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Sarah Polley on Splice

Published June 3, 2010 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Warner Bros
Sarah Polley plays Splice's mad scientist run amok. She creates a new life form with human and animal DNA, which is illegal by the way. When it is born, she keeps it secret and even starts feeling maternal towards it.

Sarah Polley Talks Splice


“I think it took her by surprise,” Polley said. “I mean, she’s a control freak to the nth degree. For a control freak, I think having children is a difficult concept because there’s a certain letting go and a certain sense of not being able to control everything. I think when Dren is first born, she’s completely within Elsa’s control. It’s that amazing stage of a baby where they give you their unconditional love and they think you’re perfect and they need you and then as kids get older, they start staking out their own ground. They start being slightly defiant. They don’t say yes all the time and I think that’s hard for every parent to have a toddler and a teenager. I mean, those can be difficult stages. For Elsa, who doesn’t have the time first of all to adjust to being a parent but also is a complete control freak and needs love so desperately, I think it completely undoes her.”

The more powerful Dren gets, the more she resists her “mother”’s commands. “I think she can probably sense it’s not working but I don’t think she has any capacity to stop. I don’t think she has any capacity to correct that behavior. Again, I think we all know people like that. Especially in the film industry, there are characters who being intense and intransigent and kind of rigid and angry doesn’t necessarily produce the results you wanted to but there’s something deep within you that can’t stop you from behaving that way.”


Splice Splice


Splice Splice

All of these issues are at work in the film. Come for the monster, stay for the subtext. “This isn’t a monster movie, but any film that deals with monsters that I’ve seen, I feel like it’s really about the humanity. It’s really about how our humanity becomes more monstrous than the monster and that’s what’s horrific. These kinds of movies, and sci-fi movies at their best, are looking like in metaphor at ourselves in a way that a movie without sci-fi can’t do as literally and I think that’s what’s kind of interesting about a movie like this. It explores big questions but in a sort of fantastical way.”

Elsa has an abusive childhood, which is alluded to in the backstory too. “My sense is that there was incredible neglect and possibly abuse in the relationship with the mother and a real sense of deprivation and isolation. I think probably anyone who has had a really rough childhood, there is at some point in her life a real impetus to escape that and to make your life brighter than it was as a child and it can put you on a path. I think for people who don’t deal with how difficult their childhoods were, it can be dangerous. I think that’s why it’s really important to go back and assess what’s happened to you as a child if it’s been difficult because otherwise you can be on this rapid fire path to escape it and do anything to escape it and I think with Elsa there’s just this sense of needing more, like a crazy amount of ambition, a crazy amount of manipulation, desperate for love but not knowing how to handle that or ask for it. I think it leads her to behave in an inhumane way.”

Splice opens to theaters on June 4th.

For the trailers, poster and more movie info, go the Splice Movie Page.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Warner Bros
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