Cynthia Nixon sees the view from the other side of the table in “Too Big To Fail”


If you’ve been watching HBO lately, you’ve seen countless promos for its new original movie, Too Big To Fail, which debuted Monday. The story is a play-by-play of the near collapse of the U.S. economy just before and after Lehman Brothers went bankrupt.

One of the few women insiders at the time of the crisis was Michele Davis, the public affairs manager for Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Cynthia Nixon plays Davis to William Hurt’s Paulson. She only appears briefly in the film, but she makes quite the impression — and likely will be acknowledged for it with an Emmy nomination.

New York Magazine’s Vulture website caught up with Nixon this week to talk about the role and what else is going on in her life. Here are the highlights.

On how she prepared for the role:

I’m so not a financial person. I had to reread the script four times before even accepting the job. I just couldn’t follow it … I feel like when [the crisis] was going on, it was really scary, but I had a limited understanding of it. And reading the script and making the film and watching the film all put together helps me understand a lot better what it is that really happened, and how close we came to the precipice, which I don’t think I truly understood at the time.

On playing one of the few women involved in the crisis:

Michele Davis did talk to me about how oftentimes she was the only woman in the room … And she said the note that she most often sounded was, “We can’t just fire off a memo, we can’t just dictate — we have to bring [the American people] along … and we have to — in a more female way, perhaps — reach some kind of consensus. We can’t just shoot orders.”

I think that men … make up their mind about what has to happen, and then they just put out an order. I think women understand — not only women, I think Obama understands this — that if you really want a unified response to a problem, you have to make sure that everybody is on the same page, and not just because you told them to be.

On playing someone with such different political opinions than her own:

Michele Davis is a really dyed-in-the-wool Republican and a big part of the Bush White House, which was really anathema to me. But it was interesting: I liked her so much, and I agreed with so many things that she said. It was kind of a reminder to me that the loudest parts of the Republican party are really who we hear from … To my mind, you’re a Republican, you love all the Republicans, you love all the policies, but actually that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are people of goodwill and enormous skill who might be on the other side of the aisle; it doesn’t mean that they’re blind to common sense or human rights.

This is what I’m hearing more and more: That the real grassroots movement for marriage equality in New York is coming from the Republican party and the Republican people. It seemed for a while like a left-of-center issue, but it’s just not.

On Obama’s gay rights record:

I am a fan of the president, and I think people were a little anxious for him to move a little quicker, but he has a lot on his plate and he may be moving slower than we’d like, but he’s certainly moving in the right direction and taking really important, big steps.

On whether she’d do a third Sex and the City movie:

If Michael Patrick King would be writing and directing it, absolutely. I have 100 percent faith in Michael Patrick King and if he feels like there’s another story to tell … I don’t want to speak for other people, but I feel like we all feel that way.

Personally, I’d rather see Nixon in just about anything but another SATC movie if it’s no better than the last one. But fortunately, we don’t have to wait for Miranda Hobbes to see more Cynthia Nixon. She’s in Season 2 of The Big C, which starts June 26, and is on her way to Budapest to play a villain in a new Ken Follett film. I hope the wardrobe department knows how good she looks in a power suit.

Too Big To Fail airs again on HBO East Saturday night and will be on HBO On Demand through June 19.

Did you watch Too Big To Fail? What did you think? Do you want to see Nixon in another SATC movie?

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