Interview: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman & Director Lee Toland Krieger Talk ‘THE AGE OF ADALINE’

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Courtney Howard// Film Critic

This interview originally ran on VeryAware.com

Actress Blake Lively is every inch a movie star in her new film THE AGE OF ADALINE. In the romantic drama, she plays the titular character who, at the age of 29, is involved in a freak accident/magical snowstorm that doesn’t kill her, but rather puts her into an arrested state of physical development. Decades later, she’s managed to avert any authorities pursuing her for government testing and is living in San Francisco to be near her aging daughter (Ellen Burstyn). But when love – embodied by charming, wealthy philanthropist Ellis (Michiel Huisman) – walks into Adaline’s life, ghosts from her past come to life again. It’s a beautiful, beguiling and breathtaking adventure (read our review here).

After GOSSIP GIRL wrapped production, Lively had her feelers out for what would be the next phase in her career. However, it wasn’t until the script for ADALINE came across her path that she actually felt a calling to take on a new role. Lively says,

“This is the first movie that I read where I thought ‘I can’t not do this.’ I feel like magic doesn’t exist much in films these days unless it’s a superhero movie or it has wands. But that magic in humanity – magic in a quiet film – is very rare. The way this deals with time and love. Infinite amounts of time is so appealing, but if you get that alone, it’s not. Time is nothing without love.”

Adaline is an old soul essentially trapped in a young woman’s body. To go about creating her voice and physicality, Lively was inspired by her grandmother, grandmothers in general and one other specific type of woman.

“I joke I’m just trying to pretend like I’m an old cat lady. She’s an old woman whose closed herself off for so long. When I looked at different grandmothers that I’ve known, I looked at when they came of age. If they came of age in the sixties, they were more free spirited and open. But my grandma, who was in the 20’s was more formal and proper and ladylike. There’s that formality to Adaline – she’ll be more closed off, a little more reserved.”

Krieger says,

“Blake took it upon herself to take an etiquette course. The way her posture is and the way she uses a fork and knife when she’s eating at the table with Flemming [Ellen Burstyn]. The way that she speaks with a certain tone – there’s a manner to her speaking that is not the same as a 29-year-old living in 2015. There’s never anything youthful about her.”

Since Adaline has been coasting from decade to decade with the greatest of ease, so has her perfectly curated wardrobe. Many of the film’s dresses were loaned by Gucci, though some of the others were simply vintage with a modern twist. Husiman appreciated this eye for character detail.

“She held onto those iconic pieces she loved from all these different periods. Once we get into now, she’s wearing this combination of these vintage pieces.”

And those brilliant costume ideas came from Lively, says Krieger.

“[Lively made] sure [Adaline’s] modern day wardrobe had the touches of 20’s and 30’s – that she was coming-of-age in the 20’s and 30’s and that would be her touchstone for what was in Vogue. All of it was so spot-on and insightful.”

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(L-R) Harrison Ford, Kathy Baker, Amanda Crew, Michiel Huisman, Blake Lively in THE AGE OF ADALINE. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.

Particularly in the film’s second act, Lively and Huisman both play scene partners to Harrison Ford. Huisman states,

“I was just blown away by his passion for storytelling goes beyond. It was very inspiring for me. Harrison really helped us ground the story.”

Lively adds,

“It’s like it was a different movie when he was on set. He had such a presence.”

Molding their father/ son relationship was fairly easy, says Huisman.

“We share a passion for good coffee and he had a great coffee machine in his trailer. That was perfect father/ son bonding.”

Krieger mentions Ford was the first and only choice for the role.

“We really couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the part. We didn’t even create a formal list. We were lucky that schedule-wise it worked out. He loved the part and wanted to do it and it shows. Not only curious and ready to work hard – wants to do it right.”

Once Ford came aboard, Krieger set out with the challenge to find the younger version of his character. He chose Anthony Ingruber, an actor who bares an uncanny resemblance to Ford.

“I stumbled upon a website that was talking about who should play the young Han Solo – this is when the Abrams STAR WARS was getting revved up. They shot after we did so there were all the rumors. Someone had posted the video of Anthony Ingruber doing an impersonation of Harrison. We were so blown away at the uncanny resemblance. I got his number and said, ‘I want you to come play you’re hero and make out with Blake Lively.’ Low and behold he was available. There’s no manipulation digitally – or even with his voice. It’s all Anthony.”

Filming in San Francisco proved to be a blessing for the production, adding to the romantic atmosphere. Krieger says,

“First and foremost, we wanted it to be a love letter to the city. We wanted to touch on the history of the city since it does have such a rich interesting history – like Adaline. We wanted to avoid the stock postcard versions of establishing shots and whatnot. It was challenging as the city is tight – it’s a logistically difficult city, but it has so much to offer. It’s one of those cities where you can point the camera anywhere and you’re going to find something beautiful and interesting. But not dissimilar to THE GAME, which we looked at, and ZODIAC, believe it or not.”

Aging, especially for women, can be either a blessing or a curse. Lively says,

“I think people worry about mortality, but aging is something that society puts on you. It’s something where it’s more of an aesthetic thing – a thing other people are worried about.”

Krieger said the notion of making Adaline’s age frozen at 29 was to tease a wish-fulfillment fantasy.

“What we hopefully learn over the course of the film is that this comes at a price – watching people grow old and die. Hopefully that wish-fulfillment is examined through a different glass.”

THE AGE OF ADALINE is available on Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand today. Order here.

Gwen Reyes interviews Michiel Huisman:

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Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.

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