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60 SECONDS WITH ...

Brenda Blethyn

July 05, 2007|Jessica Gelt

When Brenda Blethyn began acting, working in film didn't occur to her. Several decades and two Oscar nominations later, the brazen Brit has proven a force on celluloid. In her latest film, "Introducing the Dwights," which opened Wednesday, the 61-year-old Blethyn plays Jean, a domineering but devoted mother and has-been comedian grappling with a son's coming of age.

"Introducing the Dwights" is being marketed as a comedy, but it's pretty tragic in parts.

Oh, I agree with you, it's a drama, but it happens to be very funny, as is life. It's not slapstick, it's not intentionally funny; it's unfortunately funny, and I loved that. It verges on tragedy in places, but then suddenly a sense of warmth rises out of it.

Your character is massively abrasive at times. How'd you keep her sympathetic?

If you find her sympathetic, that has to do with your heart. But I really think the dynamic between mother and son is different than any other, and when the son marries he goes into the wife's family. When Jean sees this happening, it comes with a sense of loss and a sense of theft.

You don't just play a mother, but a stand-up comic as well. Have you done that in real life?

Oh no, but when I was doing a stand-up scene, one of the extras came up and said, "Oh, I love your work. I believe I've seen you in a club in Melbourne; you were great." I said, "No, no, I'm just a humble actor," and she said, "Now, don't put yourself down."

What are the differences between stage and film acting?

With theater you have the great luxury of rehearsal, you play the part chronologically, you develop a great rapport with other actors, and you play your part for a length of time so you discover more all the time.

What's your favorite thing to do when you're in L.A.?

I like going down to Santa Monica Beach. In fact, I was there when the World Cup was on, and it was great fun sitting in a bar watching America play.

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-- Jessica Gelt

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