Actually, itâ€™s hard to believe Iâ€™m writing this. Itâ€™s just been reported that Adrienne Shelly, the lovely, talented New York-based independent film actor, director and writer, died suddenly and unexpectedly Wednesday night. She leaves behind her husband and three-year-old daughter. She was 40.
Adrienne was a creative dynamo, first gaining fame as an actress in Hal Hartleyâ€™s early movies and most recently starring in Factotum. Her publicist reports that she was excited to hear from Sundance about her new movie, Waitress, which she wrote and directed.
Some longtime MovieMaker readers may remember that Adrienne was our covergirl on issue #20 in the summer of 1996. Iâ€™d spent a couple of days with her that spring, getting to know her a bit for that piece. She struck me as so different from most actresses Iâ€™d met. She was focused on her career, yes, but not driven to do anything that didnâ€™t fall in line with her definition of creative fulfillment. It was obvious that Adrienne walked to the beat of her own drummer.
As I look back on that interview, it seems Adrienne may have been as prepared as a person can be for this type of tragedy. Her father died suddenly when she was very young, and heâ€™d never even been sick, she told me.
â€œIâ€™ve gone through life with this feeling that life could end at any given moment. When I wrote Sudden Manhattan, a writer friend said to me â€˜Look, Adrienne, itâ€™s your first featureâ€”it might take seven years to get produced!â€™ And I thought, this is not acceptable to me. Because in my way of thinking, I might not live another seven years.
â€œThis is a feeling that kind of frees me. This is my life, so Iâ€™d better enjoy it and be responsible. Thereâ€™s something that Kierkegaard writes about in a similar vein. He said: Donâ€™t make plans for the future without adding the phrase â€˜However, I might be dead in the next 10 minutes, in which case I shall not attend to it.â€™â€
Adrienne went on to tell me she was a huge Yankee fan. In 1978 her team was in last place, doing horribly. Her father died that August, and right after he died, the Yanks made an amazing comeback. She always felt like maybe her dad had a hand in thatâ€¦
Adrienne, I hope you and your dad get to catch some games together this season. You can be sure that you will be sorely missed by me, the independent film community, and by virtually everyone whose life you have touched. Sleep well.
To read the complete interview with Adrienne Shelly in MovieMakerâ€™s archives, click here.