Melora Walters


She was born in Saudi Arabia, and grew up there as well as in Holland. She went to a boarding school North of Chicago, and graduated from Pratt Institute in New York.

She is an actress.

She has exhibited her art in New York, Los Angeles, and Berlin.

Sonnets and Failures, her first book of poems and art was published in 2010, by Finishing Line Press.The Siren, and In the Painting Heraclitus Wrings His Hands Above the World and Appears to be Crying was published in 2011 by Writ Large Press.

She lives in Los Angeles with her two children.

 Serpentine Press


  



RD: – Melora Walters, you’re a well-known actress, having appeared in such acclaimed films as « Dead Poets Society, » « Cold Mountain, » « The Butterfly Effect, » etc. Those films are full of metaphors. Perhaps it’s not by chance that you yourself are a poet. It is still somewhat rare to encounter an actor who is a talented, published author of something other than their own memoirs. Tell me please, when you are at heart a poet, are movies a good fit for you?

 

MW: – I think the actual act of acting makes sense as a poet because I am bringing words to life.

In every role I play I try to find the soul of the character. The writer created the character, but in a strange way I am trying to make the words and thoughts physical.

I believe the earliest form of art was usually associated with a ritual.

The poems were chants, prayers, incantations, and they were enacted, danced, performed, and sometimes illustrated (think of the Egyptian Book of the Dead).

In that sense, I suppose movies are a good fit.

 

RD: – What came first for you? Poetry or cinema? Is there a phrase, a trigger word, a feeling or something experienced in your life that pushed you toward these two arts…?

 

MW: – Poetry and art definitely came first. As a child, I used to draw and write what I experienced.

I can’t think of a trigger word. It simply was my way of being and experiencing life.

It came before anything, to me it was the only truth, besides the natural world outside of me.

Cinema came much later.

My first exposure to Bergman, Fellini, Godard, Truffaut, and early Antonioni films are what made me consider cinema.

 

RD: – What ties you to poetry? And to cinema? An inner need? A model, an icon?  An existential philosophy?

 

MW: – I think an inner need, and an existential philosophy tie me to poetry, and cinema, a terrible need to try to express what it is to be alive.

 

RD: – During the golden age of silent film (1918-1930), poetry was a main ingredient in movies of the period. Artists were influenced by poets and vice versa. In those days, cinema and poetry were inseparable. In your view, is artistic film, in general, the poem par excellence because it is situated in pure duration?

 

MW: – Yes! And it’s funny you chose the photo you did, because I had just cut my hair to look like Louise Brooks.

 

RD: – Is your writing cinematic or something different…?

 

MW: – I think of my writing as writing, simply writing. I see images as I write. I am influenced by my experiences, what I see, and how I see the world. But, I don’t think of it as cinematic.

Recently I wrote a script that I want to direct. It is called “Waterlily Jaguar”. It is influenced by the film called “il Grido” by Antonioni, and “Faces” by Cassavetes.

In writing a script for the first time, I had to think in a cinematic way.

 

RD: – In your books are you a thinker who performs your feelings or an actor who performs your thoughts?

 

MW: – In my books I am grasping at moments. I am simply there. My pen in my hand, on the paper, trying desperately to describe what I feel.

 

RD: – What sources of inspiration nourish you in lyrical terrain?

 

MW: – So many sources of inspiration nourish me. It is non stop.

I can tell you that I love the writing of Jose Saramago! I love Zagajewski, especially “Try To Praise The Mutilated World”. Ancient History, Mythology, Things I hear and see, phrases, images, art and more art; Giacometti, Carravagio, Cezanne, Rodin, Goya, Van Gogh, Ancient Sumerian Art, a tiny Babylonian sculpture of Astarte in the Louvre, oh god, it’s non stop. Everything inspires me.

 

RD: – And on film sets? In television studios?

 

MW: – In television studios I think it is the writers who inspire me. They have to constantly write, and keep the story going, so it is like being at sea hanging onto a rope that connects you to the boat.

On film sets, I think it is more the character, but again, that makes it the writer who inspires me. The difference from television is that you have the beginning, middle, and end right there from the start.

Sometimes I find music or an artist who I feel helps me connect to the character. For instance, when I worked on a film called “Rain”, Edvard Munch’s paintings defined my role.

Now that I have written that, I would have to say it is a different source for each role.

I should add that I have been very lucky to work with Paul Thomas Anderson.

Because he is the writer and director, it is a very intimate process. In his films,

I simply became the character. It’s hard to explain, it is as though I became an instrument, and he played it, like Yo-Yo Ma and his cello.

 

RD: – Can you tell us your most beautiful memory as a poet.

 

MW: – I hand bound the two books I dedicated to my children. Writ Large Press published them, and handed me the pages of writing and art, completely and beautifully formatted. Aardvark Press debossed the titles on the paper that would act as the covers. Chiwan Choi, of Writ Large, and I decided on a font/type I found that Apollinaire used on “Ombre de Mon Amour” (which I LOVE). I dissected his book, literally, and then tried to recreate it with my books. I spent hours, folding, cutting, sewing, and gluing. The process was tedious, arduous, awful, and yet somehow it was beautiful.

 

RD: – … and as an actress, please.

 

MW: – My most beautiful moment as an actress was on the set of “Magnolia”.

Paul was sitting next to the camera, three feet away, he was whispering directions. I didn’t even know what he was saying, it was as though I was in a trance, time stood still. Nothing mattered but each moment. I could hear the film ticking in the camera.

I hope that there will be more beautiful moments in my future.

 

RD: – What is the most beautiful thing cinema has given you in your life? And what has it taken from you?

 

MW: – Earlier, I wrote which directors made me aware of the magic of cinema. They made me feel I was not alone, that someone else felt the way I did/do.

I would have to say this about art and writing as well.

I don’t think it has taken anything away.

But…….men with whom I have been intimate, say that it takes a great toll on me!

Of course, I don’t agree!

 

RD: – In your filmography, which film and role changed you the most?

 

MW: – Each role changes me.

Perhaps the role in “Rain” (director: Katherine Lindberg) affected me the most.

I think it is because the content was so close to ancient mythology, that it must have sparked something deep within me.

 

RD: – Which of your books has brought you the most happiness?

 

MW: – “Sonnets and Failures”, thank to Leah Maines, because it was my first.

“The Siren” and “In the Painting, Heraclitus Wrings His Hands Above the World

and Appears To Be Crying”, because they are dedicated to my children.

 

RD: – You were born in Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh. Your name was Yoruba, a word that means something like: « friendship. » What does that time and that word still represent for Melora Walters?

 

MW: – I was actually born in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

I spent half of my childhood there, and the other half in Holland. I experienced an extreme of opposites.

I was told my name came from a book called “John Brown’s Body” by Stephen Vincent Benet, which is an epic poem about the Civil War in the United States. If you consider that the name is Yoruban, then he was uniting South and North, Black and White, Male and Female, in a very symbolic way.

With that in mind it is an attempt at finding balance.

I was also told that the name Melora comes from the word ameliorate, which means to make better.

So, in answer to your question, I think I would have to say that I come from chaos,  live in it, and am trying survive.

 

RD: – Does the artist depict the world in general, or his own world? Is there a social mission to be carried out?

 

MW: – I think every artist is different.

For me, I approach everything on a personal level. Art, cinema, and writing throughout my life has been my safe place. It is almost a religious experience. Sacred. It has saved me. So, I am hoping that my contribution to the creative world can perhaps save someone else.

 

RD: – How do you participate in the reconstruction of humanity, poet Melora Walters? And actress Melora Walters?

 

MW: – I would like to think that just as art has given me hope, my contributions in the creative world will give others hope.

 

RD: – What projects are you looking forward to in 2012?

 

MW: – I am looking forward to 2 new art shows, the publishing of my new book of poetry entitled “Dear Mr. Brancusi”, directing my film “Waterlily Jaguar”, and  wonderful opportunities!

Oh! And I am looking forward to more collaborations with you!

 

RD: – Would you have liked me to ask you a question that I didn’t ask? If so, ask yourself that question that you were expecting and answer it, please!

 

MW: – Hmmmm…

What do you imagine you will be doing when you are an old woman, perhaps in her 90’s?

I will be doing the same thing as I am doing now.

However, I will be living in Paris!

It has been a great honor and pleasure to work on this interview.

I am grateful for your thought provoking questions that cut through the surface and go straight to the heart and soul.

Thank you.

 

RD: – Thank you very much, Melora!

 

 


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Melora Walters

 


education :

BFA – Pratt Institute Brooklyn, NY

 

shows:

2011

Emmanuel Veys

Los Angeles, CA

Un Petit Vernissage

 

2011

Launch LA

Los Angeles, CA

Lying Chicken Man and the Muse

 

2011

“The Siren”

“In the Painting Heraclitus Wrings His Hands

Above the World and Appears to be Crying”

Poems and Art

Edition of 1/50

AP Edition 1/10

Published by Writ Large Press

 

2010

Launch LA

group show

 

2010

“Sonnets and Failures”

Poems and Art

published by Finishing Line Press

 

2010

Beyond Baroque

Venice, California

 

2008

Merry Karnowsky Gallery

Berlin, Germany

group show

 

2007

Jan Baum Gallery

Los Angeles, CA

group show

 

2005

Gallery Brown

Los Angeles, CA

sculpture installation

 

2004

Amnesty International

Los Angeles, CA

paintings for stop violence against women campaign

 

2004

Headquarters

Los Angeles, CA

painting exhibit

 

2004

Headquarters

Los Angeles, CA

painting exhibit

 

art in films:

“Magnolia” (The Smokers) 1999

Harrison Montgomery (watercolors) 2006

publications:

www.thenervousbreakdown.com August 2011

Art Forum- online 2007

Hollywood Life Dec/Jan 2004

Jane May 2003

Flaunt 2002 Los Angeles Times

Book Review November 4, 2001

 

 

 

 

 

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Translator :   Howard Scott  (MONTREAL, CANADA)

Reporter : Rodica Draghincescu

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www.draghincescu.com

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