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Blythe Danner Calls for Better Roles for Women at Dallas International Film Festival

Blythe Danner Calls for Better Roles for Women at Dallas International Film Festival

READ MORE: Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #60: Brett Haley Had No Room for Error During the Filming of ‘I’ll See You in My Dreams’

Blythe Danner was at the historic Majestic Theater to receive a Dallas Star Award at the 9th annual Dallas Film Festival’s opening night on April 9. Following her award acceptance was a screening of her new film “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” which premiered at Sundance earlier this year. Entertainment TV reporter and critic Bobbie Wygant presented Danner with the honor, and led a Q&A with the actress and writer/director Brett Haley following the film. 

Soft-spoken and fair-haired Danner tearfully recounted her recently deceased aunt, who was there for Danner’s birth and predicted her name would be in lights someday. She also poked fun at her TV commercial for Prolia, joking that thanks to the product, her bones are strong. 
“I’ll See You In My Dreams” was shot in 18 days on a small budget. Hollywood is fond of “coming of age” stories, but there is a distinct lack of narratives following the lives of older characters who have long since come “of age.” Danner acknowledged that in recent years, the film industry has been starting to create more interesting roles for women; but admitted she hasn’t had many meaty movie parts herself, until this one. 

At age 71, this is Danner’s first leading role in a film. “It’s about damn time,” said director Haley. This is only Haley’s sophomore feature, and he described his previous project as a “$5,000 movie made with friends in my hometown.” “I’ll See You In My Dreams” tells the story of Carol (Danner), a retired school teacher and widow, who lives a quiet life of simple routines. When her dog dies, she begins to try new things, form new relationships, and ends up surprising herself. She befriends her 30-year-old pool cleaner (Martin Starr), smokes pot with her group of elderly gossipy girlfriends (June Squibb and Rhea Pearlman), tries karaoke and speed dating, and allows herself to be wooed by a handsome, mysterious retiree (Sam Elliot). “Older characters, female driven—we need more movies like that,” said Haley, to applause. 
Danner cited “old Hollywood gals” Katharine Hepburn and Barbara Stanwyck as her acting inspiration, admiring a time in Hollywood when “the thing to be was snarky, and not so sweet.” Danner said her experience playing a widow in the film, when she is a widow in real life, was “cathartic.” “I’ve never played such a three-dimensional person,” she added. 

READ MORE: Watch: Blythe Danner Wakes Up To Life In ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’ Trailer

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