Claire Danes and Mamie Gummer — Meryl Streep's daughter — represent the younger generation of stars in the film. Danes plays Ann Lord in her youth. Ann is played by Vanessa Redgrave as an older woman on her deathbed.
The movie begins as Ann is slipping away, but wants to reveal a secret to her daughters, Constance, played by Redgrave's own daughter Natasha Richardson and Nina, played by Toni Collette. On her deathbed, she calls out for a man — not her husband — she loved more than any other. Danes plays Ann when she meets Harris and falls in love.
"She's reflecting on her — one weekend in particular that was very meaningful to her, very impactful in which she fell in love and — and so she's sharing these stories that are kind of foreign to her daughters," Danes told The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith. "And so then — we vacillate between the two — the two time frames and two story lines."
Danes, 28, has worked with Gummer's mother before. She played Streep's daughter in "The Hours." It was an experience that Danes said was bordering on the surreal.
"Oh, it was a little out of body just because she's so profoundly gifted and she's legendary," Danes said. "I've been very influenced by her work. And — but yeah, she's fun. That's the big secret about Meryl is that she's actually a riot, a hoot and holler. So that was great."
Streep has also offered her daughter advice about acting.
"Before this project, she just told me simply to do everything with great love," Gummer said. "And I have tried to do so and to just be as honest as I can be."