Mariel Hem­ing­way and her fam­ily’s ‘curse’

The Washington Post Sunday - - MOVIES - by Belinda Gold­smith

Ac­tress Mariel Hem­ing­way hopes go­ing pub­lic in a doc­u­men­tary about the curse that has plagued her fam­ily will fi­nally dis­pel any mys­tery around their bat­tles with ad­dic­tion and raise aware­ness about men­tal ill­ness.

For years, Hem­ing­way ig­nored the drink­ing, ad­dic­tion and men­tal ill­ness that coursed through her fam­ily, lead­ing sev­eral rel­a­tives to take their own lives.

Her grand­fa­ther Ernest Hem­ing­way, the No­bel Prizewin­ning writer, killed him­self in 1961, just months be­fore she born. Mir­ror­ing his own fa­ther’s sui­cide, he shot him­self.

One of her sis­ters, Mar­gaux, died of an over­dose in 1996 at 42, and her youngest sis­ter, Joan, has been in and out of in­sti­tu­tions for a decade.

Mariel Hem­ing­way, 51, who soared to fame in her Os­carnom­i­nated role in the Woody Allen film “Man­hat­tan,” has faced her own de­mons, bat­tling de­pres­sion.

But she hopes that talk­ing openly about the so-called Hem­ing­way curse in a new doc­u­men­tary, “Run­ning From Crazy,” will help oth­ers con­front men­tal ill­ness in their own fam­i­lies.

“I never felt it was a curse but I def­i­nitely wanted a nor­mal life,” Hem­ing­way told Reuters last week in Lon­don, where she at­tended the open­ing night of “Fi­esta,” a play based on Ernest Hem­ing­way’s first novel, “The Sun Also Rises.”

“There are life­style choices you can make which can change the course of your life. I have been able to do that through the food I eat, what I drink, what I do on a day-to-day ba­sis. I have man­aged to find a bal­ance.”

The doc­u­men­tary, which pre­miered at last month’s Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val and is due to be re­leased in Bri­tain this spring, ex­plores her par­ents’ tu­mul­tuous mar­riage and her trou­bled re­la­tion­ships with her sib­lings.

It in­cludes footage of her sis­ter Mar­gaux, a model and ac­tress, whose death Mariel re­fused to say was sui­cide un­til 2003.

“Mak­ing this doc­u­men­tary ended up be­ing very ther­a­peu­tic,” she said. “It was not un­til re­cently that I re­al­ized I had been de­pressed for so long and I am fi­nally happy.”

Hem­ing­way said her fam­ily and her own bat­tles had made her passionate about ad­vo­cat­ing aware­ness about sui­cide and men­tal ill­ness with her own two daugh­ters as well as other peo­ple.

“Men­tal ill­ness, es­pe­cially in the United States, is still taboo. Hopefully see­ing what my fam­ily has gone through will help peo­ple talk about th­ese is­sues,” she said.

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