Say goodbye to ‘Big Love’
Beverly Hills, Ca.—“Mr. Paxton, will you marry me?” The proposal was hurled as he walked through the door. Seemed like a logical question for the actor who had played the patriarch of a polygamist family for four years, with the final season coming up.
An easy one, too, it turned out. “Why yes,” Bill Paxton said, grinning widely as he pulled a chair and offered an explanation (that was really unnecessary): “Bill isn’t really a polygamist; he just can’t say no.”
That second Bill is Bill Henrickson, main man in HBO’s “Big Love,” which has a surprisingly loyal following in the Philippines, considering how two other news-making bills, RH and Divorce, are going through the wringer here.
Back to the chair: HBO had mounted a big five-day media event to introduce new shows and new seasons of old ones, and gathered the stars of all seven programs to chat with entertainment journalists from North America, Europe and Asia.
Cool, that’s all
“Big Love’s” main cast—Bill P, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Savigny and Ginnifer Goodwyn—had flown in on Day 3 and were driven straight to the pocket press cons. This might cause a commotion elsewhere, but not at the Four Seasons Hotel, where the sight of Hollywood celebs waiting their turn at the lifts is cool, that’s all. The visiting journalists tried to act cool as well by not asking for snapshots with the stars. It wasn’t easy.
Here’s how the morning went: Bill, Jeanne, Chloe and Ginnifer, individually, were brought to the assigned rooms, where they sat at a table with six or seven of the journalists. With just 15 minutes allotted every group per round, the questions flew fast and hard. At times it felt like the actor spent too much time on one reply, but it soon became clear how practical this was from his or her point of view. It was a lucky group that could squeeze in some bantering, laughs and queries outside of the subject at hand. Like that marriage proposal.
“Big Love” tells the story of a Salt Lake City businessman who balances the needs of his three wives, their nine kids and three houses in the same fenced-in compound, and his own entrepreneurial and political pursuits.
In the final 10–episode season that starts airing Tuesday, 10 p.m., on HBO Signature, new state senator Bill Henrickson shakes Utah to its core by announcing that he is a polygamist. Instead of being embraced for honesty, as they hoped, his family is engulfed by hostility, not the least from other polygamists trying very hard to keep their lives below the social radar. Choice cuts from the interviews follow:
When he was 8, Bill Paxton (“Twister,” “Titanic”), now 55, was caught on camera waving as US President John F. Kennedy emerged from the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth. Fittingly, his next project is a Kennedy biopic.
How do you see this final season going down?
It’s going to go down as a classic show because it’s a familial drama at its core and, as strange as this family is, you can’t help but root for these people.
Any more bombshells in Season 5?
The show’s always had great suspense because this is like a family living underground. But we’ve accepted them and we’re emotionally invested in them as an audience. You worry for their safety. There’s this bombshell that comes out in the second and third episode, an “oh my God” moment.
In the five years of doing this series, have you ever thought polygamy could work for you?
(Laughs.) If I’ve learned only one thing here, it’s how insane it would be to go down that road.
Do you have a favorite?
My character relates to Barb the most because they’re from the same generation. He and Nicky have the same roots, though, and everybody needs a Margene in their lives because she’s like a puppy, always ready to play and be playful and effervescent and every guy wants that. If you could combine them all into one woman that would be the best.
Jeanne Tripplehorn, 47, has made a career out of being the lady you don’t want to mess with (“The Firm,” “Basic Instinct,” but we first saw her in “Waterworld” with Kevin Costner). As Barb in this series, she’s the wise eldest sister-wife.
What can we expect of even-keel Barb this season?
Barb was really conflicted at the beginning of the show, conflicted about her role in this polygamous relationship — an unwilling matriarch. In the end she comes to terms with polygamy and her role in it… to hold the family together.
Are you sad to let her go?
I was, initially, but I’ve accepted it, and it’s been really tough — we could get into a real therapy session (laughs). The hardest thing of all to let go is my daily interaction with Chloe, Ginni and Bill. I”m going to miss that.
Has “Big Love” challenged any opinion you had about polygamy?
It’s still not something for me, but… I think I get it. It’s a tricky subject…
Chloe Savigny, 36, is a lustrous product of the modeling industry and indie movies, who soon made her way to big-budget films like “American Psycho.” She is Bill’s second wife Nicky, daughter of her husband’s most bitter enemy, manipulative but loyal.
The creators said they had you in mind for Nicky from the start.
I don’t know which film of mine they saw prior—“American Psycho”?
How do you feel about Nicky’s wardrobe?
Oh, yes, most people know me from fashion magazines. I’m from Connecticut, cowboy boots never made sense to me, but Nicky’s whole prairie look was really fun. I even took home one of her dresses, a pink one.
Do you think “Big Love” has a message?
It says a lot about alternative families. I could never be in that sort of relationship; I’m far too jealous as a person. But I have come to understand a lot more about polygamy and other sorts of families, and I hope other people have, too.
Ginnifer Goodwin, 32, is really a Jennifer. The name change was meant to match her slow Dixie drawl (she was born in Tennessee). She broke through “Mona Lisa Smile” but became famous as Margene Heffman, third of the sister–wives.
How do you feel about the show winding up?
Terrible. Bill, Jeanne and Chloe have gotten me through horrible breakups and crazy family things and life changes. When I go to New York, I hang out with Chloe. Jean lives around the corner from me and she goes jogging and comes into my house to get water half way through. I go up to Ojai to visit Bill in his ranch house with his family. That’s not gonna change. But it’s still gonna be hard not to have the day-to-day “What do you want from Starbucks?” kind of routine.
What happens with your character in the final season?
Margene is going to reveal a very, very big dark secret that is going to affect this marriage.
You were 25 when you joined the show; now you’re 32. Would you say you had some public growing up?
I’ve had to develop a public version of myself that is who I am when I leave the house—because there might be paparazzi outside.
Now that you’re engaged, has playing a mom made you want kids in real life?
We did make jokes about how my job was half acting and half babysitting because I spent a big part of my days trying to make the children [in the cast] comfortable. I can’t wait to have my own children.