Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Alamy)


How The Smiths changed Chloë Sevigny's life


Chloë Sevigny has carved out a wildly impressive career in the world of film. While she’s appeared in films such as Kids, David Fincher’s Zodiac and The Brown Bunny, it is music that has played an equally special part in her life. Sevigny got her first break as an actor as an adolescent when she appeared in iconic music videos for Sonic Youth and The Lemonheads but, even with that early influence, it has always been The Smiths that have held an unbreakable place in her heart.

Sevigny was born in 1974, which makes her a few years too young to have witnessed the brilliance of The Smiths live, but that didn’t stop the Manchester band soundtracking her adolescence. The cynical world-view of Morrissey coupled with the jangly guitars of Johnny Marr makes The Smiths the perfect teenage antidote to dealing with the confusing curveballs that life seems to continually hurl in your direction when you are coming of age.

It wouldn’t be until 1989 when Sevigny was aged 15 that she first stumbled upon the group, and nothing would ever be the same again. “I first heard The Smiths when I saw Pretty in Pink, and that just became the soundtrack to my life. I didn’t have a car yet, but I was sitting in my friend’s Volvo sedan at the beach and smoking cigarettes and being fake-miserable,” Sevigny recalled to Pitchfork in 2017.

The actor then reminisced even more about her teenage years that were soundtracked by The Smiths. “That’s where all the weirdo teenagers hung out,” Sevigny added. “They would go down there and skate and smoke weed and drink 40s, and the alternative girls would be there with their black Alice headbands, Docs, and baby doll dresses. It was more of an innocent time.”

The Smiths have famously stuck to their guns and refused to ever get back together, with the likelihood of the band reuniting now looking smaller than ever before thanks to Morrissey’s controversial political views. In 2004, the lead singer was a slightly problematic character. Still, nowhere on the scale he is almost 20 years later, and when he made his long-awaited comeback with, You Are The QuarrySevigny was elated.

She wasn’t a penniless teenager in the suburbs who could only dream of getting to one of the Mozfather’s shows, Sevigny was a world-famous actress and getting to as many concerts by the former Smiths frontman was her life’s main prerogative.

“Morrissey hadn’t put out anything for a long time, and it was just really exciting to have new songs and a tour,” Sevigny gleefully recalled to the publication. “I went to 10 of those shows, travelled all around. I was like: I’m a teenager again, I’m in it. In Atlantic City, during ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday,’ I waited for the right moment and went on stage and hugged him. And he was like, ‘Ah, my heart.’ I couldn’t tell if it was because I scared him or if he liked me because I was wearing a floral dress and booties.

“I was there with two friends, [photographers] Ryan McGinley and Patrick O’Dell, who always take pictures of their friends everywhere, but neither of them got a photo. I was so disappointed. I think everyone was just so stunned. I was really reliving my youth there, maybe because, at 30, it was like a last hurrah of having a moment when you can do that.”

There’s something remarkably poignant in Sevigny turning 30 and her quarter-life crisis seeing her relive her teenage years. Being able to live out the life that the 15-year-old version of herself dreamt of is something that millions of people promise to one day do, but few have the courage in the convictions to stay true to themselves as Sevigny did.