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Kyra Sedgwick talks about her new film ‘Edge of Seventeen’

Kyra Sedgwick's latest film is

Kyra Sedgwick's latest film is "The Edge of Seventeen." Credit: Invision / Andrew Estey

It’s been four years since Kyra Sedgwick’s hit TNT series “The Closer” closed up shop, but she’s been busy lately — and fans will have several new ways to get their Sedgwick fix.

First up, it’s “The Edge of Seventeen,” a wry coming-of-age dramedy premiering Nov. 18, about awkward, angsty, 17-year-old Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), the jock brother she loathes (Blake Jenner), and their mess-of-a-mother who suddenly finds herself single (Sedgwick). Nadine is also juggling a bestie with a devastating secret (promising newcomer Haley Lu Richardson) and a wise, albeit super-weird, history teacher (Woody Harrelson).

Next year, Sedgwick, 51, will star in ABC’s “Ten Days in the Valley,” a new film-noirish series in which she plays an overworked TV producer and single mom. And she makes her directorial debut with “Story of a Girl,” a Lifetime movie about a teen dealing with a sex video gone viral, co-starring Sedgwick’s husband, Kevin Bacon, and their daughter, Sosie Bacon. (The couple also have a son, Travis.)

I’ve been wondering how your girlhood compares to that of poor Nadine in the movie. You grew up in the city but summered on Long Island, right?

I was an East Hampton girl before it was super chic to be one. I went to Girls Club there. It was fun.

Later, as a teen, what were you on an awkwardness scale of 1 to 10? I’d say Nadine is an 11.

I was an 11 for sure, too. I felt like a total misfit toy. And I was. (She laughs.) All the best people are. Being a teenager is excruciating. Constant agony and no self-esteem. I felt like everybody had it together but me. My hair wasn’t right, my body wasn’t right. Maybe girls have it harder than boys.

Yes, girls think more than guys do.

That pesky thinking and feeling! We should quit doing that.

When did you start feeling better in your own skin?

I started working as an actor at 16. I thought, OK, high school. … I’m just visiting there. I had a vocation. Something I really wanted to do. And I had two best best friends — that’s all I needed. You realize you don’t have to be all things to all people.

What’s nice in this film is how they show both the teens and adults struggling with life.

So often these kinds of movies go wrong when they just focus on the kids. It’s about this fractured family that loses its patriarch — the good parent — and what happens when they try to put themselves back together. I love when my character, Mona, says, “Everyone is as miserable and empty as I am. They’re just better at pretending.” I thought, OK, high school. … I’m just visiting there.

What was it like working with Hailee?

Great. She’s a good listener, and can throw something back at you with a bit of a twist, which prompts you to make a different choice in the scene. And she was interested in talking things through. Mother-daughter relationships are super-complicated. I’m lucky to have a really good relationship with my daughter.

Congratulations, by the way — making your directorial debut with “Story of a Girl.” That was a young adult novel, right?

Yes! I got the rights in 2007 because I felt there weren’t enough real teenage stories out there. Then “Edge of Seventeen” came along. … I was blown away, because it’s become a mandate of mine to get more work out there that reflects what it’s actually like to be a teenager. I was just going to produce my film. Never thought I’d direct, Then I was at Lifetime, where they have this “Broad Initiative,” to get more women into directing. They asked if I had a passion project and I just sort of said, “I do … and I’d love to direct it.” And I thought … “Yeah , I really would.” (She laughs.) It was a shocking revelation — deciding to dive in, and loving it. It’s all I want to do now. I don’t want to be in front of the camera anymore.


Yeah. Directing … was remarkably fulfilling.

Especially when you direct your family. Your husband’s in it, and your daughter.

Yes, she plays a baby mama with a 5-month-old child. She’s a reluctant mother. And she’s remarkable.

It’s one thing to direct your husband. But — your daughter — was that challenging?

For me, I found it easy. We had one moment where we were at some cross-communication. And she kind of looked at me and rolled her eyes. But it was just one moment. That’s pretty good. She took direction incredibly well.

Only can you roll your eyes at the director when it’s your mom.

Exactly. But I was like … I can take an eye roll. That’s all right.


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