Monday, December 03, 2007

Holly Hunter "It's Great To Play the Lead"

Tonight Susan P and I had the pleasure of listening to Holly Hunter talk for 45 minutes. Mmmm, that deliciously tart southern twang. Hunter was speaking at the Paley Center for Media in a promotional effort for her television series Saving Grace. In the Q & A after the episode screening --I've just added the series to my DVR-- the subject swung often and naturally to her rather awesome gallery of characters (Raising Arizona, Broadcast News, The Piano, thirteen, The Incredibles, Living Out Loud, The Firm, Crash, etcetera). Here's a part I thought y'all would love. She was asked about thirteen and transitioning to supporting roles.
Audience member: When you did thirteen did you actually think when that part came up that "oh crap i'm not playing the daughter anymore. They're asking me to play the mother"?

Holly Hunter: That's a great question. Yeah yeah--of course I wanted to play the part. You know, it's great to play the lead. It's really great to play the lead. I hate to go home when my scenes are over. But, yeah, the thing is it's also really exciting to be part of another character i.e. when I play the lead in some ways I feel that every other character is a facet of me. When I play a supporting character I feel that I'm a facet of the lead. You know, in that case, my daughter. So in some ways I am just an externalized person --another element of who she is. Because that's who we're talking about in this movie was the role played by Evan Rachel Wood. I mean she was --she was the persona. And we are all different kind of problems of who she is. That's exciting for me to think about drama that way.
Susan remarked to me afterwards that maybe Oscar voters should think about the annual category conundrums from that perspective. Maybe they do: it's certainly the best rationale for claiming that a co-lead is actually a supporting character that I've heard.

I can't transcribe the whole night for you but here's another thing she spoke passionately about: expressing the sexuality of her characters.
Holly Hunter: Well, it's very fulfilling to do the part [she had just been talking about Saving Grace] because, I think. You know, when I --when I had the experience of doing The Piano I thought 'wow, what a great opportunity it is to explore someone's sexuality, to explore their own sexual appetite.' And there has not been a lot of opportunities for me to have that conversation with an audience, with a character. I especially got to have that with David Cronenberg in Crash that I did several years ago. And a few other things that I've done... Living Out Loud also, I thought was --it had a certain privacy about it. It was a real inside look at a woman. But, you know, those conversations with myself, those explorations have not been as plentiful as I would have liked.

So this [Saving Grace again] allows me a great opportunity --for me to explore what this woman is like behind closed doors. I mean we can go behind closed doors and see her. I think that that --It's important you know. It's important. It's a huge part of our lives. Our sexuality is a huge part of our lives. Whether we fantasize about it or we're not getting what we want. You know, I mean... it's what people go to therapy about! [audience laughter] It's what people look at porn sites for. It's what people, you know, buy magazines for. Nine out of ten [unintelligible] are about sexuality in some way. We are obsessed with it as a culture but yet there's not a lot conversation about it, you know, on the screen. And so this is fantastic that on the small screen I get to do it.
A woman who name checks Living Out Loud, David Cronenberg, sexual expression and The Piano in one train of thought? This is the kind of woman I seriously love.


Colin Low said...

Off-topic, but regarding your recent screening sidebar: yeah, I heard that they reshuffled The Golden Compass so that it wouldn't have the cliffhanger ending of the book -- to avoid grumbles that the first part had no proper ending, as Fellowship of the Ring received. The decision makes sense, though I liked the cliffhanger ending because it really changes the stakes involved, reshuffles the stances of essential players, and it isn't just a pit stop like in Fellowship but an emotional high.

RJ said...

I LOVE Hollu Hunter . . . alot

Anonymous said...

Ugh. LOVE her - soooo jealous!!! Maybe I should add Saving Grace to my DVR...??? But I hate starting shows in the middle.

SusanP said...

Derek: I'd never seen an episode of the show, but they presented one that is running in December and while I felt a little lost at parts, I think it would be easy enough for you to pick it up.. I'd do so myself, but no cable tv!!!

Anyway, Holly Hunter seemed smart and sincere (and she looked fantastic). I think the two excerpts included here were among the most interesting.

Anonymous said...

One of a special women who combined talent, beauty, intelligence and sensuality:

-Holly Hunter
-Julianne Moore
-Juliette Binoche
-Annette BEning
-Susan Sarandon
-Julie christie

Anonymous said...

And you got to listen to her talk for 45 minutes? God, I have never been really jealous of you, Nat, until now. I happily listen to that woman read the dictionary for 45 minutes.

It reminds me though what a shame it is that American cinema does not feature more films with "mature" women as protagonists (even though the baby boomers are the largest percentage of the population) but at least there are people in the TV/cable industry who have gotten wise to the fact that women become more interesting as they age AND the fact that there is a huge and astonishingly untapped market out there who want to see women their own age onscreen. Why is ("teenage boy" still the considered the idea market niche?)