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Jean Smart: ‘Being a single mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done’

The actor, who was nominated in multiple categories at the 2022 SAG Awards, won best leading actress in a comedy series for her role in “Hacks” Sunday night.
 Jean Smart accepting her Screen Actors Guild Award for best leading actress in a comedy series on Feb. 27, 2022. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

After winning a Screen Actors Guild Award for her leading role in “Hacks” Sunday night, Jean Smart opened up about how starring in different projects has been comforting following the death of her husband, Richard Gilliland.

In the press room for the 2022 SAG Awards, Smart told Australia's Network 10 that her life has been “unimaginable” since Gilliland died in March of 2021.

“Being a single mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she said. Smart and Gilliland share two children: Forrest, 13, and Connor, 32. 

“We were both actors and the work has brought me great satisfaction and a great distraction, certainly, from my grief," she said. “I work with the most loving, wonderful people who have just supported me and loved me and helped me through all of this.”

While the 70-year-old actor said she feels fortunate, she added that it is difficult to come off a year where she experienced “incredible highs and incredible lows.”

Smart concluded, “I try not to overanalyze it too much.”

In addition to her “Hacks” win, Smart was nominated for outstanding performance by a female actor in a television movie or limited series for her work in “Mare of Easttown.” The entire cast of “Hacks” was also nominated in the outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series category. 

Gilliland and Smart were married for 34 years. He died unexpectedly on March 18, 2021 of a heart condition at the age 71. 

Smart was in the middle of filming “Hacks” when he died.

“I just would have liked to have shared these two shows with him,” she said during an in-depth interview with TODAY in May 2021. “I know he loved the ‘Hacks’ script. He thought they were brilliantly written, very funny, and it’s just hard not to share that with him.”