Cholodenko helped lighten on-set spirit

It wasn’t their similarities but their differences that drew Annette Bening to the role of Nic — lesbian wife, doting mother and successful doctor in Lisa Cholodenko’s “The Kids Are All Right.”

“It was a chance to explore something that was completely different from my experience,” explains Bening. “I found Nic very sympathetic and the story so beautifully told. Compared to so many other parts that I had done, Nic was a refreshing kind of change. I very much responded to her. In the end, it was a very unintellectual decision.”

It was Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg’s compelling script that initially pulled her in.

“The writing is so strong,” applauds the thrice Oscar-nominated actress. “For me, it was very important that it wasn’t earnest, that there was a sense of humor about it, because the story deals with some formidable and complicated subject matter, just like our own lives. I knew that if we didn’t have a sense of humor about it, it would be deadly.”

For Bening, working with writer-director Cholodenko proved an absolute joy. “I loved the process,” she effuses of the small-budget, 23-day shoot. “Even though we were filming incredibly fast, it was all very relaxed. Filmmaking is very much a director’s medium, so you’re giving that director your performance. When you have someone like Lisa, in whom you have great faith, you know you have a better chance of doing good work.”

Playing a woman whose children (with onscreen love Julianne Moore) discover their sperm donor dad (Mark Ruffalo) was “emotionally challenging” for Bening.

“The fact that they are lesbian is very incidental,” posits Bening. “That’s not what the movie is about. It’s about trying to stay together, which is what we’re all trying to do. It’s a classic family story.”

More from Eye on the Oscars: The Actress:
Young actresses not looking for celeb status
LEAD ACTRESSES
Annette Bening | Sally Hawkins | Nicole Kidman | Jennifer Lawrence | Natalie Portman | Tilda Swinton
Lead actresses in the mix
SUPPORTING ACTRESSES
Amy Adams | Helena Bonham Carter | Melissa Leo | Miranda Richardson | Jacki Weaver | Dianne Wiest
Supporting actresses in the mix

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