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Actress Hunter explores Grace under pressure



Published: Thu, March 26, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Sandy Cohen

LOS ANGELES — On TNT’s “Saving Grace,” Holly Hunter plays a no-nonsense cop who works hard, lives fast and forgives slowly. In reality, the 50-year-old Oscar and Emmy winner is completely in control, consciously shaping her character as both an actress and an executive producer.

Grace Hanadarko is learning about forgiveness this season, Hunter says, and learning what it means to have a guardian angel. At a recent cocktail party celebrating the series, the actress-producer talked about what’s planned for season three — set to air in June — and the state of women on television today.

Q. What’s coming up for Grace?

A. This season revolves a lot around forgiveness and the complexities of forgiveness: How do you forgive yourself, how do you forgive others, how do you ask for forgiveness? How do you know that you’re wrong and what do you do after you know that you’re wrong, or if you’ve been wronged? The transaction is really complex, and I think everybody in the world can relate to how do you do it. ... So Grace really kind of explores that. ... She’s a pretty intimate character, and this is one of the things that attracted me to playing the part.

Q. What do you have in common with Grace?

A. For all of my characters, I use either my own experience of living my life or borrowed experience. I steal from other people’s experiences that I see. I’ll see a movie and get an inspiration from what somebody else has done, even if it’s Buster Keaton. I borrow stuff, and then there’s stuff I’ve gotten from my own family and my friends. It’s just kind of a potpourri of me, every single character.

Q. What’s it like watching Grace as an executive producer?

A. I watch Grace a lot, critically, because we’re trying to get the episodes in the right shape for airing ... but I still appreciate so much how three-dimensional she is and how human she is. The largeness of the humanity I very much appreciate.

Q. How would you characterize the state of women on TV today?

A. It’s really, really exciting, and I don’t think that it’s a trend. I think it’s here to stay. What’s here to stay is, I think, a fascination with women. ... People are very interested in flawed, antiheroic, possibly not necessarily admirable people, but people who are flexing their humanity and everything that entails. ... What it means to be alive can be pretty dark, but it can also be lovely and light. Television is exploring the dark side, you know, and has been through these men who’ve been very celebrated. Then it just started kind of like, by nature, transferring into ... women.


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