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‘It is hard for someone to be so successful at such a young age’: Michelle Monaghan talks 'The Vanishing Of Sidney Hall'

Shawn Christensen’s mystery drama tells the tale of a young novelist that suddenly becomes world famous, only to then disappear
Michelle Monaghan in The Vanishing Of Sidney Hall
[Image: A24]

With the 24-hour news cycle, the rise of social media and the constant prying eyes of the paparazzi, it has never been harder to be a celebrity, as they’re now attacked and overanalyzed from all angles seemingly every minute or every day.

While “The Vanishing Of Sidney Hall” doesn’t explicitly examine modern celebrity culture, it does focus on the impact of sudden success and the unyielding pressure that comes with being in the public eye. Especially when it happens to someone so young.

I recently had the chance to speak to Michelle Monaghan, who stars as Sidney Hall’s mother in the mystery drama, which is set over three time periods and focuses on the character writing a novel at 18, the aftermath of its huge success when he is 24 and then his disappearance at 30.

You can read what she had to say about “The Vanishing Of Sidney Hall,” the impact of instant fame, and why its distributor A24 are so important below.


What first attracted you to “The Vanishing Of Sidney Hall”?
Obviously the writing was so strong. It was such an original story and very unique in the way it is told, in its use of flashbacks and how the story and all the characters are all revealed.

It is very serious and compelling and heartbreaking in that way. All at the same time. That made it very special. The role was unlike anything I have ever done before. She was damaged and vulnerable.

And I loved the chance to work with Logan. He such a great young actor, and is committed to his craft and to this story.

Did you enjoy playing such a cruel character?
On paper she seems very cruel, and she is cruel. I also hope there is an element where you understand her. I latched onto the idea that she didn’t emotionally evolve beyond that point. Most people grow into the idea of becoming a mom. You get the feelings of being maternal, but she just seemed to miss that step. She seems to have acquired a sense of arrested development.

Does the depiction of Sidney Hall and his instant fame feel timely?
People have always been enthralled by the idea of something being new, especially when it is made by somebody so young. They then put people on pedestals.

More so now though it is fleeting, and these moments in the spotlight come and go so quickly. So for someone who has success at a very young age it would be hard to navigate such an avalanche of adulation and success, especially when it is taken away so quickly.

Talk about working with A24 on the film, they seem like the last bastion of independent cinema
I definitely tip my hat to A24. It is so important for any distribution company, or any writers, directors, actors, producers to support independent films.

Especially because sadly I think they are a bit of a dying breed. I love that A24 are giving it a proper release, because that is so important. But they’re not narrow minded, and they know that there are very different ways for people to view films.

So you have to marry these two worlds, and know who your audience is, and how they want to watch films. They’ve been able to find that balance in a really smart way, and produce an extraordinary slate of movies.

“The Vanishing Of Sidney Hall” will be released into select cinemas on March 2, and is already exclusively available on Direct TV

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