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Polanski: ‘Having no parents’ is worst thing

‘Oliver Twist’ director says he can identify with the main character
/ Source: The Associated Press

Much like the penniless orphan in his new film, “Oliver Twist,” Roman Polanski says he knows that in life “the worst thing isn’t a hard bed or hunger, but having no parents.”

Polanski, who won an Oscar for 2002’s “The Pianist,” said he could identify with the young orphan turned pickpocket in the squalor of Victorian London in Charles Dickens’ classic tale.

Like Oliver, he knows what it’s like “to walk for kilometers without socks in boots with bloody feet,” said Polanski, who escaped Poland’s Krakow ghetto during World War II and wandered the countryside, living with different families until his father could claim him.

“I knew that the worst thing isn’t a hard bed or hunger, but having no parents,” the 72-year-old director said Thursday. His parents were sent to Nazi death camps, and his mother died at Auschwitz.

Polanski, whose screen credits also include “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Chinatown” and “Tess,” left the United States in 1978 rather than face sentencing on child-sex charges. He lives in Paris with his wife and their two children.

“Oliver Twist” debuted last week in the Czech Republic, where it was filmed, and was to open Friday in the United States and Poland.

To Polanski, the tale is timeless.

“Of course the story’s aged — but the Bible has, too,” he said.