She prefers to spend time with family. Sedgwick and her five siblings grew up in New York City. Her parents—Henry Dwight Sedgwick V, a venture capitalist, and Patricia Heller, a family therapist—divorced when she was six. She would be 12 before her mother married again, this time to art dealer Ben Heller. Sedgwick, her mother and all but one sibling still live in or near the city and see one another often. “We were each other’s port in a storm, cling, cling,” Sedgwick says. “I’ve had to learn to separate. But not too far.”
It was clear to all on The Closerthat Sedgwick was, as creator Duff calls her, “a family person.” Costar McDonnell, whose kids are close to Sedgwick’s in age, particularly appreciated that focus. “My favorite memories of working with her are the really beautiful talks we had about family,” she says, “and about our shared experience of being mother-slash-actresses. One or the other of us would have just spoken to our kids, and these conversations would rise up. She makes it easy to feel relaxed and intimate. I really treasured that.”
If not relaxed at this new stage of life, Sedgwick is certainly rolling with the changes. “I can tell you, it’s really nice not to look in the mirror all day in the makeup trailer,” she says. “But I’m also at the phase of my life where I can go, Oh look, there’s wrinkles and jowls.” I tell her she does not have jowls. “The lighting in here is good—that’s why I picked this place,” she responds, grinning. “Really, I’m changing. Veins, thin skin. I just say, ‘Oh, my hands are older,’ and go [mimes kissing them sweetly]. I know so much more now. I really struggled with eating and exercise for a long time. I did a lot of overexercising, not eating enough. Not nurturing myself.Striving for some unattainable thing. Now I look back at pictures and go, ‘I was so pretty!’ I didn’t need to do all that.”
She believes in skin care—frequent facials, intensive moisturizing. “Kevin says, ‘You’re in the bathroom for 20 minutes,’ and he’s right,” she says. “But I really want to age naturally and to be able to play characters who are my age.” She wants to be happy about turning 50. “Like, deeply happy, not just ‘I’m fine about it,’ ” she says. “I’m always grateful, because I know that life is precious. But I want to be even more grateful. I want to be wallowing in gratitude.”
I ask if Sedgwick has a role model. “My mom,” she immediately answers. “She’s willing to hear the hard stuff, and she’s always growing. She’s changed careers four or five times since her twenties, most recently in her fifties. Now she’s 80 and still running for the bus. She has this little shapely figure; she’s totally with it. I have that to look forward to. And I feel like I’ll get lighter. I was such a serious 20-year-old. I’ve really lightened up a great deal.” What helps: meditating (which she tries to do a few times a week), spending time in nature, hiking and staying fit.
She worries for her daughter, however, and for all young women. It was hard enough when she was young, she says, comparing herself unfavorably to the models in Seventeen. “But I just saw an ad with prepubescent girls, 10 years old, and they were so thin and so inappropriately sexualized,” Sedgwick says. “Now it’s 10-year-olds who are supposed to be emaciated? How can you have a realistic image of what you’re supposed to look like with today’s media?” To counter that, she tells her daughter “all the time” that she’s beautiful and talks to her about how images are manipulated. Sosie occasionally appeared as her niece on The Closer, but Sedgwick doesn’t think acting is her calling. “But who knows?” she says, then adds that even without the pressures of being onscreen, “she’s surrounded by girls with eating disorders. I don’t know how the bar got lowered [for women]. I really don’t.”