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"When I started out in independent films in the early '70s, we did everything for the love of art. It wasn't about money and stardom. That was what we were reacting against. You'd die before you'd be bought."
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Mary Elizabeth Spacek (born December 25, 1949 in Quitman, Texas), known professionally as Sissy Spacek, is an American actress, best known for her roles as the titular Carrie and Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter. She is married to production designer and art director Jack Fisk since 1974 and they have two daughters, Schuyler Fisk (born in 1982) and Madison Fisk (born in 1988).


Partial filmography:

Tropes:

  • Ability over Appearance:invoked Sissy was nearly rejected for being too pretty to play Carrie (who is described as chubby, mousy-haired and covered in acne in the book). For her audition, she didn't wash her face, rubbed vaseline into her hair and wore a dress her mother had made for her as a child. This was enough to convince Brian De Palma she could play a social outcast. She of course got an Oscar nomination for the role.
  • Actor Allusion: There's a scene in Blast from the Past where she's illuminated by a red spotlight - as a clear nod to Carrie.
  • Actor-Shared Background:invoked She's from Quitman, Texas like her character in 3 Women.
  • Advertised Extra: In The Ring Two she's given prominent billing, despite only three minutes of screen time.
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  • The Cast Show Off: Not only does she do her own singing in Coal Miner's Daughter, but she did all the singing live on set.
  • Creator Couple: She and her husband, art director Jack Fisk, have worked on eight films together.
  • Dawson Casting:invoked
    • She was twenty-six when she played the seventeen-year-old Carrie White.
    • Also in Badlands, she was twenty-two when her character was fifteen.
  • Doing It for the Art:invoked How she describes her initial roles in the 70s.
    "When I started out in independent films in the early 70s, we did everything for the love of art. It wasn't about money and stardom. That was what we were reacting against. You'd die before you'd be bought."
  • He Also Did: After high school she did some modeling and also attempted a singing career, but never got any farther than a few obscure Old Shame releases and switched to film acting. After getting a chance to be The Cast Showoff in Coal Miner's Daughter she released an album called Hangin' Up My Heart and scored a few minor Country Music hits.
  • Method Acting:invoked
    • When filming Carrie, she didn't fraternise with her cast mates, to better understand Carrie's fear and isolation. She also studied images of people being punished for their sins, and made sure she ended every scene in one of those positions.
    • For Coal Miner's Daughter, she followed the real Loretta Lynn on tour and studied how she performed.
    • To prepare for In the Bedroom, she decorated the house her character lives in herself.
  • Reality Subtext:invoked As noted above, she was originally pursuing a career in country music, and auditioned for Decca Records. She was turned down for being too similar to another artist they had on their label - Loretta Lynn. As in the woman she played in Coal Miner's Daughter.
  • Romance on the Set: Met her husband at the set of Badlands.
  • Stage Names: Her birth name is Mary Elizabeth Spacek, but Sissy was a nickname from her brothers.
  • Star-Making Role: Although her role as Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter is what gave her her first Golden Globe Award, she solidified her legacy as the original Carrie.
  • Stunt Casting:invoked For The Ring Two, they wanted to cast a veteran actress of horror films to play Samara's mother Evelyn. Sissy was chosen based on her iconic role for Carrie.
  • Those Two Actors: She frequently worked with Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland or Robert Duvall in the past.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays the younger version of her in The Ring Two.
  • What Could Have Been:invoked
    • Joint casting sessions were held for both Carrie and A New Hope - so Sissy also auditioned for Princess Leia. And Carrie Fisher also auditioned for Carrie. It was a long standing rumor that they got their respective roles because Carrie Fisher refused to do nude scenes, while Sissy Spacek was willing to. These rumors were put to rest when Carrie Fisher said she would have had no problem with the nudity.
    • She auditioned for Phantom of the Paradise, but the role went to Jessica Harper. Her husband Jack Fisk was art director on this film, so she worked as set dresser to help him. According to her, she was so bad she ruined a day's worth of filming.
    • She auditioned for the role of Thelma Dickinson in Thelma & Louise that ended up going to Geena Davis. She apparently thought the script was terrible.
    • Producers of The Rage: Carrie 2 offered her a cameo but she declined - though she gave permission for them to use clips of her from the first film. She later said she saw the film and liked it.
    • David Cronenberg had originally wanted Spacek for the lead role in Rabid but producer Ivan Reitman turned her down due to her Texas accent.
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