Gwyneth Paltrow fetes her mom, Blythe Danner

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow helped kick off Oscar season by hosting an Oct. 20 lunch at Craig’s in honor of her mother, Blythe Danner, who is getting awards buzz for her role in “I’ll See You in my Dreams,” now available on iTunes.

The independent film, written and directed by Brett Haley, tells the story of a retired schoolteacher in her 70s whose life unfolds new possibilities after her closest companion (a dog) dies, and she considers dating again. The film also stars June Squibb, Rhea Perlman and Mary Kay Place.

About 50 guests attended the lunch, which included cast members from the film, and a handful of actors from Hollywood’s elder generation, including actress Doris Roberts (“Everybody Loves Raymond”), British actor Michael York and stage, screen and television actress Brenda Vaccaro — plus an Academy member or two. Guests dined on salmon and spaghetti squash while Paltrow regaled the group with stories.

Dressed in a cream-colored flapper dress, she stood at the front of the room and described a childhood of watching and admiring her mother on stage. 

“I had the great pleasure of growing up, watching this woman’s talent and incredible imagination and amazing femininity – this amazing force she was able to channel,” Paltrow said. “I wanted to follow in her footsteps.”

“Even though she can’t remember her lines, ever!” Paltrow added wryly.

Paltrow told the crowd a story about Danner playing a doctor during a birth scene and taping her lines to the inner thigh of the child she was supposed to deliver. “But when she gets them, nobody delivers them better,” Paltrow joked.

The Oscar-winning actress became emotional talking about her mother’s legacy, noting that this is the first time in Danner's five-decade career that she’s had the leading role. “My mother has the most extraordinary body of work,” Paltrow said. “She has managed to stay on top [even with breaks to raise children] because she does it for love, for the art of it. So, to see her star for the first time – I’m gonna cry….”

Paltrow collected herself, and then walked over to the table where her mother was sitting, and embraced her. Fifteen minutes later, Danner was still farklempt.

“My daughter,” she said, choking up slightly and clutching her neck. “I can’t believe what she said.”


Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the film is available on Netflix; it is available on iTunes.