One of the most gifted child actors today, Abigail Breslin stars as 11-year-old Anna in the drama My Sister’s Keeper, who was conceived by her parents as a perfect genetic match for her sister, Kate (Sophia Vassilieva), who has a rare form of leukemia, to save her life. One day, Anna walks into the office of lawyer Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin) determined to sue her parents for the rights to her own body.
This film deals with so many provocative themes. Were there any scenes that were difficult to film because they differed from your own personal beliefs?
My character is put in a really hard situation, from the day that she’s born, where she is giving her sister blood and bone marrow, and she doesn’t mind doing it. She’s happy to do it, but she’s put in this really tough position in the movie, and she has to make a decision about whether or not she proves her love for her sister, or she alienates herself from her family.
I remember, when I was first reading it, it was at night and my mom was like, “Okay, you’ve got to go to bed now,” and I was like, “I don’t want to go to bed. I want to finish reading it.” What I found interesting about the movie, when I read it, was that there really are no bad guys. Everybody’s doing what they think is right. They’re not trying to do anything wrong. They’re just doing what they think they should
Can you talk about working with the movie’s director Nick Cassavetes?
My experience with Nick was that I met with him before we started filming, and he said, “Abby, I’m going to tell you right now, this is going to be a workout and you’re going to have to do things in this movie that you probably don’t want to do,” and I was like, “Okay.” And then, I got to set and I was like, “Wow, he wasn’t lying.” But, I think that Nick is a really good director. He sets the tone for the day. If it was a scene that was a really hard scene for someone, he would just say, “Okay, you’ve got to be serious today. No joking around. This is a serious day.” But, that’s what makes it good because you’re really into it, from the beginning. You’re in that mind-set of the scene. And, also, something I noticed was that I felt very comfortable to go up to him and say, “Do you think that it would be alright if I did it this way?” He was very open to any contributions
Did you stay in character when the cameras weren’t rolling?
Doing the scenes, there is a certain time where you do have to stay in it, in between takes. There was one scene that Sophia and I did, where her character is trying to take these pills, and I remember thinking to myself after we were in this dark room for a day, “It’s daylight still?” There’s definitely a time when you do have to stay in it, but I think that we also managed to [have fun].
Can you talk about feeling a connection with people who have actually gone through this, and how difficult it will be for an audience member who has had a family member go through this?
My grandpa had cancer, so I have had personal experience with it. You just take from what you do know and what you are familiar with. And, Nick was great; he really put us in the situation. It was not really fun to be in, but great to do.