From her Oscar-nominated performance in the transgender-themed true-crime story Boys Don't Cry to her stint as a "sister-wife" on HBO's Big Love, Chloë Sevigny has never shied away from provocative roles. Her work as an Irish contract killer who's in transition from male to female in the six-part British series Hit & Miss (airing on DirecTV's Audience Network) may be her most controversial turn yet. Not that she planned it that way. "This fell into my lap," says the actress. "And it's such a juicy part." Here, she discusses Hit & Miss as well as gigs on Law & Order: SVU and American Horror Story.
TV Guide Magazine: When Hit & Miss producers asked you to play a transgender assassin, were you taken aback? Or did you take it as a compliment?
Sevigny: A little of both. I always thought I looked a bit masculine. But I think they picked me because of my range, without paying myself any compliments.
TV Guide Magazine: Which was harder — learning the Irish accent or wearing the prosthetic penis?
Sevigny: Learning the accent was harder, with more work, time-wise. Wearing the penis was harder emotionally.
TV Guide Magazine: It's been reported that you cried every day on the set. Is that true?
Sevigny: Not every day, but every time I wore it. It was seven separate days of filming.
TV Guide Magazine: Why was it so upsetting?
Sevigny: Putting it on took two hours. I shaved myself and they had to glue it on, paint it and pull away the skin to make it seamless. It's a tedious process, and it's hard having someone so close to your private parts for an extended period of time who you're not having sex with. And having it on and looking at yourself is oddly disturbing. I felt like a freak. A lot of transgender people feel like this shouldn't be part of their body, and so I guess it was a good thing. I reacted the way my character would.
TV Guide Magazine: Did you have any feelings about the violence on the show? You've done films like American Psycho, but did it affect you to be the one committing these acts?
Sevigny: It was hard, especially the gun stuff. I hate handguns — they make me really nervous — and I had to learn to shoot it without flinching and jumping. I wanted it to look convincing! And there's one scene where I kill someone by putting a bag over his head. He had to struggle underneath it, and afterward I felt a bit sick to my stomach.
TV Guide Magazine: So is this definitely a closed-ended, six-episode miniseries, or is there a possibility it will go beyond that?
Sevigny: There's a possibility. They want to see how people react, and maybe what the creators can come up with story-wise. The other actors in England were all optioned for another season. I was the only one who wasn't, oddly. I guess they knew they wouldn't be able to get me if I had to sign on for several seasons.
TV Guide Magazine: But if the possibility arises, would you consider doing more?
Sevigny: I would. I'd want to see what they would do with the story, where the characters would go. I really enjoyed playing the character.
TV Guide Magazine: After Big Love, are you hesitant to sign on to another regular TV role?
Sevigny: I'd hesitate to sign on to something that films in L.A. for so long. I live in New York, and this is where my life is. My happiness is more important to me than my career at present. That could change. I have to make a living. What if I ran out of money? If work was in L.A., I'd have to take it.
TV Guide Magazine: You recently shot a guest spot as a manipulative vixen on Law & Order: SVU. How was that experience?
Sevigny: I thought maybe I was miscast. I don't really see myself as that. Maybe my hair wasn't the right color. But it was great — I love shooting in New York.
TV Guide Magazine: You've also signed on for a recurring role on Season 2 of FX's American Horror Story, right?
Sevigny: I'm super excited. I loved the first season. I gotta say, the ending was a little disappointing. How do you wrap something like that up? It should've combusted, like Carrie's house. But man, what great eye candy. It was so fun and so freakin' scary.
TV Guide Magazine: Is it true your character is a nymphomaniac?
Sevigny: Apparently, she is. It takes place in a [1960s] mental asylum, and there's a lot of treating women who are sexual beings in unfair ways, like they may have done in the past. She might be misdiagnosed. There's more at play.
TV Guide Magazine: So it's another sexually charged character, eh?
Sevigny: It's a great show — what am I going to say? I'm not going to do it because it's another sexually provocative thing? I'm going to turn down good work because of that? I can't!
Hit & Miss premieres Wednesday at 10/9c on Direct TV's Audience Network.