What happened was Sedgwick bridged the six degrees of separation between herself and Kevin Bacon, and one of Hollywood’s most admirably devoted partnerships was born. (“Don’t ask me how we do it,” she laughs. “I love him. He loves me. The secret is: Don’t take advice from celebrities about marriage.”) By 23, Sedgwick was a new mother. “I remember every minute from that time of my life, being a mother, being with our babies,” she says. “I don’t feel like I missed a thing. And I’m so thankful for that.”
But Hollywood was moving to a different rhythm. While Bacon’s career flourished with high-octane turns in A Few Good Men, Sleepers and Apollo 13, Sedgwick trod the boards of domestic life — and happily so, even if her career suffered a bit as a result.
“Yet her talent had only grown,” says Duff. “And motherhood creates its own work ethic that nothing in ‘work life’ can rival. By the time we met up [on The Closer], she was completely at peace, not really looking for a television series and also totally ready.”
Virtually overnight, Sedgwick was the name on everyone’s tongue. She and Duff worked closely to ensure that each episode of The Closer offered not only a crackerjack police procedural but also “a window into the heart” of Sedgwick’s character. That hard work entailed 14-hour workdays, sometimes six days a week, 3,000 miles away from Sedgwick’s family in New York City.
Duff recalls a moment midway through season one in 2005, after nearly two months of production, when the set had wrapped for the day, leaving just the two of them to reflect on the work they were doing. The show had premiered to good ratings, its audience was growing, critical notices were uniformly warm, but, says Duff, “we were utterly cut off from almost everything in the world,” as often happens in the trenches of production. “Kyra turned to me, sleep-deprived as we both were, and asked, tearing up, ‘Do you think there will come a time when we can just sit down and enjoy this for a minute?’ ” he recalls. “She now has an Emmy and a Golden Globe, and she’s a household name. I think we’ve found a way to enjoy ourselves.”
But with her contract set to expire, Sedgwick has decided to pull the plug on The Closer, this summer’s 21-episode season marking the end of an era. She sees the transition as part of her personal growth, another opportunity to discover a lightness of being. “It’s a lot of transition, definitely, but I really wanted to leave The Closer when it was still good and when I still loved it,” she says. “I didn’t want to stop when I was unhappy going to work. And the truth is, I go to work every day knowing we’re going to sing, breathe, have some fun. I like waking up feeling like every day is going to be cool.”
Lest anyone mistake Sedgwick’s Closer curtain call for an early retirement, consider that the actress has three films set for release in the upcoming year — Chlorine, Man on a Ledge and a still-untitled Omen-esque horror film with Grey’s Anatomy’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan — and that she is only now rediscovering the joy of her craft, a critical benefit of having inhabited Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson for eight years. The long hours, the rapid dialogue, the duties associated with fronting a television series and the quick pace all required Sedgwick to tune in to the present tense, something she looks forward to exercising in both family life and film roles.
“When we’re young, there’s a sheer abandon and a joy of playing, and when we get older, we often get attached to results. We want to do things right, so we get boxed in,” she says, playing with the bracelets on her left wrist. “With The Closer, we’ve worked really hard, really fast for a long time. You have to let go of trying to be perfect so that you might actually be perfect. That’s hard. Everyone wants the awards and the good reviews and the love of their peers, but you don’t get that by trying hard to get that. You get it by doing the best you can, by being who you are, and trusting that that’s enough.”
With that, the “open book” named Kyra Sedgwick excuses herself, called to the set of her latest film. She’s a little bit Audrey Hepburn, a little bit Lucille Ball, anything but “totally boring,” a chocoholic perhaps, but also in perpetual search of light and always lovely. She lays her napkin on the table, takes one last sip of water, flashes that enormous smile — provocative and sweet at once — then looks you straight in the eyes. “Look at that, I’m leaving the glass half full,” she laughs, then walks away, off into the Vancouver morning.