“The more I worked on it, the more I thought of my mom,” admits Richard Jenkins about his performance as the beleaguered, loving husband of the title character in the HBO miniseries “Olive Kitteridge.” As he explained during our webcam chat (watch below): “It wasn’t intentional. It just kept coming back to me that this man is kind of like my mom. She was a very sweet, patient, understanding woman. Henry kind of became her.”
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Jenkins plays the kind-hearted and gentle pharmacist Henry Kitteridge who is married to the abrasive and outspoken teacher Olive (Frances McDormand). For the actor, this couple is definitive proof that opposites do attract. “It always made sense to me, the relationship. I see things the third and fourth time I didn’t see the first time. It’s just the moments between the two of them where they connect, where they understand each other, where they talk in shorthand. I got it. I always got it. I knew he loved her from the beginning, and I understood why he loved her. In her way, I knew she loved him.”
If Henry has one weakness (as Olive points out repeatedly), it is his benign attraction to “mousy” girls such as his new assistant Denise (Zoe Kazan). As Jenkins explains, “He loves her optimism. He loves her innocence. He loves the fact that she counts on him. He has a crush on her. It’s not really going anywhere because that’s just creepy.” He readily admits this storyline “was a tough thing to negotiate, to stop thinking about it and just jump in to do the scenes the way I thought they should be played. I just didn’t want it to be creepy (because of the age difference). That’s the thing I worried about.”
Jenkins earned both SAG and Oscar Best Actor bids in 2008 for “The Visitor.” He also shared in a SAG nomination in 2002 as one of the ensemble members of “Six Feet Under.”
Upcoming films for Jenkins in 2015 include “The Hollars,” which also stars Anna Kendrick, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Margo Martindale and “Bone Tomahawk” with Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, and Matthew Fox.