Sadie Calvano, the 16-year-old actress who plays Anna Faris' pregnant teenaged daughter in the CBS sitcom Mom has come a long way in a short amount of time. With only a handful of credits on her resume — most notably playing the title character's niece in J. Edgar — Calvano finds herself not just on a hit television show, but with a plotline that has spurred a strong reaction. In the March 3 episode of the show it was revealed that her character Violet, intends to give her baby up for adoption.With the series recently picked up for a second season, the actress reflects on getting to work with her famous costars and playing a teenager struggling with some big life decisions.
It seems like an ideal situation for a young actress to get to work with Allison Janney and Anna Faris. What has the experience been like for you?I've gotten so lucky to work with such an amazing cast and crew, and to be with these women in Anna and Allison that are such amazing artists but still such amazing people. It's something that I don't feel really happens that often. So getting to be a piece of that puzzle is such a gift.
You've also had some big name guest stars as well, with the next episode focusing on Octavia Spencer's recurring character, Regina, heading off to jail.Octavia Spencer... what?! She is one of my biggest role models. I think all of her work is so brilliant. When she first made an appearance on the show, it took every fiber of my being not to go all fan-girl over her. She's so lovely and strong and brilliant. Working with her is such a lesson in being humble and grounded. It shows what a great artist is capable of and she's a wonderful woman as well.
What's the reaction been like since fans found out that Violet is giving her baby up for adoption?I think it's been good. Obviously, adoption is a touchy subject but I think that Mom is becoming known as being a comedy that doesn't hesitate to get into heavy subjects. I think that this really shows Violet's strength in a lot of ways because adoption isn't an easy decision for anyone, but hopefully it will create better lives for everyone involved.
Have you gotten much feedback from teens that really are, or have been, pregnant?Not me personally, but I'm sure that it's out there. The great thing about our show is that it enables teens and parents to start a dialogue about these topics and get a conversation flowing. These are real things going on in the world right now and hopefully it brings a little bit of awareness, even if it's in a comedic format.
Anna Faris also played a woman giving her baby up for adoption on Friends. Has she given you any tips on how to play pregnant?Anna is so wonderful and she's so good about answering any questions that I have. So, she's been not just an amazing coworker, but such a friend and such an influence. It's hard without a doubt [to play someone that's pregnant] because you're expected to convey so many feelings that you are just incapable of knowing about right now. But it's also been really fun in a weird way, because it feels like I've gotten to have a little secret. Obviously, everyone know that [the character] is pregnant, but pregnancy is such an intimate thing that it's taken a lot of digging and discovery. So, it's been super fun as well.
CBS just announced that Mom is coming back for a second season. How did it feel getting the news on the renewal?I could not stop smiling. I had the biggest smile on my face all day. It was the most wonderful news I could ever imagine. To find out now and not have to wait — knowing that you get to come back to this amazing project — it's just... amazing.
Any hints about what's in store for Violet?I have no idea, the writers are very good at being tricky. In the last couple of episodes, you've really been exposed to the strength that Violet has. She's made some undeniable mistakes, but she's a very intelligent girl. So, I'm hoping that you get to see the strength not just of Violet, but of the family that she's now enabling to thrive.
Few of the powerful men who helped shape America in the 20th century are as polarizing as J. Edgar Hoover considering the peaks and valleys of his nearly half-century-long reign as the director of the FBI and his closely guarded private life. However while there is much to debate about whether the heroism of Hoover’s early career outweighs the knee-jerk paranoia that clouded the end of his run at the Bureau and about what really turned on this lifelong bachelor one aspect of Hoover’s life is inarguable: this was a man who possessed a rare gift for establishing and maintaining order. Everything that fell under his control was meticulously kept in its place from the fingerprints on file in the FBI’s database to the cleanly shaved faces of his loyal G-Men.
It’s an unfortunate irony then that J. Edgar the biopic focused on this ruthlessly organized administrative genius is such a sloppy awkwardly assembled mess. Its lack of tidiness hardly suits its central character and is also shockingly uncharacteristic of director Clint Eastwood. The filmmaker’s recent creative renaissance which began in 2003 with the moody Boston tragedy Mystic River may not have been one defined by absolute perfection—the World War II epic Flags of Our Fathers for example is no better than an admirable mixed bag—but it comes to a grinding halt with J. Edgar Eastwood’s least satisfying and least coherent effort since 1999’s True Crime. There’s no faulting the attention paid to surface period details—every tailored suit and vintage car registers as authentic—but on the most fundamental level Eastwood and writer Dustin Lance Black (an Academy Award winner for Milk as off his game as Eastwood here) haven’t figured out what kind of movie they want to shape around Hoover’s life. For two-thirds of its running time J. Edgar devotes itself to an overly dry recitation of facts about its title character which is about as viscerally thrilling as reading Hoover’s Wikipedia page and then makes a late-inning bid for romantic melodrama totally at odds with the bloodless history-lesson approach favored by the preceding 90 minutes.
The non-chronological narrative structure Black adopts to tell Hoover’s story only adds to the overall disjointedness. Star Leonardo DiCaprio is first seen caked in old-age makeup as Hoover conscious he’s nearing the end of his tenure at the Bureau dictates his memoirs to an obliging junior agent (Ed Westwick). As Hoover describes how he began his career the movie jumps back in time to depict that origin giving the false impression that the dictation scenes with old Hoover will act as necessary structural connective tissue. Instead Black eventually abandons the narrative device altogether leaving the movie rudderless in its leaps backwards and forwards through time. As a result the shuffling of scenes depicting the young Hoover achieving great success alongside his right-hand man Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) and those portraying the aging Hoover abusing his power by wire-tapping progressive luminaries (such as Martin Luther King Jr.) that he mistrusts feels frustratingly arbitrary. There’s no real rhyme or reason to why one scene follows another.
DiCaprio does his best to anchor the proceedings with a precise authoritative lead performance. Although his voice is softer than Hoover’s he mimics the crimefighter’s trademark cadence with organic ease and more importantly he manifests Hoover’s unbending fastidiousness in a number of ingenious details like in the way that Hoover reflexively adjusts a dining-room chair while in mid-conversation. But Black’s limited view of Hoover as a tyrannical egotist—the script is close to a hatchet job—denies DiCaprio the chance to play a fully three-dimensional version of the FBI pioneer. Hoover is granted the most humanity in his scenes opposite Hammer’s Tolson which are by far the most compelling in the movie. Possessing no knowledge of the secretive Hoover’s romantic life Eastwood and Black speculate that Hoover and Tolson’s relationship was defined by a mutual attraction that Tolson wanted to pursue but Hoover was too timid to even acknowledge. Hammer so sharp as the privileged Winklevoss twins in The Social Network is the only supporting player given much to do—Naomi Watts’ talents are wasted as Hoover’s generically long-suffering secretary while poor Judi Dench must have had most of her scenes as Hoover’s reactionary mother left on the cutting-room floor—and he runs with it. His mega-watt charisma is like a guarantee of future stardom and he’s actually far more effortless behind the old-age makeup than veterans DiCaprio and Watts manage to be.
While the unrequited love story between Hoover and Tolson is clearly meant to provide J. Edgar with an emotional backbone the movie takes so long to get to it that it feels instead like an afterthought. Where in all the dutiful historical-checklist-tending that dominates the film is the Eastwood who flooded the likes of The Bridges of Madison County Letters From Iwo Jima and last year’s criminally underrated Hereafter with oceans of pure feeling? He’s a neo-classical humanist master who has somehow ended up making a cold dull movie that reduces one of recent history’s most enigmatic giants to a tiresome jerk.