Julie Christie heads into the Lobero Theatre for a special evening in her honor where a question and answer session and a montage of film clips awaited her.
MICHAEL MORIATIS / PHOTOSNEWS-PRESS
TED MILLS, NEWS-PRESS CORRESPONDENT
January 26, 2008 7:31 AM
“She is not a woman who lives in the past. She is not a woman who likes delving into the past. That is why this is a special evening.”
Critic Leonard Maltin was speaking about the actress Julie Christie, whom the Santa Barbara International Film Festival honored in its second evening with a career-spanning tribute at the Lobero Theatre. The usually private Ms. Christie answered questions from Mr. Maltin at the near-capacity theater.
The actress is in the limelight thanks to her role in Sarah Polley’s 2006 film, “Away From Her,” which has earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress — her fourth nomination. The others were for “Afterglow” (1997), “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” (1971) and “Darling” (1965), which she turned into Oscar gold.
That film, though not her first, began her career, and led to a string of popular and critical hits. The list reads like a course of classic ’60s and ’70s cinema: “Doctor Zhivago,” “Fahrenheit 451,” “Far from the Madding Crowd,” “Petulia,” “The Go-Between,” “Don’t Look Now,” “Shampoo” and “Heaven Can Wait.”
“Even from her first films,” said Mr. Maltin in his introduction, “she has always projected an intelligence and curiosity.”
Director Norman Jewison and an unidentified friend stop to chat with the media and fans at the Lobero Theatre on Friday night.
“Away From Her” stars Ms. Christie as Fiona — wife of a philandering husband — who begins to succumb to Alzheimer’s disease. She decides to check herself into a home rather than put her husband through the emotional upheaval of looking after her. The film, which screened at last year’s festival and returned for a special screening earlier Friday, manages many levels of complexity and allows the actress an impressive spectrum of emotions.
Asked about the film on her brief but courteous red carpet appearance, Ms. Christie spoke less of herself and more about her director, Sarah Polley. The young actress-turned-director had worked under Atom Egoyan, one of Canada’s most respected directors, and her debut film is very polished.
“She’s very tenacious,” said Ms. Christie. “She has a very clear vision of what she wants, and she will absolutely hold on to it. She’s also great fun to work with. She’s very funny and very lighthearted and creates a relaxed atmosphere on set. Which of course is what we actors love to have.”
Asked about her favorite scene in the film as an actor, she smiled and said, “My two favorite scenes got cut out.”
It was hard to tell if she was kidding.
“Away From Her” deals with Alzheimer’s in a direct, sometimes unflattering way, but the star said that it serves a purpose.
“It has made me and many other people aware of mortality,” she said. “Whether through Alzheimer’s or not, (the film is) a way of making you prepared for one’s own demise.”
Although her rèsumè shows a steadily working actress, a film like “Away From Her” is called a “comeback,” a notion Mr. Maltin tried to dispel in his introduction.
“Well, as for a comeback, she’s never gone away,” he said. “She works when the spirit moves her, and she chooses well.”
©2008 Santa Barbara News-Press
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