We caught up with Blythe Danner in May, just as the indie film I’ll See You in My Dreams was released. She told us she hadn’t expected to play a role like this — in the movie, she’s a widow quite settled into her solo routine until a handsome stranger (Sam Elliott) shakes things up — but aspects of the part are reflective of her life. Danner herself is a widow of 13 years, and speaks with great love of her late husband, Bruce Paltrow. Later this year, Danner will play Ruth Madoff, wife of Ponzi-schemer Bernie, alongside Richard Dreyfuss in the ABC TV production based on Brian Ross’ The Madoff Chronicles.
The Saturday Evening Post: You seem to have found a very comfortable mix of work and excitement and family life. Would there be room for a guy in all of that?
Blythe Danner: I’m a loner. I’d rather be home and watching TV than out on a blind date. And I can’t imagine being married again. I don’t want to stop the momentum of my life in any area, but romance has just not been a priority. The truth is, being an older woman in New York City and in Los Angeles is very fulfilling. There’s so much culture, so many good friends — not to mention catching up on a lot of books I didn’t read when I was younger. And, I feel really blessed with family. I have children on both coasts and grandchildren, too, so that keeps me very busy. And, though I’m not good about keeping in touch, I’ve got some wonderful friends who are and they forgive that.
SEP: Your daughter, Gwyneth, is an internationally known celebrity. She is constantly in the news, sometimes getting praise and other times hurtful criticism. Is that difficult for you?
BD: Well, it was unexpected, you know? She wanted to be a good actress and that’s all I wanted to be. When we saw her act the first time, my husband and I both said, “This is an extraordinary talent.” But you don’t bargain for all the other stuff that comes along with that. In this business, you’re going to get slings and arrows. Still, one of the qualities I think she inherited from me is a tough skin. I’m proud of the way she carries herself in this world.
SEP: You often refer to yourself as an “older woman” — “a woman of a certain age.” Do you really think of yourself that way?
BD: Only when I look in the mirror. We all feel the same I think — that we’re still young — then we do a double take when we pass the mirror. I feel like Carol, my character in the movie. She’s one of those women who could slide into old age ungracefully, but luckily things invade her life and she has to rise to the occasion. For myself, this movie has put a real skip in my step. One of the things about growing older is that there are no expectations, so when something like this falls from the sky, I think I appreciate it more than I ever would have. I’m just reveling in the moment and the experience.