PLAYBOY: You’re known for your Oscar-nominated performance as the girlfriend of transgendered Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry, and last year you won a Golden Globe for playing a sour, scheming polygamous fundamentalist Mormon wife on Big Love. You front a hip fashion line, you’re a much-photographed club scenester and you’ve made risky indie films that sometimes involve nudity. But no matter what your accomplishments, some people can’t get over that scene in the 2003 flick The Brown Bunny in which you give writer-director Vincent Gallo a blow job.
SEVIGNY: What’s happened with that is all very complicated. There are a lot of emotions. I’ll probably have to go to therapy at some point. But I love Vincent. The film is tragic and beautiful, and I’m proud of it and my performance. I’m sad that people think one way of the movie, but what can you do? I’ve done many explicit sex scenes, but I’m not that interested in doing any more. I’m more self-aware now and wouldn’t be able to be as free, so why even do it?
PLAYBOY: Sex has been among the more fascinating aspects of Big Love, on which you, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Ginnifer Goodwin play wives of Viagra-popping Mormon businessman and political aspirant Bill Paxton. Why has Paxton exposed more skin on the show than any of you three?
SEVIGNY: Bill likes to get his kit off, and he looks great. The first season, my character was aggressive in bed, but that changed by the second and third seasons, and there was no sex on season four. I don’t know why, and I was confused by that. This season, aside from some stuff with the teen characters, sex is still on the back burner. And although I have done nudity on the show, the other girls won’t do topless. I don’t want to be the show’s Samantha, like on Sex and the City—the only woman who’ll do nudity. So I refused to do any more and there was a lot of back-and-forth about it.
PLAYBOY: The show’s plots have always been packed with rivalries, feuds, betrayals and backbiting. Does any of that spill over offscreen?
SEVIGNY: I wish I could do scenes with Jeanne Tripplehorn and Ginnifer Goodwin all the time. We’re really tight, and it’s always us against the director or the other actors. Bill is professional, very boyish, very charming. I think being just “the stupid actor” on the show is sometimes hard for him because he’s not directing, and he’s a great director. His movie Frailty is a spooky psychological thriller.
PLAYBOY: You once told a reporter that a previous season of Big Love was “awful” and played like a “telenovela.” Now that the show is in its last season, do you regret that?
SEVIGNY: I got into a lot of trouble. It was a huge thing on the Internet. Yeah, I got a little talking-to. [laughs] I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me. I loved being on the show; I love my character and my co-stars. The whole experience has been great. I just felt it was a weaker season than others. I shouldn’t have said it. I don’t want to offend anybody.
PLAYBOY: What can you say about the upcoming season to give hope to fans who may have agreed with you?
SEVIGNY: The writers are concentrating a lot more this year on the politics within the family. For viewers who keep asking why Bill and the family keep getting away with everything they do, this season the characters start having to face consequences. Since HBO said that viewers respond to how conservative my character is, she becomes stricter and more conservative. They’re dressing me like Hillary Clinton in the 1980s.
PLAYBOY: Has the show’s polyamorous theme made you reevaluate real-life relationships?
SEVIGNY: Just being around Jeanne Tripplehorn has, because she has a beautiful marriage, a wonderful husband and child. That’s something I aspire to after seeing someone with that lifestyle. I want a guy who is masculine, good with his hands and able to build stuff and who has survival skills. Facial hair is a big turn-on. Most of the kids I hang out with in New York are hipster arty types, but I like a stronger, more physically imposing man—like a lumberjack. I’m also into a little hair pulling. I like boys to be aggressive and allow me to be a little aggressive back.
PLAYBOY: What type of guys have you been seeing recently?
SEVIGNY: I’m dating, but I’m starting to feel a little discouraged, actually. I’ve been texting for a year with a couple of guys, without ever going on a date with them. The other day I got a text from a boy, but it wasn’t hot. I mean, if you’re going to text me every day, you haven’t seen me for months and you’re trying to seduce me, you’d better spice up that text and make it more exciting than “How was your day? I hope you’re having a beautiful one.” Sadly, I haven’t been doing a lot of kissing lately.
PLAYBOY: If a guy isn’t living up to your standards of seduction, how do you heat things up?
SEVIGNY: It’s so stupid, but putting on red lipstick, having a martini and getting a flirt on always makes me feel great. I have crushes on everybody. I’m always flirting with the personal assistants on the Big Love set, boys and girls. I’m open to all ages, all economic backgrounds at this point. I’ve kissed only two actors in my whole life. People would hate me so much more if I dated a celebrity.
PLAYBOY: What’s your pick for the most sensual place to make love?
SEVIGNY: Nature is the best aphrodisiac. I get turned on in the woods or on the shore, like at a beach house, or where you’re isolated. Risky situations don’t excite me at all, though. I feel inhibited. It’s harder for me to get excited and let go if I’m afraid of someone hearing me or if there’s a roommate nearby.
PLAYBOY: Having grown up in conservative, wealthy Darien, Connecticut, how would an edgy indie-movie icon advise would-be cool teens growing up in similar environments?
SEVIGNY: The kids I grew up with were into going to Ivy League schools and playing field hockey and lacrosse. I’d encourage poor children like me to go into Manhattan and broaden their horizons as much as possible, which is what I did as a teenager.