Sissy Spacek rose to fame playing teenagers, from the tortured high schooler Carrie to child bride turned-country singer Loretta Lynn. Now at 68, she’s embracing her age with a still-youthful enthusiasm.
“It’s the most incredible thing,” the actress exclusively shared with Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “People treat you with more respect. They open doors and let you hang on to them. It really is the best time!” This year, Sissy celebrates 44 years of marriage to film production designer Jack Fisk, 72, with whom she’s raised daughters Schuyler, 36, and Madison, 29.
And she’s experiencing a career renaissance, playing Robert Redford’s love interest in what he’s said will be his final film as an actor, The Old Man & the Gun, co-starring with Julia Roberts in the Amazon series Homecoming, and reuniting with Carrie author Stephen King for Hulu’s horror thriller Castle Rock.
But even after winning an Oscar (plus five more nominations), three Golden Globes, and even a CMA Award for singing on the Coal Miner’s Daughter soundtrack, Sissy still has other goals — like finding another dream role that she doesn’t quite have the words to describe. “I’m still waiting for that one!” she said, laughing — scroll down to read our exclusive Q&A with Sissy!
This is an exciting time for you. Carrie fans will love that Stephen King is exec-producing your new series Castle Rock, based on his characters.
I love Stephen King. I owe him so much, so this is my homage. The thing that really tickled my fancy was that it’s a show about horror, but my character is living her own nightmare: She suffers from dementia. And there’s a wonderful group of people involved, including Scott Glenn, who I’ve known for 40 years. He never gets boring.
And you’re co-starring with Robert Redford in the new Fox Searchlight film The Old Man & the Gun! Had you known him, too?
I met him when I was very young because we were working with the same director. I was so nervous, I called him “Bobert.” I’ve remembered that my whole life, but I’m sure he doesn’t! He’s such a gentleman, and it was great fun working with him.
You’re playing the mom of another Oscar winner, Julia Roberts, on Amazon’s new series Homecoming. How’s it been?
She’s such a dear heart. She must have had a really tall father because they had a difficult time getting the both of us in the same frame. But I love her! I met her when she was about 13 years old. I was a friend of her brother, Eric [Roberts, my co-star in my husband’s 1981 film Raggedy Man]. So I’ve always felt a connection because I knew her and a lot of her family. It was real special to get to work with her.
You have six Oscar nominations, for Carrie, Coal Miner’s Daughter, Missing, The River, Crimes of the Heart, and In the Bedroom. That’s more than anyone we’ve ever interviewed for a Heart to Heart! What role do people associate with you the most?
It depends! People who had a hard time in high school, who got persecuted, always connect with Carrie. We all felt like Carrie as teenagers. And Loretta Lynn has millions of fans all over the world. People relate to different films because of their own experiences. It’s kind of cool. And I’m hoping that Castle Rock will resonate, too.
You’ve worked with so many top-notch talents. Has that made you pickier at this stage of your career?
No. I never had a big plan about what I wanted to do, but I was always picky. Yet as you get older, you have less to pick from. It’s all good!
What’s been the greatest challenge in being an actress and a public figure?
Probably not losing yourself and trying to maintain your humanness. It is really important to live a full and normal life because that’s what life is really about. I have a balance between my real life and work life.
And how have you maintained that balance while doing so many projects?
For 40 years, I’ve lived on a farm in Virginia and raised my children there. That’s what I experienced as a child, and that’s what gave me stability. I’m able to get away from all the noise and work on my garden in my pajamas. I love to sit on the porch with my battery-operated blower [fan] that I got for Mother’s Day. It’s the human experience, and we are all human, after all.
Why did you decide to write about your childhood in your 2012 memoir, My Extraordinary Ordinary Life?
My [late] father was so important to who I am and who I became that I wanted to capture it while I could still remember, for my daughters. It was a joy to write that book, but it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I had help from a really dear friend of mine, Maryanne Vollers. I was planning a wedding for my daughter [Schuyler] at the same time. It almost finished me!
Did you learn a lot about yourself?
I did! I learned that it is always the simple things that mean the most. It’s those Christmases you remember when you got your favorite doll. And it’s human relationships that are most important in life. When I look back on movies I made, I think about the people I got to know. The book made me realize how fortunate I’ve been. I shouldn’t ever complain about anything, because I’ve had all the most important things in life.
For example, your husband, Jack, who’s been nominated for two Oscars himself. What is the secret to your long marriage?
I wish I could tell you. He’s got this really fabulous sense of humor — actually, it’s so bad that it’s good — and he’s the most creative person I’ve ever met. A lot of it is just luck. We met on [1973’s] Badlands. I remember looking around and thinking, “OK, who’s the cutest one here?” He was definitely the cutest.
How has your relationship with your girls changed as they’ve become adults?
There’s a reversal of roles — they take care of me now! Like in the airport: “Mom, no, no, that’s not the way to the gate. It’s over this way.” They appreciate the life that we provided for them, and now they’re reciprocating, and they’re very, very great. I can’t say enough wonderful things about them. They make my world go ’round.
How did you deal with an empty nest?
My mother always said, “If you make time for yourself when they’re small, they’ll make time for you when you’re old,” and it’s so true. When they went away to school, we talked many times a day.
Now that you have more time, anything you’d like to do that you haven’t?
My friend, a young actress, mentioned all these grand things she wanted to do. I said, “I just want to go home!” It’s my refuge. You know, life is good!
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