Actress Amber Tamblyn's odes to dead Hollywood actresses
Actress Amber Tamblyn writes about dead Hollywood actresses in her new book of poems. But Dark Sparkler is more than that. "The book is about the lives and deaths of celebrity women in a certain way, but it's also about voyeurism, it's also about projection, it's also [about] ... what it's like to be an object for a living," says Tamblyn, 31, in a recent interview. Each poem is about a female celebrity who died before the age of 40, including Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and Rebecca Shaeffer. It took Tamblyn six years to write, with a year off when it became too much for her. She said it began with a poem she wrote for actress Brittany Murphy, who died in 2009 from a combination of pneumonia, anaemia and multiple drug intoxication. She focused on women because "that's what I know. ... I understood the lives of these women more personally and in a deeper way," she says. Dark Sparkler is the third book of poetry by Tamblyn, who starred in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants films with Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel and America Ferrera, and on TV in House and Joan of Arcadia . She talked about the book, actress Lindsay Lohan and her Sisterhood friends with Alicia Rancilio.
What impact did writing this book have on you?
Studying your dead peers will get to you. Plain and simple. Reading autopsy report after autopsy report and listening to interviews ... It's hard not to get obsessed and absorbed to the point where you start to lose your mind a little bit.
Why did you focus on this dark topic?
I wanted other young women to see how much [of] our interior pains are the same and at the end of the day what you feel is what I feel and it's very similar, but often times actors don't really get to express that in a true manner because of the way in which we are promoted or the way we promote ourselves.
Was any story particularly hard?
Dana Plato [who starred in TV's Diff'rent Strokes and died in 1999 at 34 from an overdose] was really difficult ... I was like, 'I've got to step back' ... That was a really hard one and the moment I went, 'I just need to take five. Need to take a minute and remember I'm still alive'.
There's a page for Lindsay Lohan with just her name and the rest is blank. Why did you do that?
I think that she is sort of categorically one of the largest pop objects we have that we talk [about] and we project our own fears onto, and project our own beliefs and judgments onto her and her life. It was my way of putting a blank page both for the media and people who have treated her in that way, but also it's a page ... where I get to say, 'You know, I'm not gonna write this poem for you. I'm not gonna put you in the category where everyone else puts you among these women. I'm putting you here because this is a poem about voyeurism and it's a book about people who also were subjected to that, but I'm not going to actually write the words the way other people do about your life and your future.' That's the way that I see it.
Do you think your next poetry will be lighter?
I actually have started working on my next book which will be a collection of love poems, so it will be the opposite. Warm and cosy.
Was the bond immediate among your co-stars?
Pretty immediate and in the way that best friends have gone sort of in and out of each other's lives and sometimes we're really closer with one more than the other and sometimes you don't see someone for like a year and you get back together, and it's immediate and you catch up on all this stuff. It's like we were all raised together. Our friendships feel that way.