No longer hounded by the tabloids, Sienna Miller has graduated from ‘it girl’ to devoted mother and serious actress. Karen Anne Overton meets her.
For a while, it appeared as if London’s once-favourite ‘It girl’ had given up showbusiness and retreated to a life of peace in the British countryside, but slowly and surely Sienna Miller has been making her comeback as a formidable actor. Time has untethered her from the media firestorm which was once her daily life, and motherhood – to daughter Marlowe, four – has calmed Miller and given her a wealth of new emotions to draw on.
“I’m much more careful in terms of choosing projects because each time I go to work it means spending less time with Marlowe,” says the 35 year old. “But I’ve also changed my way of thinking about the kinds of roles I want to play. When I became pregnant, I decided that I would only go after good parts in good films even if that meant taking smaller roles.”
With her apparently effortless beauty and charismatic nature, Miller in her early twenties seemed destined to become a big-name film star. But her talent was overshadowed by her personal life, as she embarked on one doomed relationship after another. Jude Law may have been her most high-profile partner, but it was arguably her affair with married American actor Balthazar Getty which did the most damage to her image, and perhaps her heart.
Following yet another failed reconciliation with Law, Miller finally found true love in the form of Tom Sturridge and the birth of their daughter, in July 2012. It was both a personal and professional turning point in Miller’s world, and though she and Sturridge ended their romantic relationship, they remain firm friends and co-parents.
Not only has motherhood made her reassess her career, but Miller also credits the experience with filling a void in her life: “I was overwhelmed by how normal it felt,” she says. “It was like, ‘there you are – that’s what I have been missing’, like we’re both in on something only we know. It’s an amazing sense of being complicit with a little being.”
As art often mimics life, in her boho sweetheart heyday Miller was prone to be cast as the emotionally fragile seductress – Edie Sedgwick in Factory Girl and Daniel Craig’s paramour in Layer Cake, for example. But recently she has been landing the kind of meaty character roles any actress would die for, and garnering critical acclaim along the way. In American Sniper she played the long-suffering wife of the deadliest marksman in US military history with breathtaking candour, and wowed as another devoted wife in last year’s drama The Lost City of Z.
“I have a much better understanding of how I want to pursue my career. Having a child helps you focus more and gives you a clearer perspective on everything,” she reveals. “In the last few years I’ve been able to work on projects where I’ve surrounded myself with only the best people. It’s been very satisfying.”
Having relocated from London to New York, where much of Miller’s work is based, it was a decision as much focused on what was best for Marlowe. While Miller misses many aspects of home, she sees New York as a fascinating place for a young mind to develop. “It’s the most liberal, democratic place. It’s so open-minded,” she enthuses. “I see at least four certifiable people a day just roaming the streets, and no one looks twice.
“I love that I’m raising a child who’s just constantly assaulted with experience, and it’s real life and it’s hard and it’s ugly and it’s beautiful, but it’s honest. London is a bit more hidden and more intellectually stimulating in some ways that I miss.”
What she doesn’t miss, however, is the constant assault of the press which culminated in her “suing everyone for a decade”, including the News of the World, which coughed up £100,000 in damages after admitting to hacking her phone. “Today I feel I can lead a normal life. It’s a huge relief. I was very vulnerable during the period around the Leveson Inquiry, but I’m glad I fought as much as possible,” she says defiantly. “I don’t feel that I’m trapped anymore by the image that the media created about me.”
Indeed, Miller believes things are easier now for young stars generally – particularly women, who have greater control of their own image via social media, giving them power to retaliate when the media says ‘horrible things’. And yet, you won’t find any genuine Sienna Miller profiles on Facebook or Twitter. “I’m a Luddite,” she grins. “I don’t really have social media. If I want to be business-savvy, it would definitely be smart… but there’s something I really resist about that kind of communication, and I don’t think it’s making people particularly happy.”
So what does bring this heroine joy? “My time revolves around my daughter, cooking for her, playing with her, simply enjoying watching her grow,” the star beams. “It’s a peaceful and stable life with Marlowe. I feel much more at ease – calmer and freer. I can finally be the kind of woman I want to be.”
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