Cov­ing­ton na­tive has a role in a ma­jor film

Other stars in­clude Diaz, Bald­win

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Rachel Oswald

Al­though she has had roles in sev­eral big Hol­ly­wood movies, Cov­ing­ton na­tive El­lia English’s re­cent turn as the nurse and con­fi­dante of a fam­ily deal­ing with some eth­i­cally ques­tion­able med­i­cal prac­tices in “My Sis­ter’s Keeper” was a first for her.

“It’s a won­der­ful project, that’s why I wanted to be a part of it,” said English of the film, which is based on the best­selling novel by Jodi Pi­coult and di­rected by Nick Cas­savetes (“The Note­book”).

“My Sis­ter’s Keeper” tells the sad story of two sis­ters. Kate, the elder sis­ter, was di­ag­nosed with leukemia at 3 years old. Her younger sis­ter, Anna, was con­ceived through in vitro fer­til­iza­tion as a per­fect bone mar­row match to her ail­ing sis­ter.

Af­ter serv­ing as a blood and bone mar­row donor to her sis­ter for most of her life, Anna be­gins to ques­tion her iden­tity and le­gal rights as a teenager when she is told that she must do­nate a kid­ney to her sis­ter.

“My Sis­ter’s Keeper” stars Cameron Diaz as the girls’ mother and Alec Bald­win as the at­tor­ney Anna hires to rep­re­sent her in her pur­suit of med­i­cal eman­ci­pa­tion from her par­ents.

Os­car- nom­i­nated ac­tress Abi­gail Bres­lin (“ Lit­tle Miss Sun­shine”) plays Anna and Sofia Vas­silieva (“ Medium”) plays Kate. Cony­ers na­tives Dakota and Elle Fan­ning were orig­i­nally at­tached to star as the sis­ters but dropped out be­fore film­ing be­gan.

English’s char­ac­ter, Nurse Alice, has known the two sis­ters since they were ba­bies and is familiar with their sit­u­a­tion.

“ She’s es­tab­lished a re­la­tion­ship with the fam­ily. She’s watched them grow,” English said. “ She and the mother have a great rap­port.”

English said one par­tic­u­lar scene, in which Alice is deal­ing with a very emo­tional Diaz, is a real tear jerker.

“ Even though we had a tear­jerker scene, it doesn’t bring down the tem­per­a­ment of the set,” English ex­plained of how she and the cast han­dled the emo­tion- filled script. “ Once [ the di­rec­tor] says ‘ cut’ we come out. We our­selves can’t stay there.”

English had only words of praise for Cas­savetes and the rest of the cast.

“ Nick Cas­savetes, I adore him,” English said.

English said she be­lieved film­ing for the movie would be fin­ished by the mid­dle of May.

While film­ing for her only just fin­ished on “ My Sis­ter’s Keeper,” English is hardly sit­ting back and rest­ing on her lau­rels. Last week she had a call­back au­di­tion for a new Paramount Stu­dios film.

English also has roles in two films com­ing out this year – com­edy film “ The Hus­tle” and the hor­ror film “ Cor­nered!”

In “ The Hus­tle,” to be re­leased this June, English plays the mother of a pest sprayer who be­gins to hus­tle for money af­ter suf­fer­ing a se­ries of set­backs.

“ Momma has to knock him up­side the head some­times to set him on the straight and nar­row,” English said of her char­ac­ter in “ The Hus­tle.”

Her first hor­ror film, “ Cor­nered!” is the story of a group of lowlifes who are ter­ror­ized in a lo­cal con­ve­nience store by an un­known killer. The movie is sched­uled to be re­leased this Au­gust.

English, born the mid­dle of nine chil­dren, said she is amazed at how much Cov­ing­ton’s own Hol­ly­wood star has risen since she left New­ton County in 1975 af­ter grad­u­at­ing from New­ton County Com­pre­hen­sive High School to at­tend Clark Col­lege. English said as­pir­ing young Cov­ing­ton ac­tors no longer have to leave the area to pur­sue act­ing in New York or Los An­ge­les as she did.

“ They have to run no fur­ther than their own back­yard,” English said. “ If it’s some­thing that they re­ally want to do, it’s pre­sent­ing it­self right there for them. It’s awe­some.”

But English also ad­vises as­pir­ing ac­tors and ac­tresses to have their ducks in a row be­fore pur­su­ing the big lights.

“ The thing that I would have to say is ed­u­ca­tion. I am a firm be­liever [ in that]. I would say ‘ get your ed­u­ca­tion first young peo­ple’.”

English was a se­ries reg­u­lar on The Jamie Foxx Show play­ing He­len King. Most re­cently she has had roles in “ Good Luck Chuck,” “ Curb Your En­thu­si­asm” as se­ries reg­u­lar Aun­tie Rae and the Will Fer­rell com­edy “ Semi- Pro.” She has also per­formed in Broad­way and off- Broad­way pro­duc­tions in­clud­ing “Ain’t Mis­be­havin’” and “ Down Hearted Blues: The Bessie Smith Story.”

English said she was grate­ful to the en­cour­age­ment she re­ceived from her New­ton County teach­ers, es­pe­cially T. K. Adams and his wife Louise, who she says “ were very in­stru­men­tal in a lot of my choices.

“ Truly, I haven’t forgotten where I’ve come from,” English said. “ The com­mu­nity re­ally did em­brace me as young girl and I felt strong enough to go out into the big world.”

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