You were obviously frustrated with the lack of opportunities out there?
I wasn’t just frustrated for myself but for a lot of other women I know who share with me their horror stories about not being able to find good roles.
What made me really angry was the lack of interest that our industry had in telling stories from a women’s perspective and, even worse, seeing fantastic actresses forced to play only wives or girlfriends type characters. It’s important to talk about women with greater complexity.
Did share a lot of similar perspectives with your character Madeline?
There are a lot of similarities. Madeline was for me a kind of cross-section of what so many women are facing in their forties. She’s divorced and remarried.
She’s a mother seeing her eldest child start asserting her independence and dealing with issues all mothers face as their relationship with their partner changes or breaks down after many years or when their children start asserting themselves more when they get to be teenagers.
You’re the mother of three children – is it to manage things now?
The teenagers are much more demanding. You’re constantly having to guide them through all those big first moments in their lives – the first love of their life, getting their first car, and then thinking about college.
The relationship is much more complicated compared to when they’re young and your main concerns are very practical – making their meals, driving them to school, getting them to bed on time. And they usually listen to you.
When your kids get to be teenagers, they very rarely agree with anything you tell them. And when it comes to a 17-year-old girl, you begin to realize that you don’t know anything about her anymore. I find myself calling my mom and asking her for advice. I ask her: “Am I ruining their lives?” (Laughs)
Raising your children in L.A., do you still try to give them a sense of your southern upbringing and roots?
Southern women have a strong sense of humour, they laugh at themselves, and they don’t scream if they see a cockroach. The first thing I taught my eldest children was riding horses, getting to spend time with animals and playing outdoors. Also, when they were little, I didn’t allow them to watch TV. I didn’t want them sitting in front of the TV set all day and I tried to get them to play and do as many creative kinds of activities as possible.
I try to encourage them to be active and do sports. I also want to give them enough freedom so that they can develop their own individuality and not feel like their mother is trying to control their lives, not that they listen to you anyway! (Laughs)
My parents were very thoughtful and inspiring to me and I grew up with an independent spirit. I want my children to be able to discover their own interests and pursue their own ambitions.
You’re still very youthful-looking. Does ageing bother you?
No. I don’t mind it at all. It’s amazing. When I first saw Big Little Lies in the rehearsal room, I immediately noticed the wrinkles on my face and I said: “I like them, I won them one by one (laughs). I worked hard to have these wrinkles!”