'Sex and the City' star unveils Emily Dickinson biopic at Berlin fest

Berlin (AFP) –


Seminal 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson would have been a big fan of Twitter, "Sex and the City" star Cynthia Nixon said Sunday after premiering her biopic of the reclusive writer at the Berlin film festival.

Nixon plays the mysterious Dickinson, who only published a handful of poems in her lifetime but in death became one of the United States' most acclaimed writers, in the lush period drama "A Quiet Passion" by British director Terence Davies.

The 49-year-old actress said Dickinson, who never married and spent her life in increasing isolation in her parents' Massachusetts home, would have loved 21st century social media.

"Even though Emily was so secluded, she was really all about connecting to other people, not necessarily in person, sometimes through letters and sometimes through poems," Nixon said.

"It's quintessentially 'today' in a certain way -- she's so longing for communion with people who she loves and are not there. I can imagine her just emailing and tweeting all day long."

But Nixon said Dickinson might have been savvier about online addiction than many.

"I think the thing about Emily that we should learn from... is she knows how to 'unplug', right? So she can do all this stuff, she can communicate, communicate, communicate and then she's selfish in the best way, she then takes time for herself."

The film seeks to correct the image of Dickinson as an eccentric recluse, portraying her instead as a witty if exacting free spirit who bridled at the Puritanical strictures of her time in New England.

- 'Lot to identify with' -

Nixon became a global star in the hit television and movie series "Sex and the City" playing Miranda, an ambitious New York lawyer juggling love and a career.

She has since played in several television dramas including a turn as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt in "Warm Springs" and numerous roles on Broadway.

She called it "intimidating" to play "such a great thinker and artist" whose work she fell in love with as an adolescent.

"As kind of a shy young person, I found a lot to identify with her and I think that's not unusual, I think a lot of people see themselves in Emily Dickinson. So that made me a little more bold."

Davies, 70, is best known for the 2011 drama "The Deep Blue Sea" starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston, and his 2000 adaptation of Edith Wharton's "The House of Mirth" featuring Gillian Anderson.

He said he was drawn to Dickinson's story due to the power of her poetry but also because she was so unsung during her lifetime.

"When someone is as great as that and they don't get recognition, that really upsets me," he said.

The 11-day festival is featuring several much-anticipated biopics this year including "Genius" starring Colin Firth as influential literary editor Max Perkins, who published some of the 20th century's greatest American writers.

Jude Law plays Thomas Wolfe, Nicole Kidman his lover and muse Aline Bernstein, with Dominic West portraying Ernest Hemingway and Guy Pearce as F. Scott Fitzgerald in the picture premiering Tuesday.

And Don Cheadle of "Hotel Rwanda" is due in the German capital Thursday to present "Miles Ahead" in which he directs and stars as jazz great Miles Davis.

The festival runs until February 21.