Getting "Closer" To Kyra Sedgwick

Kyra Sedgwick on "Sunday Morning"
Fans of Kyra Sedgwick were pleased but probably not surprised that she was nominated for an Emmy this week for best actress in a TV drama. In fact, they'd probably think it a crime if she weren't. Cynthia Bowers offers this Sunday Profile:

Few women have captivated audiences like Kyra Sedgwick's character, Brenda Leigh Johnson, in "The Closer."

With her Southern accent, addiction to sweets, and determination to lead in the macho world of LAPD homicide, she has made the TNT series basic cable's biggest hit ever.

Along the way Sedgwick has picked up three Emmy nominations and a Golden Globe for best actress in a TV series.

"It's amazing, It's been an amazing ride," she told Bowers. "I mean, absolutely not expected."

Unexpected because Kyra Sedgwick had long ago made a commitment that a successful acting career was secondary to family life.

"You know, choices are part of life," she said. "And when the kids were little the clear, clear choice was to be at home."

Being at home meant staying in New York City, where she grew up, and where her heart remains.

"New York is my home. I feel more comfortable and safe here than I do anywhere in the world. It means home, it means family."

Of course, her family life is a bit unusual. Her husband is renowned actor Kevin Bacon. And what's maybe more unusual for a celebrity couple, they've stayed married for nearly 20 years.

What their secret?

"There is no secret," Sedgwick said. "We just got lucky. We got really lucky really young."

"And for him, it was, I guess, love at first sight?" Bowers asked.

"Yeah, that's what he says," Sedgwick said. "Actually, it was lust at first sight. Lucky me!"

Sedgwick first met her husband-to-be on the set of a movie called "Lemon Sky" in 1988. They soon married. Since then, they have both enjoyed success, with Sedgwick first gaining recognition for her role opposite Tom Cruise in the Vietnam-era film, "Born on the Furth of July."

She's acted with John Travolta in "Phenomenon," and with her husband (who played a convicted child molester) in "The Woodsman."

But even as she played her darkest roles, her first priority was to schedule the couple's work around their two children, now teenagers.

"My manager kept calling me, saying there's this really good script and it shoots in L.A., and I said, 'Don't send it,' for months actually. It was a really long time."

Speaking on a Hollywood soundstage, "The Closer"'s creator, James Duff, told of desperately seeking a lead actress.

"When her name was first brought up to me by our casting director, Bruce Newburg, who is a genius, my response to him was, 'Look, she's on the record, she doesn't want to do a television series, and she won't leave New York. So please don't waste my time, 'cause we're in a big hurry.' And Bruce, as he often does, completely ignored me."

"When this job came along," Sedgwick said, "and I thought, 'You know, I really can't do it,' Kevin said, 'No, actually you can do it. And you should do it. And, you know, I'll be home with the kids on the first year or two. And we'll see how it goes from there.'"

And so the cameras started to roll.

"Rehearse?" Sedgwick said on set. "Rehearsals are for sissies, we're just shooting it!"

Her character leads a close-knit group who are forced to suffer through her neverending battle to avoid sweets.

G.W. Bailey stars as her irascible second-in-command.

"And what is she like to work with?" Bowers asked. "Is she like her character?"

"Well, no," he said. "I've been in this business a long, long time. Look at my hair! And I have never worked with anybody who can focus and work as hard as she does."

"The Closer" has become a bit of a family affair, with her husband directing a few episodes.

"I remember the first day that he came onto the set," Sedgwick recalled. "I was so nervous. My heart was pumping, thump thump, 'cause I wanted everyone to think he was as good as I did, you know? And like him as much as - well, maybe not as much (laughter) but like him, you know? And I remember being so nervous. And literally after the first rehearsal I felt, 'Oh good, everyone is cool.'"

It's not the first time Kevin Bacon has directed his wife. In "Loverboy," he even drafted his daughter.

"Kev said, 'You know, but Sosie would be really good as playing you as a little girl.' And I said, 'No! We've got a rule! It's a rule! It's a rule!' (laughter) We have so few rules. It's a rule!' And then he goes, 'Yeah, but she'd be really good!'

"And then we asked her, and she's like, 'I don't know. How much school am I gonna miss?'" (laughter) Which was a good sign."

Her daughter's ambivalence about acting is totally unlike how Sedgwick felt her first time on the stage.

"I was in eighth grade, and I did 'Fddler on the Roof,' and I played Tzeitel. And that was really, I mean, I just fell madly in love. I knew that it was what I wanted to do."

In fact, Sedgwick - who showed off "The Closer"'s new set for us - has gone from reluctant star to proud producer of the series.

"They built this expensive set, so (laughter) we're gonna use it!" she said.

But all her success has led to exactly what she had feared - being away from home for long stretches of time.

"It's, you know, working fine, great, actually," she said. "I mean, the kids are absolutely intact. I have one in college now, and he's great. And he's having a great first year. And my daughter's at home. I miss them. And you do feel like your heart is a little split open."

"How proud are they of you?" Bowers asked.

Tearing up ("I knew this was gonna happen"), Sedgwick said with a laugh, "That's not their job."

So as she balances not only acting and producing, but work and family, can she still walk down the street in her hometown?

"If I do get recognized, it's like a nice thing. People say nice things. And I never feel like it's too obtrusive.

"New Yorkers are like, they feel so cool, that they don't want, you know, you to think you're any cooler."