An Ordinary Yet Very Extraordinary Life: An Interview With Oscar Winner Sissy Spacek


It’s hard to even imagine someone regarding Oscar winner Sissy Spacek as anything but extraordinary. But in an inspiring surprise, it’s the actress herself that considers her life quite ordinary as well. She shot to fame in Carrie and won big in her 1980 portrayal as Loretta Lynn inCoal Miner’s Daughter. She’s gone on to more comedic projects such as in Blast from the Past and Four Christmases, and kept it spunky and down right memorable in the hugely successful 2011 hit The Help. But through it all, she’s stayed true to her roots and details on her upbringing and career in the new memoir, “My Extraordinary Ordinary Life.”

When speaking to Sissy it feels like you’re right back in Texas or Virginia. Not needing to have ever been there yourself, she immediately makes you feel comfortable, forgetting that this is a huge Hollywood star sitting right before you. During the conversation she discussed not only raising her own family out of L.A., but why her ordinary life is what’s most important to her.

Getting to meet Sissy is a memorable experience to say the least, but learning about how grounded she still is after all these years is even more astounding. She’s just, well, extraordinary.

You’ve gone from East Texas to now writing your own memoir. How did you get to this point and what made you want to get your stories down on paper?

Well, you know how did I get from that little town in Texas? It took about 40 years. Forty plus years! [Laughs] It’s a slow process. I came to New York when I was very young to visit relatives and was invited to come with a journalist actually who was coming to cover fashion shows. After I got here I never saw her. I was staying with relatives, and I started as a musician, and then did a little bit of that and one thing led to the other and I studied acting. I was very fortunate and became an actor and then that’s kind of why I’m sitting here talking to you. I was very fortunate.

You touch on how you moved your family to Virginia to stay out of the L.A. area.

Well, I lived there for 13 years and I lived here for about six and then I went out in L.A. when I started working in film. I love New York. It was very hard for me to leave and I love L.A. At first we bought our farm just to have a place of refuge to get away for a month or so at a time or a couple of weeks, and we just began to stay their longer and longer. We kind of just segwayed into it; it just was a really wonderful, rich life. It’s something both my husband and I had experienced growing up and just loved it. When we had our first child we moved there permanently.

Did you ever explain to your daughters that you moved there with purpose? To stay grounded in their roots?

I don’t know if I ever told them anything as much, but I just raised them there and those became their roots too. Nature’s a comfort for me. And all of those natural sounds and those I grew up with is just comforting and soothing. And fortunately they feel the same way now and they both are off seeking their fortunes in different places, but they’ve taken their Virginia values with them.

You’ve clearly had many extraordinary moments in your life. What’s been the most special to you that you’ve been able to share with readers in this memoir? 

What I love the most is my ordinary life; the simple things that we all share as humans. That’s the extraordinary. The most extraordinary thing is that after reaching my goals in my work, which have been fantastic and I adore my career and I’m just so grateful for it every day, but I just cherish—that sounds so corny! I love real life. Just the simple routines of life, and that’s really what fuels my work as an actor is all of the experiences that I have had in real life because those are the kind of characters I play.

You played Loretta Lynn in the Coal Miner’s Daughter singing it yourself and played the wonderful character of Missus Walters in The Help. Do you gravitate toward roles more so when it’s a real person or a real situation?

That’s a good question. I’ve played a lot of real life characters and I love that. Particularly Loretta because I got to have her there to work with me, and she really opened up and exposed her innermost self. But I like creating characters too. They’re all parts and pieces of people who I’ve known in my life. It’s like sculpting. So both I guess I’d answer to that.


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