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Tumbleweeds/Daily

Janet McTeer, Tumbleweeds

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Reel Pals ”Tumbleweeds”’ stars reveal why they’re so believable as mother and daughter. Janet McTeer and Kimberly Brown talk about their on and off-screen fellowship Sandra P. Angulo

Oscar buzz has been in the air since Sundance for ”Tumbleweeds” star Janet McTeer, but the English actress says she owes the strength of her performance to another Hollywood newcomer, onscreen daughter Kimberly J. Brown. After signing-on to play Mary Jo Walker – a Southern mother who drives her daughter cross-country to escape bad relationships – McTeer was nervous about acting opposite a 7th grader. ”Getting on with Kimberly was definitely the big X factor of making the film, and luckily by the third day of rehearsal, I realized we were already talking like family,” McTeer said of her 14-year-old costar. ”If Kimberly hadn’t been such a wonderful kid, I dread to think of what the movie would have looked like.” And according to critics, the camaraderie shows: ”Rarely have two actresses been so effortless in their intimacy,” said EW Critic Owen Gleiberman in his “A-” review.

Tony-winner McTeer and soap-veteran Brown (she received an Emmy nomination in 1997 for playing Marah on ”Guiding Light”) were so inseparable offscreen that it was easy for director Gavin O’Connor to just turn-on the camera and let the two improvise. In one scene, Brown’s character, Ava, gets her period for the first time and the duo start goofing around with an endless count of maxi pads. ”Gavin just told us, ‘I’m going to sit here and watch, you have fun.’ So, Janet grabbed a pad and did a John Wayne imitation, and then she picked up a mannequin and stuck a pad on it, and we just kept laughing,” recalls Brown. ”We went a bit crazy, but that’s what was good about it, no one was holding us back.” Supporting actor Jay O. Sanders, who plays the one positive man in Mary Jo and Ava’s life, says McTeer and Brown’s acting would affect the crew. ”Janet and Kimberly were infectious with their energy. During that scene, the whole crew was rolling around, trying not to crack-up too loudly,” Sanders says. We’re sure the audience will feel the same way.