“My Sister's Keeper” directed by Nick Cassavetes and starring Cameron Diaz, is being released on June 26, 2009 by New Line Cinema.
In the pivotal role of the family matriarch, Cameron Diaz was the first actor cast. The part of the single-minded mother of a sick child intrigued her because her first reaction to Sara Fitzgerald was profound.
“I wanted to understand her, who she was, how she became that way and why she makes the decisions she does,” she says. “That exploration was very compelling to me and I thought it would be challenging to try to tell her story.”
“For me, this movie is serious on so many levels,” notes Cassavetes, “and there are a finite number of actresses that you think of for this type of role. Each of them has an impressive body of work. But I really didn't want to cast an actress who had done something similar for this film.”
Perhaps better-known for her comedic roles, it was Diaz's dramatic performances that appealed to Johnson. “I've been a fan of Cameron for a long time and, frankly, her dramatic roles are among my favorites. I think what she did in 'In Her Shoes' was remarkable; she was astonishing in 'Being John Malkovich,' in 'Vanilla Sky'…the list goes on. Cameron was our first choice for Sara, and I remember when we first found out she was interested, Nick and I looked at each other and said, 'Can you believe how lucky we are?'” Johnson remarks.
“Cameron's great in whatever she does,” offers Cassavetes, “and I'm so proud of her work in this film. She had to dare to be unsympathetic, because the character of Sara has tunnel vision; everyone around her seems to have some perspective, and she's just 'Save her, save her, save her, save her.'”
In the process of inhabiting Sara Fitzgerald and portraying her staunch devotion to her sick child, Diaz learned not to evaluate her. The character is not easily delineated as “good” or “bad,” but rather navigates a murky moral area; Diaz instead tried to empathize with her and to understand the terrible situation that led to her actions.
In preparing for the role, Diaz says, “I talked to parents who had sick kids and to their children, to try to understand what it would be like to be in this position. The truth is you can't know what you'd do unless you're in her situation; until you have a deathly ill child, there is no way to say to what lengths you would go to save that child. And I thought that was very interesting to examine, because we love to judge people, don't we? But, with Sara, I found that impossible to do,” Diaz remarks.