Non-Hollywooder: Spacek can eat lunch in this town again
Getting dressed for a party at the White House in the early 1980s, Sissy Spacek and husband Jack Fisk were donning their formal apparel at a posh Washington hotel when they suddenly realized they'd rather be back home in Albemarle in blue jeans. Furthermore, they needed to meet their daughter's kindergarten teacher in the morning.
“Do we really want to do this?” says one.
“No, do you?” answers the other, as they begin packing up to go home.
Such are the back-to-hearth struggles that constitute much of My Extraordinary Ordinary Life, Spacek's new memoir written with former Albemarle resident and bestselling author Maryanne Vollers and published by Hyperion.
"I really did this for my girls, Schuyler and Madison," says the actress and mom, explaining why she spent a year making roadtrips and visiting "old haunts" before time dims her memory.
At 62, she's reached the age at which her mother died– an event, along with a brother's premature death to leukemia, that stands as rare setbacks in a life charmed by loving family, a wholesome hometown in the pine woods of Texas, and a long, happy marriage. As for the daughters, they're both following their parents into artistic careers, and now have the benefit of a written roadmap.
The book counterposes humorous scenes at the Charlottesville Whole Foods Market with a bucolic family life among chickens, dogs, cats, and ponies on a Keswick-area farm. And there are occasional trips to Hollywood to pick up such things as Golden Globes and an Academy Award, the latter earned in 1981 for the lead in Coal Miner's Daughter.
In one of the book's cuter anecdotes, Spacek relates that playing Loretta Lynn produced a telegram from another popular country singer, the one sometimes known as the queen of Pigeon Forge: “Dear Sissy, I hope you make millions of dollars from Coal Miner’s Daughter so that you can get a boob job and do the Dolly Parton story.”
Spacek reveals how she set off for Manhattan the summer before college with her trusty 12-string guitar and the hopes of a musical career. As it turns out, she ditches both music and college just as they're starting– and, as her film career takes off, never regrets the decisions.
And, anyway, she learned how to be the homecoming queen back at Quitman High School, something that helped prepare for her blood-soaked 1976 breakout in Brian DePalma's classic Carrie. Even music would roar back into her career as she didn't just play Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter; she sang Lynn's songs.
Spacek has managed to defy Hollywood's early-retirement rule for actresses, and one gets the sense that the non-Tinseltown address helps her remain selective. In recent years, her choices include a much-lauded role in the indie hit In the Bedroom; and most recently, she stole scenes and won the Screen Actor's Guild award as the mom of the town racist in last year's supremely successful The Help.
Despite a fun sing-along with Lynn, the woman who helped launch the 2005 opening of what's now known as the nTelos Wireless Pavilion concedes that she now confines her singing to the shower and occasional backings for her eldest daughter's budding work as a singer-songwriter.
"I had this idea for a whistle-stop tour where Schuyler and I go out and sing and play music," says still Texas-twanged Spacek, insisting that she's "gonna try to be quiet and behave" at the upcoming book-signing, which kicks off an eight-city tour.
For locals accustomed to keeping a respectful distance, the Tuesday night event at Barnes & Noble affords anyone willing to invest $26.99 a rare chance, without breaking the unwritten Charlottesville code, to get an autograph.
"It's just been such a beautiful gift to live here with a certain level of anonymity," says Spacek between recounting tales of the idyllic childhood in Texas and the one transplanted for a new generation in Central Virgina.
"I tried," she explains, "to recreate my childhood here for my girls."
Spacek will sign copies of My Extraordinary Ordinary Life beginning at 7pm on May 1 at Barnes & Noble at the Barracks Road Shopping Center.Read more on: sissy spacek