J. Smith Cameron Biography
J. Smith Cameron was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the United States as Jean Isabel Smith she is an American actress famous for her role as Janet Talbot on the television series Rectify.
J. Smith Cameron Age
Cameron was born on September 7, 1957, in Louisville, Kentucky, United States. She is 61 years old as of 2018.
J. Smith Cameron Family
Smith-Cameron was born Jean Isabel Smith in Louisville, Kentucky, to architect Richard Sharpe Smith. She was raised in Greenville, South Carolina.
J. Smith Cameron Husband
Smith-Cameron is married to playwright, screenwriter and film director Kenneth Lonergan. The couple has a daughter by the name Nellie.
J. Smith Cameron Height
- Height: 1,67m. tall.
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J. Smith Cameron Career
She made her Broadway debut in August 1982 when she replaced Mia Dillon as “Babe Botrelle” in Crimes of the Heart. She appeared in the original Broadway cast of Lend Me a Tenor as “Maggie” in 1989. The cast of that play won an Outer Critics Circle Award, Special Awards. She appeared in the Broadway production of Our Country’s Good in 1991. She has featured in many Off-Broadway plays, including at the Public Theater, the Second Stage Theatre, and Playwrights Horizons. She appeared in the Paul Rudnick play The Naked Truth Off-Broadway at the WPA Theatre in 1994.
In November 1999 through April 2000, she appeared in Fuddy Meers as Claire at New York City Center, Stage II. In March through June 2004, she appeared in the Manhattan Theatre Club Off-Broadway production of Sarah, Sarah. In November through December 2009, she appeared Off-Broadway at the Acorn Theatre in her husband’s (Kenneth Lonergan) play The Starry Messenger. From October 2013 to December 2013, she starred in the Off-Broadway Irish Repertory Theater production of Juno and the Paycock as Juno Boyle. The New York Times reviewer wrote: “In one of the finest performances of her distinguished career on the New York stage, Ms. Smith-Cameron imbues her Juno with a steely pragmatism, but more important an emotional pliancy that makes her more prepared than the rest of her clan to beat back the onslaughts of ill fortune that beset them.
J. Smith Cameron Movies
- Succession (2018)
- Search Party (2017)
- Rectify (2013–2016)
- The Good Wife (Samara Steel, 2015)
- True Blood (2010–2011)
- The Equalizer (1988 and 1989)
- Guiding Light (Nancy Ferris, 1984–1985)
- The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd (1990–1991)
- Homicide: Life on the Street
- Law & Order (1998, 2001, 2003)
- Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001, 2007)
J. Smith Cameron Succession
J. Smith-Cameron featured in the Succession an American satirical comedy-drama television series, where she played the role of Gerri Killman, portraying a general counsel to Waystar Royco. The series centers on the fictional Roy family, the dysfunctional owners of a global media empire who are fighting for control of the company amidst uncertainty about the health of the family’s patriarch, Logan Roy.
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J. Smith Cameron Interview
Published: Nov 15, 2016
BW/DR: When did you first become aware of Margaret as a project?
J. Smith Cameron: We had just had Nellie—I think she was right around six months old—and were spending the summer in Long Island, at the beach, when Kenny started writing the script. I think he probably had actually begun before he knew me though, in the form of notes or scenes. But I remember him writing for long hours, carried away, in what seemed like a kind of effortless flow. His writing desk was on an upper level of our bedroom and I remember lying on the bed, napping with the infant Nellie, and watching Kenny in silhouette, with the sun in the window behind him, tapping away at the computer.
He would talk about it a bit, at dinner maybe, just to say he was having a unique experience—he was just letting it all pour out, in an unchecked way, and felt it was like a kind of Great Experiment, because it was coming of its own force, freely, and he was just letting it unfold.
Does he discuss things with you while he’s actively writing them, or do you wait to see a working draft of the script?
He generally likes to keep privacy with his work, which seems like a good practice for all writers. But occasionally he’d read me a funny exchange or show me a scene. It was such a long, elaborate process—writing the script, finding financing, casting, delays, casting again, editing, editing again. Even without the eventual snags it hit, Margaret was always a big project, by the nature of it. He used to call it his “teen epic,” only half joking. It did have epic proportions to it, unlike any film I’ve ever known before, even just in its script form.
He usually does give me a draft to read, or let me see a rough cut of something before others see it; he’s curious, though wary of getting reactions too early, understandably. But I think our relationship doesn’t operate within a critical back-and-forth, as much as in a kind of supportive curiousness about each other’s work. If that makes sense?
Yeah, I think I know what you mean, and I really love that phrase, “a supportive curiousness.” Can you say a bit more about how that plays out, in terms of all the work you both create?
It varies. You know, if I get offered something, or say two things conflict, Kenny will read them if he can and give me his two cents. Or we just think aloud with each other and try to suss out the pros and cons of a choice. He’s very thoughtful that way. He knows I’m generally happier when I am working, even if I gripe about this or that, as people do. He’s just generally encouraging to me. I think it’s one area in which he takes me utterly seriously, as an actor. If there’s something compelling about a character or a script that he doesn’t pick up on right away, he’s always curious to discuss it with me. He’s also interested in my casting suggestions because we often have very similar taste in actors.
It’s a disaster running lines with him, though. Being a writer, he’ll nitpick over being word-perfect, and for me, that comes in stages. I try to first learn the scene in a way that seems natural and makes sense for me—so that I really follow the logic of the conversation in the scene—and then I’ll work on making sure I get every word exactly right. He himself really appreciates actors not paraphrasing his own words, understandably. He says there are some instances where an actor ends up learning a line wrong by mistake and it doesn’t bother him; other times it does. Some actors don’t realize how painstakingly precise he is when he’s writing dialogue. But sometimes you get to a set and the director actually encourages you to put the script aside and improvise a section of it, so I think it’s nice to know the intentions of a scene, so that you could say it as written, or you could try putting it into your own words if asked to.
Do you remember your initial impressions of Joan, your character in the film?
In general, Joan always seemed like a sympathetic character to me. It didn’t occur to me to judge her for being a “self-involved actress” or an “unsympathetic mom,” which it could possibly look like at times from the outside. Certainly, it’s one of the amusing things in the story: how one of the things Joan is insecure about, and juggling, is her production of a play that is going on simultaneously with Lisa’s very real life and death revelations. But, theatre acting is this woman’s livelihood—and anyone who knows anything about the realities of that knows that it’s a very unsung, underpaid kind of career. In the acting community, off-Broadway is where it is acknowledged that the truly serious actors work, and want to work…but it’s stressful. Between critics and small paychecks, months of work can lead to nothing but huge disappointment. And in this case, Joan has this great opportunity and she is trying to get the most out of the moment.
And remember, she doesn’t realize that she’s given Lisa the exact wrong advice and let her down; she never gets the whole explanation that Lisa gives Mr. Aaron. I always saw Joan as being very, very much on Lisa’s side, but being left out of the true scenario of what was going on in her daughter’s head. So, of course, her daughter rolls her eyes and judges her, because Joan keeps unwittingly doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, and her problems seem so petty compared to the drama that Lisa is going through.
I personally absolutely believe that if she’d gotten the point of Lisa’s moral dilemma, she’d have responded more helpfully. But boy, she spends the rest of the story wondering what the hell happened to their relationship, wondering if that’s just the inevitable experience of being a mother to a teenager.
You know, I’ve seen the film so many times at this point, and I don’t think I ever actually realized until just now that Joan never got the full story from her daughter. Because of we sort of pan into that conversation, as it’s already in progress, and I guess I had just assumed she’d told her mom the whole thing, including her own role in it.
You know, I had to ask Kenny and look at the script after you asked this question. In the extended cut and in the published script, Lisa says “I guess I was kind of waving back to him because I was trying to get him to stop…” To me, this is a fine distinction that is very important. I don’t think that’s the same thing as saying “Mom, I was jumping up and down and flirting with him and he ran the light! Don’t you see why I need to go back to the police?” which is more explicitly what Lisa is feeling guilty about—she does feel somewhat responsible. But it isn’t patently clear to Joan the way she puts it. This was something I hung my character on, really, because to me Joan is not careless, not a bad listener. Maybe she’s a bit guilty of being a knee-jerk liberal and too quickly empathizes with the working class bus driver, by policy, but only because she doesn’t get the real picture. I always felt, in fact, that Joan thinks Lisa needs reassuring that it is not something to feel guilty about, but rather a horrible turn of events that wasn’t her fault, or “not anyone’s fault,” as she says in the script.
I think Kenny felt the whole thing was clear anyway because Joan is so distracted and embarrassed to be caught in a very private act by her teenage daughter. So, she’s distracted and doesn’t happen to catch on to what advice Lisa really is hoping to get. Either way, it’s an innocent and understandable misunderstanding on Joan’s part, I think. But to Lisa, it’s a terrible disappointment not to have that firm moral compass there for her at a terribly difficult moment in her life. It’s like in It’s a Wonderful Life, when young George Bailey sees the chemist putting the wrong thing in the capsules and he looks up on the wall and there’s a sign saying “Ask Dad, he knows!” so he takes off for home to try and talk with his father about what the right thing to do is. But his father is in a tense business meeting and can’t talk, so George has to make this scary moral decision all on his own. Lisa has to make a moral decision too but needs guidance. She wants an adult, someone to be firm with her—and finds it eventually in Jeannie Berlin’s character, Emily. Or anyway, that’s the way I always understood it.
“I don’t know how Kenny can be inside all these different characters’ heads with such equal accuracy all the time, but to me, that is just the nature of Kenny’s genius if I can say that without making him too mad.
Did you and Kenny talk a lot about the role beforehand, or was it something you worked out during rehearsals?
We did talk about Joan beforehand, during rehearsals and then on set, of course. But I think it was fairly obvious to both of us that Joan was maybe unconsciously written for me; there were a lot of things I myself had in common with the character.