In the new Netflix original series, Bloodline, Sissy Spacek plays the matriarch of the Rayburn family, owners of a well-regarded hotel in the Florida Keys and prominent members of the local community. The beauty of the location belies the darkness hiding under the family's perfect façade. The show is about grief and the ways in which loss can haunt our lives. At The Guardian, Spacek discusses the show and describes how the death of her brother affected her life:
“I think they've just put things away and moved on,” Spacek says, of the past traumas that lie at the heart of Bloodline, “rather than address them and have them be alive in their lives.” It’s a scenario that has parallels with her own family background. Her older brother Robbie died from leukaemia when she was 17. “For me, the grief was almost like rocket fuel,” Spacek wrote in My Extraordinary Ordinary Life, her 2012 autobiography. Having grown up a tomboy in the small Texas town of Quitman, she left for New York to hang out with her cousin, the actor Rip Torn, became a singer and then an actor. How did her brother’s death influence her acting?
“I think it made me brave,” she says. “Once you experience something like that, you've experienced the ultimate tragedy. And if you can continue, nothing else frightens you. That’s what I meant about it being rocket fuel – I was fearless in a way. Maybe it gave more depth to my work because I had already experienced something profound and life-changing. It was a devastating blow but it became a real positive. I grew so much and it was definitely because of my mother. She wanted all of us to be better through what we had experienced – and not be devastated by it. Something like that can propel you or it can be a black hole that sucks all the life and air out of the room. And I think the Rayburns, and particularly Sally, don’t have the tools to understand that.”