by Rock ‘n Roll Ghost
Blythe Danner remains one of the most strikingly beautiful actresses working today, but she’s also one of the sweetest people I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing to boot. The two-time Emmy Award winning actress is just coming off of Little Fockers, her third film working alongside Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller (the first two being Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers). She will next be seen in Paul, along with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), from Superbad director Gregg Mottola; as well as What’s Your Number? starring Anna Faris (The House Bunny) and Chris Evans (The Fantastic Four).
Danner can currently be seen starring alongside Rachel Bilson and Richard Jenkins in director James Keach‘s new film Waiting For Forever (opening Friday, February 4 in New York and Los Angeles). Danner plays Miranda Twist, a wife and mother who is trying her best to keep her family on track despite her daughter’s personal issues and her husband’s terminal cancer. Danner and Jenkins, in a short amount of screen time, manage to create a very real portrait of a husband and wife going through a major crisis, bringing out great emotion in the process.
I spoke to Danner earlier this week in advance of Waiting For Forever‘s opening this weekend. Below is an edited transcription of our conversation where we discuss her new films and talk a little bit about the compound she shares with her daughter Gwyneth Paltrow, son-in-law Chris Martin (lead singer of the rock band Coldplay) and her grandchildren.
Blythe Danner: I’m very well. I’m always happy when I can talk about a film that I feel good about.
How did you get involved with the film?
Blythe Danner: I read it and I was very taken with it. I liked the fact that it wasn’t a run of the mill, stereotypical role.
What about the character intrigued you to want to play it?
Blythe Danner: The fact that it wasn’t a large role as written, but had dimension and had eccentricity and an interesting journey, I liked all of that about her.
Were you acquainted with James Keach before filming?
Blythe Danner: I had met James, but I had not ever worked with him before.
How did you find working with him as a director?
Blythe Danner: What I liked about James is that he really allowed us great freedom. Some of the choices for that woman I tried to find the largess in her in the beginning and I would always look to James to see if it was too much or too little. He was a very good guide in that respect. I think having been an actor himself and a very good director he was very helpful. I like to work with directors who were actors or still are. Because they understand the process and it makes for a short hand. When you’re doing an independent movie you have to work quickly, you don’t have the luxury of working all day on a scene.
Do you find that more freeing?
Blythe Danner: Yes, I actually think so. You really get to the heart of it. I think working in independent films provides you that a lot. And it doesn’t feel like big business. You do have a freedom that is innate in the process.
Were you ever disappointed in the lack of time?
Blythe Danner: I don’t think in this one. I was there for a very short amount of time. I knew what was expected. I knew the character fairly well and I also had the luxury of the writer being there, Steve Adams. It was very helpful to talk to him.
How did you find working with Richard Jenkins?
Blythe Danner: We had both been in the Trinity Square Playhouse in Rhode Island at different times. I think that he’s actually the reason I got this role. I have a feeling, I’m not exactly sure. It was wonderful working with him. He’s a very rich, resourceful actor.
I particularly liked the both of you in the film and the relationship you made together onscreen.
Blythe Danner: Good, good. With so few shooting days you wonder if you’ll be able to capture that.
How did you find working with Rachel Bilson?
Blythe Danner: I had been in a film with Rachel before but I had never had a scene with her. She’s a lovely actress. I found her to be very open and very dear.
Looking at your performance in this film or any other, is it hard for you to judge?
Blythe Danner: I don’t know if it’s hard to judge, if it hasn’t come together I cringe and beat myself up. But in this case I was pleased with what I saw. I felt good about the character.
With Waiting for Forever, was there anything with seeing the final product that you took away that you hadn’t necessarily gotten from the script?
Blythe Danner: I was pleased and I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it might be a difficult film to put together. I think that they hit it perfectly well. It could have become very heavy handed and not believable, but I thought it had a lightness of touch that was very good.
You were just in the Meet the Parents sequel (Little Fockers), do you foresee another one or is that out of your control?
Blythe Danner: I don’t know what will happen. I don’t keep track. If they feel that they still have a large enough audience, they’ll probably make a fourth. There’s been five years between them. I jokingly said to Bob (DeNiro), ‘Next we’ll be on canes, then we’ll be on walkers…’
Have those films been a lot of fun to make?
Blythe Danner: They are fun. I had broken my foot right before we shot the last one, so I was pretty unhappy in that I couldn’t do…not that I do that much in them to begin with anyway, I’m sort of waving from the background for the most part. But in this one I couldn’t even move. I had to wave standing still.
Blythe Danner: I have a small role in a film called Paul, with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Sort of a science fiction/comedy. I’m sure it will be funny. I haven’t seen that yet. Some kids from Saturday Night Live and Sigourney Weaver. I did a film with Anna Faris called What’s Your Number?. I don’t have anything right now that I’m up to. I’m just an out of work actress looking for work.
With Paul, what is your role in that?
Blythe Danner: I join the gang. The boys are out searching for an outer space character who is actually Seth Rogen. He’s the voice. You never see Seth. I’m this sad little hermit woman and Paul‘s capsule landed on my dog many years ago.
Are you living in New York now?
Blythe Danner: I really straddle both coasts. I have a place here and I’m there as well. I’m in New York a lot.
Your daughter lives in England now, correct?
Blythe Danner: Yes, but she’s here a lot. I live behind them…I just built a geo-thermal solar house out near them. We’re all sort of in a little compound out in Long Island.
So you get to see the grandkids a lot?
Blythe Danner: I see them a lot. They’re here right now. Gwyneth’s doing another episode of Glee. I call myself a grandma groupie. Wherever they are I try to be as much as possible.