En español | On Kyra Sedgwick's new ABC sitcom Call Your Mother (ABC, premieres Jan. 13, 9:30 p.m. ET), her character, Jean, struggles to handle her empty nest. The Emmy-winning star of TNT's The Closer tells AARP how she prepared for her own empty nest, why quarantine pound cake beats sourdough making, and how Call Your Mother can help us all get through these pandemic times.
Why Call Your Mother is the perfect show for uncertain times
This is a traditional sitcom in all the right ways: They present a problem in the first act and by the end of those 30 minutes everything is not perfect but the problem is solved. Frankly, I take a lot of solace in this concept right now. I want quick and simple solutions to my problems.
A comedy that actually goes deep
In one episode, my daughter is like, “You've always loved Freddie more than me!” I think parents do have favorites — it's just easier. Do they love them less? Probably not. But do they make them feel like better parents? This is deep stuff we are delving into. Also, this idea of how much do I change to fit myself into a relationship with a man? Jean thinks she's supposed to change who she is to be with him, but then it's like, “Wait a second. How about you change to be with me?"
The special touch of Norman Lear in Call Your Mother
It's very funny, and every episode is about something, just like One Day at a Time, All in the Family, all of those great Norman Lear shows. They were tackling some issues, and we are tackling what it's like to be middle aged, to get fired, to find your own way in the world as a 50-year-old woman, to start a new relationship after being a widow for 15 years, and to move to a new place and hold on to who you were. The kids have their own issues. It's funny and it's got a deep heart to it and an edge to it, but not too much. We all need to laugh a whole lot more now.
Family life during the pandemic
The surprising thing about Call Your Mother coming out now is that people have been forced to reckon with their family in a way they never anticipated, whether kids had to move home [most 18- to 29-year-old Americans now live with their parents], or parents are calling people more because you're just staring mortality in the face. We are reaching out, we are aware of family taking care of each other in the good, the bad and the bumpy. I can just imagine people are going to see the title for the show and think, “Oh s---, I really have to call my mother!"
Kyra's Fast Facts
Hometown: New York City
College: Sarah Lawrence, then University of Southern California (bachelor’s degree in theater)
Current Hit: Call Your Mother
Greatest Hits: TV: The Closer, Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Film: Something to Talk About, Born on the Fourth of July, Singles, Heart and Souls, Phenomenon, The Game Plan, The Possession.
Home life: Married to actor Kevin Bacon for 32 years; 2 kids: Travis Sedgwick Bacon, 31, and actress Sosie Ruth Bacon, 28
Her own empty nest syndrome
I remember looking with such dread at being an empty nester. Really, the idea of it was so much worse than the actual experience. But, if you do your job well as a mother, you get fired. That's essentially what happens. You miss them terribly. What you thought about first thing in morning and the last thing before you went to bed has flown and is totally fine without you, and it's just like, “Well, maybe I'm not so fine without you.”
I'm one of those lucky people whose kids actually want to hang out with me. I don't know how that happened, but I'm in. Available anytime!
Preparing for an empty nest
Think about it before they leave: How am I going to have my own hobbies, my own career, or things that make you feel connected to the world? They're going to be living their own life and you better have one to go to. The other thing that happens is all of a sudden, you go, “Holy s---, I hope I like my husband, all of a sudden this person and I are spending a lot more time together.” Lucky for me was like, I do like him, but I wasn't 100 percent sure.
Best advice for fellow parents of grown children
Unsolicited advice is a form of aggression. I try to wait until it's asked for. Let them make the mistakes themselves and come to these things themselves.
Pound cake to soothe your soul
I grew up with pound cake. Early in the pandemic I saw a Melissa Clark recipe that said “This one bowl pound cake will soothe you.” That's what I have for breakfast. The key to it is cornmeal that makes it crunchy and amazing.
TV shows that are getting her through quarantine
Normal People, I May Destroy You and I binge-watched Insecure. I recognize my relationships with other women in that show.
Her next big project
This summer I'm going to be directing this movie, Space Oddity. Both my daughter Sosie and Kevin [Bacon] were in the first movie I directed, Story of a Girl. No question I'm going to direct Kevin to his Oscar. I don't know the script yet, but I tell you it's happening.