In your new series Political Animals, you play a former First Lady who runs for President, loses and is appointed Secretary of State. Why does this sound familiar?
I think superficially it does bear some resemblance to Mrs. Clinton's story, but it's actually inspired by a lot of the families that have been in the White House and who want to get back into the White House.
Which Secretary of State do you think would make the best actor?
Probably all of them. I think James Baker is a very interesting character. I'd rather see him as an actor than as Secretary of State.
Your character says campaigning is an "Olympic sport of hypocrisy." Do you feel that way about the campaign now?
It's a pretty daunting thing to watch. As dysfunctional as we are on Political Animals, it's fiction much easier to watch.
You were a student at Stanford in 1968 and involved in student politics. Is it true you lived in a tree house?
I did for a time.
And dressed like
So how do you feel about that time now?
Napalm was invented at Stanford University, so one of the reasons we were protesting was to make sure that didn't continue. I think we stopped the university, and we helped stop that war.
Your father was a TV executive. Yet you haven't done that much TV in your career. Are those things linked?
He ran NBC and started the Today show and The Tonight Show. Part of it was, I didn't want to ride on the old man's coattails, so I avoided TV like the plague. I was offered this [show on USA Network] just as I was realizing that TV was a cool place to work. A series can really take the time to build and layer and tell a different kind of story. It's delicious. It's like a stew instead of a little vegan meal.
Would you like to be starting out in the business now?
Even though the industry has changed, you can bring the same kind of quality. We did in Avatar. To me it's always been about fighting for quality. We don't see all the crap that they made in the '20s and '30s and '40s and '50s, but they made it.
If you got to do it all over again, would you still do all four Alien movies?
Yes, I think I would. But I would make sure there was a fifth one that was satisfying, that we didn't go to earth.
I'm sure your Ripley character has groupies. Do your other roles?
Science fiction has very passionate fans. But there are fans for Gorillas in the Mist, and there are weird Working Girl women coming up to me and saying, "Your character was the good one. She took your clothes, and she took your man, and you were right."
You once said you hoped the Yale drama teachers who didn't believe in you in grad school were sitting at home watching your movies, eating cat food from a can. Have you moved on?
I think those people probably aren't around anymore. They probably ate too much cat food and didn't make it. But I'm involved with a Manhattan theater called the Flea. It's everything I would have wanted drama school to be. My karma has been to be part of creating something that I would have loved. So I'm over it. I forgive them, I let them go they can now eat regular tuna fish with the rest of us.
FOR VIDEO OF THIS INTERVIEW, GO TO time.com/10questions