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Sarah Polley Talks The Complicated Characters Of 'Take This Waltz,' Magical Creatures & Memories Of "Video Killed The Radio Star"

Photo of Katie Walsh By Katie Walsh | The Playlist July 9, 2012 at 11:56AM

Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley’s sophomore directorial effort, “Take This Waltz” has captivated the Playlist staff-- whether we love it or find it frustrating, it's a unique film that stirs many reactions and it's that quality, in addition to some stunning cinematography and great performances that landed it on our Best Films of 2012... So Far list. It's a complicated piece that explores the consequences that come from the choices a person makes in life, and it’s a film that sticks with you in its humanistic realism and beauty. Polley has become a formidable filmmaker since breaking out as an actress, and her debut feature “Away From Her” garnered universal acclaim for its portrayal of losing love in the twilight of life. “Take This Waltz” transplants similar issues to the heady, hotheaded world of 20-somethings, and features bravura performances from the always great Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman.
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Williams Kirby Take This Waltz
The choice of “Video Killed The Radio Star” for two of the most important moments in the film was an obvious one to Polley for a number of reasons.
Polley has fond memories of The Buggles’ classic, saying “I used to spend many hours with my brother when I was 6 or 7 and he got his license and had this little hatchback second-hand Honda. We used to drive around and he would blare ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ because it was his favorite song. As I got older, I started listening to the words and realizing how complex it is and how complicated it is. It sounds so poppy and fun but actually it’s heartbreaking and strange and there’s a million stories in it; ultimately I think it captures what the movie’s about.” Not to mention realistic, as Polley says, “that ride on Center Island, they actually play that song really often when you’re on the Scrambler.”

Polley always had comedians Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman in mind during the writing process for this romantic drama.
Even though Polley describes herself as as “crazy rabid” Sarah Silverman fan, it was her brother and casting director John Buchan who suggested Silverman after Polley finished the first draft of the script, Polley saying, “after that, I started writing it for her, got more and more excited, and then was really shocked that she was at all interested in playing it,” and “I’ve just been so interested to see her in every aspect, and I’ve never seen her play a dramatic role, but she was so obviously a brilliant performer, I couldn’t imagine she wouldn’t have been brilliant.” Regarding Rogen, she said “he has a sort of authenticity and a groundedness that I wanted the film to have, so using him as a muse, I anchored the whole idea of the film around him, and imagining him in the role, gave the film a sense of place and an ability to like these characters even when you didn’t love what they were doing.”

Take This Waltz Michelle Williams Seth Rogen
Even though she’s a triple threat writer/director/actress, Polley probably won’t be directing herself anytime soon.
Polley says she’s keeping directing and acting separate for now because “the idea of spending time in an editing room with myself is my idea of Hades,” but also “it’s really important to be able to fall in love with your actors and I’m too frustrated by myself as an actor to want to deal with my own problems.” If it ever does happen, “I would never give myself a leading role and I think I would take a supporting role I can easily cut out if it doesn’t work. I care about my own films too much to take that kind of a risk.”

She has a new project lined up, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s “Alias Grace,” which may take a back burner to family for the time being.
While promoting “Take This Waltz” (and possibly gearing up for awards season?) Polley is “taking time off with the new baby right now.” The Atwood project “will be a big project both to write and get financed so I’m not sure how soon it’ll be. But I think about it every day, so hopefully it won’t be too long.”

“Take This Waltz” is in theaters, on VOD and on iTunes now.

This article is related to: Take This Waltz, Sarah Polley, Interviews, Alias Grace


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