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The Trouble with the Truth is quite unusual and awesome because it’s really one person’s vision. It’s Jimmy Hemphill’s vision. He got to do what he wanted, and that’s very rare. It’s also really precious. He had a vision of what he wanted to say – it’s very personal. That’s art, as far as I’m concerned. Back to the Future was a great movie. It was a great example of a big movie done well. It was a big movie that was original and true to the vision of the creators, Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale. They were protected by Steven Spielberg who was so powerful. They got to make the movie they wanted to make.
It takes a lot of concentration to keep a character for six months. It’s much more fun to get into it for a few weeks or a month in a small budget movie. It’s easier to take chances and get away with it. But I like both. I really enjoy all the opportunities I’ve had in my career to try all different styles and shapes and budgets and genres. I’ve been really lucky that way.
You have quite a repertoire. What character was the most fun to play? What film are you most proud of?
I’ve had four great roles as far as I’m concerned, and I would consider The Trouble with the Truth to be one of them. Lorraine McFly in Back to the Future and then Amy Hightower in The Substitute Wife, a TV movie with Farrah Fawcett – a great role and a great movie. And then I did Sally Bowles on Broadway in Cabaret. I consider myself lucky to have had these great parts along with a lot of other really good parts, too. I’ve survived 30 years in this business, artistically and financially. That’s a lucky gift that I have.
In the movie, Emily wanted to be a writer when she was growing up. You wanted to be a ballerina. Tell us about that.
I really was a ballet dancer. I made my living that way from the time I was 15 until I was 21 when I first started acting. I was very serious, and I really loved it, but I just did not have the body for it. I wasn’t as flexible as I needed to be, and my back was injured. It became apparent I would never get to do the kind of parts I wanted to do. I quit when I was in New York, and I started acting, which was fortuitous.
You landed some major roles right off the bat.
Yeah, I did. My first movie was Jaws 3-D, which was a big Universal movie, even though it was terrible and silly. Then I did All the Right Moves with Tom Cruise, which most people consider to be good acting. That helped me. I did a lot of movies very quickly. But after I had my second child, it just stopped. I did a sitcom, and then I didn’t do a major feature until this part in J.Edgar. Sixteen years…it’s kind of weird.
Is that typical for actresses after they start a family?
I think it’s a combination of that and doing a sitcom. It sullies you for the feature business, or it did at that time. I still find it kind of surprising. But TV has been really good to me. Classically, TV is much better to women after they turn 30.
What is the trouble with the truth?
It always opens up a can of worms that you kind of have to resolve. This movie is very interesting for people to see together – it really makes people think and examine their own relationships and motivations. There are so many questions that it brings up. I saw it with a couple’s therapist, and she said she wished her couples would see it before they start therapy because it would open them up to different ideas. I myself had a really great conversation with my husband after we saw it – a really moving forward kind of conversation. We’ve been married for 155 years [laughs], and I really think there’s something special about this movie.
What are you working on now?
I’m shooting the next 22 episodes of my [ABC Family] show Switched at Birth, which is really a nice job. I’m really proud of the show. One of my daughters on the show is deaf, so we’re all learning sign language. The deaf community has really embraced our show. Young girls and their mothers are our target audience, and I feel like it’s really important to have a positive show for that age group. I live with teenagers, and I know that age of 12 to 14 is really treacherous. It’s hard on them. Society is so difficult on them that I’m happy to be a sounding board for mothers and daughters and now the deaf community, which generally doesn’t have a voice on TV. I also have a movie called Thin Ice coming out with Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin and Billy Crudup. It comes out [this] year.
Have you seen any movies recently that excite you?
I really liked 50/50, and I really, really liked Bridesmaids. I liked this female comedy that really felt female. It was about a great female friendship, and it was exceptional. I was really inspired by it.
Have you ever been to Sedona?
I love Sedona, and I’m really honored to be in the Sedona Film Festival. I’ve always wanted to be in it, and I’m really excited to come there. I just love it, and I don’t get to go to the high desert very often. It sings to my spirit. I feel a longing for it, and I’m really excited. I think The Trouble With Truth will be great for your audience.