“She was unfortunately blindsided by this situation and was naive and ignorant about the whole situation. Think how confusing and how complicated and difficult for her,” reveals actress Kathy Baker about her role in the recent HBO TV movie “Paterno.” In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), she discusses the real-life character of Sue Paterno, who was the wife of disgraced Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, played by Al Pacino.
The film is directed by Oscar winner Barry Levinson (“Rain Man”) and depicts the fallout in 2011 of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, splitting its time with scenes featuring Oscar champ Pacino (“Scent of a Woman”) and others starring Riley Keough as Sara Ganim, the tough young reporter who would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize for breaking the story.
In a scene near the end of the telefilm, Sue starts has memory flashbacks to when her family was much younger. She then remembers that former friend and assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who was later convicted of being a rapist and sexual molester, was actually swimming with their own children when they were very young. Of that section of the movie, Baker says, “Isn’t that the most beautifully written scene? When I read the script, that scene was the reason I wanted to do the film. It was a complicated minefield to walk through.”
Regarding Sue Paterno, Baker adds, “I admire her so much and think she’s an amazing woman. If you go to YouTube, you can see her giving speeches at the college and talking to the students, leading a rally, telling stories about when she was a young coach’s wife and getting other coaches’ wives to pull a prank during a football game. She just seems like a woman you want to have lunch with.”
Baker will be on the Emmy Awards ballot this summer as Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actress. She has already won three times in her career as the lead actress on the drama series “Picket Fences (1993, 1995, 1996). She was also nominated for her guest roles on “Touched by an Angel” (2000) and “Boston Public” (2001) plus for her supporting work on the telefilm “Door to Door” (2003).
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