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It’s time to say goodbye to Brenda Leigh Johnson. TNT’s crime drama The Closer, which launched in 2005, shuts down with the Aug. 13 finale and bids farewell to Kyra Sedgwick, who as the CIA-trained deputy chief had a way with confessions and herself took home an Emmy in 2010 after four previous nominations. Recalls series creator James Duff about that fateful Emmy telecast: “I went to see Inception again so I wouldn’t see any part of it. I thought superstitiously that was the only way she’d win.” For Duff, working with Sedgwick “was like she was informing the writing and I was informing the performance. We had a mind meld doing the show.” The actress — who moved from New York to L.A. with husband Kevin Bacon and their two kids for the role — shares her thoughts with THR.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: The Closer is closing its doors for good. What has it been like?
Kyra Sedgwick: It’s been a nonstop gantlet for seven years. Even the times when I’m off, I feel like I’m preparing for the next six months. This last year, with nine months in production, has been insane. It’s been great, intense and a marathon.
THR: What was your reaction to the project?
Sedgwick: My manager told me about it for three months, and I said: “Don’t send it. I’m not going to do it because it’s in L.A.,” and I wasn’t looking to do TV. Finally, she said, “It’s like Prime Suspect.” I’ve worked with Helen Mirren several times, so my manager hooked me with that one. I read the script and thought it was great. I saw so many possibilities for this Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, so much potential. Kevin said, “How is it?” I said, “It’s great, but I can’t do it.” “Why?” “Because of the kids; it’s so far away.” I didn’t even think to move them here.
THR: So relocating was never a possibility?
Sedgwick: We were pretty ensconced on the East Coast. Now I’ve really learned to love it in Los Angeles, but at the time, I was visiting and I thought, “If there’s one jerk, I’m outta there!” I sat down with James Duff, director Michael Robin, producer Greer Shephard and casting director Bruce Newberg, and they were among the nicest and smartest people I’d ever met. They had a vision that was important, meaningful and big. And I felt safe with them.
THR: What’s your next move?
Sedgwick: My kids are grown up now — they don’t need me as much as I need them, but I want to do features. I want to do stage if something amazing comes along.
THR: What will you miss most?
Sedgwick: I love to work. I think I will miss that consistent work and intensity. You get a certain addiction to the adrenaline. It’ll be an adjustment. I’ll miss deeply my castmembers and my crew, who have become a close family. I’ll miss the connection I have with James as a writer, knowing exactly what it is that he is going for and being able to deliver, and knowing who this character is so intimately that at this point I really only need to learn the lines, show up on set and something magical happens.
THR: What will you take away from having played Brenda for so long?
Sedgwick: I admire her a great deal. I admire her tenacity. I admire her number one focus being the people that are gone and who can no longer speak for themselves. I’ll miss her complexities and her flaws.
THR: The Closer was a groundbreaking series, centered on a strong woman in her 40s. Can you speak to how it paved the way for shows such as Saving Grace and The Good Wife?
Sedgwick: I was 39 when The Closer started. It certainly wasn’t intentional for me to have a groundbreaking show. It just happened to be. The idea that I can have anything to do with the possibility of more opportunities opening up for women is wonderful. At the time, I didn’t think big picture that much. I went where my gut tells me, where the character seems interesting and where the writing seems good. You take it a day at a time. That was what we did. Then it became a phenomenon, but you never know that going in.
HOW THE CLOSER OPENED DOORS: After Sedgwick, these film actresses d’un certain age nabbed TV series
Glenn Close: Damages (DirecTV, 2007-2012) The six-time Oscar nominee, 65, honed her ruthless lawyer Patty Hewes to a fine yet brutal edge.
Holly Hunter: Saving Grace (TNT, 2007-2010) As detective Hanadarko, Hunter, 54, drank, smoked and swore at her guardian angel while solving crimes.
Laura Linney: The Big C (Showtime, 2010-2013) Linney, 48, is a suburban mom who recklessly and joyfully wrestles with cancer in this dramedy.
Sigourney Weaver: Political Animals (USA, 2012) Weaver, 62, plays her version of Hillary Clinton on the new show. — Jane Aquino
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