Mariel Hemingway Talks About Family's Grim Tradition

Amanda CrumLife

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Mariel Hemingway likely could have relied on her very famous last name for some limelight, at least when she was younger; as the granddaughter of writer Ernest, she was part of a family which was well respected and well known.

But the 51-year old actress paved her own path to success, and earned herself an Oscar nom at the tender age of 16. Her role in Woody Allen's "Manhattan" was, she admits, more sophisticated than she'd bargained for.

"She was sophisticated beyond my years," she said of the character. "I was so unclear about what I was playing."

Hemingway found her way around the character, however, and earned critical acclaim for the performance. Unfortunately, her scene-stealing--though completely unconscious--caused a rift between her and sister Margaux, who was also an actress.

"She felt resentment towards me for coming in and sort of taking the limelight, which I didn't intentionally do," she said.

Hemingway's family life is something she talks about in depth in a new documentary, "Running From Crazy". In it, she describes taking long walks as a girl to escape the tension in her home, which was compounded by her parents' drinking.

"I spent a lot of time outside hiking because my house wasn't sane," she said. "I didn't feel like I was crazy, but I felt like I lived in crazy. You know, in the land of crazy. You know, they'd have one glass of wine and things were kind of happy. They were actually having a regular conversation. But after a couple glasses of wine, the alcohol kicked in. Nastiness would happen."

She also talks about the long and troubling history her family has with suicide.

"Ernest's father [Clarence] committed suicide; my grandfather, Ernest, committed suicide. My great-grandfather on my grandmother's side. My great-uncle Leicester. My great-aunt Ursula. And my uncle [Gregory]. And then there is my sister."

Margaux took her own life in 1996. Mariel says that now, after a lifetime of grief, she's finally in a place where she can just be happy.

"My ability to grasp the joy of life is so strong right now," she said.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Amanda Crum
Amanda Crum is a writer and artist from Kentucky. She's a fan of Edward Gorey, Hunter S. Thompson, and horror movies. You can follow her on Google:+Amanda Crum