Indie-film luminary Patricia Clarkson doesn’t want a husband or a life of ease.
by Will Doig
November 7, 2005
It’s 10:15 in the morning and Patricia Clarkson is eating M&Ms from a small, cabin-shaped Lucite box that came with the room at the Regency Hotel.
She is recently back from New Orleans, her childhood home. Her parents still live there — their house, located in the city’s mostly spared Algiers section, suffered no flooding (“A tree fell through the roof, but that’s all.”) Her mother is the councilwoman for District C, which encompasses the French Quarter, the open-air art colony of Jackson Square, and what is widely considered to be the city’s most celebrated example of Creole villa.
“A lot of my family is displaced,” says Clarkson. “Aunts and uncles. Some of my very extended family lost everything.” A New Yorker of twenty-five years, Clarkson’s voice retains a touch of Delta twang.
Like nearly everything she’s in, her latest film, The Dying Gaul, will be critically acclaimed. But even with its star power and the current climate of indie hype, it’ll be a tough sell outside the Sundance circuit. Its story follows a screenwriter named Robert (Peter Sarsgaard), whose boyfriend recently died of AIDS, as he engages in an affair with his Hollywood producer, Jeffrey (Campbell Scott). Upon learning of her husband’s infidelity, Jeffrey’s wife Elaine (Clarkson) begins to anonymously manipulate both men via internet chat room. It’s a devastating film. Nerve spoke with Clarkson about marital transgressions and the joys of spinsterhood. — Will Doig
This movie made me feel unsettled.
Good. We have too much ease in our lives.
You’ve played a string of unsettling characters in the past few years — that awful woman in Far from Heaven, for example.
I think in order to play some of these characters I’ve played, you have to like them. You have to believe in them. Obviously, they’re very different from me. My character in Far from Heaven couldn’t be more different. But Elaine and I, we have a lot of similar qualities. I think I understood a lot about Elaine. She entered the Hollywood elite life and lost herself, and I’ve seen this happen to women in Hollywood. (more…)