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A Minute With: Blythe Danner on getting older, finding better roles

/ Source: Reuters

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - From Blanche DuBois in "A Streetcar Named Desire" to Viola in Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," Blythe Danner has had numerous starring roles on the Broadway stage, but in her first leading film role she tapped into something closer to home.

"I am a widow and I am getting up there (in age), and it was incredibly fulfilling to be in the place where I really understand that dilemma," Danner said of her role in the independent film "I'll See You in My Dreams."

Danner, 71, plays Carol, a widow who forges new friendships and relationships after losing her dog.

Ahead of the film's Sundance Film Festival premiere this week, Danner spoke with Reuters about the role and working with her famous children, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and filmmaker Jake Paltrow.

Q: How did you connect to Carol?

A: There was nothing sentimental about her. She was a very strong woman and it's always great to play women who are three-dimensional. Often times, we don't get to play those women.

Q: What does Carol learn from her relationships?

A: For someone rather stoic, she finds an intimacy and softness, something that's full of heart and makes her feel more valuable.

Q: How challenging is it to find roles as you get older?

A: I remember Leslie Caron years ago saying she left Hollywood when she was 30 or 35 because that's when roles disappear. That's not the case anymore, there are better, three-dimensional roles for women of all ages.

I'm 71 and I've been working more now and getting better roles than I did when I was younger.

Q: Do you have any plans to collaborate with your daughter and son?

My son wrote something for me some years ago that didn't get going, but I think it's a possibility. My daughter and I did "Sylvia" together, she played Sylvia Plath and I had a small part as her mother. She was so wonderful.

Q: What plans do you have for your career?

A: I'd like to die on stage! I'd like to take my final curtain call, my final bow, and once the play is over - I don't want to do it in the middle of the play and leave my fellow actors in the lurch.

I just hope that I'll be healthy enough to keep doing it, because if this is any indication, it looks like maybe I'll be working more.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; editing by Patricia Reaney and Leslie Adler)