We caught up with Vera Fried, Darren Aronofsky’s sixth grade teacher who inspired him to become a writer, who explained how she inspired the director Darren Aronfsky.
Vera even gets a cameo in the film. She’s a real character:
Did you remember Darren as a student?
-I had 2,000 students and they were very bright. They were the best and the brightest, maybe because they had me to push them into being the best and brightest. Darren wrote a poem (was inspired by Noah and it won an award from the United Nations) when he was in my class and when he won the contest I handed back the pages and said, ‘Dedicate your first book to me kid.’ That’s what he said in his first email. He said, ‘Now I never became a real writer, just a movie maker and film writer but I did do a comic book and I dedicated it to you. I expected Archie and Veronica and I get this 12 x 15 Japanese anime book in French because that’s where it was published and it says, ‘Dedicated to Madame Fried, my sixth grade teacher who gave me the desire to write.’ I figure it doesn’t get any better than that but then it got better because he invited me to the set. Everyone said, ‘We’re so happy to see you Vera’ and the only one calling me Mrs. Fried was Darren because he can’t say Vera. I told my friend what happened and she said, ‘You’re a storyteller, you’re making this up.’ I said, ‘Yeah? Come with me,’ and the next day she came with me and then he said, ‘Do you want to be in the movie?’ I said, ‘Yes!!’ I play a crone. He said, ‘Remember you made me dress up as Benedict Arnold in the sixth grade? Well now we’re even.’ A one-eyed ugly crone, it was wonderful.
I’m absolutely thrilled with what Darren has done for teachers. I’m on an active campaign to get everyone to call their favorite teacher because it made me feel so wonderful.It also gave me a lot of stuff to tell stories about. The first time I told a story about Darren I won a haircut and $25 because I told it at a storytelling fair.
You know how he found me? He sent his grandmother to a Hadassah meeting in Brooklyn because I had moved to Florida and she stood there and said, ‘Does anybody know Vera Fried?’ and my friend Jean from Florida said, ‘There’s a kid looking for you,’ and I said, ‘Give him my email.’ He searched me down. It meant a lot. I’ll never have an experience like this in my life.
And Alec’s little brother walked the carpet with his two daughters…but he was NO VERA!
You’re born again. These faith-based movies must make you happy.
It’s interesting because I have experienced in the last six to eight years probably a little push back from mainstream Hollywood about my perception and being outspoken in the media about my Christian faith. It’s interesting that the content is coming back around and we’re seeing a surge in faith-based Christian filmmaking. It’s been a blessing for me in the last couple of years.