Hustle Hard Interview Project: Felicity Huffman

To celebrate my 32nd birthday, I started the Hustle Hard Interview Project. Each month for the next year, I’ll be interviewing one Hustler who embodies a skill or a quality I admire. I hope to uncover some gems that bring me one step closer to being a fully-formed adult.


Although I’m not shy about giving compliments, I rarely refer to anyone as “hardcore.” It’s a term I save for someone who is effortlessly graceful and tough and real and sharp. Emmy award-winning actress Felicity Huffman is, well, undeniably hardcore. And because she’s blown me away each time I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and chat with her, it was difficult to pinpoint just one quality to celebrate.

Before meeting with Felicity for brunch a few weeks ago, I browsed through posts on her latest project, What the Flicka, an entertaining self-help blog that Forbes named as one of the Top 10 Parenting and Homemaking Sites for Women in 2012. It was for “interview research purposes,” but I got distracted by her Health and Fitness posts and stared at her well-defined arms and awe-inspiring physique for half an hour instead of doing actual research. Sure, go ahead and judge me for being creepy. It’s one of my better qualities.

During all of my laborious “research,” my thoughts kept going back to a comment that Felicity made about her husband, William H. Macy, during another chat last fall. It wasn’t the words I found so memorable. Without thinking, she smiled a little more as she shared a story about Bill. Sixteen years of marriage these days is a major coup. To see someone smile because they just can’t help it after sixteen years of marriage…that’s hardcore.

EJL: How did you meet Bill? I love….love. And I love all love stories.

FH: I went to this acting studio while I was at NYU, David Mamet’s studio, and he was my teacher. All the girls crushed on Bill because he was so cool. After we graduated, our theater company was doing a season up in Vermont, and he came to see us. Somehow, as we were all leaving the play and going to a party way out in the country, he and I ended up taking the same car. As we headed into the party, Bill asked me to take a walk with him. He took me up into a field and kissed me. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Why he chose me, I’ll never know.

EJL: The whole concept of marriage fascinates me because until I married my husband, I don’t know that I even believed in it. My parents were miserable for a long time. How did you know you wanted to be with Bill?

FH: I knew what a good man looked like because I have six older sisters. I listened to their stories as I was growing up. Bill and I broke up for quite a few years, and I was so miserable without him. Just as I was becoming okay on my own, he came back. The perspective I got from losing Bill for such a long time and then having the opportunity to be with him again made me know what a good guy he was.

EJL: Did your time apart make the second incarnation a different experience?

FH: I was finally able to say, “I’m not a perfect girlfriend.” And he still cherished me. He gives me a lot of room. The day after we got married, I sat in my family’s kitchen surrounded by my sisters and cried for about 4 hours because I thought my life was over.

The next day, Bill and I went on a backpacking trip, and I brought a shitty paperback novel. Every time we stopped to rest, I whipped out my book and started reading. When I pretty much hadn’t said anything for two days, Bill asked me what was going on. I said, “I think my identity is done because I married you. I feel like this was a huge mistake.”

He calmly replied, “Okay.”

And because he gave me all that room, it was like a mountain wasn’t there anymore.

EJL: There are men who are uncomfortable with their spouses pursuing their own passions or becoming successful. I think these men are afraid to see women shine. But, you’re…so shiny. Do you think you could have the career you do now if Bill wasn’t so supportive?

FH: It would be impossible. Bill gives me a lot of room, but he does it because he knows that my importance or worth is not defined by him.

EJL: When I married my husband after dating him for just 18 days, I was afraid that when he started to know everything about me, he wouldn’t love me anymore. It’s still a fear I have. It’s impossible to know the inner-workings of a marriage, even a successful one, but do you have any thoughts on…how I’m supposed to…do this thing and not mess it up?

FH: I’m glad your husband lets you be yourself. I don’t know how to keep a marriage going, but I do know that I can still feel a spark every time Bill comes home. I don’t put in effort all the time. I don’t dress up. I wear workout clothes all the time. And he still cherishes me.

EJL: Thank God. I’ve worn yoga pants for 15 days in a row. Wait. I think I have the wrong takeaway here.

Throughout brunch, I made references to hip hop and rap artists, and as we were getting ready to leave, Felicity asked why I liked rap so much. I had never been asked that question before, and it gave me pause. It dawned on me that the music that I still love so much today has been one of the few consistent things in my life over the past two decades. And because Felicity is Felicity, she said, “Would you write me a list of stuff to listen to? I’m not into that ‘fuck bitches’ stuff though.” If anyone were to ask me for a moment of kindness that someone showed me, this might be near the top of my list. I didn’t realize what a profoundly positive impact it makes to show curiosity for someone else’s passions until it happened to me.

Please help me make a list of must-listen rap/hip hop music for Felicity. And no “fuck bitches” stuff.

Get connected on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page and on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress).

 photo credit: Stephen Busken

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  • Johi Kokjohn-Wagner

    I adore her acting and I love this interview. Ahh, love and mawwaige. So tricky sometimes, yet so simple.
    Sorry that I cannot help you compile a list of rap songs. That is so not my area of expertise. The only one that I know (and love) is “Thriftshop”. Because… reasons.

  • Miss Britt

    You have brunch with Felicity Huffman. I’m pretty sure that makes you hardcore.

    Tupac: Dear Mama, Changes

    Eminem: Lose Yourself

    Eve: Let Me Blow Your Mind

    TLC’s entire CrazySexyCool album

    All old school, totally safe hip-hop! :-)

  • Emelie Samuelson

    Okay, yeah, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the badassery that is you having brunch with Felicity Huffman. That woman is one of my idols! I love her down-to-earth realism about relationships and marriage in this interview! Thank you so much. I’ve been needing to hear things like this for a while.

    And again: I’m way too jealous right now.

    Also, I know it’s like the biggest song of all time, but The Thrift Shop Song is one of my favorites right now. I like that it’s a rap song that maybe mentions sex once and not in a degrading way. It’s also just really well put together. Just my thought.

  • Jennifer Peters-Ahnberg

    “I didn’t realize what a profoundly positive impact it makes to show curiosity for someone else’s passions until it happened to me.” That’s some pretty epic trut right there, my friend.

    I love LL Cool J’s Going Back To Cali, Lauren Hill’s entire Miseducation Album, Eminem’s Lose Yourself.

  • the Blah Blah Blahger

    ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC! Love everything about this!!!

  • Megan Gordon

    Well. Look at you. Hardcore indeed. Who else do you know?

  • Karin Antal

    Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s stuff is great, and I hate rap, but any song that sings the praises of thrift store shopping is awesome in my book.
    Awesome interview! Can I ask how you know Felicity Huffman? I mean, I knew you were a bad ass, but I didn’t know you were on the celebrity level, yo.

  • Lauren

    Great interview. You, my dear, along with Felicity, define hardcore. xoxo

  • Lorraine Lori Ling

    1) Lauryn Hill – the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (WHOLE ALBUM is solid)

    2) Magnetic North- Home:Word (topics on identity, immigration, struggle with love)

    3) Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift shop (a song about thrift shopping and calling out posers in overpriced branded sportswear)

    4) Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (despite his many ego-trips, this album was daring by showing his non-swagger side. it was post-the death of his mom)

  • Vanessalillian

    Well look at you, being all hardcore with Felicity Huffman! You make it all seem so darned easy.

    I agree with Lorraine on the Macklemore thrift shop song. It’s good enough that it won the annual Hottest 100 on Australia’s youth alternative radio station, and now commercial stations have picked it up.

  • Annie

    I loooooved this interview! Thank you for sharing for us. I saw Felicity Huffman at a neighborhood Peet’s coffee and instantly knew she was supercool.

    A sample of my faves:
    Bone Thugs N Harmony – 1st of Tha Month
    Bone Thugs N Harmony – Crossroads


  • 노대빈

    Does it have to be english?

  • Nicola

    Try the cd some nights by fun.

  • JM

    How about some jurassic five?

  • kimchi_mom

    Great interview with a great woman!

    YOU are hardcore, my friend, hardcore.

  • Carrie

    After reading this, I kind of love her. And I’m not gonna lie, I stared at her arms for a long time before scrolling down to read about what she had to say. They’re amazing!

  • mommyonthespot

    Elizabeth and Felicity, this is such a heartfelt interview. The whole thing about a man being supportive of women who shine – LOVE! I also love love love the whole part about showing curiosity about someone’s passion and now that is an act of kindness.

    I might say this is one of my favorite blog posts of all time.

  • Andrea

    Hi. So cool to hear a celebrity sound just like us, okay, maybe a bit more together. But real! I would also have asked for that list of songs, so would you put it out there on your blog? I could use a rap-ducation. Tx.

  • you gotsars!

    Dead Prez – Animal and Man
    Brother Ali – Uncle Sam God Damn & Us

    I don’t listen to a lot of rap (I know that’s shocking) but these are my favs. No “fuck bitches” shit for me.

    Awesome as always girl.

  • Misty

    Why am I so behind ALL. THE. TIME? I saw you post this, and was so excited to read it, but I was in AC doing the gambling thing, so didn’t really have a chance to sit and read it with the attention it deserved. And it’s just been crazy since then. So sorry. I am definitely NOT hardcore. :(

    But I just love her. Since you turned me on to her What the Flicka site, I’ve been reading and loving it! And I just love that word . . . cherish. She used it a couple times, and that is just perfect. I think that one word might actually be the secret to marriage. You have to cherish your partner. Always and forever. That is all.

    And yeah, I can’t help with the rap suggestions. I ONLY listen to fuck bitches stuff. ;)

    • you gotsars!

      I agree that cherish is key…

  • Jennifer Folmar

    Jurassic 5, A Tribe called Quest, Mos Def/Talib Kweli (separate and together as Black Star), Lyrics Born, Del Tha Funky Homosapien, Dan The Automator, De La Soul, MF Doom…

  • Jennifer Hill

    You def have to recommend MTV Party to Go Vol. 6 —

    Favorite album ever, from one ’90s kid to another.

  • Miguel

    R U Still Down?, 2Pac
    D’Evils, jay-z
    The 4th branch, Immortal Technique
    Thugz Mansion (acoustic), 2Pac
    A Wake, Macklemore
    You Never Know, Immortal Technique

    A big emphasis on the 2pac tracks and you never know. I almost cried listening to you never know.

  • Rmn

    Anything off Dessa’s A Badly Broken Code.