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“I’d never get to read for a part like this,” Sarah Silverman pronounced upfront about the new film ‘Take This Waltz.’ Unquestionably, the role of Geraldine is casting against type in the extreme and it is an unabashed masterstroke on the part of both Polley and casting director John Buchan. Silverman elaborated, “Usually when I’m told that someone had me in mind for a part, it’s vulgar and it has shit jokes and it’s gross. It must be what I put out there, but I don’t see myself like that. But when I read this, I got choked up because I couldn’t believe someone would see me this way. I see myself able to play drama. But we put people in boxes and can’t see outside of it, but Sarah did. It was so nice. And I’m so grateful for this.”
Geraldine is Lou’s sister. She is also a recovering alcoholic. While Margot is surrounded by the comfort of Lou’s sprawling family, Geraldine is the only one with whom she shares any personal thoughts. “Margot is like a little sister to Geraldine, although she does view Margot in the context of protecting Lou’s happiness. I also think there’s a self-centeredness in both characters where they’re connecting but only because they’re getting something that they need or giving something that they need to give. Like many friendships, theirs is like two islands in a way ‐Geraldine has her own shit and she’s seeing everything around her in relation to her own shit, and so is Margot,” explained Silverman.
And to be working with Polley, Silverman declared, “So many directors, great directors, directors I love, are fully socially retarded. Sarah actually isn’t. She has a plan, knows exactly what she wants, and knows how to manipulate exactly how to get it in a way that makes you, the actors and me, feeling like “Oh my God, I’m amazing in this!” instead of shells of ourselves.”
“Sarah Silverman is my favorite living performer and has been for years,” stated Polley. “You know the “If you could have dinner with one person in the world, who would that be?” question? For the last five years, the answer has always been Sarah Silverman. The moment her name was suggested by John Buchan, it was all hands on deck to get her. As much as I knew she was going to be fantastic in this part, nothing could have prepared me for how complicated and nuanced and strange and beautiful her work was. It was such a joy to watch her work.”
The part of Geraldine is that of the proverbial Greek chorus, the wisest character in the film even if her life is a bit of a mess. The key to this wisdom is the cross she bears throughout the film, her alcoholism. “That state of ‘needing, wanting and ‘won’t survive unless you have it’ is something that an addict is very familiar with,” continued Polley, “and they understand what a trap it can be, what an illusion. The rest of us struggle to understand this in increments. As a result, Geraldine recognizes in Margot the qualities of needing a drug, except in Margot’s case love and filling emptiness are more organic to her life. Geraldine tried in vain to fill the emptiness as well ‐ she just does it with something else.”
The progression of shifting from comedy to drama is a subject of perpetual interest to viewers because the funny‐ actor‐turned‐serious‐actor has to convincingly take audiences, and their previous conceptions, along for the ride. Silverman is adamant that the key to the transition is honesty in performance. “To me, Seth Rogen is the marker of where comedy started being played very real. It was like the anti‐Ace Ventura (which was great when it came out). It’s just playing it real and letting the moments be funny. So watching Seth go from comedy to drama is seamless because he’s just playing the lines very naturally in both cases. There’s no difference.”
Rogen wasn’t quite as convinced. “With comedy, for me, you develop a pretty good gauge of whether it is funny or not. The kind of comedy that we generally have done is naturalistic, conversational, which means it’s not like completely based on call‐and‐response. But I also thought that when you find out what’s happening to Lou and to Margot, it’s very impactful and there are a lot of really interesting moments that I’d never really seen in a movie before. More than anything, Sarah [Polley] really seemed to think I was going to help her movie a lot and that to me was the most important thing.”
Emmy winner Sarah Silverman is as versatile of a performer as they come. Her repertoire includes everything from film and television, stand‐up comedy, to iconic online videos and she added author to this list when she released her first book last spring. Silverman was most recently seen starring in the third season of “The Sarah Silverman Program,” on Comedy Central and her New York Times bestselling book, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, was recently released in paperback. Silverman was nominated for a 2009 Primetime Emmy in the Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series category for her portrayal of a fictionalized version of herself in “The Sarah Silverman Program.” This marked Comedy Central’s first ever Emmy nomination in a scripted acting category. She also received a WGA nomination last year for her work on the show. Silverman won a Primetime Emmy in 2008 in the Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics category for her musical collaboration with Matt Damon. In addition, she was honored with a Best Actress Webby Award for her online video “The Great Schlep,” in which she persuaded young Jewish kids to encourage their grandparents in Florida to vote for President Obama prior to the 2008 election.
On the film side, Silverman appears in the comedy “Peep World” opposite Michael C. Hall and Rainn Wilson about a group of dysfunctional adult siblings who are fighting over a novel that one of them is writing, about the family. The film premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival and was released in theaters in 2011.
Silverman was dubbed “the most outrageously funny woman alive,” by Rolling Stone. With her comedic timing and stage presence it’s no surprise that Sarah has been asked to host major award shows. In 2007 she hosted the MTV Movie Awards and she has also twice hosted the Independent Spirit Awards.
Silverman grew up in New Hampshire and attended New York University. In 1993 she joined “Saturday Night Live” as a writer and feature performer and has not stopped working since.
Image Courtesy of Take This Waltz