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Off the Cuff was grateful to catch Amber Tamblyn as she was zigzagging coast-to-coast to talk about her new collection of poetry, Dark Sparkler.
“I will do whatever it takes to sell a poetry book,” she says emphatically, acknowledging it can be tough to do considering “a lot of poetry is really bad. And poetry shows are excruciating. It’s like going to a bad comedy open mic.”
But talking to Tamblyn is far from that. Even though many fans still associate her with past projects like Joan of Arcadia and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies, Tamblyn is anything but “just another teen actress” (it helps that she is now in her early 30’s.) Though she is the daughter of Oscar-nominated actor Russ Tamblyn (of West Side Story fame), Amber is quick to dispel any silver spoon assumptions people may make about her.
“The idea that I got anything from nepotism is f—ing hilarious,” she said. “You and I might know who Russ Tamblyn is, but I guarantee you any executive that’s working right now, any young polished person that’s working at any studio that’s putting out major movies or anything like that has no clue. They don’t watch those films.”
She goes on to explain what it was like watching her father in a “perpetual state” of being heartbroken by auditions later in his career, and how her own experience hasn’t always felt like a fairytale, either.
“I describe being a child actress growing up in this business as suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, where you just keep going back to your abusive captor,” she says with a wince in her voice. “I love the experience of acting. It’s like no other high to be able to be empathetic for a living, to be in someone else’s skin. But the business of it can be really nasty.”
The nastiness of it is under close examination in Dark Sparkler, whose poems are largely about actresses through the years who suffered untimely deaths. The first one Tamblyn wrote was about Brittany Murphy, someone she had seen at auditions and whose mysterious demise in 2009 haunted her, as she was going through her own introspective turmoil at the time. After becoming “Alice down many, many rabbit holes” as she researched the tragic lives of women like Murphy, Dana Plato, Jayne Mansfield and Sharon Tate, Tamblyn seems to have come out the other side all the stronger for it.
“If you’re any kind of a sane human, you question what you’re doing. And you better find despair. If you’re not despairing you’re doing something wrong.”
She adds: “In the immortal words of my dear friend Amy Poehler, ‘You’re gonna have to deal with that later!'”
On a lighter note, we had to ask Tamblyn about her appearance in that insta-classic Amy Schumer music video (“I just get so many texts from people just saying ‘Milk, Milk, Lemonade'” she laughs) and, of course, about the status of the third Sisterhood installment.
“There are very big things happening – in the works,” she promises. “To us it’s a very important, deeply personal look at being a woman in your late 20’s.”
Sounds like something she could write a poem about.
Listen to Tamblyn’s full interview in this episode of Off the Cuff, and be sure to subscribe to #THRpodcasts on iTunes for all the latest episodes.
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