The Oscar and Emmy winner is a star of a new HBO drama
While riding a new wave of acclaim for one of her latest movie roles, Holly Hunter is proving television is still on her radar.
The Oscar and Emmy winner has earned fresh praise as an ill woman’s mother in “The Big Sick,” and after “Saving Grace” and the first “Top of the Lake,” she returns to series work in the latest HBO drama from “Six Feet Under” and “True Blood” mentor Alan Ball as “Here and Now” debuts Sunday, Feb. 11. Hunter plays Audrey, a lively attorney who’s also the matriarch of a very blended family, as she and her professor husband (fellow Oscar winner Tim Robbins) deal with their biological daughter (Sosie Bacon, whose parents are Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick) as well as adoptees from Somalia, Vietnam and Colombia (Jerrika Hinton, Raymond Lee, Daniel Zovatto).
“Alan Ball is doing what he was born to do” with “Here and Now,” Hunter believes. “He has a brilliance for having stories open up incrementally, like a flower. It’s a very particular gift for episodic storytelling, and Alan manifests it in a very specific way that embraces a certain mystery about us all (as the characters in the show).”
“Here and Now” has a structure that “makes us all the leads,” Hunter reasons. Indeed, no one performer dominates the series, with the focus continually shifting among the family members individually or in combinations. “In all imaginative endeavors, trust is crucial,” says Hunter, “and I was so happy to be able to entrust the story of my character to Alan. I was 100-percent sure that the three-dimensionality, and even the four-dimensionality, was going to happen. He’s not going to leave the complications of the characters on the table.”
Hunter appreciates playing those out with her “Here and Now” colleagues: “I love and adore working with Tim (Robbins), so that has been a great bonus. I also have tremendous respect for Tim. What he’s given to us, and his commitment over the decades, is beautiful … and his Greg (in ‘Here and Now’) is a deeply troubled, deeply spiritual man.” Also, Hunter likens working with young Bacon to “falling into a pool of warm water. She’s phenomenally talented, and she wears it so lightly, yet she’s a serious actress. And she’s had extraordinary role models.”
Having just completed her voice work for the animated Disney-Pixar sequel “Incredibles 2,” due in June, Hunter says she’s enjoying being back on the movie-award circuit. An Oscar owner for “The Piano” – and a winner of two Emmys, for “Roe vs. Wade” and HBO’s “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom” – she’s received many best-supporting-actress nominations for “The Big Sick,” encompassing the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Film Independent Spirit Awards. She also was given a related career achievement award at last month’s Palm Springs International Film Festival.
“I’m amazed that ‘The Big Sick’ has really stayed in people’s minds,” Hunter reflects. “We are all so happy that the movie made a connection, and that the connection has lasted all year long. It’s just been a great year for Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon (the writers on whose relationship the film is based) and that incredible cast. It was such a treat to work with people I liked that much.”