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Catherine Keener: “normalcy is a good place to be”

February 29, 2012

Ms. Keener, do you sometimes feel guilty towards less fortunate people?

I think there is a chip missing in somebody if they don’t feel uneasy about the state of things, poverty being a big, big part of it. But me in particular, yes.

Why?

I just feel that I can do something about it and I don’t have to just stay in the shame. Once you step outside of it, step outside of yourself, you feel better and you stop being as self-absorbed. Before you know it you might have spent the last five hours not dwelling on your own bullshit.

How do you approach it when people are begging for money? Do you always give or only in certain circumstances?

If I have money on me, I always give. How can you pass somebody? That’s my feeling.

Well some people say it’s better not to if they are going to use it in an abusive way.

Yeah, I don’t care. If they shoot up with it, that’s not my business. How can I stipulate to a stranger what they do with the money I am giving them? I mean, that’s ridiculous. It is not like my kid. If I am doing that, all bets are off.

Does your son also get everything he asks for?

Well, he doesn’t ask for much and if he asks for something and I say no, he is totally fine with it. We have a good balance.

Did you always get the jeans that you wanted as a kid?

No I never wanted them because I had shame the whole time.

Shame?

I was from a very Catholic family and I just felt like I shouldn’t; I can’t. We were poor, too, so I never wanted the best jeans.

Coming from a poor family, has your perception towards clothes changed? Do you now like the pretty and expensive things in life?

I don’t give a shit about clothing, but… Well, that’s not true. I like clothes. But I don’t buy them a lot. Considering the profession I am in, I don’t have the same rules about them.

So you actually wear things more than once?

I’ll wear something I like twenty times, in pictures and everything. I am not excessive and I don’t live in a state of guilt about my possessions because I love them.

Love is a strong word.

I don’t say love like my dog or my kids or my friends, but I look at things and say, “Oh that is beautiful.” The things I have, if they don’t have that kind of movement and life then I don’t have them. And if I had to give them all away tomorrow I would.

Does something have to be unique for you to like it?

No, I am not that way either. I remember when the Ford Explorer came out and everyone had a black one. I told one of my friends that I was getting a black Explorer and she said, “But everyone has one.” I said, “I know. That’s because they are really cool.” So I don’t care with my friends if we get the same stuff.

Is trying to be too different trying too hard?

I am not afraid to jump on board with the masses in terms of liking stuff. I think if you get caught up in things having to be special it’s a trap. I think normalcy, which I tell my son, is a good place to be.

Why?

It’s just right in there with other people. I grew up in a household where I thought that I had to be special and I always fell short of that because I was just normal.

What did you think was expected of you?

To be special, exceptional, or this thing that you can never really achieve, like the ultimate in something. I thought, “That’s what’s going to get me the love,” or whatever. I think there’s this unachievable bar that a lot of parents set for their kids. And that’s just ass-backwards. You can’t do that.

So how did you overcome that expectation?

In fact, it’s easy. All you have to do is affect that from within. You tap into this moral reality and extend yourself beyond this sort of, “I need to do this, I need to do this, I need to be better, I need to be the best, I… I… I…” If you just stop that shit and go, “I want to be common and in communication with people,” you are already doing something exemplary and unusual.

Do you ever still feel insecure and need to prove yourself? Perhaps especially in such a male-dominated industry like film?

Sometimes I feel like an insecure man. I mean, I love men and I’m straight, but I have a lot of male energy in me and I have a lot of male friends. I think maybe I have insecurity as a human being, but not as a woman. So I feel like men don’t threaten me.

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Short Profile

Name: Catherine Ann Keener
DOB: 23 March 1959
Place of Birth: Miami, Florida, USA
Occupation: Actress

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6 Responses to this Interview

  1. Such a refreshing interview. I think it gets to the essence of why she is such a fabulous actress and why I feel I can always connect with her characters in some way.

  2. who gives a explitive

    There’s no such thing as normal when referring to people. Normal is only used on a washing cycle! I’d label Keener as typical at best. The same way i’d classify 99.9% of her generation who claim to live this lifestyle. Give me some real news to read about. Yawn!

  3. who knows, who knows....

    @ expletive: You’re missing the honest to goodness truth, albeit being far off from the truth about celebrities. They’ll try to play it straight laced claiming it’s this way, then, no no no wait, it’s that way, even when we’ve assumed all their faults and struggles throughout their so called careers. Persuing a career in entertainment is by far the worst thing one can choose. Catherine Keener seems to have promise, which is much more than I could say about her films. Actors like her compromise too much, and usually don’t catch a break until they’re well into their late adult lives. By then they’d finally produced a child, kept married to a man for financial support since they probably figured there was no chance at a career. Then suddenly, POOF, they make a break, and here comes divorce, drugs and multiple sex partners nightly.

  4. I’ve only known of this actress from an American crime and where the wild things are. Her characters in those two movies, along with reading the last paragraph of this interview, I can’t help but believe that she’s quite triffling in reality and has many male fcuk buddies to which she is dominant over. No disrespect for seeing her this way, and please correct me if I’m wrong!

  5. no importance to you

    Normal or abnormal; truth or lie; gay, straight or bi; I think she’s cute no matter how she lives her life!

  6. I’m so glad I’m not a celebrity…all the continual comments about their thoughts, actions, feelings, living arrangements, clothing, past, present, marriage, divorces. Ugh, so intrusive & misunderstood & frustrating labels. No one cares what I say or think or do except me. Fine by me!

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