You may have thought Sissy Spacek abandoned Hollywood a long time ago. She won the Oscar in 1980 for Coal Miner's Daughter, then packed her things and headed to a massive ranch in Virginia with her husband and two daughters.
But she's always been around. On Friday, she opens in Todd Field's drama In the Bedroom, which co-stars Tom Wilkinson, Marisa Tomei, William Mapother and Nick Stahl. It's the real thing, too — a real drama with riveting performances so resonant that Spacek may be headed back to the Oscars after a 20 year gap. (Liz Smith wrote last week that Spacek is one of six women in Miramax movies who could get nominated for Best Actress — and she's right.)
It's not like she has been completely absent form the silver screen, either. Recently, she played Brendan Fraser's mom in the offbeat comedy Blast from the Past. She's made quite a few films since that Oscar nod, including Richard Pearce's The Long Walk Home, a movie that I love and always recommend.
She told me during our interview last week that she never thought of living in Virginia as a statement. At the time, not only did she and husband Jack Fisk (who's worked on all of Terrence Malick's famous films) move there, but so did Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard and their family. They were like the Ricardos and Mertzes moving into Green Acres.
"I wanted my cake and to eat it too. The farm had always been a getaway, but we left L.A. after we had our first child. I didn't worry about leaving the fast lane — I was just so consumed with my baby that it seemed like the right thing to do. I never felt like I left New York, though. If you've lived in a place and loved it, you never feel like you left it."
Spacek added that Malick, who directed her in Badlands, is a "private" man. "There's so much going on in that mind of his."
The Long Walk Home still remains one of her favorites. "I saw a scene from that not too long ago, and I thought, 'I like that.' But it's good to move forward and live in the present. You don't forget the movies, but you forget the details of them."
Spacek also talked about working on Blast from the Past: "I know [director] Hugh Wilson. He called me one day and said, 'This is not really a part that's the kind of film you do.' But I thought, 'What the heck?' It was something I hadn't done. I don't think about career moves. I like to go out on a limb — and that was great fun.Christopher Walken" — her costar — "always smells like garlic. He's a wonderful chef — fabulous. Very interesting, very creative, very smart man. He's one of a kind. I adored him."
Sissy told me that, when she read the script for In the Bedroom, she assumed she knew what was going to happen to her character. But, of course she didn't. "It surprised me, and I loved that about it," she said.
She said that it was difficult to talk to Mapother — who plays the killer of her son [Nick Stahl] in the movie — while they were shooting. "He's a great guy. My character had to hate him. I cared about him when I saw the finished film. There's so much of a film you don't see when you're working, and you're not privy to. I was so blown away by his scenes. he's really made a name for himself," she said, reflecting on Mapother finally coming out from under cousin Tom Cruise's shadow.
And the Oscar? It's been a long time. "Time flies. It's not something I would ever expect. It's the greatest of honors." She keeps her Oscar in her home office. "I don't polish it, it doesn't tarnish. But it's happy."
Lange and Shepard, by the way, moved from Virginia a couple of years ago, Spacek says. "I ran into her recently in New York and we had a lovefest. It was just great."
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone made $93 million over the weekend — so says Warner Bros. But did it? I'm told that, when the counting is done independently today, Harry could come in anywhere between $83 million and $89 million.
If Warner Bros.' count is way off, a lot of questions will follow. Surely, Harry Potter is a big, big hit — but is it the size that the company needs? There seemed to be very few sold out shows around the country on Friday and Saturday. This may have been because the movie opened on a staggering 8,200 screens in 3,600 theatres — more than any movie in history. Perhaps the studio watered down the magic of its release by making it so widely available.
The real test will come over Thanksgiving. Will audiences return to Harry Potter like they did to Titanic — or will one trip be enough?
I don't usually write about private events, but I was at a special one yesterday. It was the wedding of Matthew Hiltzik, vice president and director of public relations at Miramax Films, to his longtime girlfriend, Dana.
It was not the run of the mill wedding. Among the attendees at this wildly ebullient Orthodox Jewish ceremony held in upstate New York were Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, actor Alec Baldwin and Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein.
Baldwin, often lampooned in the New York Post for being overweight, has trimmed down nicely and is in fighting shape. He came to the wedding with his assistant.
Clinton never looked better. Wearing a black suit, chunky pearls and a red white and blue eagle pin, she almost stole the show from the couple. Democrats and Republicans alike flocked over to shake hands and take a picture. She obliged them all.
The Hiltzik wedding was full of surprises. Last week, when several of his friends (this reporter included) threw a bachelor dinner for him at a Kosher restaurant in midtown Manhattan called Le Marais, we got the biggest shock of all. Who should pop in for an unannounced visit but the Rev. Al Sharpton. There was absolute silence in the restaurant as Sharpton walked over to congratulate Matt. They're still talking about it at Le Marais.
I was sad to read about the passing last week of former Yankee announcer Frank Messer. He was 76 and had lupus, according to The New York Times.
Messer, Phil Rizzuto and Bill White announced Yankee games for 18 seasons, from 1968 to 1986. They were there when the Yanks were in the cellar, and they were there during the glory days of Billy Martin, Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson and company in the mid to late 1970s. The trio was the last great indelible broadcast team the Yankees ever had, Messer, with his straight arrow approach—was an integral part of it. He will be missed.