Big Love‘s extraordinary five-year run comes to a close this Sunday night on HBO (at 9/8c), and Henrickson patriarch Bill Paxton is here with some intriguing series-ending input: How will it all end? Was all that “Season 4 brouhaha” to blame for the show’s rapid wrap-up? And what won’t you see in the finale? Find out now.
TVLINE | Congratulations on such an incredible run with Big Love.
It was a landmark show — it certainly was for all of us. We hung together for five seasons, particularly me, Jeanne [Tripplehorn], Ginnifer [Goodwin] and Chloe [Sevigny], as well as the rest of the cast. It was quite an acting company, a real ensemble of great actors.
TVLINE | The series was critically acclaimed from Day One, but did you sense Big Love would be something so special when you signed on?
From before I even shot it, I thought that this had potential to be a really unforgettable series. And when we shot the first season, I was completely confident in it and never had a doubt because it was so original. How many more police procedurals or hospital dramas or forensics shows can we take before we want to poke our eyes out? [Laughs] Big Love was the only reason I did a TV series. I have a very comfortable, wonderful career making movies and I would have never even considered trading that in for anything less than something I thought was going to be great. The other thing is that Big Love had better writing than feature scripts I was reading.
TVLINE | Let’s talk about the finale: Fans are a little concerned that with so much at stake heading into this last hour, everything won’t be addressed or wrapped up. Any words of wisdom?
It’s quite a finale. It definitely has a resolution; it’s not ambiguous. For the audience, it’s going to be like the end of a Russian novel. I hope it will be satisfying, but I don’t know. I’m as curious as everyone else to see what the reaction is. I do know that a lot of people are going to want to talk about the show after the finale Sunday night.
TVLINE | Is there anything in particular that you’ll miss about playing Bill Henrickson?
Not really. [Laughs] I’ll miss the people I worked with, but I found the character was more and more constrained, in a way. I was always hoping the creators would give Bill a chance to let his hair down a little bit. I felt like each year got a little bit constricted — but that’s not to say I’m not proud of the work. I think they did a great job, I just would have liked to see a character who becomes a little more empowered by his life choices, as opposed to constantly in a crisis. I had been hoping to get through this whole senate thing, and then the gals and I could go do something fun. That said, it’s been a great show. It became much more of a drama and suspense show. When I originally signed up for it, there was a little more comedy in it. And it got more and more operatic, more of a life-and-death struggle kind of a thing.
TVLINE | It sounds like you may have had hopes for another season.
I would have been glad to come back for a sixth season, but I wasn’t privy to those decisions. You have to remember, I really wasn’t a producer on the show; I was a hired gun. Mark V. Olson and Will Scheffer were the creators and they did a great job on the show. But after five seasons and a great run, in all honesty, I’m ready to do something else. I don’t know what that is, but I’m prepared to go direct and produce and act in other things.
TVLINE | I’m not sure if or how much you’ve spoken out about the backlash that followed Season 4, but what are your thoughts looking back at it now, with another season already come and gone?
Everyone bemoaned last season, and you know what’s weird? Last season was one of my best seasons on the show, in terms of what I got to do. To be taken to task for being overambitious is something I’ll never understand. I grant you that last season may have tried to put too big a foot in too big a shoe, but they were cramming those episodes chock full of great stuff. I was surprised that we were so taken to task for it. And it did not help us keep the show going. If [people] would just watch it again, they’d realize that we put too many ingredients in the stew, but the show’s always been so ambitious and so well written and so full of stuff. I personally grew to resent that whole brouhaha and I think that it ultimately killed the show. Again, I don’t know the political ins and outs of that, but I know that it didn’t help us going into Season 5.
TVLINE | So, what’s next for you? Can your devoted fans look forward to a TV series, or are you headed back to movies?
I got a good taste of TV. I feel like it’s a Herculean responsibility to be the lead in a television series and for right now I’m being offered a lot of stuff, but I’m taking a back seat for awhile. I’m not going to even consider anything like that for at least a year. I would consider it, though. At the moment I’m hoping to get back into some feature work — I started directing films before Big Love, and would like to get back to doing that as well. I’ve got a few irons in the fire, every kind of movie you could imagine, and I’m going to see if I can get one of these things going.
TVLINE | Any parting thoughts for Big Love‘s longtime fans?
I don’t want to sound bitter. [Laughs] I’m very proud of the show and I always will be. I’m proud of HBO, I’m proud of the creators. We did five great seasons and we’re going to give them a great finale.
Don’t miss Big Love‘s series finale Sunday night at 9/8c on HBO.