Blythe Danner’s Award-Winning Second Act

Dreams-Danner1(PCM) Blythe Danner is a stellar film, television, and stage actress who has provided guidance and support to several generations of actors, including her daughter Gwyneth Paltrow.

Danner was recently honored with a 2015 New York Women in Film & Television Muse Award during a star-studded luncheon. The event brought nearly 1,100 women together in Manhattan to celebrate the accomplishments of six gifted women in the arts.

In what seems a bit startling to consider, after 50 years in the entertainment business and at the age of 72, Danner has garnered her first leading film role in the thought-provoking and poignant independent film, “I’ll See You in My Dreams.”

“It is difficult to believe I would be playing a lead in a movie – I never would have considered it at this stage in the game,” Danner said. “But here I am in this lovely movie going from heartbreak to hilarity in such a multi-dimensional role.”

Despite their hectic work schedules, she said her family will spend the holiday together – enjoying one another’s company, nice meals, and traditional breakfast pancakes made by her Oscar-winning daughter.

“I have two sets of grandchildren and it is always special to spend time with each of them,” Danner said. “That is the rich and delicious part of life.”

She is best known for her roles in the “Meet the Parents” trilogy, the Woody Allen films, “Husbands and Wives,” and “Alice,” and received a Tony Award for Broadway debut in “Butterflies Are Free,” and nominations for three additional Broadway shows.

Danner’s next project is “Madoff,” a TV movie opposite Richard Dreyfuss in which she plays Ruth Madoff in the story of Bernie Madoff’s rise and fall in the world of finance.

New York Women in Film & Television is a noted entertainment industry association in New York City. The organization supports women “calling the shots” in film, television and digital media.

Danner’s fellow recipients for the Muse Award included two actresses, Gabourey Sidibe (The Big C, Precious and Empire), and Patricia Clarkson, (Broadway’s “Elephant Man” opposite Bradley Cooper, “Six Feet Under,” “Easy A,” and “Pieces of April”).

The other remarkable women honored were: Victoria Alonso, executive vice president of physical production for Marvel Studios; and Sarah Barnett, president and general manager for BBC America. The Loreen Arbus Changemaker Award was given to Lizz Winstead, a producer, performer and activist, who makes regular appearances on HBO, CNN and Comedy Central Presents. Actress and CBS commentator Nancy Giles was the emcee for the events.

BlytheDanner2Photo credit: Francesca Andre

During the Muse Awards ceremonies Danner was happy to reflect on her family, brilliant acting career and latest movie.

Second chances at happiness seem to be on the mind of Blythe Danner and she couldn’t be happier about it. Especially, since she is portraying a deliciously rich character in her current film, “I’ll See You in My Dreams.”

Danner said she could relate to her character of Carol after her husband producer/director Bruce Paltrow died in October 2002. He was 58 years old.

Danner dedicated her Muse Award to her late husband and recounted the many up-and-coming actors and directors he gave a chance to, believing that being their muse, could make a major difference in their lives.

She also spoke about more equality for women in the entertainment industry, something that was vitally important to her late husband, who received the first Diversity Award for supporting women and minorities while directing his various projects.

“Women who are talking about this are making great inroads in terms of equal pay, and they have the power on the different productions to insist on hiring more women directors,” Danner said. “With all of the recent focus on this, I am hoping that it will continue to change.”

In “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” Danner plays a former songstress, who discovers as a widow, that if you are willing to take some chances and give your heart away, life can begin anew at any age.

In this vibrant, funny, and heartfelt film, with the support of her three loyal girlfriends, played by Rhea Perlman, June Squibb and Mary Kay Place, Danner’s character Carol decides to embrace the world, embarking on an unlikely friendship with her pool maintenance man (Martin Starr), pursuing a new love interest (Sam Elliott), and reconnecting with her daughter, (Malin Akerman).

Carol tries speed dating, singing “Cry Me A River,” at a karaoke bar, and then she meets a new man in her life. Carol must decide, should she run from the feelings or give it a try? The movie is funny, sexy, and endearing all at the same time.

She said that she enjoyed working with veteran actor Sam Eliot, even though his mustache “tickled a bit” during their kissing scenes.

“Anyone who has been through this knows it is not easy, whether this happens to you at a young age or an older age,” Danner said. “But the movie is real life – it is the positive story of dealing with the sadness, the grief and all of the changes that take place.”

When she was told that ”I’ll See You In My Dreams,” without a cookie-cutter happy ending can make movie watchers a bit teary-eyed, she replied, “Yes, the movie may make you cry. But it will also make you laugh – so all of that is good – right?”

New York Women in Film & Television energizes the careers of women in entertainment by illuminating their achievements, providing professional development and training and advocating for equality. In fact, there was a networking hour after the awards were announced in which many of the other members discussed how they could work together, and support one another, on current and upcoming projects.

“This inspirational event gives us another opportunity to not only support and mentor each other,” said Terry Lawler, executive director of New York Women in Film & Television, “but to really take a moment to credit success, outstanding talent, entrepreneurship, and vision among our remarkable colleagues and friends.”
For further information about the New York Women in Film & Television, please go to: www.nywift.org.

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