A Minute With: Holly Hunter on angels and "Saving Grace"

NEW YORK Thu Mar 25, 2010 3:16pm EDT

Actress Holly Hunter speaks after receiving the Lucy Award at the Women in Film 2009 Crystal and Lucy Awards in Century City, California June 12, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Actress Holly Hunter speaks after receiving the Lucy Award at the Women in Film 2009 Crystal and Lucy Awards in Century City, California June 12, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - She's been a TV news producer, a mute piano playing bride and a Texas cheerleader-murdering mom.

But for the last three years, Holly Hunter, 52, has played a gutsy, Oklahoma cop with a last chance angel on cable network TNT's drama series, "Saving Grace", which begins its final season on March 29th.

Hunter's acclaimed performance as Detective Grace Hanadarko has earned her two Emmy nominations and three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.

Reuters spoke to the Oscar-winning actress of 1993 movie "The Piano" about the TV show's final episodes, life after Grace and guardian angels.

Q: "Saving Grace" creator, Nancy Miller, has promised that the final nine episodes of the show will be "a wild and exciting ride." Without spilling the beans, what's in store for fans this season?

A: "I think it's great for the writers and actors to know this is the final season. It offers an opportunity to bring the show to a conclusion and it helps with how you're going to get there. The worst would have been to have the plug pulled and told to pack your stuff and get out...We had five episodes to really hone how we wanted the show to end and I think it's going to be exciting and unpredictable for viewers."

Q: How did you prepare to play an intense, fearless, cynical, sexy cop? Is Detective Grace Hanadarko based on anyone in particular?

A: "I think Grace is part of the imagination. The fact that she is a cop is perfect. She's there to serve. I think the best police officers are there to serve. That's their main initiative in wanting to be a police officer and that's certainly true with Grace.

"But I also believe that Grace likes to live in a slightly dangerous place and being a cop affords her that chance. By nature, she's a bit of a dangerous women. She's unpredictable. She likes leading a secret life and she's ultimately alone. Even though she has a fantastic best friend and she's a great family member in many ways, I still think she's a loner at heart."

Q: In "Saving Grace", Grace has this scruffy, unconventional, tobacco-spitting angel shadowing her. Do you believe in guardian angels?

A: "I think that we all have angels in our lives. The gifts that you are given in your life are often given by a mentor, a parent, a teacher or someone who loves you very much. Sometimes animals are angels of a kind. People feel saved by animals. People feel saved by children. And in these ways I think angels exist."

Q: You've done stage, film, TV. How does the preparation differ for these mediums?

A: "It's great to be able to have the engagement of different forms to keep myself from being bored. Television offers its own set of challenges that plays and films don't, which is the challenge of the work load and how unstoppable it seems. You get on the ride and you have to be ready to take it."

Q: What will you miss most about playing Grace?

A: "I love what Grace finds funny. I love the camaraderie with my fellow cops, my fellow cast members, my angel, my best friend. I've loved working with this amazing ensemble of actors."

Q: So what do you want to be when you grow up? No seriously, if you weren't an actor you'd be....?

A: "A mom."

Q: "Saving Grace" offers viewers a myriad of timely and provocative storylines and themes. What message do you hope viewers will take away from the series?

A: "I did the series predominantly to ask questions. I really wanted to ask great questions of what it means to be alive. I wanted to explore the confrontations and conflicts that people face in friendships, relationships of love and families and the relationship you have with yourself, and just how difficult that can be. And how hard it is to forgive yourself and how hard it is to forgive others. These are kind of the things I wanted to explore as Grace."

(Editing by Jill Serjeant)