PTR Senior Staff Writer
How often is it that you get to speak with an Academy Award® winner twice in just under three weeks time?
For us here at PTR, not that often.
Or heck, if ever.
But that’s the great thing about all these wonderful A-List film actresses finding their way to fabulous projects on the small screen – we get to have that chance a little more often.
PTR was invited once again to speak with Holly Hunter late last week to discuss the second season premiere of Saving Grace, which airs tonight at 10 p.m. on TNT.
What we found most cool – aside from Holly’s never-ending sense of enthusiasm and passion for both character and show – is that she remembered the TNT press day set visit of last month.
“That was kinda fun, wasn’t it?” Holly asked, when I mentioned our previous opportunity in speaking with her. “It was great that you guys could come out.”
Definitely. We’d still be there if we could. But this time around, we sorta felt as if we were following up with Holly.
We remember she explained to us during the set visit that she couldn’t necessarily count Grace Hanadarko as her favorite character out of all the characters she’s portrayed in her career given each character holds a special significance to her at the time she portrays them – that they become a part of what she calls her “sensorial self.” Given that, I asked her whether she’s learned anything about herself in playing Grace, or if the character has taught her anything now that she’s got a year of her under her belt.
“I’d love to be as alive as she is, y’know? That’s a difficult thing to do. Right now, I’m definitely not as alive as Grace – ‘cause I just spent [the] night working until 6 a.m., so, it’s like, man, Holly is dragging [right now],” she says with a laugh. “But you know, I think [it’s] her generosity. So often, Grace doesn’t think of herself. She often is thinking about how can I make this better for this person in the way that she is capable of, in the way that she knows how. And her skills are different from other people’s skills, and her instincts – or how to solve problems – are different from other people’s instincts. But I think there’s something incredibly generous and incredibly pure about what her intentions are. I think they are beautiful – really beautiful.”
I also asked her what she’s most looking forward to this second season. Simply, she feels as if the show is being taken to the next level.
“It’s always interesting to see where the writers take me,” says Holly. “But this season, the scripts have been extraordinary – really extraordinary. It’s just such a great thing to have experienced each one of the stories. Grace takes a more complex ride. [This is] a very sophisticated show in some ways. It’s complex in characters and in plot, and in how Grace connects with her personal world and how she connects with her professional world. I think it kind of found itself over the first season. [But] I think we’ve struck that balance right away this season [as opposed to] last season [where] we found that balance as the stories went on. So, that’s been really exciting – to be a part of taking the show to another level.”
And it’s that exact notion that’s convinced me to give the show a second chance with its second season. Here are some other highlights from our conference call with Holly and fellow bloggers:
On whether Grace has changed at all since Angel Earl has come into the picture and/or if he’s really “saving” Grace: “I think he wants to give Grace peace. In this season, Earl finds out a lot about her, [becomes] a very close observer of her. That is revelatory to both him and her. They get to know each other better as human being and entity, and they get to have more understanding about who the other is. I think there are many things that he grows to admire about her as this season progresses."
On whether we’ll be seeing any changes in Grace between Season 1 and Season 2: “I think she changes all the time, actually. I think there’s give and take inside her, and there’s always movement – she’s very kinetic.”
On what her favorite things are about portraying Grace: "I think the most thrilling part about her is how alive she is. She’s truly alive. So many people are kind of asleep for long periods of time in their days and in their lives. I think Grace spends an extraordinary amount of her time really awake to possibilities, and awake to a real, true curiosity about why people do what they do. And I think that she’s also a real tester of what people are capable of, and what she herself is capable of.”
On the success of Kyra Sedgwick and The Closer in terms of having an effect on her decision to take on a television show herself: "I think what preceded that was the success of The Shield, Rescue Me [and] The Sopranos. I think [they] started the Wild Wild West in cable – this new idea, which [is] real character drama, real drama that’s absolutely, 100% fueled by character, and a character that does anti-heroic things. And, not just a character who is quirky, but a character who straddles two worlds – one world being highly charged with questionable thoughts and behavior. I think that’s where cable has really taken off. It’s given women opportunities to play highly controversial characters – women who are doing things that maybe they wouldn’t have been able to do on television 10 years ago. Like, Weeds on Showtime, or Glenn Close in Damages or Minnie Driver in The Riches – women who are living lives of real, deep grayness."
On the difference in the workload of doing a feature film vs. TV series: "I think it’s really difficult, and it’s really a high. In the best of times, it feels like, “Wow! We are taking a ride!” And other times, it’s just trying to catch up. But this work is really fulfilling. It’s really great for me, as an actress, to get to adapt and to be very flexible –[in a job like this], you’re demanded to be very flexible, very adaptable and to be very much a problem solver on a set like this. I [am using] all the skills that I’ve developed over these years doing feature films and accelerating them to make this series."
On seeking out advice from friends, who had already made the transition into TV, before she decided to take on the role of Grace: “I called Dylan McDermott, who’d done The Practice. He’s a buddy, and I so respect him. But I also called him because he’d done a David E. Kelley series, and I was basically asking him something that I had never asked an actor before: how do you memorize all those lines? Suddenly, this was a very pertinent question for the first time in my career because I’ve always [been able] to memorize an entire script before I start shooting a feature or a play – it’s no big deal. And with [a] David E. Kelley [series], the actors never stop talking – it’s just incredibly, sophisticated fast-paced dialogue. So I asked Dylan, ‘What gives? How do you do this every week?’ And Dylan just said … look, you know, it’s a scary ride when you first get one, [but] you’re going to be able to do it, and your memory is going to become a really well-used muscle very early on ,and it’s not going to fail you the way that you’re afraid of. And he was right.”
On the importance of location in enhancing an overall story: "I just saw a movie the other night called The Gunfighter with Gregory Peck. It was just amazing because the location was so exotic. I was reminded how potent location can be and how, unfortunately, with television you’re shooting the vast majority of [it] in Los Angeles. We’re no exception. We try to make Los Angeles as Oklahoma-like as we can, and it’s a gigantic fantasy of ours to shoot in Oklahoma City. Yet, at the same time, the brilliance of Los Angeles is the depth of the talent here – from set decorators to extras to day players. This is the privilege of being here, this is what this town is built around, and that is a pleasure to be here for that. On the other hand, [if the show was shot in Oklahoma City], you [would] have the incredible look and the feel – and the look of the people and the behavior of the people – in a completely different part of the country."
On what she enjoys most when she heads home to Georgia: "The Fox Theater and the Pleasant Peasant – right next door to the Fox. I always love to go there. I tried to hook up a tour of the Fox not long ago, and I’m just dying to do it. It’s one of the great theaters in the world, I think. And I love Krispy Kreme donuts downtown. I don’t know, I think it might be the second one in the United States. I just remember going to it as a tiny child, and it’s a place I feel I always have to go back to when I go home – which is about twice a year."
On television shows she enjoys watching: "The Sopranos, The Shield, Weeds, Mad Men. I think Rescue Me has just been kind of an amazing thing, [and] The Wire is incredible."
On practical jokes on set this season: “The practical jokes are just really, really extensive this year. And they’re on screen, so I’m not going to bust any of them out, but they’re pretty good – and extremely elaborate. And there’s a lot of them. I look forward to everybody seeing them.”
Sounds good to us.
We at PTR extend our great thanks to Holly Hunter for taking the time to chat about the ever-intriguing Grace Hanadarko. We also thank our friends at Turner publicity. The second season of Saving Grace gets underway tonight at 10 p.m. If you missed out on any of the first season, be sure to check out the show’s official Web site to catch up!