[FILM] Meg Tilly (Margaret Chan) Actress & Author of "Gemma" about Child Abuse
- Meg Tilly
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Meg Tilly Born: February 14, 1960
Long Beach, California ,USA
Occupation: Actor, dancer, author
Meg Tilly (born February 14, 1960) is an Oscar-nominated American
actress, Broadway stage dancer and ballerina.
Early Life and Family
Tilly was born Margaret Chan in Long Beach, California in 1960, the
third of four children of Harry Chan, a Chinese-American businessman
and Patricia Tilly, an Irish-Canadian schoolteacher. Following her
parents divorce when she was three, she was raised by her mother and
stepfather in her mother's native British Columbia, Canada. Tilly
attended Esquimalt High School in Victoria, British Columbia. She
has two sisters: Rebecca, and actress Jennifer Tilly (born 1958).
Teenage and Early Career
As a teen, she was involved with the Connecticut Ballet Company, as
well as the Throne Dance Theatre, and made her screen debut with
Alan Parker's Fame in 1980.
Acting Career on Films and Television
As Sarah in the 1994 movie Sleep with MeA serious back injury forced
her to give up dance, and she entered the field of acting, appearing
in Hill Street Blues, The Big Chill, and Psycho II before appearing
in Agnes of God, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award,
and won a Golden Globe Award for her searing performance. She later
appeared in Valmont, Girl in a Swing, and Leaving Normal. Tilly also
appeared in Body Snatchers, in which she delivered a pessimistic
monologue in the stylings of an alien.
Tilly has also written a novel entitled Singing Songs, and has a
second novel entitled Gemma forthcoming in October 2006. With the
release of her second novel Tilly finally confirmed that both books
were autobiographical accounts of her childhood.
Personal Life and Relationships
Tilly has three children: Emily (born 1984) and David (born 1986),
by her marriage to film producer Tim Zinnemann, which ended in 1989,
and a son, Will (born 1990), from her five-year relationship with
with British actor Colin Firth.
Her second husband was the thirty years older John Calley, a former
president of Sony Pictures; they were married in 1995 and divorced
Now remarried and living in British Columbia, Tilly has not appeared
in a film since 1995, having decided to retire from acting in order
to raise her children.
Awards and Nominations
Academy of Science Ficton, Fantasy, and Horror Films, USA
1984, Best Actress for Psycho II, (Nomination)
1986, Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Agnes of God,
Golden Globe Awards
1986, Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Movie for Agnes of God,
Trick of the Eye aka Primal Secrets (1994)
Winnetka Road (1994)
Sleep With Me (1994)
Body Snatchers (1993)
The Two Jakes (1990)
Agnes of God (1985)
The Big Chill (1983)
Psycho II (1983)
Meg Tilly was set on being a dancer, and at 17 connected to the
Connecticut Ballet Company and later Throne Dance Theatre. It was in
this capacity that she had her screen debut in Alan Parker's Fame
Unfortunately, an injury to her back cut short her plans for a dance
career, and a small appearance in the TV series "Hill Street Blues"
(1981) turned her towards acting (her dancing skills were not all
forgotten, as was evident in The Big Chill (1983) and Psycho II
She received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for
Agnes of God (1985), and nobody doubted that she was on her way to
stardom. One step on the road to that status was her being cast in
Milos Forman's Amadeus (1984) as Constanza, but again her body
interfered, and seven weeks into the production with her foot in a
cast were more than the producers could accept, and she was
Her "consolation", was a role in Forman's next project Valmont
(1989), didn't do her career much good. Since then she has averaged
a movie a year, and with the exception of Leaving Normal (1992),
none have tapped the enormous reservoir of talent she has.
Mother Patricia was a teacher, and former stage actress, her father
Harry (Chinese), a car salesman. In the mid 1960s her mother
divorced and moved back to Texada Island, British Columbia, to live
with Tilly's grandmother, and later the family moved to Victoria.
Sister of actress Jennifer Tilly.
Raised in British Columbia by her mother and step-father, Meg
started taking dancing lessons at age 12. She earned a scholarship
to a top ballet school in New York. At 17 was connected to
Connecticut Ballet Company and later Throne Dance Theatre, but a
serious back injury ended her dancing career.
She then went to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career and the
rest, as they say, is history. Meg made her first film appearance in
a bit as an auditioning dancer in Fame (1980). She has also written
a novel titled "Singing Songs".
Son, with Colin Firth, William (b. 1990).
Sister of actress Jennifer Tilly
Was originally cast as Mozart's wife in Amadeus (1984), but had to
leave after tearing a ligament in her leg during a soccer game with
her children one day before her shooting started.
Relationship with Colin Firth began while filming Milos Forman's
In high school, everyone called Jennifer, Meg, and their younger
sister Becky the Three Musketeers.
Is 1/2 Caucasian and 1/2 Chinese.
Retired in 1995 and moved to British Columbia to devote herself to
writing and raising a family.
Her first fiction novel was "Singing Songs" (1994; Dutton Books)
based on memories of her own childhood. Her second novel "Gemma"
(2006; Syren Book Company), is a graphic, disturbing tale about
child sexual abuse, which has prompted her to recently reveal her
own true-life sexual abuse as a youngster growing up.
While older sister Jennifer Tilly has remained mum about the history
of childhood sexual abuse in the family recently revealed by Meg
(which included her stepfather and one of her mother's boyfriends),
youngest sister Becky has corroborated her sister's revelations.
Actor Meg Tilly opens her heart to the public in new novel, "Gemma"
Category/Issue: Arts & Entertainment, Volume 33 No. 19
BY NHIEN NGUYEN
When times got rough for young Meg Tilly, she climbed up apple
trees, seeking solace in the woods, meadows and nature.
It was natural then for Tilly to use the Pacific Northwest as
settings in her writing and settle in a region where nature can
readily soothe her soul.
The actress-turned-writer lives in Vancouver, B.C., where she says
she loves the rain and the change of seasons. She visits Seattle
this month to read from her new novel, "Gemma."
Tilly, best known for her movie roles in "The Big Chill" and "Agnes
of God," explores a topic close to heart in "Gemma," a story about
child molestation and sexual abuse. She presents both sides of the
issue, allowing readers to not only hear the voice of the adult
predator, but that of his young victim as well.
After leaving Hollywood for more than a decade, Tilly, 46, has shed
her usual private self and speaks publicly about the trauma of her
childhood: physical and sexual abuse by relatives, including two
Often in the spotlight, Tilly, sister to Jennifer Tilly, believed
that she had to "present the picture-perfect life" to the public.
She wondered how people would react if they knew the truth about her
past physical and sexual trauma.
"We're really supposed to keep it like our dirty secret," Tilly
said, who later felt compelled to write about the topic.
Though Tilly has a famous name to sell books, publishing companies
did not want to pick up "Gemma" because of its difficult and graphic
Tilly persevered with "Gemma," not only because she wanted to stay
true to her creative voice, but also because she wanted to combat
Hollywood's sensationalization of the topic.
With "Gemma," where readers follow the kidnapping and ensuing sexual
abuse of 12-year-old Gemma by her mother's boyfriend, Tilly wanted
to show the real consequences of sexual abuse.
As the number of cases of child sexual abuse rise in alarming
numbers, Tilly does not pretend to have an answer to the problem,
nor know how communities, including the Asian American community,
begin to address the issue. Tilly, whose father was Chinese-
American, did not grow up with the cultural influence, as her mother
divorced him when she was three years old.
Tilly can only hope that the problem can be addressed with each
person, individually, before whole communities can be healed.
Tilly is now content to have the opportunity to raise her children
in a nice, safe environment and have time to pursue her writing
career. She gets up at 6:45 a.m., makes hot breakfast for her son,
puts on a pot of green tea, and writes at the same time as her
writer-husband Don from 8 a.m. to lunch.
Tilly's rule is to write a minimum of four times a week. She
says, "I don't feel complete if I haven't gone to the page."
Meg Tilly reads on Oct. 21 at Elliott Bay Book Company and Oct. 22
at Village Books in Bellingham.