Penelope Ann Miller next week will make her third visit to the Sarasota Film Festival, this time promoting her new film Think of Me and accepting the festival’s Career Tribute Award. She is just coming off the hype ride of seeing her film The Artist take home the Academy Award for Best Picture. That movie took her to festivals all around the world, and she found herself at some events promoting both Think of Me and The Artist. Her trip to Sarasota, though, marks the first time she is at a festival promoting Think of Me exclusively. In it, Miller plays a woman who wants to take in the daughter of Angela (Lauren Ambrose), a young mother who is economically struggling and making bad decisions in her parenting and personal life. Miller spoke to SRQBACKLOT.COM about the dark drama and about accepting a career award.
You were at the very first Sarasota Film Festival 14 years ago. What’s it like coming back?
Yes, I was there for the film I did with Jon Favreau, back when he was acting and wasn’t a big director. I was there with Rocky Marciano. It’s a beautiful location. I love it there. I came again with Funny Money, the movie I did with Chevy Chase, and I had a great time then. Every time I have gone, it has been really fun. I’m very excited to come back and flattered that you guys are choosing to honor me with the Career Tribute.
You are also here with the film Think of Me. What is the more important reason you are coming, the award or the film?
Honestly, it’s a little bit of both. I have a particular fondness for Sarasota and the festival. It is great I have a movie thats playing there. I am honored to get a career achievement award. That is a hard to thing to turn down and say, ‘No, thank you.’ I am glad you guys feel my career merits an award and being honored. I’m obviously very pleased i was chosen, and I cherish the opportunity to go back.
In this film, your character Louise seems like a complex one. How did you approach the role?
To me, it was an interesting character with a lot of dichotomy and complexities. This movie sort of asks the question, if you are someone’s mother, are you neccesarilly the best mother for that child? A lot of women have children and can’t afford to raise them, and have issues with drugs and alcohol. So are they equipped to give that child the best life? Mt character is a woman who can’t have her own child and is struggling to give a child the best life. It may seem terrible that I want to take a child from its mother, but for my character, I think she really is helping this child. But there’s complexities to that. Is it better to be with your real mother? It is hard at that age. I found the whole notion fascinating and real and intriguing. This film asks ethical questions. Who is in the right and in the wrong? Is there right and wrong? Mine is not a huge role, but to me, it is an interesting role and a pivotal role in the story.
Some reviewers have compared the circumstances to the Casey Anthony story here in Florida. Do you think there is relevance there?
I can see that. Obviously, Casey Anthony’s daughter had grandparents who wanted to take care of here, so there were options. The fate of that child turned out not well. It’s a very sad thing. That child’s fate might have ended up differently. Why I think the movie is very real. It is because of the questions it poses. It is relevant because there are a lot of women out there having children who shouldn’t.
So is this the first time you’ve received this kind of award at a festival?
I was just saying I must be very popular in Florida because, in October, I got one in Fort Lauderdale in their festival. So far, I’ve scored Florida. Luckily, people are very admiring of me career in Florida, and I am looking forward to recognition in other states as well. But I love florida, and any excuse I have to go back, I’m there.
Miller be be honored at the SFF Luncheon on April 20 at noon at the Sarasota Yacht Club, and is expected at the Filmmaker Tribute Awards on April 21 at 6pm at the Sarasota Opera House. She is also part of the In Conversation series this year and will be interviewed on stage on April 21 Sunday at 1pm. Think of Me screens on April 21 at 6:15 and April 22 at 5:30pm.