PARK CITY, Utah – She’s the granddaughter of the legendary author, Ernest Hemingway, but Mariel Hemingway gained fame in her own right as actress and activist. In a new film at the Sundance Film Festival, she explores her family’s history of depression, mental illness and suicide. “I’ve always felt that I might be crazy, and I’ve been really scared of that,” Marie told the Post. “There’s been a lot of dysfunction in our home.”
Hemingway, 51, is understating the case. Her grandfather Ernest and sister Margaux are among the seven family members who have committed suicide. To stay grounded, she feels it’s important to spend a lot of time outdoors. She and her partner Bobby Williams live in the Santa Monica Mountains. “We have a little farm with almost two acres,” she says. “We have 18 chickens and goats. We live a lifestyle that’s off the grid.”
She told a TV interviewer recently: “The only time I ever felt comfort was just out in the elements looking up at a mountain, listening to a river, all that time I felt sane. And in the House, everything felt dead. I spent a lot of time swimming in icy cold rivers. I would often crack ice to jump in cold water. I’d like anything that made me feel alive.”
Her parents, writer Jack Hemingway and Byra Whittlesey, were big drinkers and fighters. In the film, Mariel reveals that she believes Jack sexually abused Margaux and her other older sister, Joan (a k a Muffet), who has been institutionalized with manic depression.
In the course of making “Running From Crazy,” Mariel discovered that Margaux had accumulated 43 hours of footage while working on an Ernest Hemingway documentary. Included were heartbreaking images of her feuding parents, now long deceased.
“They have their feet up and they all drink wine and they kind of fight,” says Mariel. “It was so crazy and kind of incredible. It’s almost like when you look back on your life you think maybe I’ve changed it to make it crazier than it was.”
She didn’t. But Hemingway thinks she’s found a new balance by being rigorous about diet and exercise and spending plenty of time in nature. (She grew up hiking in Sun Valley, Idaho, but now lives near Malibu.) She also credits a technique called “brain state technology” that she said “changed my life. It balances the hemispheres of the brain through sound and gets rid of physical and emotional trauma to the brain. I still do it now and again when I feel stress.”
Her conflicting feelings about her drug-abusing sister Margaux are at the heart of her film. “Everybody plays a role in their home and my role was, I’m going to be the good girl and do everything the opposite. It was really hard for me to admit I saw all her choices as not good and not healthy. Why would she be this way? I now realize there was so much pain there. I have so much more compassion for her now that I’ve seen her journey.”
Professionally, Hemingway hasn’t been seen much lately, but she says she plans to star in a thriller soon and is producing an adaptation of her grandfather’s “A Moveable Feast.”
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