"I really am only 42 years old, so it seems like a strange thing, but..." said Chloë Sevigny on a recent afternoon. She trailed off while trying to wrap her head around the fact that there are already retrospectives of her oeuvre as an actress. The most recent, a series called "The Works: Chloë Sevigny," has a found a home at Brooklyn's Nitehawk Cinema through the month of April, with a stacked lineup that includes classics like The Last Days of Disco, Party Monster, and Kids, but also features some of Sevigny's lesser-known films, like her friends' Steve Buscemi and Tara Subkoff's directorial debuts (1996's Trees Lounge and 2015's #Horror, respectively). Lately, Sevigny's been known to step behind the camera, too: the series also showcases Carmen and Kitty, her new short films. Before moving onto her third, which is shaping up to be something of a ghost story, she shared her passion for the Grateful Dead (which definitely doesn't extend over to John Mayer), plus her new favorite nighttime accessory, in her culture diet, here.
What’s the first thing you read in the morning?
I guess the New York Times on my phone. Probably more the headlines, and then I go back to them later in the day.
What books on your bedside table right now?
The Uses of Enchantment, a book on English fairy tales; some compilations of classic horror shorts and supernatural shorts; My Sister’s Hand in Mine by Jane Bowles, and this Cookie Mueller biography by Chloé Griffin. I'm kind of skipping around and looking at stuff. My short film Kitty has a very fairytale quality, and I’m trying to think about my next short film. I want to center it around a young woman again, but I’m just trying to get inspiration, so I’m reading these fairy tales and Edgar Allen Poe and classic Edith Wharton short stories, just trying to jog something.
What TV shows have been keeping you up at night?
I’ve been watching Big Little Lies. [Laughs.] I wanted to watch one last night when I got home but I zonked out; I think I’m on episode four. It’s heating up! It’s fun, kind of a guilty pleasure. I love Reese [Witherspoon]. And I watch The Crown. But I don’t really have a whole TV thing going right now. I need some tips.
What’s the last movie you saw in theaters?
I saw Kedi, the cat thing at Metrograph, and I saw Get Out, of course, because everybody’s seeing it. I should have seen them early on, because I have to say, I was kind of like, Meh. I mean I enjoyed both, which are obviously very different, but I think because I saw them so late and there was so much hype, I wasn’t as blown away as I wanted to be. But the past couple of years, I just haven’t really been going to the movies, because I’ve just been working and traveling so much. I’ve barely been to the Metrograph. So now that I have a kind of lull in work, I’m trying to really see more stuff on the big screen.
When was the last time you revisited some of your own movies in the Nitehawk series? Is that odd for you to do?
I guess I saw Kids a couple years ago when we had the 20-year anniversary, but other than that I don’t really go back and intentionally watch things ever. I went to the Reykjavik Film Festival in Iceland with Kitty, my short film, and we did a special screening of Boys Don’t Cry [Kimberly Peirce's 1999 film about the real-life assault and murder of Brandon Teena, a trans man] outside of the festival. I watched it and it was really emotional—it does seem very timely. It’s a very powerful movie with a really strong message that needs to get out there, and I feel can affect people and change.
Did you have a sense of how important it would be for trans representation when you signed on for and were filming Boys Don’t Cry?
Not really. I mean, I knew it was an important story for me and for the people who were telling it, and you hope that impacts what you make and in return how people see it. We knew the importance of it, of course, but we didn’t know it would get as much attention. We’re all so affected by what happened to Teena Brandon, and I was really immersed in that when we were making it. It just felt like something you had to do, to bring justice and awareness to what happened to her. I think there’s this new generation of millennials that hasn’t seen a lot of these movies, and a lot of them are really important and kind of touchstones, so I’m really thrilled that Nitehawk has made this incredible selection and people that haven’t seen the movies before can come out and see them.
Are there any in particular you’re excited to get a new audience?
American Psycho. I mean, I’m sure people will come out to see Kids again. #Horror, a film I did a couple of years ago with my friend Tara, didn’t have a very long shelf life, since it only played at IFC for a little while, and hopefully more people will discover it. It’s about bullying and teenagers, and I play kind of an absent mother, and I’m really proud of that. Anything that gets a little more attention or viewers, I think it’s a good thing. And Whit Stillman’s got two in there! [Laughs.] That’s a strange thing, even when they approached me about doing it—I really am only 42 years old, so it seems like a strange thing. I feel a little young for that. But, you know, I think a lot of those movies are classics—whatever that means—in their own right, and people always love to see things projected. And they’re letting me play my short films in front of them, too.
What’s the last thing you saw at the theater?
I went to the opening night at the New Group of Evening at the Talk House, a Wallie Shawn play. Matthew Broderick’s in it. And I want to go see The Price by Arthur Miller, with Mark Ruffalo. My friends and I are trying to figure out a night to get tickets.
What’s the last piece of art you bought?
I buy art a lot—too much, I think. The last piece I bought was from Aurel Schmidt, who has a gallery called Romeo Gallery downtown. But it's usually kind of a mix. I bought a piece from Damien Echols—you know, one of the West Memphis Three. He was having a show in L.A. last year and there was a little sculpture of a bird he’d made on death row, with materials he found in prison. I bought that, so you know, it’s a wide range of bigger artists and outsider artists and things like that.
What was the last museum exhibition that you loved?
I guess Raymond Pettibon at the New Museum. That works. [Laughs.] It was a lot to take in, but that’s him. A lot of reading.
Have you made it to the Whitney Biennial?
Not yet, no. I was supposed to go on opening night but I couldn’t pull it together. I had a photo-shoot that day and it went late. It’s always better not to go to the opening anyways, but I’m looking forward to going and seeing it. I just got an email that I have to renew my membership.
What release is coming up that you're most excited about?
I’m really excited for my friend’s band Gang Gang Dance’s album to be released. They’re still working on it right now, so I don’t know when that’ll be, but they’re one of my favorite new bands, or newish modern bands.
What’s the last song you had on repeat?
There’s a song called “Heron Blue” by Sun Kil Moon, and I listen to that a lot. Too much. It’s kind of a downer. [Laughs.] It’s really long, so that’s good.
What's the last concert you went to?
Maybe the Grateful Dead—Dead & Company—or the B-52’s, in the fall. I haven’t been to a concert since then, which is really embarrassing. I was supposed to go see Mira Billotte from White Magic last night, but I forgot. I flaked it.
Are you a Deadhead?
I am, yes. But not so crazy about John Mayer [who's on tour with Dead & Company]—I’m really torn, so that’s hard for me.
So you've seen them a lot?
Yes. That last show was in Portland, but I went to Chicago for the Fare Thee Well tour all three nights. Going now, it's kind of sense memory of that reckless feeling being a teen—going under gates, all those kind of antics that surround getting to shows was part of the high. Like copping. [Laughs.] I don’t cop, but you know what I mean.
What are your favorite social media accounts to follow?
On Twitter, I like Natasha Lyonne, because she’s very funny. On Facebook, I like Winnie Wong—she works for the People for Bernie Sanders and is extremely politically active, but just has such a great sense of humor about everything and the way she presents material. She’s probably my favorite. And on Instagram, I kind of vacillate between loving and hating all of Instagram. It gets a little tiresome—even mine is tiresome. It’s like, oy, doing the same thing over. [Laughs.] But I like "You Must Remember This," which is probably my favorite podcast. [Creator Karina Longworth] has an account and puts up really nice images of old Hollywood and stuff.
Do you have any other favorite podcasts?
I mean, I like all those—"This American Life," "Serial," the regulars. I listened to a little of "S-town" yesterday, but I’m waiting till I’m on set somewhere.
Last thing: what’s the last thing you do before you go to bed?
Make sure my boyfriend’s asleep so I can put in my mouth guard. [Laughs.] I’ve been wearing it a year or so. I clench my jaw really hard, and it’s really painful, and I do it whenever I’m reading or concentrating on cooking. It’s just like a thing, so I’m trying to wear that at night to, you know, loosen the jaw a little. But I don’t want him to see me in it.
Aw. Do you wake up before he does?
No. But I hide under the blankets. [Laughs.]
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