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10 Quick Questions for Hope Davis

The multifaceted ‘Your Honor’ actress is embracing her character’s dark side

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Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Hope Davis began her acting career in the 1990 film Flatliners, and has since appeared on Broadway and in critically acclaimed movies (American Splendor, The Daytrippers) and TV shows (HBO’s In Treatment and Succession). On Showtime’s Your Honor, now in its second season, the 58-year-old actress is embracing her darker side as the matriarch of a dangerous crime family seeking to avenge the death of her son.

In Your Honor, your character, Gina Baxter, is the wife of a crime boss, but she might actually be more dangerous than her husband. Truth?

That’s kind of where we are headed. She’s just one of those people waiting in the wings, ready to grab power, frustrated with her long-term husband and everyone else around her. She’s ready to step in and take over the business. The show is exploring what happens to a couple when they’ve experienced incredible tragedy, and what direction do they both head in. In the case of the show, they head in really different directions. Gina is really angry.

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Gina’s story — along with many others featured on screen recently — seems to prove the Hollywood issue of not knowing what to do with actresses over age 50 is no more. Agree?

It does. My whole family has been watching [HBO’s] The White Lotus. It’s so exciting to see Jennifer Coolidge leading the show. More stories are being told. Certainly, as a viewer, I’m much more interested in that than in just watching beauty queens floating around. I'm interested in watching complex characters, whether they are males or females. We’re all seasoned watchers at this point. … While movies are struggling, it feels like these limited [TV] series are in their heyday with great writers, lofty concepts and actors who are really happy to sign on.

What else is on your family binge list?

With all the homework, it’s not a nightly thing, but we have some special shows we watch together. We watch [Netflix’s] The Crown, we watch [BBC’s] The Great British Bake Off.

What do you like to bake?

I’ll make absolutely anything. We had friends over and we made homemade doughnuts. Nothing like a fresh fried doughnut. I love to bake bread. I love to bake cakes and cookies. [When] both my kids are home — when my daughter is home from college — we like to have afternoon tea at 4 and sit down with anything fresh baked. We did a little too much baking during the pandemic. We had to pull back once the world opened up again.

Your acting credits include amazing projects and costars. Is there one that stands out as the best experience?

One of my favorite things I’ve ever done was In Treatment for HBO with Gabriel Byrne. That was extraordinary on all fronts. Season 2 of a show that I was really obsessed with. I had just devoured it. That was really thrilling. I've been lucky, overall. ... I've had a pretty good time lately, working with really interesting, lovely people. Post-pandemic everyone is so grateful to be at work and to be seeing people.

Do you remember the moment you realized, OK, this could be my career. This acting thing could work out?

I feel like it’s only recently that I think, Oh, I think I know how to do this.

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What are your memories of making Flatliners?

It was one of my first ones on a set. It was on a soundstage in Los Angeles. I’m from New Jersey. The whole thing seemed so exotic to me. All these people and equipment and dry ice blowing around, bells ringing. I just thought it was so exciting. I felt like I didn't expect to ever be in that spot. I felt so lucky, and I still feel that way when I shoot a show at Paramount or [another lot]. It still feels really exciting to be part of this business. I know it was many years ago, but it doesn’t seem that long ago to me.

spinner image hope davis sitting on couch with person laying on her lap in a still from your honor
Davis stars as crime boss Gina Baxter on the Showtime series "Your Honor."
Andrew Cooper/SHOWTIME

What does being a Jersey girl mean to you?

Our parents moved to northern New Jersey from upstate New York so we could have access to New York City. ... We came [into the city] every weekend after church. We’d go to a museum. Once a year, we’d save up and go to a Broadway play or a musical, which was so exciting. For me, New Jersey was living in the peace and quiet of the suburbs, but having the proximity to New York City and all that it offered. It was a dream of mine to live there someday. Knowing that that was just across the river there —  it definitely called to me — the excitement of the city and the theater world. I feel very grateful to my parents for exposure to all that stuff.

You had another budding actress in your neighborhood, Mira Sorvino. The two of you even put together a backyard play. What’s that story?

The Sorvinos lived across the street. The kids were really, really fun to play with. We wrote a play when I think I was 12. We invited the neighborhood. We were just so thrilled that people wanted to watch our play. We worked really hard on it. My memory of it is that it was about a girl and her doll. One of us played the girl, one of us played the doll and no one could believe the doll could talk — kind of about the grownups not seeing the magic of the child’s world — and in the end, someone took the doll away, and the girl was brokenhearted. They were both brokenhearted to be separated. That’s what I remember.

You’ve said that Maine is your “happy place.” Why?

A bunch of my family lives on an island in Maine. To me, Maine is just the most beautiful state in the country. We try to go up every year. … We’re near Acadia National Park, which is just an extraordinarily beautiful bit of the country. I’m always really happy. My mom has a tiny little cottage up there and there’s no Wi-Fi, there’s no television. It’s a little wooden cottage from the 1920s, and it’s really nice to go up there and unplug. It’s hard to do these days.

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