Born August 19, 1965, in New York, NY; married Kevin Bacon (an actor), September 3, 1988; children: Travis, Sosie. Education: Attended Sarah Lawrence College, New York, NY; attended University of Southern California, c. 1982–85.
Addresses: Agent —Endeavor Agency, 9601 Wilshire Blvd., tenth fl., Beverly Hills, CA 90212.
Actress on television, including: Another World, 1982–83; Cindy Eller: A Modern Fairy Tale (movie), 1985; Miami Vice, 1985; Amazing Stories 1986; The Wide Net (movie), 1987; The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains (movie), 1987; Lemon Sky (movie), 1988; Women and Men: Stories of Seduction (movie), 1990; Women & Men 2: In Love There Are No Rules (movie), 1991; Miss Rose White (movie), 1992; Family Pictures (movie), 1993; Losing Chase (movie), 1996; Talk to Me, 2000; Door to Door (movie), 2002; Something the Lord Made (movie), 2004; The Closer, 2005—. Film appearances include: War and Love, 1985; Kansas, 1988; Born on the Fourth of July, 1989; Mr. & Mrs. Bridge, 1990; Singles, 1992; Something to Talk About, 1995; Murder in the First, 1995; Phenomenon, 1996; Montana, 1998; Labor Pains, 2000; What's Cooking?, 2000; Behind the Red Door, 2002; Just a Kiss, 2002; Personal Velocity, 2002; Secondhand Lions, 2003; Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (voice), 2003; Cavedweller, 2004; The Woodsman, 2004; Loverboy, 2005. Also executive producer of Losing Chase, 1996; Talk to Me, 2000; Cavedweller, 2004. Producer of Loverboy, 2005.
Kyra Sedgwick vaulted over an invisible showbusiness barrier in 2005 when she won rave reviews as The Closer, a superbly smooth police detective in a new series for the cable network TNT. Long known as an able supporting player and too-often typecast as a scrappy, foul-mouthed blonde, Sedgwick is also somewhat famous for being the spouse of Kevin Bacon in one of the entertainment world's more enduring marital unions. Prior to the TNT hit, Sedgwick had rarely carried a picture or series on her own, and had not always fared well when she did. Her new cop drama was a perfect fit, however. "I feel like I've fallen into a jar of honey," she told Entertainment Weekly writer Missy Schwartz. "I love this character. She's so rich, so flawed, so smart. I feel hugely attached to her."
Sedgwick bears the name of an esteemed New England family whose roots in America date back to the 1630s, and have included several prominent judges, politicians, and literary achievers over the generations. She shared a great-grandfather with Edie Sedgwick, a model and downtown New York art-scene denizen who appeared in the American edition of Vogue in August of 1965, the same month that Sedgwick was born. Her cousin was part of the crowd who hung out with pop artist Andy Warhol at his Factory loft and filmmaking space, but disappeared from the scene and died of a drug overdose in 1971 at the age of 28.
Sedgwick grew up in a drastically more sedate milieu, in New York City as the daughter of a venture capitalist and a mother who was a speech therapist but later became a family therapist. Drawn to the dramatic arts from an early age, she took acting classes and worked in summer-stock theater before landing her first professional role, on the NBC daytime drama Another World in 1982. After finishing at Friends School in Manhattan, she spent a semester at Sarah Lawrence College in the Bronx, and then headed west to take classes at the University of Southern California while trying to land work in Hollywood. Her somewhat unconventional beauty—an angular face, wide mouth, and cascading blond locks—made producers and directors wary about casting her. "I'd hear: 'Kyra gave the best reading, hands down' or 'Kyra really gives good meeting,'" she told Los Angeles Daily News writer Jan Hoffman, "And then comes, 'But we're looking for a different type.'"
Sedgwick's feature-film debut came in a little-seen 1985 movie about a young Jewish man in Warsaw, Poland, during World War II called War and Love. New York Times critic Vincent Canby slammed the film as "a series of awkwardly posed scenes" that failed to convey any dramatic tension or narrative pacing, but Canby did praise Sedgwick and her co-star, Sebastian Keneas. "Without any apparent support system, he does surprisingly well, as does Kyra Sedgwick, a pretty blond actress who looks like a teen-age Julie Christie," Canby wrote.
That same year, Sedgwick also appeared in an ABC Afterschool Special alongside Jennifer Grey, later of Dirty Dancing fame, titled Cindy Eller: A Modern Fairy Tale. After that, roles were scarce for her. She appeared in episodes of Miami Vice and Amazing Stories before landing a part in a Lanford Wilson play, Lemon Sky, filmed as part of the acclaimed Public Broadcasting Service's American Playhouse series. It was there, while filming in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1987 that Sedgwick met her future husband, Kevin Bacon. At the time, Bacon was one of a new breed of young Hollywood stars known for their box-office draw, and already had a long list of credits besides his 1984 hit Footloose. "I didn't think he had any interest in me at all," Sedgwick recalled in an interview with David Keeps for Redbook. "When we were rehearsing, he kept looking at me, and looking at me, and I thought, He thinks I'm terrible!"
The pair were wed ten months later, and a month after that, Sedgwick discovered she was expecting the first of their two children. She was just 23 years old, and was warned that her career now was essentially over. But over the next several years, she and Bacon shared parenting duties for son Travis, born in 1989, and daughter Sosie, who followed in 1992, and kept their home in New York City or Connecticut. Her husband also followed an iconoclastic career path, noted W 's Meredith Kahn, who noted that he "achieved pop-hunk status with Footloose in the Eighties and promptly threw it out the window, playing a string of murderers, bullies, crooked cops, and all-around creeps."
Sedgwick, meanwhile, shone in supporting or ensemble roles that included the antiwar protester girlfriend of Tom Cruise's disabled Vietnam War veteran in Born on the Fourth of July in 1989, and in Singles, a 1992 Cameron Crowe film about a group of Seattle twentysomethings. Her star seemed to rise a bit in the mid-1990s, when she was nominated for a Golden Globe award for best supporting actress as the spirited, profanity-spewing sister of Julia Roberts's character in Something to Talk About. She also played John Travolta's romantic interest in the 1996 film Phenomenon, and that same year she served as executive producer and co-star of Losing Chase. The latter project, in which Sedgwick played opposite British actor Helen Mirren, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to good reviews, and later aired on the Showtime cable channel.
Solid, interesting parts were still scarce for Sedgwick, however, and she looked for interesting works to produce on her own, or became involved in the occasional joint project with Bacon. In 2000, ABC television executives offered her a sitcom, Talk to Me, which replaced the well-liked Sports Night. In it, Sedgwick played a New York City radio talk-show host, Janey Munro, who ventures back into the dating pool after a particularly rough breakup. "The script gives Sedgwick very little to work with and her forced, manic performance borders on career-killing role-playing," declared Boston Herald television critic Amy Amatangelo, who also noted that the star was also the sitcom's co-executive producer. "If she can't come up with better material for herself, what does that say about the state of sitcoms or about the projects that are being green-lighted by network executives," Amatangelo wondered. The slew of bad reviews, coupled with a loss of four million viewers from its debut in mid-April, caused ABC executives to pull the plug after just three weeks.
Sedgwick remained out of the public eye for much of 2001, but the following year saw the premiere of several new works, including the drama Personal Velocity, directed by Rebecca Miller, daughter of playwright Arthur Miller, from a trio of short stories she had written. Sedgwick played Delia, another scrappy fighter who finally leaves an abusive husband. The work won the Grand Jury Prize for drama at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. In 2003, she appeared in another acclaimed drama, Secondhand Lions, and a year later starred in Cavedweller, for which she also served as executive producer. The work was based on a novel by Dorothy Allison about a musician who tries to reunite with the daughters she left behind with an abusive husband (Aidan Quinn) years before.
Both Sedgwick and Bacon took a chance on The Woodsman, an independent film co-written and directed by a novice filmmaker, Nicole Kassell. Bacon starred as a pedophile recently released from prison after 12 years who takes a job at a lumber yard and begins a tentative romance with Sedgwick's hard-bitten character, who seems to have her own somewhat shady past. She hesitated before taking the role opposite her husband, she told W 's Kahn. "I don't think that people are all that crazy about seeing actors work together over and over again," she noted, but felt the project was a worthwhile one. Bacon also directed her in Loverboy, a little-seen 2005 film about an overprotective parent.
After such a long string of supporting roles and sideline-sitting, Sedgwick was perhaps as surprised as anyone when she began to score laudatory reviews for her title role in The Closer. The TNT series debuted on a Monday night in mid-June of 2005, and set an all-time ratings record for basic cable television on its first outing. Some seven million viewers tuned in that night, the highest ever for a scripted series, though to be fair it also was hyped with a generous, $10 million marketing campaign prior to its debut.
Sedgwick's character, Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson, bears the nickname of the show's title for her superior interrogation skills and ability to elicit a confession from a suspect that will stick in court. Trained at the Central Intelligence Agency, Sedgwick's Johnson is a newcomer to the top job at a special-crimes unit inside the Los Angeles Police Department. The transplanted Southerner, with a Southern drawl that belies her nerves of steel, finds herself the boss of a few officers who had been hoping to land the job themselves, but makes her authority clear in the rather frank, profanity-laced manner which Sedgwick has managed to successfully pull off consistently throughout her career. Finally, noted Entertainment Weekly critic Gillian Flynn, "Sedgwick has a big, bouncy role finely tailored to her.… Johnson is a charming blend of don't-give-acrap arrogance and a defensiveness that comes from succeeding in a deeply macho world."
The Closer also won praise from New York Times television critic Alessandra Stanley, who grouped it along with a new crop of crime shows on television featuring women in starring roles—among them NBC's Medium with Patricia Arquette and Cold Case on CBS. Stanley conceded that fictional female cops were nothing new on television, but asserted that predecessors like Cagney and Lacey from the 1980s already seemed relics of a bygone era. "Those women mirror the feminist ethos of the past— dedicated, seasoned, and tough," Stanley noted. "Now, the new female investigators are not just equal to their male peers; they are superior in a spooky, almost supernatural way."
Sedgwick remains based in New York City, where she and Bacon are the parents of teenagers. The Closer is filmed in Los Angeles, which requires her to be away from home for four months of every year. The couple is regularly seen around Manhattan leading improbably regular lives, and rarely give joint interviews or appear in magazines solely as a celebrity team. "It's nauseating for us to trade on our coupledom," Bacon told W 's Kahn in one of their rare joint interviews. "It's like, Kyra and Kevin's tips for fun during the holidays! It just makes you want to puke when you see it." They also appear with alarming infrequency in gossip columns, which Sedgwick claimed, in the same interview, is "a testament to how boring we are."
Advocate, November 21, 2000, p. 88.
Boston Herald, April 11, 2000, p. 46.
Daily News (Los Angeles, CA), July 10, 1996, p. L7.
Entertainment Weekly, November 15, 2002, p. 86; June 17, 2005, p. 68; July 8, 2005, p. 34.
InStyle, May 1, 2000, p. 313.
Interview, July 1996, p. 94.
New York Times, September 13, 1985, p. C6; April 11, 2000, p. B8; June 13, 2005, p. E9.
Redbook, November 2004, p. 130.
W, December 2004, p. 304.
— Carol Brennan