In a busy Manhattan restaurant, Natasha Lyonne is eating chicken hearts and talking about resurrection. Her own. “And I had to forgive myself for wasting so many years, instead of punishing myself for this… misshapen life.” You don’t so much interview Lyonne, I quickly learn, as herd her conversations like existential sheep. It is a precise chaos – she has a lot to say and is aware of the many limits of time. Her voice crackles across the busy restaurant – she moves like Joe Pesci as a Simpsons character. A waiter interrupts with a second plate of glistening meats: “Madam, more hearts?” “In many ways, I did think I was going to die.” He makes briefly frantic eye contact with me, then disappears. “So now I’ve had to think, what is the most honest way that I can live? That feels the least like a lie? That means I’m less likely to self-destruct all over again?”
Lyonne has been acting since she was six, first in adverts “for dolls that don’t exist any more”, then with directors including Woody Allen, and in hits such as American Pie, before being hospitalised in 2005 with hepatitis C, a heart infection and a collapsed lung, and undergoing methadone treatment under the smirking glare of New York’s paparazzi. And some years later, having slowly worked her way back into the public eye (with the help of her best friend Chloë Sevigny, who vouched for her sobriety) she rose again.
Life - Segment - Child - Star - Word
Now 40, when she talks about a misshapen life, she’s talking about one that can be cleanly dissected, tangerine-like, into three. The first segment, child star, is often prefaced by the word “tragic”; she’s been estranged from her parents since she was a teenager. At 16 she was accepted at NYU to study film and philosophy,...
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