A Lesson in Style from Sissy Spacek

Sissy Spacek photographed by Christian MacDonald for Interview Magazine

My Extraordinary Ordinary Life. I am yet to read Sissy Spacek’s autobiography, but that great title alone offers all the reasons I need to want to read it. Being humble despite tremendous talent, dismissing disposable glamour for genuine character and unflinching dedication to her craft, having tenacity in an industry that can prop you up or make you come crashing down, eschewing Hollywood for farm life in Virginia, maintaining a low profile in the media despite forming a famous couple with production designer and director Jack Fisk (they have been married since 1974), valuing and protecting her privacy thus making the public respect it too. And there is another reason why I wish I had known about the book a little earlier so that I could have gifted it to myself this month. It’s December and I guess one of the things we reflect upon this time of year is the concept of home. I’m expecting this to be one of the things to take away from Spacek’s memoir, and I am not necessarily referring to the term in the physical sense, but rather in the sense of belonging.

Sissy Spacek | The Riker Brothers/Netflix

And if that was not a big enough lesson in style, Sissy Spacek, 68, is beautiful to look at, too, channeling a tomboyish elegance that she sticks to. It usually involves a black blazer with its sleeves and collar turned up, often paired with a classic shirt with its sleeves also rolled up. The extraordinary beauty of simplicity.

In the introduction to the interview that Andy Warhol conducted with the actress (she made her film debut with a minor role in Warhol’s 1971 Women in Revolt) for Interview Magazine in 1977, it said: “Sissy is wearing a black, wool gabardine, man-tailored pantsuit, a blue and white check, cotton shirt, and no makeup.” More than forty years later, it’s still her signature look. It’s her uniform and she owns it, just like she owns her craft. And that’s another thing I want to remember in December: own your style.

Sissy Spacek at the Premiere of Netflix’s “Bloodline” at Westwood Village Theatre, Westwood, California, 2016 | 
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Through a career that took her from Texas small town Quitman to New York City and to the 1970s Hollywood, Sissy Spacek’s performing art has established her as a trailblazer in the world of film. She began as a singer in 1967, when she arrived in New York, but being a musician was not to be for her. As life would have it, after pursuing acting instead, she would win the Oscar and be nominated for a Grammy for impersonating the country music singer Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980), followed by the release of her own country album, “Hangin’ Up My Heart”. Sissy’s impressive filmography includes Terrence Malick’s Badlands (1973), Robert Altman’s 3 Women (1977), Costas Gavras’ The Missing (1982), Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991) and David Lynch’s The Straight Story (1999).

Jack Fisk, Spacek’s husband, is an old friend and long-time collaborator of David Lynch, and Fisk and Spacek both backed Lynch up at the beginning of his filmmaking career. The way Sissy Spacek remembers those beginnings in David Lynch’s autobiography, Room to Dream, lingers on in my memory: “I’ve always felt grateful that I met them at a time in my life and career when they were able to influence me. David and Jack are artists through and through – they throw themselves into every aspect of their work, they would never sell out, ever, and they love creating things.” But I think that’s something she already had in herself.

Sissy Spacek’s new film, The Old Man and the Gun, where she plays alongside Robert Redford, is out now.

Left: Sissy Spacek, Vanity Fair, November 2018
Right: Sissy Spacek photographed by Lynne Brubaker


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