Actress Chloë Sevigny may be best known to TV viewers for playing Nicolette “Nicky” Grant, the most interesting of three sister wives on HBO’s long-running polygamy drama, Big Love. But she’s equally iconic for her game-changing roles in the shocking Kids and the transgender Oscar-winner Boys Don’t Cry. Sevigny’s had a bevy of films that play with gender, including Candy Darling and If These Walls Could Talk, and last year she cross-dressed as distinctive fashion photographer Terry Richardson for the cover of the avant-garde trans fashion magazine Candy (shot by Richardson).
She subverts gender again in her next role, where she plays a transgender woman who just happens to be an assassin. It may be her best part yet. Hit and Miss, a six-part miniseries that premieres in July on DirectTV, centers around Mia, a contract killer whose trans identity is unknown to those around her. Her life, already precarious, is sent into a tailspin when she receives a letter from her ex. The woman is dying and wants to confess that before she transitioned, Mia fathered an 11-year-old son.
For the role, Sevigny wanted to play Mia as a glamorous woman who easily passes as female — more April Ashley (a gorgeous famous British fashion model outed as transgender in 1961) than Felicity Huffman’s Transamerica character, who she says “hadn’t quite flourished all the way yet.”
“Maybe she’s more in the vein of Karen Black in Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, in that she is completely passing,” says Sevigny. “She’s very concerned with her image.”
Did she have concerns about pulling off the role?
“Oh, my God, yeah, I still do,” the actress admits. “I’m just waiting for people to see it and to see, when the criticism ensues how that will be.”
Initially Sevigny wanted to play Mia with more “exaggerated unfeminine moves … because [femininity] is so learned and I wanted her to be sort of more masculine. But the creators and the show runners had an entirely different idea. And as an actor you kind of have to adhere to them unless you want to be extremely difficult, which I try not to be. And I trusted the writer and the filmmaker implicitly and they really had a certain idea of how they wanted it to be.”
Still, Sevigny wanted Mia to be an anomaly on-screen: “I didn’t want to focus on how other people had done it before. I was just trying to do it how I could do it best. And then it wasn’t really about her being a trans person; there’s so much more to the character.”
In fact the rather ambitious series is about family and identity and violence, as Mia comes from a community of Irish gypsies, “where’s there’s so much violence and a real patriarchal culture.”