“Any character I play is me. To be an actor is to acknowledge that human beings are capable of an infinite scope of behavior, from evil to altruism.” -Carrie Coon
Having conquered theater, film, and television, Carrie Coon is the latest triple threat. In 2012 she earned herself a Tony Award nomination for her role as Honey in the Steppenwolf Theatre Company production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? After making her Broadway debut Carrie was cast in 2014’s hit psycho-thriller Gone Girl as Ben Affleck’s snarky twin sister, Margo. The same year Carrie survived the ‘sudden departure’ as Nora Durst on HBO’s The Leftovers.
In an industry full of jaded celebrities Carrie Coon draws upon her midwestern roots to stay grounded. In 2017 Carrie brought her sense of humility and practicality to Minnesota as police chief Gloria Burgle on season 3 of FX’s hit show Fargo. In her spare time the well rounded actress and her husband, fellow Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? actor, Tracy Letts, maintain a positive presence in their community. Be sure to look out for her upcoming films Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town and Strange Weather starring alongside Alia Shawkat and Holly Hunter.
The Untitled Magazine caught up with the actress to discuss her transition from stage to screen and staying true to herself through it all. Check out the interview below, with exclusive photos by Tina Turnbow.
The Untitled Magazine: How have your midwestern roots influenced you in work and life?
Carrie Coon: I was born and bred in Ohio and settled in Chicago – those midwestern roots run so deep that I haven’t really left. The work ethic, modesty, self-reliance and humility of my parents and grandparents has taught me how to conduct myself in the world. I strive to be fair-minded. They keep me humble. I’ve only been able to survive as an artist all these years because my parents taught me to save my money and take care of myself.
UM: What are some of the biggest adjustments you’ve had to make as an actor going from stage to screen?
CC: There’s no rehearsal, really. You have to prepare on your own time. You don’t get to tell the story from beginning to end, so you have to be prepared to jump into an emotional complex after “lunch” at 2 AM. You also have to do that emotional climax over and over instead of once (or twice, on a two show day). It’s very counter-intuitive to repeat a catharsis!
UM: Do you have a preference between film, television, and theater?
CC: I will always return to the theater, partly because it will always have room for me as I age and it returns me to my inner arbiter of taste.
CC: It’s no different than what was required of me as a theater actor in the years preceding my first into film and television. We are always coming together, flying apart and moving on to the next adventure.
UM: Is there a character that you have recently played that you think is similar to your real life persona?
CC: Any character I play is me. To be an actor is to acknowledge that human beings are capable of an infinite scope of behavior, from evil to altruism. That said, my most recent characters seem to share a flair for sardonic humor – or at least a strong sense of irony.
UM: You have been involved in a lot of different types of film, is there a particular genre that you gravitate towards?
CC: I gravitate towards strong, complicated characters that challenge me in any genre.
UM: What are you plans for the near future, will you go back to the stage?
CC: I hope so! I’ve been, thankfully, working nonstop for three years, so I may take some time to look at my husband. I’m circling a few projects, but nothing to announce just yet.
UM: Other than acting, do you have any side projects that you involved in?
Are there certain social issues that you are particularly passionate about?
CC: My husband and I support Steppenwolf Theatre (where he is an ensemble member), ProLiteracy, the ACLU, #cut50, PBS and many other organizations and we look forward to expanding our philanthropic presence in our Chicago community.
Photography: Tina Turnbow
Hair: Marco Santini
Makeup: Rebecca Restrepo
Retouching: Su Beyazit