Chemistry, not competition drives sisters


"I think you're really going to be blown away by the whole project," John Glover said of his latest film, "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" "But you're really going to get your socks knocked off by Lynn."

This re-make of the 1962 Bette Davis-Joan Crawford film is the first professional collaboration between Lynn Redgrave and her sister, Vanessa. They play two sisters, Jane and Blanche Hudson, faded movie stars dancing a macabre Hollywood waltz.

"She was really into this role," Glover, a Salisbury native and Towson State University graduate, said over the phone from Los Angeles, noting that the woman best known these days for her Weight Watchers commercials wore padding to give former child star Jane an over-the-hill frumpy look.

Glover said he did not find a set rife with the familial and political tensions one might expect with the Redgraves working together for the first time, but instead one dominated by two esteemed professional actors.

"It was all about the work," Glover said. "When they were together, it was these two wonderful professional actresses. It was very exciting to be on that set."

In a recent satellite interview from London, Vanessa had a similar sentiment. "The ties you have as friends or sisters are one thing, but the ties you have as professionals are another," she said.

"I was principally excited to work with Lynn not because she's my sister but because she's such a wonderful actress."

Lynn agreed, but did find something particularly special in the collaboration. "I don't know whether it's in the genes, whether it's in the blood, whether it's the familiarity of the voice or the touch or the history that you see in the other person's eyes, but there was an indefinable body language and a sympathy and empathy that went between us that perhaps couldn't be duplicated by a non-family member."

The Redgraves said they did not use this story laden with Freudian overtones to work out any of their own childhood resentments.

"When any of us do good work, it is not because we're releasing some pent-up emotional state that has long remained hidden or simmering," Vanessa said. "It's when we have put ourselves into understanding a different human being."

And what they understood about the Hudson sisters -- something a bit different from the 1962 reading in which one was villain and the other victim -- is that both were responsible for this particular tragedy.

"Our task was to show the monstrousness of what they had been turned into by their careers and the factories they worked for," Vanessa said, "also what was left of the humanity within them and how that emerged."

"We decided that all three were victims of the dream factory," Glover said, including his character, a Hollywood hanger-on who saw in the relic of Baby Jane the possibility of the dream that had proven so elusive.

The Redgraves are daughters of esteemed British actors Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson, steeped in generations of stage and screen tradition. Glover is professionally trained with years of New York stage experience under his belt.

Unlike the pitiful people who populate "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" they didn't want to be stars, they wanted to be actors.

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