It is a long way from Lizzie McGuire to Bloodworth and that is exactly how Hilary Duff planned it. The petite, 5-feet 1-1/2 inches actress was definitely looking to take on a more grown-up role when she signed on to play an unwed, pregnant teenager in Bloodworth. And she is convincing, even though in real life the 23-year-old is happily married and not-yet a mom.
Bloodworth is the story of E.F. Bloodworth (Kris Kristofferson), who abandoned his wife and sons 40 years earlier for a life on the road. But there is more to the story than meets the eye. Now at the end of the line, Bloodworth reappears, forced to reckon with the aftermath of his departure in true Southern dysfunctional family style. With his family soured by years of anger, Bloodworth’s only solace is a budding relationship with Fleming (Reece Daniel Thompson), the grandson he never knew. But when Fleming meets Raven (Duff), the woman of his dreams, will Bloodworth’s presence force history to repeat itself?
This is quite different from anything you’ve done for Disney. Can you talk about why you wanted to take this role and what you’re hoping it does for you?
Hilary Duff: Obviously, I hope people see it and think I did a good job in it, and see me in a different way than how they’ve watched me grow up, which was in more lighthearted films. It is different in that I think every actor’s looking for a challenge, and to play something different and to be a part of a project with other great actors, it was a great experience. I’ve been trying to choose roles like that on purpose.
When you do a role like this, does it change how you want to approach your career from here on? Are the things you look for in projects different now?
Hilary Duff: I think for a while, everything was pretty planned out. Now, the great thing with this business is that you’re never bored; every day can bring you something new: a new opportunity, a new role to go fight for. If some movie came along that was more mainstream, or more relatable, like maybe the things I’ve done in the past, and I loved the script, I would do it. It just depends on how you feel and what you want to tackle.
Do you see this movie as a cautionary tale for young girls? Are you hoping to get that message out?
Hilary Duff: I think it’s more uplifting; towards the end — I don’t want to give it away, but they make it out. I think someone from a small town or living in the circumstances that these two characters are living in, [the movie lets them] see that it’s possible. Even when all the odds are against you, you can change your life path and change the way things have been going in your family’s history. Obviously, these characters didn’t have the best role models to look up to. They endure some torture, but they eventually make it out.
Recently, I was talking to someone who wore a baby bump for a role, and they were saying how it was liberating and they could eat more at the crafts services table. What was the fake pregnancy experience like for you?
Hilary Duff: It was funny; it wasn’t this big, heavy … I think they’ve made them before that feel heavier and more substantial, but mine was like this lumpy, old pillow, so I was just squishing it around a lot and trying to get it to look more like a round bump instead of some lumpy thing. I got to have a big dress on and I definitely could eat more. You’re not as conscious about sitting pretty, like a girl. You can sit wide-legged, waddle around. My husband [professional ice hockey player Mike Comrie], who was my boyfriend at the time, was on set and he was just like, “You look ridiculous.” I look 14 in the movie, too, so it’s even worse. But it was fun, except for it probably would have looked bad if someone didn’t know we were shooting a movie and [saw] people pushing the lump in my stomach, slapping it.
How was the atmosphere on set? It sounds as if there were a lot of after-hours hanging out at bars.
Hilary Duff: It was a good group. Our crew — they film so much up there now that the crew always works together on other projects, so walking in it was a good group that all got along, worked well together, and worked fast. It was cool.
You didn’t have any scenes with Kris Kristofferson, but did you get to sing with him off-camera?
Hilary Duff: No, I didn’t. I didn’t even get to meet him. I know, it was disappointing. All my stuff shot in three weeks. I guess with such a big cast it was kind of hard to get everyone together and their schedules to meet up, so people shot in chunks. Besides Reece Thompson; he had to be there almost every single day.
Bloodworth, directed by Shane Dax Taylor from the screenplay by W. Earl Brown, will be released in theaters on May 20. Based on the novel Provinces of Night by William Gay, it is being released by Samuel Goldwyn Films.