Starting Sunday, the Oscar-winning actress joins the HBO series, now in its fourth season, for a multi-episode arc. Only, it's not in the coal-miner’s-daughter way one might think. “When people say, ‘Sissy Spacek’s going to be on 'Big Love,' it’s like, 'Oh, she’s going to be on the compound, right?' And it’s like, 'No, she’s not,' " said series co-creator Will Scheffer. “I don’t think anyone has ever seen Sissy Spacek do work like this before. It’s new ground for her.”
Spacek plays Marilyn Densham, a hard-nosed Washington lobbyist who gets embroiled with patriarch Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) and his family when he seeks political office. And once the esteemed actress expressed interest in coming on the series, the creators knew that they had to beef up the part.
“To do a guest arc on an ensemble show is very unusual for an actress of her stature, so we knew that we had to offer something substantially exciting,” Scheffer explained. “As we got into developing it more with Sissy in mind, we realized that this character was going to have a crucial role at the end of the season that would be a game changer for the family.”
“Big Love” marks the six-time Academy Award nominee’s first recurring TV role. Though we're hoping it won’t be Spacek’s last. “Glenn Close has her own show,” said Scheffer. “Sissy is the type of woman who would have her own show – and hopefully she will now.”
We spoke with the actress in December. Here’s what she had to say about her character, her history with Bill Paxton and why she likened this television experience to being in the twilight zone.
Had you been looking to do something in TV?
Well, you know, over the years I have done TV — I’ve never done a continuing role on episodic TV. Different networks have talked to me about it, and cable, and this was just a good way to get my feet wet. … I’m a fool for a good role in a creative piece where there are really such talented writers and wonderful actors.
How were you introduced to this part?
I think Will Scheffer and Mark Olsen, the creators of this show, sent me this script. … I’m a fan of the show, and it was a character that was unlike anything I’d done before, and Bill Paxton is an old, old friend of mine. We’ve known each other since we were teenagers. He’s a dear friend, and I just thought, “Why not?”
What can you reveal about your character?