Memento actor who played Sammy Jankis actually had amnesia in real life
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It's one of the most mind-boggling films to come from Christopher Nolan, and it turns out that real-life experience may have helped an actor in Memento in his role in the film.
The film has become widely acclaimed for its clever use of broken-up storytelling and displaced timelines to show the fragmented memory of the main character.
The 2000 flick follows Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce), an insurance investigator, who suffers from anterograde amnesia and uses notes and tattoos to hunt for the man he thinks killed his wife, which is the last thing he remembers.
Visuals from the film have become widely known cultural tropes, especially the main character having facts about his life tattooed onto his body to constantly remind himself.
However, it transpires that Stephen Tobolowsky, who plays amnesiac Sammy Jankis in the movie, actually suffered from temporary memory loss in real life. He believes that his own experience with the condition actually gave him an edge in the role, as he could understand better how it can impact someone.
Tobolowsky said that due to his condition, he would often find himself 'waking up' in his home but not having any memory of when or why he entered a room.
Nonetheless, the condition that he lived with was still a lot less severe than that which is exhibited in Memento.
Speaking to the Lone Star Plate podcast about how he got the role, he said: "Everyone in Hollywood is going to want to be in this movie, and they will all be good actors. But I have one thing that I think no other actor that sees you will have.
"I am the only actor you're going to meet who's actually had amnesia. I know what it is.
"I had an operation for kidney stones. They used an experimental drug on me as a general anaesthesia.
"It is a medicine that gives you amnesia. You feel the pain of the operation, but you forget. It's just like a bad relationship.
"You feel it, but you forget. I said just like any other general anaesthetic that you have it takes about a week for it to work out of your system afterwards.
"So when my wife brought me home from the hospital I still had this stuff in my system. So I would be born at this moment, and I'm standing in our living room, and I'm holding half of a glass of water. Just at that moment I was born.
"I didn't know if I'd drunk half of the glass of water and was returning the half a glass to the kitchen to get more, or if I was mid-drink. I didn't know where I was."
Extraordinary. Just goes to show how fragile the brain and mind can be.