There are moments in television history that define the medium. “The Closer” and its arrival is one of them and largely because of Kyra Sedgwick and her career defining role of Brenda Leigh Johnson.
She is part of a welcomed trend in the entertainment business: actresses finding outstanding material regardless of their age. “We go where the good work is,” Sedgwick said during a break in filming of “The Closer.”
“It’s been great to be part of that revolution, these moments for good actresses.”
Sedgwick has triumphed on film for years with star turns in “Phenomenon,” “Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About,” “Born on the Fourth of July” and Merchant Ivory’s “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge.” And let’s not forget her, rare in Hollywood circles, successful marriage to actor Kevin Bacon.
Closing the deal
The actress landed on TNT as “The Closer” in 2005, a role that many an actress would treasure and Sedgwick is keenly aware of her blessings. “She’s not self aware. She’s not aware of why she ticks, of how she ticks. She’s incredibly intuitive about other people but not herself,” Sedgwick said of Brenda’s challenging yet compelling traits. Brenda is the LAPD Deputy Chief and there is no one on the force who ‘closes’ an interrogation room as effectively as her.
Her arrival on television would begin a cavalcade of award winning female thespians over a certain age inhabiting television’s small screen.
“I think it was something people were always ready for, but people saw that ‘The Closer’ did so well monetarily for TNT, people are more willing to put these shows with strong women lead characters because they see that it works and people like to watch it,” Sedgwick said.
“It is also the timing of cable offering you a lot more freedom than network. There’s a lot more that you can do where you base things much more in reality. That’s interesting for actors as well for women in general.”
A few season secrets
Sedgwick tells SheKnows about the upcoming season and Brenda’s relationship with FBI Agent Fritz Howard (Jon Tenney).
“She has to once again be confronted with her personal issues in her relationship and whether or not they’re going to get married and actually leap to having kids. It’s complicated because her first commitment is to her job. That is the thing she loves, it is always her first choice. It is not Fritz,” Sedgwick said. “I think he’s someone who is emotionally on an emotional journey that she is not really as interested in taking. I think it’s interesting to watch that dynamic whereas he is very insightful and has a lot of self knowledge, she does not.”
In a sea of entertainment moments that are male dominated, for Sedgwick, Brenda’s love life is refreshing. “I think it’s been great and really fun to play a woman who is almost in the male role,” she sad.
As an actress, she is eager to further explore the internal conflict that always lies below the surface of “The Closer.”
“That is always interesting to me,” Sedgwick said.
Are there other clues for season four, Kyra?
“Her parents will come back and that will be fun and interesting to see her as the child she becomes when her parents are there,” Sedgwick said. After Brenda’s parental visit during “The Closer’s” special Christmas episode in December 2007, having those Georgia peaches visit her world in Los Angeles will surely prove pure comic chemistry.
Many actors credit their success to those who create the prose they perform and with “The Closer,” the greatness of the program’s vitality soundly rests on the shoulders of the show’s wordsmiths. “We have, again, another great batch of scripts,” Sedgwick said and laughed. “I don’t know how the writers do it.”
A clever ‘Closer’ mix
As the years, awards, viewers and success follows each season, Sedgwick has no nerves as another season premiere arrives. As performer and as the show’s producer, she credits “The Closer” audience with intellect that allows them to push the envelope.
“We have never underestimated our audiences’ ability to roll with change ups,” Sedgwick said.
“We have one episode where we give them an incredibly dark, gritty, sad, grizzly show and in the next show we’ll give them slapstick comedy with a coffin rolling down some steps and a body falling out. They seem to like both equally well. It’s something that we really trust the audience will like what we give them.”
Among those challenges is maintaining her character’s trademark Atlanta-based Southern drawl. “I have to be constantly vigilant about it. I work with a dialect coach. He reads the script and breaks it down into sounds and lists of words. It’s not as hard as learning lines, but it is right up there,” Sedgwick said as she laughed.
As an actress, “The Closer” has produced unforeseen growth for her scholastically. “I feel like I learn something every time I do a job. But what’s been exciting about ‘The Closer’ is sticking with a character that’s strong, and getting to go deeper and deeper and deeper into this person,” Sedgwick said. “I’ve learned as an actor to try to mix things up. To let myself shake things up when I feel I haven’t culled everything out of a scene. I try to surprise myself.”
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