'I got this glimpse of a whole life'

HOLLY HUNTER is well known for playing women teetering on the edge - be it the wacky babynapper in Raising Arizona, the high-strung producer in Broadcast News or her Oscar-winning role as the mute bride in The Piano.

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Published: Mon 23 Jul 2007, 10:25 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:42 PM

hollySo it's not surprising she would sign up to play the promiscuous, chain-smoking, pill-popping, booze-swilling, world-weary Oklahoma City detective Grace Hanadrako in TNT's TV series Saving Grace, which debuts July 23.

But for Hunter, the appeal of the character wasn't just about her proclivities toward self-destruction.

"Just in those 52 pages of the pilot, I got this glimpse of a whole life," says Hunter, noting she was hooked after reading only 15 pages of the script.

"The fact that the series gets to explore this character as a police officer, as a sibling, as a daughter, as a lover ... that three-dimensionality of the character has been a real treat for me. I haven't gotten that kind of three-course meal in a long time."

Hunter's portrayal of an emotionally and morally conflicted woman - at once brazen and heroic, creative and destructive - is already drawing comparisons to Kyra Sedgwick's Brenda Johnson on TNT's The Closer, which will precede Grace on Monday nights.

In the series, Grace's life in the fast lane comes to a slow roll one night when, while driving drunk, she plows into a pedestrian. Calling out for help, an angel comes to her rescue - albeit a tobacco-chewing, greasy-haired dude named Earl, who tries to persuade Grace to turn her life around.

Not willing to accept this saviour, she approaches him like she does everything else - with her fists.

"He is an adversary, you know," says Hunter, over the phone. "But she's also wrestling with the predatory nature of her community, which are the bad guys. She's (also) wrestling with lovers. She's in one gigantic manifestation of a fight, and I think people can relate to that, because so are we all."

With production wrapping this month on the 13-episode series, Hunter will return to New York where she lives with actor Gordon MacDonald and their 18-month-old twin boys. After a hectic several months of shooting Grace in the Los Angeles area, she's looking forward to some time off - and eagerly awaits reaction to the show.

"It's going to be so fascinating to have it be out in the world, and have people watch it and see what their relationship is to it as it goes," she says. "I think that anybody who has struggled with anything, anybody who has wanted to be free, who has wanted to express themselves and to celebrate stuff, I think will really love Grace."

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