In anticipation of the premiere of The Kennedys on ReelzChannel April 3, EW talked to Katie Holmes, who assumed the formidable role of Jackie Kennedy in the eight-part miniseries that’ll air on the basic cable net that reaches 60 million homes. The project from Joel Surnow (24) and director Jon Cassar also stars Greg Kinnear as John F. Kennedy, Barry Pepper as Bobby Kennedy, and Tom Wilkinson as the president’s father, Joe.
EW How did you feel when you were first approached about the role?
Katie Holmes I was very excited and flattered because I love her. At the same time it was overwhelming because she is such an icon, so I did a lot of research. It furthered my adoration. I thought it was a great opportunity to tell this story. It was so fun, such a spirit of really wanting to honor these people. A lot has been written about them, but we put together something that’s entertaining and something we all very proud of. What was also great about working with Barry, Greg and Tom was that we did a lot of research on our own, and brought different ideas to set. There was such a feeling of creativity. I just loved every minute of it.
EW Documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald started an internet campaign last year that attempted to block the project from airing on History. Among other things, he said the script portrayed Jack Kennedy as caring about sex and politics above all else. Did that concern you?
Holmes I didn’t read the script he read, I came on board after that. It went through different stages.
EW What did you learn about Jackie on this project that you didn’t know before?
Holmes A lot. I had my idea of this lady, but I didn’t realize the extent of what she did for our country and her influence on foreign policy, how she brought such elegance to the White House, Her manners were impeccable. She created the idea of Camelot. She was so very wise. You never really know, playing a real character like that. The challenge was honoring her and also making it my own. She isn’t alive to be on set so I could ask, `is this really how it would go? Are you happy with it? What else can I do?’ I didn’t have that privilege.
EW Was there any one scene that was particularly difficult to shoot?
Holmes It was the strangest feeling when we shot the day he died. Because it was tragic, obviously, and it changed the world. It felt odd to me to be in that pink suit.
EW How did you hear that History Channel dropped the miniseries?
Holmes I was in Whole Foods in the checkout line when I got a phone call from my agent. I still had to get my groceries! I was as shocked as everybody else because we just didn’t see it coming. So I just kind of said, okay, I hope this finds a home because a lot of work went into it. This is something I don’t have control over. It’s my job to not go into the whys and what happened. They don’t need from that me. Of course, I definitely felt saddened and was waiting patiently, nervously to see what would happen.
EW Do you think the public will judge the miniseries unfairly because of what happened?
Holmes I guess we will have to wait and see. Obviously there was a lot of talk about it and attention. Our job was to do our best. I think there is a nice balance of the human side and the professional side. I’m proud of what we did.