'I'm less of a snob now'
You play a transgender hit person in Hit & Miss. On paper that sounds pretty weird. Did it feel like a stretch to you?
I was afraid I wouldn't be convincing and the [transgender] community might be upset about it because it's a sensitive thing. That was the scariest part for me. Not the outcome or the controversy or what people are going to write about it, because I knew the tone they were going to set. It's so based in reality and the truth of the emotions and relationships that it's not quite as nuts as the synopsis sounds.
How important is it that we see your character, Mia, naked so early in the show?
Open to different kinds of roles ... Chloe Sevigny. Photo: Getty Images
I think it's good to just get it out of the way. And the way they shot it, it's not gratuitous - it's just kind of there, it's very natural. It's just me getting dressed or taking a shower.
Did you find it strange wearing a prosthetic penis?
Yes, it was very uncomfortable and I think I had a similar relationship to it as Mia would have with hers. She felt like a freak.
What attracted you to the role?
First and foremost was the script. I wanted to work in England, I wanted to work with this director. I didn't have anything else and I wanted to do something very different from the character I played on Big Love for so many years just to kind of shake that part. I loved doing long-form television and the fact it was a six-hour mini-series, I knew how much you get to explore with the character over time.
Why do you think they went for an American star in what is really quite a small British drama.
I don't think of myself as a star, first of all. I don't. But I think it makes sense that I'd do it. As far as my film career goes, this seems like a natural progression or a natural fit. I think they also wanted something of a name, which is fine by me. If they pay me, I'll take it.
Was it hard to settle in on set?
The hardest part about being on set was being the only American. I feel like there's a real cultural divide and I just felt really alone and isolated. Playing that character had a lot to do with it, but I just felt kind of misunderstood. I think they thought of me - a lot of the crew - as Hollywood or whatever because I drank green tea, you know. So that was a bit isolating.
Was this the first time you've had to put on an accent?
This was the first time doing Irish - southern Irish. I was really scared I wasn't going to pull it off. It was one of my biggest fears going in.
What was the feedback?
So far, so good. I didn't get slaughtered by the press as other people have been in the past. I met with the dialect coach and we practised some different sounds and we decided that would be the best one for me to do. I didn't want to do a northern accent because we were in the north and it would have sounded really fake. Northern's hard.
You played Nicki on HBO's Big Love for five seasons. That must have been very draining. She was a difficult character and a hard character to like.
She was really draining. There were some seasons that were harder than others. I feel like the third season was especially hard for me, when everyone was coming down on me all the time and everyone was yelling at me and I was doing everything wrong. It's hard to go to work and have everybody all day long telling you how bad you are - not as an actress or a person but your character. It penetrates and it was really hard.
In the past you've shied away from mainstream roles. Are you more open to them now?
I think maybe I'm open to taking on more stuff; maybe I feel like I can handle it more. And I think I'm less of a snob now as well, so I'm more open to other things. I just did Portlandia and that was really fun, doing comedy. I'm less snobbish.
Is comedy something you'd like to do more of?
I would, yeah. I think that Nicki on Big Love was very comedic. They wrote me a lot of zingers. It was very subtle but it was in there. I'd like to do something sort of screwbally, old-timey.
Hit & Miss
ABC2, Mondays, 9.30pm