“I knew I was not the marrying kind!” Patricia Clarkson on love, marriage and Hollywood

The celebrated actress opens up about her bold life choices
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By society’s standards it’s unusual. And by Hollywood’s, it’s almost unheard of. But chat to revered actress Patricia Clarkson about her decision to never marry or have children and you’ll be questioning those standards and maybe your own life choices – not hers. After all, any woman who says, “I woke up at 50 in stilettos and a thong” sounds like she’s doing something right.

“My mother is still recovering from that,” Clarkson laughs heartily down the phone to WHO about the comment that she made on podcast Table for Two with Bruce Bozzi last year. “She was like, ‘Patty, did you have to say thong?’”

WATCH: Official Trailer | Gray | A Stan Exclusive Series

Born in New Orleans, Clarkson, 64, brims with “southern charm”. Whether she is talking about her latest role as CIA agent Cornelia Gray or articulately explaining why she made the choices she has, she’s effusive and expansive.

“I knew at a very early age that I was not the marrying kind, even though a lot of men thought that I would be,” she says.

“I’ve had extraordinary men in my life – not all of them – but many. And I’ve never regretted the incredible romances I’ve had in my life. But I was not meant to be their wives and  I knew that. And I’ve always known that. And that’s something that maybe I’ve rest assured in and found strength in. And that’s the truth of it. I just knew that I wanted a different life, that I had a different idea of what life would be – and it’s strange to know it at a young age, but I did.”

Patricia Clarkson wears a red dress in front of a wall of flowers
No regrets: Clarkson is living the life she always wanted for herself (Credit: Getty Images)

Clarkson has appeared alongside the greatest names in Hollywood and worked with the most celebrated directors since her screen debut in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables with Kevin Costner.

She’s tackled the toughest roles on stage, such as Blanche du Bois in A Streetcar Named Desire, made cameos in comedy shows like Broad City and done outrageous sketches for Saturday Night Live. She’s played the best mothers and the worst.

So when she says that her latest role in new series Gray is one of her favourites, it’s really saying something. In the spy thriller, she plays a highly skilled agent, brought out of hiding to help uncover a CIA mole. 

“Cornelia is rare,” Clarkson explains. “She’s a woman that combines all of the powerful and wonderful aspects that I’d want in a part – intelligence, vulnerability, sexiness. I’m the object of desire in this damn show! That’s rare. I’m the sexy one, I’m the one who’s got the hotpants on.”

Lydia West and Patricia Clarkson in a still from Gray
“Cornelia is rare,” Clarkson says of her character (Credit: Stan)

The words she uses to describe Gray could easily be applied to her – intelligent, vulnerable, powerful, sexy.

“I’ve been very open with the men in my life, I’ve been very open with who I am and what I believe in and how I feel,” the Academy Award nominee tells WHO.

“I’ve never tried to be anything – anything – other than who I am. I’m happy in the bold choice that I made. I don’t think it should be bold, I think that if a woman chooses not to marry or have children that should be easy. But when my deeply southern family accepts me and doesn’t care, then who cares? Get over it. My mother has more grandchildren than she can count. So I think I’m a relief for all of them in a way because I’m singular. I’m a very good aunt, I’m a very good great-aunt and at times girlfriend. I’m a good sister, I’m a good daughter. What else can I be for God’s sake? I can’t be everything.”

“Women, we can strive to be everything, but then at a certain point we have to realise that everything is just exactly what we are. That’s everything. It’s what we are. What I am today is everything I need to be right now.”

Where to watch Gray in Australia 

The brand new series, Gray is now streaming only on stan. Start your 30-day free trial, here

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