Thursday, December 2

Actor Carrie Coon: ‘My husband says I have ice water in my veins’ | Films

TO The little boy is playing a tuba in the next room and Carrie Coon apologizes in advance if she’s a little distracted. Unexpectedly burdened with babysitting tasks today, the 40-year-old is watching over her two children, three-year-old son Haskell and one-month-old brother, while chatting with Zoom from their Chicago home.

The Ohio-born actor is currently enjoying a well-deserved moment. Best known for television roles that include the grieving widow Nora Durst in the post-apocalyptic saga. The remains divorced and headstrong Minnesota cop Gloria Burgle in the third (and best) season of Fargo, for which she was nominated for an Emmy, now stars opposite Jude Law in the acclaimed new psychological thriller The nest. This fall, he also plays one of the protagonists of the long-awaited reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise.

It’s an overdue reward for a versatile performer who went through the regional theater and met her quotas on stage at age 20. Coon’s breakthrough came in a 2010 Chicago production of Edward Albee’s Who is scared by Virginia Woolf?, which moved to Broadway and earned him a Tony nomination. It was at this play that she met her husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and actor Tracy Letts. He is currently filming in New York, hence the solo upbringing.

The nest portrays the disintegration of the relationship of a married couple. What do you think the movie says about marriage?
What struck me when I first read the script was how unusually honest it is. To me, it was completely recognizable as a real marriage, one that started out as fun and sexy with a solid foundation. But little by little, they fail to communicate, the tacit agreements are broken and everything adds up.

Did it make you reflect on your own marriage?
I have a happy and healthy marriage. When I was younger, let’s just say I didn’t always behave with integrity in my relationships. Now that I have found a partner that I can be truly honest with, I never want to go back. What’s fascinating is how people respond at the end of the movie. I find it hopeful because the couple cut the shit and got to a more honest place. Others find it woefully gloomy, which could indicate how honest their own marriage is. Some were uncomfortable watching it.

Carrie Coon with her husband Tracy Letts in 2019.
‘The Nest was totally recognizable to me as a royal marriage’ – Carrie Coon with her husband, Tracy Letts, in 2019. Photography: Kristina Bumphrey / StarPix / Rex / Shutterstock

The protagonists move from New York to England. How did you find filming here?
It’s very much a fish out of water story for my character, Allison, so it was helpful to spend an extended period in parts of the UK that I had never visited. We stayed in Hampstead and filmed a lot in Oxfordshire, near Blenheim. It’s very different culturally so I was really able to tap into that feeling of being an American abroad.

Jude Law plays your husband. Did you get along?
We had a ball. It felt like rehearsing a play: two stage actors digging through the material. Jude is a character actor trapped in the body of a protagonist. Now it’s entering an interesting phase, taking on more character-driven parts. Yet he’s maddeningly charismatic. A true movie star. Even when I was in the background of my scenes, I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

How has filming of sex scenes changed in the post- #IWas it too much?
I have seen a greater difference in theater than on screen. We were making a rudimentary independent film, so we left ourselves to our own devices and the budget only allowed us to shoot it two or three times. In the theater you have to do it every night, so there is an intimate protocol and the scenes are much more coded. There is a step-by-step plan and you are not supposed to violate those established pillars. But one of the best things about this job is that we can fantasize and be intimate with other people in a way that is hopefully safe. As my husband says, people who work in a bank actually sleep together. We are just pretending. Demonstrations happen. Our marriage is the product of a show. They don’t usually last, but here we are 10 years later, so you never know.

The movie is set in 1986. What did you like about recreating that period?
Those fabulous 80s clothes. I’m one of five children, so I spent the decade in the hands of my brother. In The nestI wore some gorgeous vintage dresses and trouser suits.

There is also a lot of smoking …
Everybody smoked back then. My parents did. My aunt smoked and drank coffee at the wheel of her car, driving on her knee. That’s my people [laughs].

Allison is a riding instructor and spends much of the movie with horses. Did you train for that?
Work with [Buckinghamshire stud] The Devil’s Horsemen and I really immersed myself in it. Allison’s horse is played by Tornado, Jon Snow’s horse from Play of Thrones, who is an absolute showman and a scene stealer. But they only used it for certain takes. In fact, we had eight different horses: one for jumping, one for galloping, a stunt horse, etc. The folks at Continuity braided their manes and painted them to match.

After many supporting and ensemble roles, were you desperate to play a suitable lead role?
Sure, but I’m an actress in Hollywood. How many movies come out with women at the helm? The same 10 actresses tend to play those roles. I’m not on that list.

Are juicy roles hard to find for women over 30?
Certainly in the cinema. Actresses find that as we become more interesting and more self-confident, roles dry up. I have more street cred when it comes to television. That is where my career flourished. I’d say television has led that movement toward more complex roles for older women. The movie is a little late for the party.

Jude Law and Carrie Coon on The Nest.
‘Even when I was in the background of my scenes, I couldn’t take my eyes off him’: Carrie Coon with Jude Law on The Nest. Photograph: IFC Films / AP

The film opened last fall in the United States. Was it lost in the middle of the pandemic?
A little bit, so we’re grateful for the reception you’re getting abroad. It landed at a tough time here in the States, but seems to be gaining some traction [in the UK] with you smarties all who like adult movies.

So are we a nation of smarties?
Look, they still advertise novels on the subway.

You are quite chameleonic. Do people ever mistake you for another actress entirely?
My Twitter bio used to be “No, I’m not the one Mindhunter“Because I always got confused with Anna Torv.

This November, you’re on the movie reboot Ghostbusters: Another Life. That must have been exciting?
I am very proud to be a part of this. It feels surreal because I grew up watching the original. A lot of the original cast were Chicago guys – Bill Murray and Harold Ramis appeared on the Chicago improv scene – and that’s my stomping ground, so it’s special to continue that connection. The kids, Finn Wolfhard and Mckenna Grace, do most of the cool stuff, but I see some action too. Most of the special effects are practical, rather than green screens. There was real smoke and red lights everywhere. It was a pleasure to do some physical acting.

You starred alongside David thewlis in the third season of Fargo. How was that?
Mike leigh’s Naked It was one of those indelible performances. Doing that final scene of Fargo with David was one of the few times that I was intimidated as an actor and I had trouble doing my job. I was so scared. And of course it was perfect in every take. My husband says I have ice water in my veins. I just don’t get nervous but all of a sudden I was.

Carrie Coon in Fargo.
‘I just don’t get nervous, but suddenly I was’: Carrie Coon in Fargo. Photograph: Chris Large / FX / AP

Do you fear for the theater’s recovery after the pandemic?
I am concerned that we will see that many arts organizations fail. People fight to earn a living. But storytelling is the oldest profession, so it will always rise from the ashes in times of crisis. The theater will survive and be enriched by all these new voices. In a world that has historically been white and masculine, space is being created for new jobs to emerge.

What awaits you?
I just wrapped The golden age with HBO, the new Julian Fellowes drama, with many extraordinary stage actors, in fact. They took all the actors on hiatus from Broadway. It is set in New York during the 1880s and it is beautiful. That will come out next year. I will also return to the stage in October, in my husband’s play. Error at the Steppenwolf theater.

Have you had a change in mood since the Biden administration?
We are certainly in better hands. I have a close friend who works in the White House and knowing that people like her are now in important positions is comforting. They are trying to rebuild and attract the right people, which gives me hope.

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