Interviews TV

THE CLOSER Kyra Sedgwick & James Duff Interview

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THE CLOSER Press Release:  Record-Breaking Series to Begin Extended Final Season Monday, July 11, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT)  A civil lawsuit, a major departmental reorganization, a new boss and an unexpected tragedy are just a few of the tough issues facing the Los Angeles Police Department’s Major Crimes unit when TNT kicks off the extended final season of its record-breaking series THE CLOSER. EmmyÒ winner Kyra Sedgwick returns as Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, a top-notch investigator whose career may now be on the line as a result of her frequently unorthodox methods. THE CLOSER’s seventh season is set to launch with 10 episodes this summer, beginning Monday, July 11, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT). The season will continue with additional episodes in winter, with the series finale coming in 2012.  Over the past six years, Sedgwick’s Chief Johnson has put some of Los Angeles’ most brutal killers behind bars. With her keen investigative instincts and brilliant interrogation techniques, Brenda often closes her cases by eliciting a confession or cornering a suspect through sometimes-questionable methods. Now, Brenda’s tactics are coming under the scrutiny of the L.A.P.D.’s new Chief of Police, who is on the verge of announcing an extensive reorganization that could spell the end of Major Crimes. The situation also has the potential of fracturing the family-like dynamic within the squad.  Sedgwick is joined by THE CLOSER’s extraordinary, Screen Actors Guild AwardÒ-nominated cast, including Jon Tenney as Brenda’s husband, FBI Special Agent Fritz Howard, who often feels as if their marriage takes a back seat to Brenda’s cases; J.K. Simmons as Brenda’s current boss, Assistant Police Chief Will Pope, whose own career is about to experience a seismic shift; Robert Gossett as Commander Taylor, whose role in the department is on the verge of being redefined; Corey Reynolds as Brenda’s right-hand man Detective Sergeant David Gabriel, who is becoming increasingly disillusioned with her tactics; Tony Denison as Lieutenant Andy Flynn, whose insensitive comments and poor judgment have frequently caught Brenda’s ire; G.W. Bailey as Lieutenant Provenza, a seasoned veteran who serves as Brenda’s second in command, despite a record of embarrassing blunders; Michael Paul Chan as the squad’s tech guru, Lieutenant Mike Tao, whose obsessive attention to detail can try his colleagues’ patience; Raymond Cruz as gang expert Detective Julio Sanchez, who often allows his emotions to get the better of him; and Phillip P. Keene as audio-visual technician Buzz Watson, who demands the utmost respect for the department’s equipment.  Joining THE CLOSER as a regular cast member this season is two-time Oscar® nominee Mary McDonnell, who has guest-starred in the prior two seasons as Captain Sharon Raydor. This year, Raydor’s newfound friendship with Brenda is challenged when L.A.P.D. Police Chief Tommy Delk (guest-star Courtney B. Vance) assigns her to an internal investigation involving Major Crimes.  Despite the whirlwind of controversy building around her, Brenda is determined to continue doing her job the best she can, and she expects the same of her squad members. Together, they will take on some of the toughest cases of their careers, beginning in the season opener with a multiple homicide that hits close to home for Gabriel. This season, the squad will also try to track down a missing boy who attends the summer camp where Tao’s son works. Flynn and Provenza will once again find themselves in hot water when an attempt to serve court papers goes horribly awry. Emmy®-winning actor/director Adam Arkin (Chicago Hope, Sons of Anarchy, Northern Exposure) is set to guest-star in that episode as a financier targeted by his clients after he pulls off a Ponzi scheme.  The July launch of THE CLOSER’s seventh season will be preceded by a nine-hour marathon of episodes from THE CLOSER’s sixth season. The marathon is set to begin Monday, July 11, at noon (ET/PT). THE CLOSER’s season premiere will be followed by the second-season launch of RIZZOLI & ISLES at 10 p.m. (ET/PT).

Lena Lamoray:  In the season finale, Fritz opens up to Brenda about his past and what it’s like to be an alcoholic. Since he stated that it was the talk that she never wanted to have; do you think it will bring them closer or further apart?

Kyra Sedgwick:  I think that it would bring them closer, for sure. I think that, you know, Brenda’s life has a lot of layers to her onion self. And I think that it is another layer of denial peeled away. I mean she doesn’t want to talk about it. She didn’t ever want to talk about it. And that probably had gone on for years.  And finally, you know, he just said you have to hear about it. And I’m going to tell you about it. And she finally was ready to listen. And I think that, you know, knowing everyone’s, you know, side, including their dark side the people that you love, is just a way to become more intimate.

Lena Lamoray:  How would you describe their relationship?

Kyra Sedgwick:  I would describe their relationship as two people that love each other very much. I think that she continues to put her job first and make that her primary relationship. I think that will change this season. But I think that for whatever reason she is more comfortable with being attached to that relationship than the, you know, than what it really means to be dependent on another human being.  I think that Brenda has a dark past in terms of relationships and, you know, people that have disappeared; whether they have disappeared, you know, on their own or something has happened to them. She has been – she’s got some abandonment issues. And so it’s easier to be, you know, more connected to your work than to be connected to a person who might ultimately leave you.

James Duff:  Yeah and I feel like it is a very good way to describe it, because, you know, depending on another person makes you much more vulnerable in some ways than depending on – I mean there is some self evaluation in your work that goes on, you know. And you can – and there is conclusion in some ways.  And in dealing with other people we are – we’re sometimes a little bit at the mercy of how they are going to behave. I think she’s got a good thing going with Fritz. But, you know, it takes a while sometimes to know just how good these things are.

More Conference Call Interview Highlights:

Q:  As this is your last season, could you talk about what The Closer has meant to you and maybe one of your favorite memories from the show.

Kyra Sedgwick:  Oh boy, that’s a toughie. I have so many favorite memories. The Closer has meant – has been an experience like none other. I can’t even equate it to any other creative, you know, opportunities I’ve ever had. And in some ways it’s a creative, you know, experience but it is also a familial experience. The, you know, the closeness of being together with people for seven years is like it is creating another family. And, you know, that’s just – that has just been an amazing learning experience for me growing and changing with people.  As an actor, you know, she is by far one of the most, if not the most, interesting part I have ever been able to play. And growing up and growing older with the character has been a unique experience like none other that will ever happen to me again, because, you know, I don’t imagine being on anything for seven years.  And so I have grown with Brenda. I’ve learned to know her more deeply all the time. And she consistently surprises and excites me. So, you know, to have a character like that to be able to play, and not the same show every night, you know, not like doing a, you know, a play for seven years has just been an extraordinary, creatively fulfilling experience like none other that I have ever had and probably never will have again.

Q:  Brenda was one of the first cable strong women roles and there have been a lot of shows that have followed that. Do you see her as taking a place in TV history?

Kyra Sedgwick:  I do. I mean I think she is singular and seminal, you know. But I’m also, you know, I’m a big fan. So but I do. I think that she, you know, kind of paved the way in a lot of ways, because, you know, because the show was so successful.  And this is a business that, you know, after seeing a female driven show do so well there were other networks that were willing to do just the same. And it has made, you know, for wonderful television and wonderful opportunities for older actresses.

James Duff:  I’d like to add something that Kyra can’t say and that is, and won’t say because she is far too modest. But her work as that character, her performance makes it seminal.  And you watch in other shows with, and even some of these strong female lead shows, have been action oriented. And have depended on violence or, I mean, and violent depictions or melodramatic over-the-top, I think in some ways, plot developments in order to get the actor to hold the audience.  And in our show a lot of times it is just Kyra sitting opposite someone, another actor, in a room with a table and two chairs. And in The Closer we like to say, Kyra is the special effect.  And she is what, you know, she made this – she took this part and she made it something seminal, something that she did what Peter Falk did with Columbo. She is an, you know, she is a partner in the creation of all of this. And it is just hard to imagine any – I mean just close your eyes and try to imagine someone else in that part. It’s not possible. The two are the same.

Q: Is there going to be a memento from the set that you are going to take with you, something that really speaks to you about Brenda?

Kyra Sedgwick:  That’s so funny. I haven’t thought of that because I just wish that I could wrap up everybody, especially James, and put him in my pocket and take him home with me. Honestly I mean, you know, the relationships that I’ve, you know, made and especially with James has just been one that’s, you know, so incredibly special.  I haven’t really thought of a memento. I like Brenda’s shoes. I can’t really bring the candy drawer home. But…

James Duff:  You could bring the purse.

Kyra Sedgwick:  Yeah the purse, but really I don’t really want the purse.  Let them put it in the Smithsonian or something.

Q:  Will Kevin be directing any episodes?

Kyra Sedgwick:  No he won’t.  No he’s busy acting and being a movie star.

James Duff:  You have to see him in X-Men. If you haven’t seen him in X-Men you should run out and see it right now. He is so amazing. He really did a spectacular job.

Q:  Kyra why was this year the right year to shut down? Why now?

Kyra Sedgwick:  Well, you know, it was the end of my signed contract. So I really wanted to make sure that we left while everyone was tuning in. And, you know, last year was our highest rated year. And, you know, loved the idea of going out on top.  And while I, you know, really struggled with the decision for many reasons, not the least of which, you know, putting everybody else out of work and loving everyone as I do, I felt like for me as an artist, you know, it just was really time to move on.  And, you know, to do one last amazing season which we’re doing. And I knew we would. And, you know, as an artist creatively, you know, needing to spread my wings somewhere else.

James Duff:  Well I just want to add to that, you know, seven years is an awful long time to – for an actor to play the same role. And even though she has played other parts during that time, you know, you finally want to finish the story in a way. And you want to have some control over that.  And ending the show the way we have and ending the part the way we have, in a way, is – it gives us a chance to write the ending, the one that we wanted to do, the one that we have always wanted to do. And that is a special gift that you get when you have this kind of opportunity.  And then the other thing, you know, I would say is she has lived away from New York, which is her home, for a better part of seven years. And in a lot of that time split up from her husband, as well. And, you know, if you ask most women if they were married to Kevin Bacon they would probably want to spend more time with him.  And I think she’s done an amazing job in keeping our show together and her own family together. And, you know, it’s time for her to, like she said, spread her wings, try other creative endeavors.  And, you know, I don’t know how she has done it frankly. The physical separations from the people you love just to do your job, that is very, very hard.

Q:  How has it affected your work this season to know that it would be a final season? Was it useful to know you were having a big finish?

James Duff:  Oh my gosh it is…It is the best opportunity as a writer I could have possibly had. I know when the story ends. And I am writing my way to it. And it gives us the chance to write the final episode knowing that we’re writing the final episode and knowing what those final images are going to be and knowing what the final story is going to be. It is a spectacular gift to the creative person.  And not many actors would have been as generous as Kyra has been in giving me that opportunity.

Q:  You just mentioned that this is the ending that you have always wanted to have. How long have you been planning this?

James Duff:  I knew the last episode before I – when I began writing this show I knew how it was going to end.  If I had the opportunity I knew how it was going to end, yeah.

Q:  Did you see a way to (end it) every season?

James Duff:  No I, you know, we – we’ve always been in pick-up mode very early on. Actually in year three, Steve Koonin told Kyra he said pick a number between 1 and 15. And she said seven. And he goes all right, well that’s when I’ll pick your show up again for another year.  And she is like, oh, why didn’t I say three? Why didn’t I say two? And we’ve been in a position where, you know, we never had to think about the end. You know, we are – have been very fortunate that way and very lucky to have had the relationship with the audience that we have.  And – but I always knew if I had the opportunity and I knew what was coming, I knew what the last episode was going to be. And with – and the title – and what the title of the last episode was going to be and how it would go down, you know.  I – and, you know, she’s – it’s called The Closer. And that is what she is going to do in terms of – that’s her personality. That’s what has gotten her into trouble and it has what’s made her so successful in her profession.  And, you know, I feel like that’s the opportunity to do that is to do the show I always wanted to do is going to be – it’s just a fantastic thing. I’m so happy that we get to do it this way.

Q:  Kyra, did he share this with you? Did you know what the final episode was going to be all this time?

Kyra Sedgwick:  No. I mean I guess I had, you know, glimpses here and there that he said, you know, eventually it all has to come back to her like things she’s done in the past has to, you know, reemerge and get her into some kind of, you know, murky water. But I didn’t really know but I didn’t know.  I mean I – it’s been such a gift to be sort of taken on this ride, you know. We have this amazing relationship, James and I. You know, we’re very intimately involved with scripts and stuff like that.  But when I say good-bye for a season, you know, at the end of 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, I would usually write this sort of well, you know, this is where possibly I can see the character, you know, these are some thoughts about next year. But ultimately it was just completely – I completely put myself in his hands, in the writer’s hands.  And I have always been so, you know, pleasantly surprised. And the ideas are really, you know, 20 times better than I thought my – that my, you know, ramblings, you know, sort of my stream of consciousness was, you know that I used to write. And so I didn’t know.  And in some ways I’m also so in Brenda. I mean Brenda is so me that I don’t know where the character should go. I’m so busy being inside of her. And she is not a self reflective person.  So as Kyra playing Brenda I am not really self reflective either or have any kind of goals in mind. I mean she just, you know, flies by the seat of her pants all the time and is in so much sort of, you know, denial about looking inward that, you know, I never really thought about it, you know.

James Duff:  And I would just like to say again in her last remarks, Kyra was amazingly modest. She has had an enormous effect on how the show goes and how the part is conceived and played.  And I’ve never had a partnership with an actor that was even remotely like it and don’t expect that, like she says, I never expect to have this kind of creative experience again either. And it as been an honor and a privilege to work with her for all this time.

Kyra Sedgwick:  Same here. I feel the same way.

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