In the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series - where stars from a whole range of entertainment fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way - we’re posing some of the big questions to Holly Hunter.
Holly is enjoying being in the middle of a media frenzy, the phenomenon that is 'Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice'. Despite being an Oscar-winning actress (for 'The Piano' in 2003) with many other plaudits to her name, she admits she's never known anything like this in her career.
"There's a real excitement from the DC Comics aficionado universe," she tells HuffPostUK of the film, in UK cinemas this weekend. "It's a world I'm not familiar with, and I'm on the express line to familiarity."
In the film which finds these two superheroes pitted against each other, Holly plays a United States senator, intent on controlling the maverick powers of Superman, a mission that brings her on a collision course with one Alexander Luthor.
To mark this week's release, Holly talks to HuffPostUK about her trick for dealing with negativity, and the cheap way she finds to relax…
What do you do to switch off from the world?
I find I love to read the actual visceral paper. I love to have the paper in my hands, and then if it’s the real paper and not on the computer, I have a pull in that I don’t want to get up until I’ve read the whole thing, which takes a good couple of hours to peruse the paper. And that’s like a vacation for me, a really cheap vacation - $2.50 in the States. I read The New York Times and if I have time the Washington Post.
How do you deal with negativity?
It depends on what the source of it is. Generally, I find, the sentence, ‘I can only imagine…’ helps to think immediately about what their situation is. As an actress, I have a thin skin and a thick skin, and I have to turn it off, and sometimes I’m more of a screen door than a solid door. And it’s a case of ‘I wish I had the solid door, but I’ve only got the screen up today.’ Sometimes I wish it didn’t penetrate, but that sentence always helps me, and reminds me what they’re going through, so it shifts my perspective, sometimes amply, just enough for me to have a remove. And time, of course, is the great healer, but if I don’t have time, I apply the sentence.
When and where are you happiest?
I have the soul of a gypsy. I like to travel, and I tend not to miss where I’ve been. It’s good for being an actress, because I can leave easily where I’ve been, even if I love where I’m leaving. I tend to like pretty much where I am. It’s a certain mindset, which I didn’t have to work at, I’ve always had it, never been homesick. I don’t mind being on the move, but I love New York City, that is the place if there’s one.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I wish that I could follow it. The great Gena Rowlands told me, if you have a piece of bad news for someone, hold their hand when you tell them, it goes down more easily.
What has been the hardest lesson you’ve learned?
They never stop, and I have to relearn the same ones over and over. It would be so cool if you had to make a mistake just once, but you have to relearn over and over, and there are countless ones of those, so I could never be specific, there are so many.
What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
Anxiety is something many 13-year-olds have, and I was certainly no exception. In some ways, I just didn’t know how I felt, I couldn’t say what was gong on or identify it. As I get older, just being able to say what it I’m going through is somewhat liberating, once you can name it, it’s like the talking cure, if you can talk about it, you’re already a little bit better. There’s some corner of it out of the mystery, and it would have been so lovely to know that when I was younger. ‘Try now. What it is you are feeling? Say it.’
What's at the top of your to-do list?
Learn to play the accordion, it’s one of the great romantic instruments, but it has to be a real challenge. I don’t know how the chords are built even though I play music.
What do you think happens when we die?
I think we die. I believe in the collective consciousness, I think there’s an energy we all have, that the collection of us is felt, certainly between two people, more than the sum of the parts, but do I believe in heaven and hell? No, I think nature reclaims us.
I wouldn’t want to be buried in steel, let the earth have me.
When do you feel a sense that we live in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?
In Japan, the minutiae of the aesthetic is so manifested, that it feels holy in a secular way if that makes sense, it feels like the highness of man’s efforts - when I visited, I found the beauty so rich that it felt that there was an aura from it. There’s something ‘made’ that the Japanese do, built on thousands of years,
What do you try to bring to your relationships?
The grand gesture of being there. I will travel if someone needs me for something, I will take a plane, I will show up, because you realise as you get older, the eventfulness of those times, that they will not come again, the finiteness. So I show up.
What keeps you grounded?
Pretty much everything. If you’re thinking you’re great, something is going to smack you down. In terms of my life, my family, and also living in New York. It’s why I like it, the groundedness of New York City. There is no segregation, you’re in it with everyone else, unless you’re in that tiny percentage at the top, who can hold themselves separate and apart. I don’t want to be separate and apart, not in any way, I like being in and of it.
What was the last good deed or act of kindness you received?
A dozen red roses in a box.
'Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice' is in UK cinemas now.