Worthy of attention: Blythe Danner
|Favorite aspect of working in TV? “The paycheck is awfully nice. Plus, in TV, unlike the theater, you don’t have to repeat it every night.”
Hardest aspect of working in TV? “The pace, definitely. I’m a slow worker normally, and it’s always a bit of a struggle for me to get the words down. I don’t process things that quickly.”
Favorite scene from last season? “When she is caught in bed with Russell (Oliver Platt), her son’s best friend.”
Favorite TV shows? “‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ which is great. The other one is ‘Supernanny,’ which I watch a lot with my daughter (Gwyneth Paltrow). I’m a new grandmother, and watching that show, I’m seeing you are never too old to learn.”
When Blythe Danner was offered the part of Izzy Huffstodt, mother of “Huff’s” title character, Dr. Craig Huffstodt (Hank Azaria), she accepted so fast that she even surprised herself.
There was none of her usual “hesitating until the idea sits in a comfortable place for me,” she says. This time, the veteran thesp responded immediately to Izzy and the writing in the pilot for the Showtime series. Quite simply, she liked the idea of “getting permission to be bad.”
The “bad” in question refers to Izzy’s acerbic wit, self-absorption and tendency to be cruel and/or inappropriate. Danner found its pleasantly refreshing.
“She has such a tongue and is so three-dimensional, so often running the gamut of emotions,” she explains. “I love that. Every actor considers that a meal. She cuts deep, then the next minute, she heals but with a sharper tongue than most. She’s not all bad, of course. In fact, she often shows her humanity, like when she pulled the plug on her dying friend, ending her suffering. But I must admit, I like her best when she’s at her worst.”
Not that Danner finds herself completely identifying with Izzy in terms of life experience. It’s more that she understands that she, like all of us, could have turned out like Izzy.
“I’ve had experiences I can call on, after all, I’ve been around a while,” she says, “not necessarily Izzy’s experiences but things I can call up. The thing is we’re all capable of all of it, if we were given permission to vent and to let it slap out there in the air. But most of us don’t get that kind of permission.”
Danner says she also likes the gig because of the opportunity to work with a team that includes Azaria, Oliver Platt, Paget Brewster and Lara Flynn Boyle. “It’s like being part of an old-fashioned repertory company.”
What’s next for Izzy? Darned if Danner knows.
“When I started, I didn’t see all the humanity that came later in the season,” she says. “They supplied a lot of changes to Izzy. I’m sure more are coming, but I honestly can’t say what they might be.”