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November 13, 1996
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SJP


Sarah Polley's not acting her age
By LIZ BRAUN


Sarah Polley is all grown up now.

Just in case you hadn't noticed, the child star of CBC-TV's long-running hit, Road To Avonlea, has graduated to adult roles -- and that includes the lead in Joe's So Mean To Josephine, an intense love story that opens here Friday.

In Joe's So Mean, Polley co-stars with Eric Thall as a mismatched couple engaged in a brief relationship. She plays a bright young student, a middle-class young woman just nudging the edge of adult life.

Thall plays the brooding, handsome, older guy who captures her fancy. He's a bit of a thug -- but he falls for her. What follows is a study in the dynamics of love and power.

Though playing an adult, Polley was in fact just 16 when Joe's So Mean To Josephine was filmed.

In moviedom, where everybody hopes to play 18 until she's 35, playing 'up' in age is rare.

Emotionally, this role was a biggie for Polley. During an interview, she says, "I had to grow up fast in a lot of ways."

That proves to be a bit of an understatement.

"Inside, though," she adds, "I think I'm younger than 17. I've just made myself seem as if I belong to the world of adults."

Polley says she has had a couple of adult relationships to draw from for her role, but explains, with typical simplicity and characteristic honesty, "I was really immature in those relationships and so were they, but I guess I know the dynamics."

Anyway, playing grown-up wasn't so tough. "To let go of being a kid, that was the hardest part," says the actress. "I was worried about seeming 16."

To let go of being a kid is something Polley has had to do in real life, too. It wasn't really a letting go, either -- it was more like having her childhood snatched away.

She says she's gone through a lot of changes in the last few years, and talks at length about her involvement in politics, about coping with her mother's death, about the rigors of having to grow up in the public eye.

For all her luminous beauty -- and it is awesome -- Polley's obvious intellect is probably her most attractive feature.

She is passionate about her political beliefs, though she concedes that the more she reads, the less her ideas become clear-cut. Her wry summary: "I'm still pretty sure there shouldn't be people starving to death on the streets."

Meantime, she's beginning to like her own acting career, and maybe it's about time, since she's been at it almost since infancy.

"When people ask me what I do, acting is usually the furthest thing from my mind," she says. "It's a lack of confidence, in a way -- I've hidden my insecurities for so long, and I had to bring all that out to play Josephine.

"Still," she continues cheerfully, "for the first time I"m really enjoying acting. It seems not such a bogus thing to do with your life."


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