Blythe Danner Chats with Role Mommy

Guest contributor Shari Von Holten at HaveUHeard shares an interview with the veteran actress and star of “Little Fockers”
I had the opportunity to see the movie “Little Fockers” and interview some of the cast from the movie including Blythe Danner. Blythe Danner has appeared in “Meet the Parents,” “Meet the Fockers” and the third in the series “Little Fockers.” When asked how great it was working with the cast again, Blythe revealed, “It’s like coming back to a security blanket. It’s wonderful because we’ve had three now. And coming back in, you don’t have to second guess or even guess to begin with how people work because you know……….to hear that they were doing a third, I was thrilled.”
Blythe gave an inside peek at one of my favorite actors of all time, Robert DeNiro, by telling us that “Bob (Robert De Niro) is so funny. When he laughs he shakes. So, we had a lot of fun with that one. He kept laughing and having a very good time.”
Blythe spoke about her career, her daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow, parenting and what it is like being a grandmother.
Here are some of the highlights from the interview:
Question: Is it challenging to go from sequel to sequel and have to change your character?
Blythe: We’ve had the same writers ever since the beginning and they know what we sound like. They have us in their ear and they know how to progress with our characters.
And I think it’s wonderful. It was kind of fun for me that Barbara (Streisand) brought and sowed the seed of trying to play act. You loosen up a bit, because she’s very proper.
Question: What is one of the most memorable things that you’ve done?
Blythe Danner: Oh, I love the stage. I love the things I’ve done on the stage with my daughter. We’ve done Chekhov. We were just talking a little bit ago about Chekhov. We did “The Seagull” with Chris Walken.
We used to go up to Williamstown every summer when they were growing up because it was a wonderful way to get out of Los Angeles. My husband (Bruce Paltrow) was doing a series then, “The White Shadow” and then “St. Elsewhere”, before your time.
They rerun some of them on some of the cable stations. But, I’d always loved to get back to the theater back here. I love all the classics and the films I guess like one you haven’t seen probably, “The Great Santini” with Robert Duvall. And I love the “Will and Graces,” I love the comedy. It was great fun.
Question: The grandparents in this movie are very over involved and kind of right in there. Do you struggle with that, being a grandma?
Blythe Danner: No, I think you have to really choose. You have to be careful what you say. And I do that because I want to be around as much as I can be.
So, if my opinion is offered I give it, but other than that, I don’t, because I’ve tried. I watch my daughter (Gwyneth Paltrow) who is just such an extraordinary mother who has much more patience than I ever did.
She’s just so good with her kids. They’ll be on airplanes from London to here. They get off the plane and they always compliment her because she speaks to them, I’ve never heard her dismiss them. If one of them has a problem or somebody’s losing it she’ll go into a corner and then really talk to them there. And they’re very, very rational.
She’s been great with them. I’m so proud of her and them because I wasn’t that good. And my son’s pretty great, too. He just got married, so I’m hoping there’ll be more grandkids coming along.
We did a lot of silly stuff, my grandson actually said to me the last time, he said, “But Lalo, you’re very silly.”
Question: What do they call you?
Blythe Danner: Lalo. Apps (Apple) came up with that. She just said one day, “Who am I?” because I had all these for ideas names. I didn’t really want to be Nana or Grandma. We’d had funny nicknames in our family, and so I was dropping some of these names, and she kept going um-umm. And then, I said, “Well, who am I?” And she thought a minute and she said, “Lalo.” And she laughed and laughed and laughed. I guess she thought it was funny. About an hour later, I said, “Who am I?” She said, “Lalo.” So, that stuck.
Question: We see so many actresses today that are train wrecks. Do you attribute your parenting? Your kids are okay and they’re in the business. What did you do different?
Blythe Danner: Well, I don’t know that we did anything different. A lot of those kids started very early. We were real strict about them not starting until they were older. My son is a writer/director, but with Gwyneth who had wanted to act, people would come out and say, “Couldn’t she do this?” I would say, “Absolutely not” because I’d worked with so many children actors. So, I think lives were ruined.
These two kids (Daisy Tahan and Colon Baiocchi) are terrific and I think they’re very grounded. Little Colin is hilarious.
Blythe continued talking speaking child actors:
“I don’t like the idea of the rejection. There was one little boy that I was on something with and he was fired. And he was just devastated. I thought I wouldn’t put my kids through that. You don’t know what’s going to happen when you sign up to do something. Their egos are too fragile. And Bruce and I were very happily married and I wanted to get away from Los Angeles, because I think it is a sort of a hotbed of unreality out there. My husband was very generous in letting me come back to New York a lot. We moved back here for junior high and high school. Even though New York can be just as nutty as L.A., it’s just different.”
Blogger: It’s more real?
Blythe Danner: Yes, and my kids tutored other little kids uptown and I always thought that was really important, because I think it’s important that community service breaks the isolation of adolescence. I know there was a time when people were saying, no, no, no, they shouldn’t be made to do community service. But, now it seems as if the kids really want to.
I was just in New Orleans making a film and I did some teaching over at NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. My husband went to Tulane where we both had taught a little bit, just a class here and there, and they have 45,000 people now applying, whereas they had like 18,000 a few years ago.
Since Katrina, kids really want to do more community service. I think it’s really a good thing to do.
So, I think all of that’s important. Filling the house with music is also wonderful, whether there’s talent or not, just to have the liberation of freedom and being able to encourage them too to play, to join.
My son didn’t want to join this one choral group and I kind of insisted, and he was happy. They can get stuff out.
Question: What sort of things do you like to do with your grandkids when they visit you here in New York?
Blythe Danner: I still have pinecones and buttons from them. When they would come to visit me at the apartment, I didn’t have toys. So, I’d have a hammer and nails and stuff. They love it.
Question: The parents probably don’t let them use hammer and nails??
Blythe Danner: I’m just guiding them. I ran out of things with Apple to do one day and I had some old nails and wood and I actually was banging on them. But, a lot of imaginative play, oh, my gosh, they can go on forever with one idea just for hours and hours and hours, such as playing school or playing hide and seek and all of that stuff. I love all that. Keep them away from the video stuff as long as you can. I don’t know how you keep them away from it.
More interviews to come! For now, check out the Little Fockers You Tube channel or visit the Little Fockers website to find out where you can see the film this holiday season!