Zoe Saldana plays a struggling mother with two young daughters and a bipolar husband in the Infinitely Polar Bear, an independent film making its rounds at the Sundance Film Festival this year. The 35-year=old actress is notourisly private about her personal life, but during a recent interview at the annual festival in Utah, she revealed that the movie is incredibly close to her heart for a reason few fans may know.

“I couldn’t go up on stage today right when the film ended,” she shared. “My sister and my assistant and some family members were with me and we went afterwards to dinner and everybody’s lower lip was just trembling because we were so moved. Especially for my sisters and me, because we lost our father when we were very young. It hits home. You feel that you were wronged.”

When asked if she remembers her father, Saldana replied, “Oh my god, absolutely.”

“I was 9. Now that I’m 35, throughout the years, I’ve probably embellished the only nine years that I had with him,” she said. “I fantasize — is that the right word? Fantasía — I go directly to Spanish! Now he’s this big, larger than life character. His laugh was louder, his smell was sweeter. But I get to live vicariously through someone else’s experience and kind of imagine what it could have been like. It allows you to feel. We’re always so tense about feeling. It’s like “Oh! We shouldn’t, we have makeup on.” But for me, it’s like –- fucking cry. Feel. Be in her shoes. And yes, if it’s a good movie, applaud it and embrace it.”

Check out a Sundance review of Infinitely Polar Bear, written and directed by first-time filmmaker Maya Forbes, here.

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