For her Gotham Award-nominated turn in “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” Blythe Danner tried something a little bit different: Becoming a leading lady. Although Danner earned her chops as a Broadway star early in her career, four decades’ worth of film roles mostly relegated her to supporting turns. Though Danner relished every part — the actress makes no bones about how lucky she’s been throughout her career — taking the lead in “I’ll See You in My Dreams” presented a challenge and an opportunity she’d waited a long time for.
As widow Carol Petersen, Danner attempts to navigate all sorts of relationships in the latter half of her life, including connections with two very different men (Sam Elliott and Martin Starr), and the result is a charming dramedy that she carries with ease.
At a luncheon held in the film’s honor yesterday at Manhattan’s Le Cirque restaurant, Danner participated in a 15-minute chat moderated by film journalist Thelma Adams about a variety of aspects of the film.
Ever modest and eager to pin the film’s success on others, Danner lit up when talking about the film’s co-writer and director, Brett Haley, attributing his skills both in front of and behind the camera as the reason why the whole shoot was just so uniquely serene for her, a rare feat considering the many constraints placed on the truly independent feature (the partially Kickstarted feature was made for $500,000 and filmed over just 18 days).
“What was on the page, the kind of serenity of this woman — that I don’t have and never have — the inner stillness, it was so refreshing to come to work and be able to go, ‘ahhhh,’ I can just be,” Danner said.
“The first time that I felt relaxed on camera was because of Brett and this script,” Danner continued. “Coming to work, what I thought was going to be such a hard row to hoe, every day was a joy. And I thought, ‘God, if only I could achieve this serenity every day of my life!'”
When asked if she had any advice for achieving said serenity outside of the confines of “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” Danner joked: “Hire Brett Haley!”