NEW YORK — Lest one get the wrong impression from her most recent films, “The Woodsman” and “Loverboy,” Kyra Sedgwick is not entering a dark period in her career. “I’m a little over the tragic roles today,” she says, looking more like a fresh-faced ingenue than a suffering heroine as she sits curled up on a love seat in Magno Studios, in town to promote her new television series, “The Closer.” “I wanted to lighten up.”
Though “light” may not be the ideal word used to describe “The Closer,” a crime drama that premieres on TNT tonight at 9, Sedgwick is emphatic that it isn’t simply another “Law & Order” clone. “While I was a little nervous about doing another crime drama — it seems like there are a lot of them — this one is extremely unusual, in that we see the character’s insides as well as her outsides, and sometimes they don’t match up,” she says.
Sedgwick, 39, plays Brenda Johnson, a CIA-trained detective known for coaxing confessions out of suspects. When she moves from Atlanta to Los Angeles to serve as deputy police chief of the new Priority Murder Squad, the predominantly male department is less than receptive to their new female boss — that is, until they see her close the case with ease (hence the name “The Closer”).
The interrogation side of Brenda’s character came easily to Sedgwick. “I think I’m really good at sitting down with people, making them feel comfortable and getting their life stories very quickly,” explains the actress, whose mother is a family therapist. “It’s not necessarily something I’m very proud of, because in some ways, it can be invasive.” Fortunately for Sedgwick, “The Closer” focuses with equal measure, often to comedic effect, on Brenda’s personality quirks, in particular a junk food obsession. “Find me a woman in America, or a man for that matter, who does not have a food issue right now,” declares Sedgwick. “Food is so emotional. Brenda happens to be a closeted eater. It’s a comfort for her. It’s something I can totally relate to. I mean, food is an issue for me. Food and exercise and aging and the whole ‘you’re single, you’re not single.'”
The latter is not an issue for Sedgwick, who’s been married to Kevin Bacon for 16 years. As they are based in New York with their two children, Travis, 15, and Sosie, 13, the filming of the series in Los Angeles means Bacon has been home looking after the kids, a balance the couple works hard to maintain. “It’s a one-day-at-a-time thing,” says Sedgwick. “You just manage it as you go. You don’t plan a lot. Sometimes you let things go that you should have taken, and sometimes you take things you shouldn’t have.”
Family isn’t the only thing Sedgwick misses about New York, though. An enthusiastic shopper who counts Marni, Tuleh, Moschino and Narciso Rodriguez among her favorite designers, she has yet to find her fashion retail footing in Los Angeles. Her shopping fixation is one trait that differentiates Sedgwick from Brenda, whom she describes as “a terrible dresser. She’s got hair from, like, prom.” But even Brenda is allowed her glamour moment in the show’s second episode. “She has to get this makeover, because she has to find out what happened to this person who had this day of beauty planned,” explains Sedgwick. “She looks at herself and she’s all done up in these great outfits and heels that she can’t walk in and great hair. Suddenly everybody’s looking at her and giving her all this attention. And she likes it, but she hates it and she’s resentful. It’s funny.”
Minutes later, Sedgwick is enjoying her own glamour moment, posing for a portrait as her publicist jokingly eggs her on.
“Oh, God,” groans Sedgwick, liking it and hating it just a bit herself.