Berlin: Cynthia Nixon Says "I Could Never Direct a Film"

Cynthia Nixon Berlin H 2016
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Cynthia Nixon Berlin H 2016

The 'Sex and the City' star also discusses playing reclusive poet Emily Dickinson in Terence Davies' 'A Quiet Passion.'

Don't look for Cynthia Nixon to go from actress to saying "Action!" anytime soon on a movie set.

The former Sex and the City star is doing more directing these days, including Steve, Mark Gerrard's theater comedy-drama about gay men in the throes of domesticity, with Matt McGrath, Malcolm Getts and Mario Cantone starring. But, Nixon, in Berlin to promote her latest film, Terence Davies' A Quiet Passion, told a festival press conference that her second career will not extend to a movie set, at least for now.

"I really love the directing," she said. "I could never direct a film. I know that. At least I think I know that." But the Tony-winning actress says she now has a better appreciation of what it takes to sit in the director's chair.

"One of the things that's extraordinary about starting to direct things is you have a greater appreciation for the directors you work with, and an appreciation that everyone is so different as a director," Nixon said. Having starred in two hit Broadway plays directed by Mike Nichols, including The Real Thing, Nixon recalled his witty observation about giving direction.

"Mike Nichols used to say directing is like sex. You just got to do it the best you think because you never get to see other people doing it," she recalled at the presser. "But as an actress, that's not entirely true. I get to see other directors direct, and so I steal whatever I can," Nixon added.

Back to what she knows best, Nixon in A Quiet Passion plays reclusive poet Emily Dickinson in a film that traces the American poet's life from precocious schoolgirl to the tortured recluse who saw only seven of her more than 1,000 poems published in her lifetime.

After her death, Dickinson was recognized as one of the greatest American poets of all time. As she researched her role for Davies' biopic, Nixon said she took inspiration on how to read Dickinson's poetry from Julie Harris playing the poet on stage and in a TV version of her one-woman play The Belle of Amherst.

"Julie Harris' voice is in my head and I always identify with Julie Harris," she recalled. But Nixon left her kinship with Dickinson behind after her wife, Christine Marinon, found her watching The Belle of Amherst and panned the performance.

"'What is that? A crazy old lady with the cookies? Out of my house!'" her wife declared. Jason Moring from Double Dutch International is selling offshore rights to A Quiet Passion at Berlin's European Film Market.