Interview: Chloë Sevigny

On acting, freaks, nerd roles, the end of Big Love, and why she doesn't want to be any more famous than she is
By CAMILLE DODERO  |  January 12, 2011


NEW YORK — For the record, Chloë Sevigny is not dating Jersey Shore's Pauly D. Last week, the Big Love actress and the Situation's less sinister sidekick were photographed courtside at a Knicks game, and gossip blogs gleefully speculated they were an item. But seriously, people? "I was just looking at his hair," says Sevigny, the same week. Amused and mortified by the thought of them coupling (her tone suggests more of the latter), the 36-year-old alterna-kid icon swears she's only seen Jersey Shore "a few times" and only said "one thing" to him the entire game. Mostly, she was mystified by his blown-out guido crown. "It looked like . . . egg yolk. Or Elmer's Glue. [His hair] had a white glaze thing kind of happening and I was like, 'How the fuck? Does he go upside down? What's the process?' I should have asked him, but I didn't think that engaging him would be worth it — not to be mean or rude, I was really interested in the basketball game."

Also for the record, Sevigny finds herself clarifying statements a lot more than she'd like. Last year, the Springfield, Massachusetts–born New Yorker called season four of Big Love — the HBO polygamist melodrama in which she co-stars as Nicki Grant, one of Bill Paxton's three onscreen wives, the fundamentalist daughter of a criminal false prophet — "awful." The word just slipped out during an interview with The Onion AV Club, and she's since apologized profusely to the show's writers. But sitting across from her at Café Orlin in the East Village, to promote Big Love's fifth and final season, it's easy to see how this happens. Chloë Sevigny is not a media-trained Hollywood creation, she's a lifelong East Coaster who grew up hanging with skateboard kids and happened to fall into acting (thanks to her friendship with Kids/Gummo writer/director Harmony Korine). In conversation, she's funny, self-aware, and sardonic — and her profession of pretending to be other people seems like the least fake thing about her. Frankly, she's kind of awesome. You'll see.

Big Love's over. You signed for six seasons, but the show ended at five. Yay? Boo?
Both. Bittersweet. Inevitable. Could've had one year more, but we didn't. One more year would've been nice — I would've liked it a lot. But it's very disruptive to my life; having to be [in LA] for six months of the year is really hard. But I really love the character and the part.

Big Love was the first television series in which you've had a regular role. As an actor, did it ever feel redundant?
All the time. That was always my main complaint, even from the first season. I was like, "Why do I keep going back to the same problem?" As the writers explained to me, it's because that's what happens in real life. People have the same problems. But by the end, I was like, "Haven't we done this scene before?" Of course. But that's also real life: you have the same fight with your boyfriend over and over.

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