AE: There is still an outcry for you and Simone to reprise your roles in a TV movie or similar format. Is it ever going to happen?
MJ: I havenâ€™t been approached in any shape or form. I think thereâ€™d be a lot of interest for it. I think itâ€™d be terribly interesting. And what I also think is interesting is that I think Simone had her child a month before me. Iâ€™ve often thought the fact we both have babies born less than four weeks apart is curious, and we must have continued to go down a similar arc as it were, in terms of life.
AE: So youâ€™re not opposed to reprising the role, if the script is right.
MJ: No, Iâ€™m not. I think the integrity of the story would be important to me. I wouldnâ€™t really be interested just in a reprisal because you could make a lot of dough out of it and sell it globally. Having said that â€¦ [laughs], I might slightly eat my words, given that thereâ€™s now a baby in the frame. I would like it if there were any talk of it. I would really like it that theyâ€™ve come up with something interesting and a real development, that theyâ€™ve got something to say.
AE: Your son is now 11 months old. How has raising him affected you?
MJ: As much as I adore my boy â€” and he is a joy â€” it is like a prison sentence. [Laughs.] It really is, and nobody tells you that. Nobody can prepare you for how life-changing it is and how relentless it is, and you just think, well, this is how itâ€™s going to be. I donâ€™t know when Iâ€™ll sleep again. [Laughs.]
I had a natural birth at home with no drugs. I feel like I really went into it. Itâ€™s like anything in life. You can go to India and come back a changed person, or you can go to India and go, â€œWasnâ€™t that a lovely holiday?â€ Being such an ancient mother, I really wanted to get what was going on, and not skim around the edges and have a superficial experience of it. â€¦ Now Iâ€™ve changed my mind. [Laughs.] Now I want a superficial experience, and the drugs.
AE: Time for the epidural?
MJ: Iâ€™m a little late for the epidural, but thereâ€™s always vodka. [Laughs.]
AE: Many actresses in their 30s struggle to find quality roles. Do you fear experiencing that struggle as you return to work now, after taking time off for your son?
MJ: Iâ€™m 39 now, and Iâ€™ve experienced it already. You go up for jobs selling tea bags or whatever it is â€” itâ€™s not that interesting, really. I think you kind of know itâ€™s coming, and youâ€™re prepared for it, really. Itâ€™s not some sudden realization. It seems you have to wait until youâ€™re old enough to play Gertrude in â€œHamlet.â€
AE: Has motherhood changed how you view the work you want to do?
MJ: I feel Iâ€™d be jolly lucky to get anything. Iâ€™m not being overly humble. There are a lot of incredibly talented people out there, and I was very lucky to get the part of Nikki Wade because itâ€™s rare that you get to play a character who can have an impact around the world. You just donâ€™t get many roles that really affect and change peopleâ€™s lives.
I still am amazed that something you shot, say, seven, eight years ago is impacting someone in Lithuania whoâ€™s sending you letters saying, â€œI am 57 years old. Your program has given me confidence to come out. Now Iâ€™m about to go upstairs and wake up my invalid, bed-ridden, 85-year-old mother and tell her that Iâ€™m a lesbian.â€ And you think, â€œNo! Donâ€™t do it, for Godâ€™s sake!â€ [Laughs.]
AE: Do you feel a particular responsibility to fans in the gay community?
MJ: Yes, I do. But then I also think Iâ€™ve really succeeded if someone asks, â€œWhat part did you play?â€ and I can say, â€œNikki Wade,â€ and I donâ€™t have to back it up with, â€œthe gay one.â€ The fact is, sadly, nine times out of 10, thatâ€™s what I have to say is, it was the lesbian character. Maybe thatâ€™s because you canâ€™t shift in one performance generations of regard. â€œWhich one is that one? The lesbian?â€ I always felt that was a shame. I failed in that case, but there it is.
AE: It seems a good time to work in two words that seem to come up in every interview with you and Simone: lesbian icons.
MJ: Can we work in one more? International. [Laughs.]
AE: The pressure on two straight women to represent a community â€” that must have been incredibly intense.
MJ: Yeah, I think it was. Definitely so. Youâ€™re just an imposter to some extent, trying to play it as real as possible, but never sure if youâ€™re pulling the rabbit out of the hat or not. So, yes, there is always that feeling of, you know, weâ€™re two straight actresses and are we getting this right? Is this ringing any bells for you?
I did feel a sense of â€œIâ€™ve got to get this right, and if I donâ€™t then all Iâ€™ll do is reinforce all the same prejudices.â€ I felt very keenly that sense. So, for me, I always returned to just playing a love story. It just doesnâ€™t matter. The gender is irrelevant. If you get caught up in the fact that itâ€™s gay, youâ€™re putting it in a ghetto.
I find it offensive â€” you donâ€™t talk about the straight couple. You donâ€™t talk about the white family. You donâ€™t talk about that. You donâ€™t use that prefix. So letâ€™s just try and get rid of it, letâ€™s just drop it. Sheâ€™s militant, sheâ€™s gay, sheâ€™s out â€” I couldnâ€™t come to it that way. I could only come to it from my truth, which is: Itâ€™s love, itâ€™s universal.