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LOS ANGELES (Back Stage) - For five years, Kyra Sedgwick has thrilled viewers with the glee of swiftly served justice as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, head of the LAPD's Major Crimes Division, on TNT's hit drama "The Closer."
Perhaps the next major crime Johnson's team should be solving is why there's no Emmy or SAG Award gracing Sedgwick's mantel for the role, despite nominations for each honor every season since the show's inception.
Maybe it's because she makes it look easy. Never mind that animating Johnson is a titan task: Professionally she's a tiger disguised as a kitten; personally her life is a tangled ball of yarn that often ends up collecting dust in a corner. In either case, she seems to be going in a million directions at once.
"She's looking for something while speaking her lines while walking down a hall while trying to eat a piece of chocolate while trying to manipulate somebody," says Sedgwick of a typical scene involving her character.
"I think one of the things that the writers like to do, because they like to see Brenda in difficult, complex situations, is to give me a lot of difficult, complex situations where I'm juggling 20 different things."
The sixth season of "The Closer" begins July 12, and Sedgwick, also an executive producer on the show, has a stellar cast to buoy her, most of them veteran actors -- including Jon Tenney, Robert Gossett, and J.K. Simmons.
Having grown up with brothers, she doesn't notice any unusual dynamic as the lone woman, but she says it's been "awesome" working with Mary McDonnell, whose Internal Affairs captain went head to head with Johnson last season and will return for another run of episodes this year.
The New York-raised Sedgwick spends several months of the year speaking in Brenda's Georgia drawl. To learn the huge amount of dialogue she spouts on "The Closer," she engages a dramaturge, who also helps her break down scripts. And she tapes her scenes into a recorder, with which she cues herself.
"I don't recommend it for everybody," she says. "I always worried that I'd get into line readings that way, but I haven't found that to be the case."
Sedgwick contends that the hardest scene she has done on the show was one she filmed with her daughter, Sosie Bacon, who played the niece Brenda took in during Season 5. "I had to say goodbye to her and tell her that she had to go home," Sedgwick recalls. "It was a real Kyra-Brenda mindf---. When she says, 'Do you not want me to stay?,' I just completely really lost it, trying to rein it in as Brenda-slash-Kyra."
Work and life have often mixed for Sedgwick. She knew early on that acting was for her and took a serious approach to it. A part on "Another World" in 1982 was the first in a steady string of film and TV credits.
Yet her career was still young when at age 23 she married actor Kevin Bacon and had their son, Travis. Bacon and Sedgwick met while appearing in the TV movie "Lemon Sky" and have since worked together on several projects, sometimes as actors ("Murder in the First," "The Woodsman"), sometimes with him directing and/or her producing ("Losing Chase").
Perhaps the height of the family affair was "Loverboy," directed by Bacon, produced by Sedgwick, and starring the couple as well as both of their kids. And Bacon has directed his wife in a handful of "Closer" episodes.
Despite a solid career, Sedgwick once considered leaving it behind. "I always said to myself, if six years went by and I didn't get work, I would quit," she says.
"It was after 'Phenomenon' (1996), after 'Something to Talk About' (1995) -- every time I had a movie that came out, it was like, 'This is gonna be the one, this is gonna be the thing,' and I never got that thing. There was a three-year period I didn't work at all and I couldn't get arrested, and I was like, 'You know what? F--- it; this is too hard. My heart is breaking.'"
Ultimately, the passion proved stronger than the pain, and Sedgwick now speaks of her calling with reverence: "It's given me a wonderful, wonderful life, and I couldn't do anything else emotionally -- it's my dream; it's the thing I love the most."