When it comes to her own changes, there’s one that Sedgwick can’t seem to embrace: living apart from her children. “I’m still struggling with how to let go,” she begins to say—and suddenly her eyes fill with tears, and her voice chokes. “It doesn’t feel right on some level. It just feels wrong! My parenting motto has always been that they’ll teach me, and I’m trying to remember that. Because I can’t [accept it]. We don’t have rituals for this sort of thing, and we should—I need to honor that it’s hard and confusing.” She laughs ruefully, wiping her eyes. “This is the Barbara Walters section of the interview.”
She doesn’t regret the time she spent shooting the series, which incorporated much of her children’s adolescence. “It was hard for the family and great for the family. Great gifts came from it,” she says. “I know I missed stuff, and I know some stuff will come up around that as the kids get older. But I also know that I can be really controlling and intense. Kevin is like this”—she moves her hand in a level line—“and I’m like this”—she swings her hand up and down. “Ultimately it’s not a bad thing that I was not all up in their business every minute, micromanaging, which I really have to try not to do.”
Though she might have felt like moping about her soon-to-be empty nest, Sedgwick, Bacon and the kids all decided to celebrate it by getting the same tattoo, their initials linked in a pattern that Bacon designed. (Sedgwick already had tattoos on her lower back and one ankle.) “It just means we still like each other,” she says, laughing.
Of course, Sedgwick’s fallow period doesn’t look like most people’s. In August she’ll star opposite Jeffrey Dean Morgan in The Possession, a psychological horror movie directed by Denmark’s Ole Bornedal that’s based on true events. When she first got the call, she hesitated, thinking, A horror movie, really? “But Ole directed us away from clichés and encouraged us to go deep,” she says. “It addresses the anxiety of not being able to protect the people you love, of wanting to absorb their pain and not being able to. And also broken families, divorced families, the impact that has on children. I know my mother struggled with that.”
Sedgwick just did two days’ work on Kill Your Darlings, a murder mystery involving the Beat poets (including Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg and Ben Foster as William Burroughs). She plays the mother of Lucien Carr (In Treatment’s Dane DeHaan). “It’s great to be around the young’uns,” she says. “Daniel Radcliffe is too adorable. If I can do a couple of these, I’ll stay sane while waiting for the next great thing.”
She’d like to produce, find herself a comedy or an original play, take an improv class. She’s also a vocal advocate for environmental sustainability and recently moderated a panel on plastic pollution at the U.N. “I can get inundated with a lot of really depressing information,” she says. “But my goal is to be part of the solution. So I can get really depressed, or I can get into action.
“It’s funny,” she continues. “The advice I’d give my younger self is advice that I’m not taking today, which is, Stop worrying so much. I can get obsessive and obsessively worry about things. But things work out. They do. The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t know everything. I’m less -judgmental—more accepting of other people and less frustrated by ‘Why are they doing it that way? They should do it my way!’ ” She laughs. “I mean, I know it’s hard to believe, but I could be wrong.”
She’s ready to go now, to whatever the next thing might be. “I really trust that there’s a plan,” she says. “I don’t know what it is, but I’m on the road, and I’m OK with it. I trust that it’s going to be OK.”
Johanna Schneller profiled Julianna Margulies in the April issue of MORE.