Sarah Polley is Selma
The 6th century would not be complete without a pagan witch and that character is Selma, played by Sarah Polley. “Witches are what the Christians called women who practiced ancient fertility rites,” details Gunnarsson. “In her case, she embraced the role of an outsider, having survived on her own since being orphaned as a child, living as a whore.” Selma is reputed to see people’s deaths and she has a mysterious relationship with Grendel, which is why Beowulf eventually comes to her to get answers about his foe.
Never one to shy away from the politics of a situation, Polley says, “I’d heard Sturla was making this film a few years ago and even then I was intrigued. Sturla is the perfect director. I knew that he’d approach this with a certain amount of irreverence. The really interesting thing about Selma is that she challenges the idea of the hero. She’s a powerhouse: independent, sexual, insightful and she finds it hysterical [in a 6th century way], that Beowulf is slaying a monster. There’s something simplistic in his good/evil concepts. I love that she’s constantly trying to get him to address the complexities of his situation. It’s an interesting time for this film to be made, to challenge the notion of what constitutes a hero. And the script is great for that. It gets to the heart of questioning that.”
Sarah POLLEY began acting at the age of four. As a child, she appeared in dozens of films and television shows including the Canadian television series, Road To Avonlea, and Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Her breakthrough to adult roles was her portrayal of Nicole in Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter. It was her second film with Egoyan, who wrote the part with her in mind when he adapted Russell Banks’ novel. She received her first Best Actress Genie nomination from Canada’s Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, and the Best Supporting Actress award from the Boston and Chicago Societies of Film Critics for The Sweet Hereafter. The buzz continued at the Sundance Festival, where her starring role in the filmGuinevere (1999) was showcased, and the entertainment media crowned her the “It Girl” of 1999. Polley chose to return to Canada and appear in unusual, independent films such as Michael Winterbottom’s The Claim,Kathryn Bigelow’s The Weight of Water, David Cronenberg’s Existenz, and Hal Hartley’s No Such Thing, Thom Fitzgerald’s The Event, and Isabel Coixet’s My Life Without Me.Later, she completed The I Inside and Dawn of The Dead. By the end of 2004 she had filmed two further projects, Wim Wenders Don’t Come Knocking, which premiered at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival and Isabel Coixet’s The Secret Life of Words.
Sarah has been writing and directing in Canada for the last four years and is currently working on her feature film projects. She is a committed social activist, working diligently on issues of homelessness and healthcare in Canada. She maintains a home in Toronto.