“I’ve probably embellished the only nine years that I had with him”: Zoe Saldana on coping with her dad’s death when she was 9

As we all know well by now, islandista actress Zoe Saldana can be very private about her private life – witness her under the radar wedding to artist Marcus Perego in June.

But when she does open up, she shows time and again why she is one of our favourite islandistas – she is refreshingly, movingly honest. Her “yo soy una mujer negra” comment to Latina Magazine is one of the most searing and insightful comments on how race is viewed in the Spanish Caribbean.

Recently, Zoe was at the Sundance Festival in Utah to promote her new movie ‘Infinitely Polar Bear’ where she plays a mother struggling to raise her two children and cope with the effects of her husband’s bipolar disorder.

Zoe Saldana stars in 'Infinitely Polar Bear' which had its debut at the Sundance Festival this past week.

Zoe Saldana stars in ‘Infinitely Polar Bear’ which had its debut at the Sundance Festival this past week.


In an interview with Huffington Post, Zoe was asked about the film’s final scene where the father in the film and his daughters part and she confessed it stirred up her own memories of her father’s death when she was just 9 years old.

That last scene with the daughters walking away and looking back at their father was so emotional and beautiful.

Are you kidding me? I couldn’t go up on stage today right when the film ended. I saw it for the first time two months ago. My sister and my assistant and some family members were with me and we went afterwards to dinner and everybody’s lower lip was just trembling because we were so moved. Especially for my sisters and me, because we lost our father when we were very young. It hits home. You feel that you were wronged.

Asked about her own memories of her father, Zoe, who is bilingual (raised in the US until her father’s passing, her mother returned with them to the D.R. and Zoe moved back to the US in her late teens), said the memories make her “go directly to Spanish” – presumably her ‘at home’ language.

Do you remember your father?
Oh my god, absolutely. I was 9. Now that I’m 35, throughout the years, I’ve probably embellished the only nine years that I had with him. I fantasize — is that the right word? Fantasía – I go directly to Spanish! Now he’s this big, larger than life character. His laugh was louder, his smell was sweeter. But I get to live vicariously through someone else’s experience and kind of imagine what it could have been like. It allows you to feel. We’re always so tense about feeling. It’s like “Oh! We shouldn’t, we have makeup on.” But for me, it’s like –- fucking cry. Feel. Be in her shoes. And yes, if it’s a good movie, applaud it and embrace it.

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