with his son’s addiction to Meth. Can you speak a bit about the film? Who do you play?
The film is called BEAUTIFUL BOY. I play a character named Karen who is Steve Carrel’s character’s second wife. She is a step mother of Tomothee, the actor that plays Nic. It is a very moving script. the director is very inspiring.
I would describe Steve as Las Vegas: meaning an amazing thing that lives up to all expectations. There’s hardly anything like that. Everything you think he would be. Excellent actor, lovely man, very kind. Funny.
It is a beautiful movie about the love between a son and father. I play the stepmother which is a tricky part in real life and in movies.
If you could do ANYTHING in the world you haven’t done before, it would be…
Sail a boat. For real.