After Kyra Sedgwick signed on to play the title role in TNT's The Closer, she honestly had no expectations attached to the project. "I just was enjoying the part, enjoying the people I worked with and enjoying the process of making the show," she says. So when The Closer emerged as an instant hit with viewers, as well as with critics, "the success of it, and the fact that it happened so quickly, was pure gravy," she says. And when Kyra and her castmates received SAG Award® nominations for their performances? "That was all just icing on the cake!"
Did you notice the dual food references that Sedgwick made? These turns of phrase are particularly apt when applied to a TV series like The Closer, given that Sedgwick's character, Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson, has a love/hate relationship with junk food. "Let's face it," the actress says. "She's a closet sugar addict, like so many of us are."
In fact, this character quirk is one of Sedgwick's favorite elements of the show. "Right from the beginning, in the first episode, when she's eating yogurt with obvious disgust and trying to resist the ice cream, I knew this was a real gold mine." And at the close of the same episode, after Brenda's interrogation yields an ironclad murder confession, "when she's lying in bed and eating that Ding Dong thing" (and savoring it in almost an orgasmic way), "I knew we were onto something that could be pretty delicious."
Oops. Another almost-subconscious reference to her taste buds. "Food is complicated," Sedgwick says. "Food gets mixed up with emotions and feelings. I think we're creating another interesting layer to what we're doing. I mean, put some M&Ms in the scene, along with everything else that's going on, and suddenly a scene comes to life."
Sedgwick admits that she can relate to Brenda's food issues. "Oh, yeah, very much so. I have a complex relationship with food. I'll put it that way." Does she have any other foibles, weaknesses or addictions? "Oh, no. Other than food, I'm absolutely perfect in every way. Just ask my husband." But moments later, much like the murder suspects who spill everything to Brenda in the interrogation room, Kyra decides to change her story. "I'm complicated, deeply and totally," she says. "I'm not very neat and I lose everything and I forget things constantly." In other words, she's human. "Absolutely."
So it should come as no surprise that, even though Sedgwick never was a diehard fan of mysteries and crime dramas, "I did love Baretta and Columbo and The Night Stalker and stuff like that when I was growing up. For me, it was always more about the characters than anything else. And I like to think that people who like The Closer are more interested in these characters than the procedural crime drama per se. I mean, certainly there's something fun about a mystery. But to me, it's always been about the characters."
Sedgwick's search for great characters began at age 12. "I played Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof in elementary school and I knew from that moment on that this was what I wanted to do," she recalls. "It was like a light got turned on in my heart and my soul. It was very intense for me. I was sort of struggling through life and I was kind of unhappy. I know that, at 12, it's hard to imagine that a kid is unhappy. But I was having a hard time and it was like the angels came down from heaven and were saying to me, 'This is for you.' It was one of those really incredible moments that you have only a couple of times in life."
Brenda Johnson has become that kind of character too. "What's wonderful is that the character is able to do anything," Sedgwick says. "She can be very comedic, she can be tragic, she can be an action hero. We can take her anywhere and that's exciting."