mea culpa-themed cover story is already reaping dividends: Big Love star Chloë Sevigny just rang me up to perform her own act of contrition in the wake of a stinging interview in which she called the HBO’s drama’s most recent season “awful.” Few would argue that season 4 was a big, over-stuffed disappointment, but the actress’ blunt critique — coming just two months after she (deservedly) won a Golden Globe for her role as uptight second wife, Nikki — quickly set off a firestorm. What happened? Did her internal filter malfunction? Was she taken out of context? Allow Sevigny to explain/atone…It appears my Katherine Heigl
Having a rough day?
CHLOË SEVIGNY: A little bit. I feel pretty terrible.
What happened? Why’d you say it?
SEVIGNY: [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. It’s been the greatest opportunity of my lifetime so far — the best role I’ve ever played, the best part I’ve ever had the opportunity to portray. So I love the show. I think it’s the greatest show on television. I think it’s the weirdest show. I think it 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 journalist who interviewed Sevigny responds to her accusations.]
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?
SEVIGNY: 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.
What was your primary concern when this whole thing broke yesterday?
SEVIGNY: My first concern was I didn’t want HBO or Will [Scheffer] and Mark [V. Olsen], the creators of our show, to think that I was biting the hand that feeds me because I obviously love the show and have always been nothing but positive about it. And I didn’t want anybody to misunderstand me or think that I wasn’t, you know, appreciative. I don’t want to be one of those actresses that complains about her work because I love my work and I love being on the show. I just feel like it’s like one small quote out of a million positive ones that’s just really biting me in the ass. And I feel really terrible. And I called Will and Mark and apologized profusely.
What was their reaction?
SEVIGNY: 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.
How did the conversation go? Was it short? Long?
SEVIGNY: It was long. 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.
Did they give you any assurances that the show would get its groove back in season 5?
SEVIGNY: They mentioned a little bit about what they were working on in the room. Their schedule is really tough. They’ve been working since we wrapped. They don’t even have the time to sit down and think and breathe for a second. You know, my heart goes out to them because they’re just working constantly. They work really hard, and I want them to know that I appreciate what they do for us and for the viewing public. I think it’s a great show.
Have you spoken to any of your co-stars?
SEVIGNY: I spoke to Ginnifer [Goodwin] this morning.
What did you say?
SEVIGNY: I just wanted her to know that I’m sorry if, you know, I dragged her into it in any way. And we talked about how much we love being on the show and how it’s hard work as an actress and how sometimes the press can swing things in a way that you don’t mean them to sound. She was very supportive of me.
Are you at all worried that Will and Mark will retaliate by throwing Nikki in front of a bus in the first episode back?
SEVIGNY: [Laughs] I don’t know. I mean, I think that the Big Love viewers love me. If [Will and Mark] think that [killing Nikki] benefits the story, than so be it. I’m a team player. I really am. I signed on for six seasons after only reading the pilot and meeting with them and believing in them and seeing their genius, and whatever they choose to do, I’m going to support them and do the best job I can do.
The takeaway lesson here?
SEVIGNY: [Laughs] The takeaway lesson here is just be more careful with my words and just slow down and breathe during junkets. And to not let journalist provoke me in ways that could be detrimental to others and myself.