Robin Wright Penn wasn’t supposed to be in “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee,” at least not in the way it was originally conceived by indie filmmaker Rebecca Miller (“The Ballad of Jack and Rose”). The writer/director conceived her newest movie’s heroine as a 55-year-old woman coming to terms with her shady past and contending with her older husband’s declining health.
But when Penn came into the picture, the story line stayed the same, while Pippa’s age dropped 15 years. “Really and truly, age is just a number,” the actress told MTV News. “I think we do it in stages in our life. It’s like every seven years, turn over a new leaf. [Pippa’s] at that crossroads.”
Penn herself has undergone profound personal changes in recent years. After she spent almost two decades with Sean Penn, dating since 1989 and marrying seven years later, the couple began divorce proceedings this summer. Speaking with MTV, though, the actress resisted the notion that she and her character shared much in common.
Biographically speaking, that is certainly true. Told through a series of flashbacks that augment the present-tense narrative, “Pippa” follows the titular character from her days of youthful debauchery (played, in these sequences, by Blake Lively) to the time, decades later, when she and her elderly husband (Alan Arkin) move into a retirement home following his heart attack and she meets a man closer to her own age (Keanu Reeves).
Like Pippa, Reeves’ character is struggling to make sense of life’s difficult twists and turns. The actor revealed that his point of creative entry for the role was to imagine how to restart your own life after past failures, or as he put it, “the idea of dealing with the past and becoming present in your own life and changing it.”
Change is certainly one of the film’s central themes. Love, as Pippa says at one point, comes and goes. And at least in this respect, Penn agrees with her character.
“It’s twofold. It does come and go, but when it comes back, it’s bigger,” she explained, adding, “When it goes, it goes. You’re like, ’OK, this one came back and, wow, it feels better.’ ”
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.”
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