“It’s complicated,” says the petite powerhouse. “You’re dealing with your own mortality. It grows closer with each year.”
“You don’t know how close,” she says with a whoop. “It’s just sooner than it used to be!”
“I think it’s good to deal with reality. That’s healthy. It’s good to think about the years passing without being morbid about it.”
Hunter isn’t allowing anything to slow her down. She has a key role as Senator Finch in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. And she stars opposite a fellow legend, Al Pacino, in the film Manglehorn, out on DVD.
First, let’s get to the superhero stuff.
“I’m a US senator,” she said of the much awaited film. “It was a blast to do a movie with director Zach Snyder.”
“I think it’s intriguing to see the conflict between these two men—Batman and Superman. It’s quite enticing and psychological. The movie has a lot of complexities that go beyond just giant special effects.”
“The relationship and conflict between those two characters is pretty heavy,” she says.
Ask her to talk about the superheroes individually and she says, “Henry Cavill as Superman is perfect. He gives a beautiful performance. Ben Affleck as Batman brings such great, galvanizing appeal. He’s such a watchable actor, which makes him perfect for Batman.”
She also relished doing a movie opposite Al Pacino.
She says that playing Dawn, a bank teller dealing with an eccentric small town locksmith (Al Pacino) in the drama Manglehorn—about love and loneliness—made her think about her own views of getting older in America.
“Honestly, there are a lot of things that don’t clutter up my life in the way they used to when I was younger,” she says. “I also know myself well enough now to be sure of things. If I trust someone, I know I can trust them decade after decade.”
“I also feel more sure of myself as an actor,” she says. “My career has always been a bunch of unknown. A lot of them had to do with me because I didn’t know myself in some ways. Of course, that keeps acting exciting, but it’s just as exciting now.”
“It’s incredible to love your work at any age and I just love it,” she says.
As for life, she adds, “There are certain things you just let go of at this age that should go out with the trash. The difference is that at this age you put them out there.”
Holly Hunter also knows what to embrace. And she did just that when the offer came to work with Al Pacino. “The first time I met Al was on stage at the Academy Awards when he presented me with my Oscar. That was a pretty good first meeting,” says the star of classics including Broadcast News. “After that, we kept mutual friends. I’d go out to dinner with my friends and Al was there.”
“He’s unbelievably charming and a great dinner companion. A great conversationalist,” she says. “He’s also a great listener. He’s very forward leaning, very interested in hearing what you have to say.”
“It’s challenging to live as an icon for an entire generation and Al has maintained an innocence about him that’s refreshing,” she says.
She says working with him in a love story was “amazing. I play Dawn, a woman who works in a bank who really sees the humanity hidden in this man. He protects himself deeply. Yet, he comes to the bank every Friday and requests me as his teller. It’s quite poignant.”
She also admired her character’s healthy outlook on life.
“Dawn doesn’t lead with shame. She leads with positivity and optimism. That’s a real life choice,” Holly Hunter says. “Once you get to a certain age and the world has done its dirty job and you’ve taken a few punches, it’s a choice to remain open.”
“I think she was heroic for leading that kind of life,” she says.
Hunter, a mother of two, says she tries that outlook, too. “As long as you’re open to it, life has so many things to offer. As you get older, there can be an anxiety about the future and a nostalgia about the past. Both can take away the present away from you.”
“It’s important to live in the minute,” she says.
by Cindy Pearlman