Sarah Polley: 'My New Year's Resolution is to strive to live in the present'

 

My New Year's Resolution? I'm constantly distracted by the future and things not in the room with me, such as my stresses and worries. My dominating ambition is to be with whoever I'm with at any given moment and strive to live in the present with them.

I'm surprised I'm not tougher Despite having been in the film industry my whole life [Polley appeared in her first film, Disney's One Magic Christmas, aged four] and having had some difficult experiences, I'm still strangely malleable and overly obedient, and rather frightened by my ability to not stand up for myself, so as an actor, I've stopped working with directors I don't trust.

I never had a childhood As a child actor [Polley appeared in films including Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen] I was not encouraged to be a child. I felt that I had to be incredibly professional, to be a mini-adult who wasn't able to play, or experiment with my sense of wonder or mischievousness. I have a child of my own now, so it's been fun to watch her sense of joy and wonder and become connected with the idea of what play is.

A kind of madness takes over when you're making a film yourself I've seen decent people get consumed with this desire to put their art above everything else, and there are a lot of casualties as a result. There are very few film-makers who'll let humanity overtake that drive; I can name three or four out of 50 directors [I've worked with] who can, such as Wim Wenders. Personally, when my end comes, I'd rather think I was a decent person than someone who created the perfect film but lost my humanity in the process.

Female directors have to put up with a lot Having a reputation as difficult is equated with being an artist [if you're a man], but if you're a woman and you're a difficult director, people call you a bitch. As an actor I was always watching how crews treat female directors differently, undermining them.

I'm out of the loop with my activism [Polley became politically active at the age of 12, following a row with Disney over the wearing of a peace symbol during an awards ceremony at the start of the first Gulf War]. I had my daughter earlier this year, so right now that's what I'm focusing on.

Emptiness follows us all around in life It's not a function of how good or happy our lives are, it's part of the human condition. And since I've come to terms with that emptiness I do less to fix or solve things, and accept them as they are. I'm a lot happier for it. We put a lot of weight on partners to solve that void then we're disappointed when that doesn't work. That was the inspiration for [my latest film] Take This Waltz: to make a movie about a woman who upends her life [with an infidelity] to avoid that feeling and to try to fill the emptiness.

Sarah Polley, 33, is a Canadian actress and film director. 'Take This Waltz' (15), starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen, is out on 7 January

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