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Big Game star Felicity Huffman opens up about ‘the wilderness of mothering’

In the campy new blockbuster Big Game, Felicity Huffman plays the CIA director to Samuel L. Jackson’s in-danger-of-assassination POTUS. Predictably, it’s a fun ride.

And, for Huffman, a welcome departure — even if she didn’t share any special effects action scenes with Jackson.

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On her role in Big Game

“I am in the control room, watching the satellite, going, ‘Shit, we’re in trouble!’ and making phone calls,” she says. “But what was really great is I’ve never done an action movie, so every scene is, ‘Oh my God, here we go. This is life or death,’ and that’s really fun.”

If you’re trying to dissect the film for a deeper meaning or a more sociopolitical subtext, though, don’t overthink it too much. For the most part, said Huffman, “it’s more like pure entertainment.”

A large part of that entertainment lies in the film’s central character, a 13-year-old Finnish boy named Oskari (Onni Tommila) sent into the harsh Finnish terrain to prove himself as a man. When Air Force One is shot out of the sky and the President of the United States lands in the middle of Oskari’s rite of passage, the young boy becomes an unlikely hero.

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“I think it was that sort of coming-of-age, following in your father’s footsteps, you’re a young man saving the world kind of thing… I think that was the message, and I think that’s what makes it fun and kinda quirky and humorous,” Huffman said.

Still, it’s interesting to note that the film revolves around a patriarchal culture of parenting as opposed to the paradigm of the perfect matriarch we, as Westernized women, are so used to.

Such is another wilderness altogether — one which Huffman refers to as “the wilderness of mothering.”

And that is a terrain the mother of two teenage daughters is still trying to master, as she often hilariously shares on her refreshingly frank website, What the Flicka?

On her role as a mother

The site, where women (including Huffman) open up about both the stellar and the inevitably less-than-stellar motherhood moments we all have, celebrated its third birthday earlier this year.

Naturally, then, when I explain to Huffman that being a full-time work-at-home mom sometimes makes me want to fling myself out of my first-floor window, my remark is met with no judgment. Only understanding.

“I hear you, girlfriend! I am so there with you,” she says, laughing.

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Because the truth is, as mothers, we all are in this together and at least on some level, we all understand the need to be set free from the strangling expectation of perfection. Mothers are marginalized and idolized at the same time — it’s an impossible duality.

So, does Huffman think we’re making any progress in eliminating the paradigm of the perfect mother?

“I don’t know if we’ve actually made progress in terms of putting it to bed, but it’s said ‘that which is brought to the light becomes the light,'” she elaborates. “In other words, just bring it to consciousness and it helps to dissipate it.”

Talking about it in a way that is honest and open and, yes, sometimes ugly? It helps.

“Just acknowledging that it exists, that right now it feels as if there’s only one conversation to have about mothering and that’s, ‘Isn’t it wonderful?’ and that doesn’t cover everyone’s experience at all, I think that will really help,” she says. “I think we’re ready to be liberated.”

Catch Felicity Huffman in Big Game, out now in select theaters, digital HD and On Demand.

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