Jeanne Tripplehorn and the Joys of Polygamy

The "Big Love" star says she’s got the best job in town

By Margy Rochlin
Dress: Oscar de la Renta; earrings: Bochic
Photograph: Photo by: Andrew Macpherson

She calls it “love at second sight,” because she and Orser were both with other people when they had their first, electricity-free encounter, on the set of Very Bad Things. A year later, unattached, they met again in Toronto, and the planets had apparently shifted. “He walked into the room, and that was it,” she says. “I saw him; he saw me; we’ve never been apart.”

On her iPhone, Tripplehorn keeps a home movie that she shot, edited and scored herself. In it, Orser jogs alongside their angelic son, August, teaching him how to ride a bike. When Orser lifts his stabilizing hands and her son pedals unassisted, August gazes into the camera and cries out to her in amazement, “I can do it!” And in the background, you can hear Tripplehorn’s laugh, a pealing bell of total happiness. “I look at Leland like, ‘I earned him,’” Tripplehorn says. “I don’t know if I would have dated him when I was younger. He’s such a good person. You’re not interested in that in your twenties. You’re interested in bad boys.”

One thing about the passing years that has surprised her is the quality of the roles that have come her way. “I’m in a really great place,” says Tripplehorn, who plays Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the HBO movie Grey Gardens, airing in April, as well as a mother tending to her traumatized daughter (Dakota Fanning) in the upcoming indie film Winged Creatures. Then, of course, there is “the best job in town, ” Big Love. “I’m in my forties and I’m being written for,” Tripplehorn says. “It’s the greatest role I’ve ever played—beyond three-dimensional. If more gifts like these are coming my way, then I’m looking forward to getting older.”

She is also excited about becoming the spokesperson for the World Monuments Fund, a group that works with governments and communities around the globe to preserve places of great architectural and cultural heritage. “Every two years they come out with a list of 100 endangered sites,” she says. “I’ll be going to Cambodia to look at the Angkor Wat temple. And Route 66, which has fallen into disrepair, has landed on their watch list. I’ve done Route 66 several times, and there’s all this great architecture along the road. It really ties back to Oklahoma.”

The oven timer dings, and as Tripplehorn pulls out the sheet of granola, a sweet, nutty odor fills the kitchen. Once it has cooled, she pours the cereal and some cold milk into two deep soup bowls. She takes a spoonful, and you can see her measuring the taste against the memory of her mother’s version. “Not bad,” she says happily. “I can be proud!”

Margy Rochlin has also profiled Diane Keaton, Jodie Foster and Felicity Huffman for   MORE.

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