Super Mom

Jean Smart Opens Up About Being A Widow And Working Mom

The ‘Hacks’ actress is absolutely brilliant on screen, but navigating heartache at home.

Jean Smart talks about the stresses of parenting as a widow and working mom.
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In an interview with USA Today, the talented Jean Smart got candid about the new struggles she faced during the filming of Season 2 of Hacks for HBO after the passing of her late husband, Richard Gilliland, who died unexpectedly in March 2021.

While Smart, 70, has proven to be quite busy with appearances in multiple shows on the streaming platform, such as Watchmen and Mare of Easttown — which are both Emmy nominated — the seemingly light conversation touched on very real insights into working as a single parent and working while grieving.

When asked, “Congratulations on your Emmy win for Hacks last fall. What do you remember about that night?” Smart mentioned that her thoughts that evening were mainly surrounding the possible tribute to her late husband as he was supposed to be included in the event’s memorial segment as a notable actor who had passed.

She shared, “I was kind of a nervous wreck most of the evening waiting for that. I was there with our youngest child (son Forrest) and I thought, "That's going to be very hurtful, but I'll try to explain if he's not included somehow." And he was, which was lovely, but I was pretty stressed about that.”

Forest, 13, joined Jean at the premiere as her plus one, and when asked if he watched his mother's work, she admitted he is still a bit young to indulge but that she has recently allowed him to see a few episodes.

“There's definitely some stuff that's off limits,” she explained. “It's only been recently that he's even cared about watching them. I think a lot of kids don't particularly want to watch their parents pretend to be other people. It's like, ‘No, you're just my mom. I don't want to watch that weird stuff.’”

Still, he’s been catching up.

“I finally started showing him certain scenes last year and then I let him watch all the episodes of Season 1,” she said. “He finished them the night before the (second season) premiere.”

In a question asking whether or not it was “cathartic” to return to filming after her husband's passing, she admitted, “Yes and no. It was a very difficult season compared to the first season because Dad wasn't at home running the ship.”

“So I had this constant stress level of, ‘What's going on with the house,’” she continued. “Plus, we had longer hours this year because of the locations, so it was, ‘Did (Forrest) get breakfast? Did he get to school on time? Who's picking him up today? Who's getting him to this appointment?’ That's just constantly on my mind all day, so that's hard.”

She goes on to say something I think every mom can truly feel for, expressing “I had no idea how hard single mothers have it, and I have so many resources that other working moms don't. I can't even imagine.”

Smart also has an older son, Conor, 32, who stays out of the limelight.

You can (and should!) catch season two of Hack Tuesdays on HBO.