By Jay Bobbin
Sooner or later, every drama series must close. Even The Closer.
By her own choice, Emmy winner Kyra Sedgwick wraps up her seven-season TNT run as police interrogator extraordinaire Brenda Leigh Johnson with six final episodes beginning July 9. As the preceding stories started to establish, the character’s past catches up with her as she’s investigated herself for certain actions taken in the course of doing her job.
Most of Sedgwick’s Closer costars will continue into the spinoff Major Crimes, which TNT debuts immediately after The Closer finale Aug. 13. And interestingly, Sedgwick’s series run ends just as her husband is embarking on one: Kevin Bacon will star in the FOX midseason drama The Following.
In a recent interview, Sedgwick discussed what she feels The Closer has meant to her, to fans and to television.
What do you think about the show ending, now that the time is actually here?
Kyra Sedgwick: We finished filming in December, and it feels great. It’s funny, I hadn’t been sad at all … but I’m feeling that way a little now, thinking that this is the last time anyone will see and know Brenda.
Has it helped to know much of The Closer cast will be continuing in their roles?
Oh, that made it so much easier. It didn’t make me feel as guilty about everyone else losing a job, to be perfectly honest. That was a big part of my thought process; you feel so responsible for everybody, and you are. So I’m thrilled that the others can continue their work, and also that the crew is able to stay on. I’m very happy about that.
Are you surprised The Closer lasted this long?
It became apparent after the first few seasons that this could run for 10 years, but how could you ever conceive of it going as long as it has, or it being so well received? I think it was blissful ignorance when I first signed on, because I didn’t really know about TV or how few things on it are successful. You never expect that.
I jumped into this thinking, “Who knows? I love this character, and I hope other people do, too — but if they don’t, that’s OK.” Lord knows I’ve done a lot of movies no one’s seen, so I’m no stranger to people not seeing something I’ve done.
Is there one thing that’s surprised you most about doing the show?
I’ll tell you what surprised me, year after year. Not only did we get great ratings, we got better ratings as time went on. That’s pretty unheard of, so I thought that was pretty shocking.
How have you found fans since the end of your Closer run became known?
People come up to me all the time and go, “Please! Don’t! Why?” It’s heartbreaking and I feel badly about it, but I’m also thankful they’re saying that and not, “You’re still doing that show? Oy! I’m so sick of her.” It’s so much better to leave having people want more.
Which episodes stand out for you?
I think some of our groundbreaking ones are the best, like “Fantasy Date” in the first year. Brenda got attacked, and you saw her fragility and vulnerability for the first time, especially her being the person who always has the right answer and closes the case.
I’d also pick “Ruby” as one of my favorite episodes. That was about a pedophile, and it was the first time Brenda was morally ambiguous, in that she put the guy in general population [in custody] … knowing that he would get hurt and become more susceptible to interrogation. You saw her take the law into her own hands several times as the series progressed, and that became the catalyst for the final season.
And of course, Fritz (Jon Tenney) asking Brenda to marry him — and their finally getting married — were really great episodes. A gynecologist’s office being the place where he asked her, it was so beautiful and funny. And the final episode is one of my very favorite Closers. I think the writers and the other actors did stunning jobs, and it should be totally satisfying to fans on every level.
Why do you feel Brenda has been so compulsive about closing her blinds? And do you consider her sometimes leaving them open symbolic?
That’s so funny! I’m sure others are a lot smarter about that than I am, and there are so many blinds shots in these final six episodes, those people will have lots of fun. I just think that’s the window through which Brenda sees the world, and also through which the world sees her.
She always feels watched, but I also don’t think she wants to be private. For her to be intimate with someone is very, very scary for her. One of the most fascinating things about the character is that she’s so intuitive about other people, yet she’s so completely non-intuitive about herself. And she has absolutely no interest in becoming so.
In the basic-cable universe, The Closer has been a door-opener for other actresses to have their own successes with such dramas as Rizzoli & Isles, Damages, Army Wives and In Plain Sight. What are your thoughts on that?
I think that’s true. You know Hollywood; if something makes money, they want to do it again, so they gave you that with female-driven drama series with stars over 35. It was probably made easier for the people who followed us, because the pitch could be, “It’s like The Closer.” Everyone wants to know there’s a precedent, and to have been that makes me feel good.