Kyra Sedgwick: “We’re Literally on Fire as a Country. It’s Literally on Fire, the World Is on Fire”
Though they've been married for 30 years, Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon have barely appeared on screen together. That is, until now.
The couple made an exception on Thursday, coming together to film a PSA for Swing Left, a grassroots network supporting Democratic candidates that helps interested parties volunteer.
Why, you ask? Well, to put it frankly: Sedgwick is absolutely terrified about the state of the world. True, it's not quite the answer you might expect to motivate the couple to come together artistically, but in the current political landscape, the liberal-leaning couple felt compelled to act.
Sedgwick said so herself, in a much more colorful way — "We’re literally on fire as a country," she repeated over and over — when she chatted with InStyle about the upcoming midterm elections. Read on for why she's freaked out, what it was really like to partner up with her husband on camera, and the backlash she's gotten for being candid about politics.
How did you first get involved with Swing Left?
You know I was having lunch with a friend last summer, and I was sharing my despair and feeling of hopelessness and fear about the future and where we are in the nation, and feeling like there was just no balance of power, honestly, in the government right now with the House and the Senate Republicans.
Being a longtime lefty liberal, I was talking about that with a friend, and she said, 'You know, there’s a lot of seats, particularly in the House, that are leaning left and could possibly be flipped for the first time in a really long time. There are a couple of groups that getting involved in that, and one of them is Swing Left.'
I just immediately felt better knowing that people were out there fighting the fight. I needed to feel less powerless and more a part of the solution. I could sit here and bemoan what’s happening or I can take steps towards changing it. So I got involved with Swing Left and I think they’re remarkable.
In the new Swing Left PSA released Thursday, you called this "the most important midterms of our lives." What makes it that?
I don’t think that we’ve ever been in a place like we are right now. I feel like the nation is divided in a way that it’s never been before, and I feel like we have opened the door to some of our basic instincts. We’re polarized, we’re terrified of each other, we’re terrified of immigrants. We don’t even know what’s true and what’s not true anymore, with this notion of fake news.
I think most of all it feels like there’s only one party in power right now, and that is the Republicans, and the Republicans believe in and are mobilized to do a lot of things that I personally don’t believe in. I don’t believe in shutting our borders; We are a nation of immigrants. I don’t believe in the deregulation of environmental regulations and rules.
And it's a time when it couldn’t be more obvious that we’re literally on fire as a country. It’s literally on fire, the world is on fire whether it’s wildfires here in California or in Europe. Scientists have made it utterly clear that what is happening in the climate is man made and has a huge impact, and the only way to sustain this Earth is to move away from fossil fuels. And instead, corporations and fossil fuel companies are running the show in Washington.
I feel like there has to be a check on some of this power. Our forefathers built the Constitution so that there would be checks and balances, and there are none right now. There are just none. So two parties, or at least different points of view, have to be in power for us to govern in the way in which our forefathers had planned and had in mind for us. Different points of view, embracing different cultures, embracing different ideologies, that is part of what makes us the country that we are.
Some celebrities aren’t as willing to get involved in the way that you are with Swing Left. Have you faced any backlash for your candor?
I’ve never been more terrified in my life of where this country is going, [so] it’s worth it to me. It really is. It’s worth it to me to speak the truth about where we are, and how I feel about the direction in which this country is going. It’s important for all good men to come to the aid of their country, all good men and women, and I feel like that is part of what I’m doing.
What have your experiences volunteering politically been like?
I’ve done it a lot of times. In 2008, I was involved in the Bring Ohio Back tour. We got on a bus, a bunch of us, and went back to Ohio and registered voters.
We met people. I knocked on doors, I [volunteered] for Obama and went to Colorado Springs and talked to a lot of women. I think women really have a lot of skin in this game because we understand firsthand that when you have a child, you think about that child’s life until the child will no longer be living, and so you really understand the need to invest in the future and invest in — my biggest issue is environmental sustainability. And so I talk a lot about that.
[Volunteering] can be really daunting and scary and your ego can get bruised if people don’t want to talk to you, but it’s really worthwhile because sometimes people do want to talk. And even if they don’t, at least you’re trying to affect change in the right direction to make a difference and get people out during the midterms. So many people just don’t even think about voting in the midterms. It’s historically a really low voter turnout, so I think it’s really crucial that we get the word out and help people understand how important this is.
What was it like partnering with your husband on this?
You know, we hardly ever do anything together, so we sort of set it up that way on purpose. It was great; it was really fun. We wanted to not make it too serious and kind of have some fun with it, but also be earnest about the word that we were trying to communicate, the message we’re trying to communicate. It was fun and easy. We do enjoy working together. We don’t do it much, but we do enjoy it.
Anything else you want to add?
Sign up! Sign up for the last weekend [before midterms]. That’s really the whole thing. The time is now. And it really does make such a huge difference, getting a call or knocking on someone’s door and meeting somebody really does — and I also think face-to-face communication, nothing beats it. Nothing beats hearing someone speak passionately about an issue.
I just feel like we all have so much more in common. I think we’re being told to not listen to each other and stay stuck in our ideology and place, and I think we really need to, at this time when everyone’s telling us not to be communicating is the time we need to be communicating the most. Because we all need each other. Everyone needs each other to live. We all need each other. We all need everyone’s opinions, everyone’s good ideas.
It is the time not to shut your door and hide. It’s time to get out there and talk.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.