Chloë Sevigny goes around two very different projects. The actress recently resumed her tour Russian doll (with an interesting twist) in its second season, with largely comedic results. This happened to drop in the middle of its run on the miniseries Plainville’s daughterin which she plays Lynn Roy – the Massachusetts woman whose son, Conrad Roy, killed himself in the infamous “text message suicide case”.
Tonally, the two series couldn’t be more different. But Sevigny, who was first introduced to the public almost 30 years ago in Larry Clark and Harmony Korine Kids, knows how to handle heavy equipment. In a recent phone call with The Hollywood Reportershe spoke about what prompted the recent series of TV concerts, her forays into directing and the pandemic-era love she received from people who eventually watched Great love.
They are two very different roles to talk about, even though they are both mothers.
Try to promote the show! It’s a tricky tightrope walk to go over Seth Meyers and smile and say, “Look Plainville’s daughterBut it’s also not the first time I’ve tried to navigate promoting this type of material. For me, when I signed up, I said, “What does Lynn Roy think of this project “I know she’s getting into it. She’s very vocal. She’s trying to get Conrad’s Law through, and our show had her blessing. Even in the HBO documentary, I love you, now die, she says as, “It’s so important to me to know that he was…to let people know that he was this real, multifaceted person and everything about him.” I felt like our show was doing a service when it came to honoring his legacy.
Is this the feedback you got?
Yesterday I was working on a Calvin Klein shoot in Harlem, and this boy came up to me. He said, “You play Conrad’s mother on this show, don’t you?” Yes, thank you for belittling my entire career. [laughs] No. I said, “Yes, I do.” He knew him. He grew up in the city and was his age and they played sports together. And he says, “That kid” – which means Colton [Ryan], who plays him — “I’m amazed at how he captured it.” It was good to hear. Also how random and surprising to come across someone like that?
What was the draw for you?
Lynn has this presence, this understanding and this spirituality which surprised me a lot while listening to her interviews. I really wanted to capture some of that. I thought her essence was really captivating, and I was so moved by her. My father died when I was young and I still struggle with his passing. I always try to find myself there. This kind of show makes people feel less alone about the loss and maybe offers some tools. I also think any Elle Fanning fan who tunes in will be like, “Wow, maybe if I see my friend behaving this way, I should acknowledge him and reach out to the parent figures.” Maybe I should take more responsibility for how I text people back. I just thought there was so much to explore and hope people learn from it or find comfort.
I didn’t think of it, but by casting someone with an audience like Elle, you’re guaranteed to reach a younger audience than you might otherwise.
Exactly. She is sailing so well in her career. I’m not crazy about the term “wise beyond her years”, but she is. And it shows in his choices. She’s producing this project, and I have so much respect and admiration for her.
In the new season of Russian Doll, Natasha Lyonne’s character gets on the subway and finds herself in 1982. What would you do if you got off the train in 1980s New York?
Well, I love nightclubs. I like to worship in the house of nightclubs. I feel like that’s one of the saddest things about New York City today – the nightlife is a bit outdated. I mean, there are pockets. But I think I would just go to mega clubs to see the hedonistic vibe that emerges.
Doesn’t The last days of disco take place in 1982?
But it’s the end! The girls in The last days of disco clung to a visibly declining era. People always remember what they just missed. I think that’s why all these young kids are now so obsessed with the early 90s and late 90s.
How did you approach the role of Natasha Lyonne as Chloë Sevigny?
She was filming a scene, and I was watching it on the monitor, and then they were throwing me off and going, “OK, now you’re doing Natasha.” It was so much harder than expected. I have a 25 year friendship with this girl. But, in my body and appearance, I felt like I couldn’t inhabit it the way I wanted – not like Chloe Fineman does on SNL. I can’t make imitations. It was more a matter of accent for me. I worked with this great dialect coach. making it more like a 70s accent than we felt she would have. But she doesn’t talk much. It was all very moving for me. I love Natasha so much, and she has a very complicated relationship with her mother, so it was very meta. I love helping him get through a lot of his trauma through his art, that’s kind of the reason we do it. Don’t sound so conceited and absolute.
And you played pregnant after your actual pregnancy, right?
When COVID delayed filming, they had already developed this whole story around the idea of me being pregnant. Natasha was like, “I’m not going to redesign it now that I’ve already written it.” She was really happy with the result, so I wore the prosthesis.
Natasha recently told a colleague of mine that Chris Rock once called you and her the most intimidating people in New York.
I remember! It was at a play. I saw him in a park recently and I was like, “Are you just sitting out here in New York?
Was it before or after the incident?
After. I was like, “Are you okay?” I did not know what to say. Every person who passed by stopped and said something. I can’t imagine that level of notoriety. When you are an actor, you are very comfortable with the public.
Well, you were approached by someone yesterday. How do you generally handle it?
I try to be kind. I really appreciate it when people say how much they love my work. If they take the time to say something, I have to give them time. The boring aspect is wanting pictures. I often feel really, really scruffy. I’m gonna look bad, they’re gonna tag me, and I’m gonna want to untag him. But then I’ll feel guilty because they’re excited about it. It was more fun before phones.
What part of the creative process do you enjoy the most these days?
I made three short films. I love this process, problem solving. Communicating with each department to onboard everyone with your vision is truly satisfying. I have a few things that I tried to develop. I was attached to achieving certain things, but they didn’t take off – which is really heartbreaking. But I’m still on the go, trying to find that special TV feature or thing to help bring it to life.
Development is not for the faint hearted.
I submitted four projects in the past year and none of them came to fruition. It is a delicate period. Everyone is overwhelmed. All the networks are shuffling their executives, and they’re like, “We have too much female content.
Who had the audacity to tell you that they have too much female content?
You would be surprised.
Have you ever revisited Great love?
A lot of people were watching it during the pandemic, so I kept getting all these really cool messages. Friends of mine would say, “I’ve never seen that. Wow, you can really take action. Thank you? I think it’s harder, when people know you, to let you play a character. I am very close to Jeanne Tripplehorn. Last time I was in Los Angeles, I spent a lot of time with her. But I haven’t looked at it in a while. When I was courting my husband, he watched it in its entirety. Now, do I watch it alone? I do not know. But I miss Nicolette’s nerve. And the pain. She was the most complicated of all the sister wives – straddling those two worlds. To mark [Olsen] and go [Scheffer] really wanted to challenge the status quo and liberals and people saying what’s okay as a family. There were larger things they were trying to talk about that might fall better these days.
What are you working on at the moment?
A child’s birthday, a child’s baptism, Mother’s Day, my wedding brunch and my wedding.
The shower and wedding combo is always a lot.
I don’t know why you have to have all this, honestly. I understand that brides like to be given a lot of attention. But I’m already getting a lot of attention. I’m an actress.