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Cameron Diaz on My Sisterís Keeper

Published June 30, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of New Line Cinema
My Sister's KeeperMy Sister's Keeper

My Sisterís Keeper gives Cameron Diaz a provocative role as a mother struggling to save her daughter from Leukemia. She is not always portrayed in a sympathetic light, particularly when saving one child puts another at risk. Dealing with such juicy themes fueled Diaz’s performance.

Diaz Plays Mom to My Sister's Keeper


“I think this film succeeded, period, on what it set out to do, which is to make people feel,” she said. “It’s successful in doing that. When I first read the script, I wasn’t worried about how to play somebody who other people might think is so unsympathetic. People might think, ‘How does this woman justify doing this to this other child?’ The whole moral questioning about this really goes out the door. You think you’re going to really feel like she’s wrong, but you find, at the end, that you really cannot judge her. When I went to play her and understand her, I found that I can’t judge this woman. I don’t know what it’s like to have a child who’s dying. I don’t know what it feels like. All I know is that every parent that I’ve spoken to says the same thing. You do whatever it takes to save your child, period, whether it hurts another child of your own to do so. That is what you do. You jump off a cliff, you step in front of a train, you do whatever you can to keep that child alive. That, at the end of it all, made it so much easier for me to just know that there’s no judgment in this movie, as far as I was concerned.”

The film comes out at a time when such issues are in the news. One mother took her son on the road to remove him from chemotherapy. “I don’t think the mother who took her child is any different than any mother who has a child that’s dying of cancer. I think she was just doing what she thought was right. We can’t judge her on that. Now I know I can’t really judge anybody on that. You don’t know what it’s like, until you have a child dying in front of you. The parents that I spoke to all said that this script really reflected what happens to a family who has a child with special needs. Everybody falls away and everyone else’s needs, in the family, fall away. It only becomes really focused on that child. As far as speaking to a mother who had to let go of a child, we didn’t have any parents who had had to do that. Unfortunately, we lost one of the boys, Paul, who was in the film with us. Speaking with his mother, during that time, you really get this sense that there’s never really a time that you let go. You really don’t. I don’t think, as a parent, that you can actually ever let go, even when you honor your child’s decision to be released or the child is finally taken from you. That’s really what was coming from all these parents. I don’t think anybody ever really lets go.”


My Sister's KeeperMy Sister's Keeper


My Sister's KeeperMy Sister's Keeper

My Sister's KeeperMy Sister's Keeper

Some might even say Hollywood is in no position to portray people with such problems. These filmmakers’ only goal is to do justice to real families dealing with similar issues. “All we can do, as actors, is do the best that we can, if we don’t actually have the experience of it. Sofia [Vassilieva] looked like she was dying, but she was a vital, young girl. Same with myself. I’m not a parent, but I know what it is to love, very deeply, something that I wouldn’t want to have taken away from me. So, all we can do is just empathize with that. We can only guess what it might feel like, from our own experiences. Would the movie have been different if Sofia had had cancer, or if Abigail [Breslin] had had her marrow sucked out of her, or if I’d had a child that I was close to losing? Yes, it certainly would have been a different film. But, we had a director who knew what that was, and we were fortunate to have the director be as generous as he was, in sharing what those emotions felt like, on a very real level and in a very realistic, up front, unsympathetic way. We just tried to show what the reality of that situation is and honor it the best that we could. We were fortunate to have that going for us.”

My Sister's Keeper is out in theaters now.

For the trailer, posters, stills, review and more movie info, go to the My Sister's Keeper Movie Page.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of New Line Cinema
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