Kyra Sedgwick on ‘The Closer,’ Directing, and Kevin Bacon

“Don’t worry,” Kyra Sedgwick assures me as she assembles a salad. “I washed my hands.”

We’re in her Manhattan apartment with its commanding view of Central Park, and Sedgwick, a self-described “putterer,” is in perpetual motion — microwaving black beans, fetching a serving spoon for the chicken mole, liberating a bottle of Tabasco from the cupboard. The feast she’s pulling together is leftovers from a dinner Sedgwick and her husband, Kevin Bacon, hosted for her castmates from “All of Me,” an Off Broadway play about two disabled 20-somethings who meet cute in Synecdoche. In the romantic comedy, Sedgwick plays an emotionally callused woman juggling two jobs to pay the rent. She’s also struggling to accept her daughter’s worsening condition due to muscular dystrophy, as well as her desire to have her own life. 

“It’s so fresh and funny,” she says as we take our seats at the dining room table. “I’m a born-and-bred New Yorker, but I just think there are too many stories about coastal elites. I want to tell more stories about the everyman.” 

Sedgwick, an Emmy winner who spent eight seasons coaxing confessions from murder suspects on TNT’s hugely popular “The Closer,” could command a bigger stage than the nonprofit The New Group. But she believes in “All of Me” and hopes to turn it into a feature film, one that she would appear in, as well as produce and direct. “It’s all part of my evil plan,” she says, arching her eyebrow. 

It’s also part of a career shift that Sedgwick has undertaken in recent years, one that’s kept her as busy behind the camera as in front of it. In 2022, she made her feature film directing debut with “Space Oddity,” which follows a young man who books a ticket to Mars, and explores familial guilt and environmental responsibility along the way. She’d done a lot of directing to get to that point, overseeing episodes of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Ray Donovan,” as well as the Lifetime movie “Story of a Girl,” which earned her a DGA Award nomination. 

“I have fallen in love with directing,” Sedgwick says. “This feels so much better than acting. I’m much less vulnerable. And I feel like I know what I’m doing more. I have so much confidence. As an actor, I am filled with self-doubt.” 

Through her company, Big Swing, Sedgwick produced “Space Oddity” and the LGBTQ+ love story “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.” Her biggest project yet, a TV series called “The Challenger,” just landed at Amazon MGM Studios after a bidding war. Kristen Stewart will play Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space. “We put this all together just by being scrappy and tenacious and not giving up,” Sedgwick says.

And she’s developing several movies, including “Bellyache,” a drama about an alcoholic, and a horror film she would star in with Bacon and their adult daughter, Sosie. The couple wants to co-direct the film, though the Directors Guild has other ideas. 

“It’s very hard to get dual directing credit,” Sedgwick explains. “If you promise the DGA that you will only direct together for the rest of your lives, then they’re more inclined to do it. But if not, they won’t.”

She and Bacon have a deal — whoever does the prep work gets the credit. “We’ll figure it out,” she says with a flick of her hand. “But I’m very strategic. I wonder if more people will see this if it’s a Kevin Bacon film than a Kyra Sedgwick film?” 

As she’s changed her focus, Hollywood hasn’t always been encouraging. The kinds of movies Sedgwick leans toward, family stories, aren’t in vogue at the major studios, and that’s left her clawing for financing and hustling to put together projects without the luxury of big backers. Even though the industry has made pledges to hire more women and people of color to direct movies, Sedgwick believes some prejudices are taking longer to dispel. 

“We’re going backwards,” she says. “People feel more comfortable with a male director on the studio side than they do with a female director. And I don’t know why. I also think that women are not allowed to fail. Men fail up constantly.”

And she’s sick of being told, “It’s hard out there,” a refrain she heard frequently as she tried to get “Space Oddity” off the ground. “I’m like, ‘When has it not been hard?’ Tell me a time when it’s not been hard for a woman. And I’m a white woman, so it’s easier for me, and let me tell you it’s been pretty fucking hard.” 

Sedgwick says all this with the furious indignation with which she once kneed Dennis Quaid in the balls in “Something to Talk About.” What’s got her hopping mad is that her career has refused to follow the usual trajectory. When “The Closer” debuted, becoming a ratings juggernaut, Sedgwick was 40 — an age everyone in Hollywood kept warning her represented the demarcation between stardom and has-been-hood. Yet critics raved about her work as a brilliant yet flawed deputy police chief, and she filled her trophy case with awards. The series was important in another way. Sedgwick had landed showy supporting roles in films like “Born on the Fourth of July” and been part of ensembles in movies like “Singles,” but “The Closer” rested entirely on her character’s shoulders. Being No. 1 on the call sheet allowed Sedgwick to conduct an experiment. 

“I felt like I could create the safe, sane working environment that I’d always wanted,” she says. “If we all say ‘Thank you’ to that sound person who hustled or the grip who did the lighting, what actually happens? And because of that basic human decency, we had almost no crew attrition. Most of the crew we had that first year were still there for Season 8.” 

That’s certainly how she approached work on “All of Me.” Madison Ferris, who stars as Sedgwick’s daughter, says the actress “is like a mom,” often showing up at rehearsals with cookies. When Ferris told Sedgwick about an upcoming audition she was worried about, her castmate volunteered to help her prepare for it. 

“When she looks you in the eye, it’s hard not to be honest and be like, ‘I’m going through this tough time,’” Ferris says. “Talking to Kyra is like talking to a dear friend; you just want to tell her all your secrets.” 

Sedgwick is certainly unguarded about her struggles in the industry. “I was never an A-lister,” she offers at one point. When I counter that “The Closer” was the most-watched basic cable series when it aired, she admits she’s sorry it didn’t lead to other strong roles. “I would try to get jobs during my hiatus,” she says. “And I landed some good ones that did well. But I was never able to parlay the success of ‘The Closer’ into more great features or TV work. Like, I would have loved to have been in ‘Succession.’” 

Having a partner in Bacon, who can compare bruises from years in the Hollywood trenches, helps. They read each other’s projects and talk about which offers to take; they’ve also decided to work with each other more often. Bacon appeared in “Space Oddity,” and the pair are starring in an untitled dramedy where he plays a man with a prostate problem and she’s a urologist. They also maintain an active social media presence, posting videos on Instagram where they serenade the livestock on their Connecticut farm with a cover of Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ’Em” or dance through their apartment to “She-Zee-Zee,” a 2020 earworm Bacon co-wrote for his band, the Bacon Brothers. 

“Kev drags me kicking and screaming to do these things, but they’re actually really fun,” Sedgwick says. “And transactionally, I have to say when Kevin and I do something together, it goes off the charts.” 

But do they ever get competitive, I wonder. Sedgwick pauses, remembering a fleeting moment of envy from the set of the Queen Latifah comedy “Beauty Shop.” She was visiting Bacon there during a rare fallow period.

“I hadn’t worked for the entire year,” Sedgwick says. “And I saw him sitting there in ridiculous hair extensions, and he was having the time of his life. And he had such a fucking big trailer. I remember going, ‘I’m jealous.’ That was the first and last time.” 

Having two kids, Sosie and Travis, kept things in perspective. “Being the best mom I could be was the most important thing,” she says. But it’s harder to remain sanguine now that Sosie, who starred in “Mare of Easttown” and the horror hit “Smile,” has joined the family business. 

“What was she thinking?” Sedgwick says with a laugh. “Being an actor means having long periods without jobs, and it’s really painful to watch when it’s your kid.” But Sedgwick believes her daughter has what it takes. “The camera just sees into her soul,” she says. “She’s the best actor in the family.” 

Sedgwick thinks Sosie has a bright future, even if she’s realistic about the challenges she’ll face. There’s an adage that Bacon coined and Sedgwick references during lunch — it sums up their approach to the setbacks, triumphs and reinventions that are part of any decades-long career in a business that treats talent as expirable. 

“The secret to longevity is longevity,” she says. “It’s just staying in the game.”

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