By Mariam Brillantes
Dree Hemingway stood out even though she arrived at last night’s Cinema Society & Sandro screening of “Starlet,” her first starring role, attired in a denim jacket, light loose shirt and pants and ankle boots. The daughter of Mariel Hemingway and great-granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway looked good with barely any makeup on, and she exuded warmth and friendliness.
Hemingway, 24, said it was a journey getting back home to New York following Superstorm Sandy, with her flight from Los Angeles landing at 3:30 a.m. in Newark two days ago. “I live down in Tribeca where the water is coming in so we’re still kind of what I call the war zone,” she says. With no electricity, she had to rummage through her clothes and settle on a casual look for the screening and party at the Lambs Club in Midtown Manhattan.
New York’s cooler temperature is a far cry from the heat of Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley depicted in the film. Director and co-writer Sean Baker explores the relationship between 21-year-old Jane (Hemingway) and elderly widow Sadie (Besedka Johnson) who lives by herself. Jane eventually ends up befriending the grumpy Sadie, driving her to the grocery store and joining her on bingo socials. The bond between the two women deepens as they learn more about one another.
Hemingway says her experience with the film was “amazing. I’ve never been so proud.” Even though shooting in San Fernando Valley was hard (“It was 114 degrees some days. Our cars were our trailers.”), in the end the cast and crew became a tight-knit family.
Hemingway says she always wanted to be an actress. “I grew up only watching old movies so I think Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly and Katherine Hepburn were kind of my role models.”
She says her mother hasn’t seen the film yet, “but I have a body double so I think she’ll be okay.” Was she worried? “No, because I think that my mother has taken such chances in her acting career.” Mariel Hemingway’s films included “Manhattan,” in which she plays a young girl having an affair with a much older man (Woody Allen), and “Personal Best,” in which she has a lesbian relationship.
“Also I’ve never felt any judgment from my parents,” Hemingway says. “And I think the fact, you know, that I did choose to have a body double, and it’s such an amazing script and it’s such an amazing movie and I had such great people that I was working with, I think there’s nothing to be concerned about.”
“Starlet,” which received an award at the South by Southwest Film Festival, is scheduled for release on Nov. 9.