Sarah Polley Biography

Sarah Polley photo

Born: January 08, 1979


Date of Birth: January 8, 1979

Born the youngest by eight years of five children, Sarah began acting at age five when she appeared as Molly Monaghan in Disney's One Magic Christmas (1985). Her older brother, Mark Polley, had also been a child actor, playing a lead role in the Canadian television series A Gift to Last (1976 to 78). Showbusiness was the family business: her father Michael is an actor, her half-brother John Buchan is a casting director and her mother, who died of cancer in 1990, was a casting director and actress. About her mother's death, Sarah has said, "I find it hard to relate to people who haven't [experienced the pain of losing someone]. There's something less vivid about them. I see these people with both parents alive and think, 'There's so much pain waiting for you.' I'm so afraid for them because everything is waiting. It's not like there's going to be anything familiar about that pain."

Sarah's first big break came at the age of eight, when she starred as Ramona in the television series of the same name. In her fifth feature film, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen(1989), she worked alongside the likes of John Neville, Eric Idle, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams and Sting, as well as her father.

In 1988, she played Jody in Sullivan Entertainment's TV movie Lantern Hill. Her performance as the little cockney waif won her a Gemini Award. Sullivan Entertainment was so impressed by her that she was cast in their next production, the long-running television series Road to Avonlea (1989 to 1996), in the starring role of Sara Stanley. She tired of the role by the time she was 12, disdaining the show because of its commitment to family values, and asked to be written out of the script, so during the sixth season her character moved to France to study writing. At about the same time, 14-year-old Sarah left home to live with a man nearly 20 years her senior (in an apartment she'd bought). She later came to regret the situation, which was illegal, saying her father should have stopped her from making such a move.

In Atom Egoyan's Exotica (1994) she played a small role as a girl hired to babysit a child that has long been dead. Three years later, Egoyan cast her again, this time in a starring role in The Sweet Hereafter.

Despite her success, Polley claimed acting was not something she saw herself doing forever. In an interview with CBC's The National she once stated: "The thought that I would be an actor when I grew up didn't even enter my mind. It was just sort of something I wanted to do for fun. And it sort of remained like that and still is. And I don't think I ever had any big transition where I decided I'm not going to be an actor, this isn't what I want to do with my life. I just sort of always knew that it wasn't my thing."

Although she at one time hoped to attend university, Sarah dropped out of high school at 15 to devote more time to left wing political activism. She continues to act, despite her earlier protestations and has directed several feature films—Away From Her (2006), based on an Alice Munro story; Take This Waltz (2011), based on her own screenplay and Stories We Tell (2013), a documentary that reveals the dysfunction in her own family brought on by her late mother's sexual escapades.

In the documentary, Sarah revealed that many years after her mother's death, she began to realize that her father, Michael Polley, was not her biological father, and without telling him, she began to ask questions of the time her mother had been in Montreal in 1978 doing a play. It turned out that not only did her mother have an affair with fellow actor Geoff Bowes, but she was also involved with Jewish producer Harry Gulkin. The affair with Gulkin lasted long after Diane returned to Toronto, and when she realized she was pregnant with Sarah, she came close to having an abortion, but at the last moment, decided not to go through with it. She stayed with Michael, who had no idea Diane was cheating on him or that Sarah wasn't biologically his child.

Sarah, after several affairs with older men, including actor Stephen Rea (33 years her senior) with whom she co-starred in Guinevere (1999) and director Michael Winterbottom (18 years her senior), in September 2003, she married her longtime companion, film editor David Wharnsby (12 years her senior). They divorced in 2008, and in 2011, Sarah married lawyer and restaurateur David Sandomierski, with whom she has a daughter, Eve, born in 2012.

Filmography (actor):

Mr. Nobody(2010)
The Secret Life of Words(2006)
Beowulf & Grendel(2006)
3 Needles(2006)
Don't Come Knocking(2005)
Dawn of the Dead(2004)
My Life Without Me(2003)
The Event(2003)
The Weight of Water(2002)
No Such Thing(2002)
This Might Be Good (2001)
The Claim(2000)
The Law of Enclosures(2000)
Love Come Down(2000)
The Life Before This(1999)
Last Night(1998)
Jerry & Tom (1998)
The Hanging Garden(1997)
The Planet of Junior Brown (1997)
The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
Joe's So Mean to Josephine (1996)
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen(1989)
Babar: The Movie (1989 ) (voice)
The Big Town (1987)
Blue Monkey (1987)
One Magic Christmas (1985)

Filmography (director):

Stories We Tell(2012)
Take This Waltz(2011)
Away From Her(2006)

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