Apart from having great style, another thing actress Katie Holmes shares with the cultural/fashion icon Jackie Kennedy-Onassis is having a very public private life. The 38-year-old actress has been making headlines since her breakout role in Dawson's Creek through to her marriage and divorce from Tom Cruise and now, thanks to her starring role in The Kennedys After Camelot (Apr. 16, Bravo).
The second instalment of the political mini-series follows Jackie’s struggles as a single mom and then her subsequent marriage to billionaire Aristotle Onassis after the tragic losses of her husband John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert F. Kennedy. And it all happened under a “never-ending magnifying glass” as Katie describes it.
Katie has been living under similar scrutiny, as a single mom to Suri, ever since her split from the Mission:Impossible star in 2012. The actress, who tells Hello! Canada that she feels “privileged” to have portrayed Jackie, says that even though she’s increasingly both acting and directing, Suri’s upbringing “is prime” in her life.
Here, the Ohio native opens up about stepping back into Jackie's shoes and wardrobe, filming in Toronto and the one thing she admires most about Mrs. Kennedy Onassis.
Having played Jackie before, what collection of material do you have on her?
From the first miniseries, I have a big collection of photos of Jackie, notes and quotes. Which led to great wardrobe fittings. And working with the same costuming crew in Toronto, it was incredibly fun to design and create the outfits and get into those fittings.
Your character grows and changes over the decades of the two miniseries, how challenging was that?
The role was a responsibility and, at times, a daunting challenge. I mean, everyone knows the Kennedys and their story. But over the two miniseries, my character evolves from a young ingénue, to the President’s wife, to JFK’s widow going through struggles as a single mother, to remarrying Aristotle Onassis — there’s a big character arc there. It was a privilege portraying her.
She was such a cultural and fashion icon, and her values still seem to resonate with us. What did you take from studying her?
She was so priceless and beautiful, and classy. I tried to reflect her charm and grace. We listened to tapes of her talking, like her saying that even when people would criticize her dress hemlines, Jack would support her, saying “Jack loved me for being me.” That he loved how she dressed.
Was there one thing you especially appreciated about her?
She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, she had opinions, and spoke them.
Even today, the Kennedy children and grandchildren make the news, why is that?
There’s a never-ending magnifying glass over them. They’re a famous family but they have flaws. But these are real people, who went through pain and then joy. And, stepping back as an audience, it’s cathartic watching their story unfold.
Matthew Perry, who plays Teddy with warts and all, praises you for portraying Jackie in her full regalia then adroitly jumping behind the camera to direct.
I’ve been pretty lucky, I took my cues from director Jon Cassar, who I’d worked with on the original miniseries (The Kennedys). I took notes, I watched how he’d let us actors make suggestions. And, by him being open, it made us feel part of a team, and that helped us do better in our performance.
Kristin Booth (Ethel Kennedy) also said you have an “emotional intuitiveness” that helps an actor get to the place they want to get...
They’re giving me too much credit! It so helped having the same crew as the first miniseries. And as a director, it was special to have the same cinematographer, it helps cut right to it. We had such a wonderful crew, from Jon to everyone, there was so much respect, there were no fights, no one said “no.”
As you continue to direct more projects, could you see yourself shifting away from acting?
I recently directed and acted in the drama, All We Had, which came out last December. As much as I’m liking directing, I’m not giving up acting, yet.