Blythe Danner: 'A part of me feels like I have never grown up'

By Clare Douglas and Carli Whitwell

In the new film I’ll See You in My Dreams, veteran actress Blythe Danner - mom to Gwyneth Paltrow, 42, and her younger brother, Jake - takes on the role of a widowed retiree reluctant to dip her toe back into the dating pool.

But when she finds herself falling for a charming new friend, played by Sam Elliott, she learns how to accept the past, live in the present and look forward to the future.

Off screen, 72-year-old Blythe was happily married to director Bruce Paltrow for 33 years until his tragic passing in 2002, following a long battle with cancer. And after almost 50 years in show business, Blythe shows no signs of slowing down with two projects in the works, including an upcoming mini-series based on Bernie Madoff, in which she’ll star opposite Richard Dreyfuss.

Here, the graceful actress - who made us laugh in Meet the Parents and wowed us in dozens of critically acclaimed stage performances - opens up to Hello! about being silly with her grandchildren, the lessons she has shared and learned from her children and how she keeps her body and mind happy and healthy.

Blythe Danner at a premiere for I'll See You In My Dreams. Photo: © Getty Images

Like your character Carol, have you done anything rebellious lately?
Recently? ( Laughs) Nothing except run around in the grass with my granddaughter [Apple, 11] and get down on all fours and play doggy and be silly. I wouldn’t say that’s rebellious… it’s childish. But then a part of me feels like I never have grown up – which is probably why I’m an actor!

Being such an established actress, what professional lessons do you hope you have passed down to your children?
My husband and I were both so happy that our children found their passions. I think that’s what is most satisfying. Each have found their niches and I think they’re very pleased about that. I think [I’ve taught them] just to carry on and to have a thick skin, because you can’t be in this business without that. You have to suffer the slings and arrows and move on.

Blythe Danner and daughter Gwyneth Paltrow. Photo: © Getty Images

How have they influenced you?
They influence me in everything they do because they’re very, very grounded and very rooted in who they are. I watch both of them with their children. My son has a little girl and my daughter has two children and they really talk to them. They explain everything that is going to happen. They are very attentive to their needs. I think I was always flying by the seat of my pants and saying ‘Come on we’re going!” They really have great patience. I didn’t have that kind of patience, I think.

You look amazing! What’s your secret to staying so fit?
I have found transcendental meditation very helpful and comforting. It centers me. When I’m in New York City and even when I’m in Santa Monica, I try to walk a few miles a day, very quickly. And I love to swim!

I'll See You In My Dreams hits theatres in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver on May 29. For more with Blythe, pick up issue 451 of Hello! Canadaon newsstands and tablets May 28.

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