Interview: Lilley Paints A Portrait Of The Artist

If you want to check out a movie this weekend and a teenaged vampire bride or The Muppets aren’t your cup of tea, then consider something a bit different by today’s big-screen standards: The Artist, a black and white silent film set in the late 1920s towards the end of Hollywood’s silent era. You’ll even see a familiar face — GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Jen Lilley (Maxie)!

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The film, written and directed by Frenchman Michel Hazanavicius, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, even winning star Jean Dujardin the Best Actor Award at the prestigious competition. “It’s a tribute to Hollywood’s Golden Era, and I feel incredibly blessed to have been a part of it,” Lilley tells Soaps In Depth. “I have such a soft spot for Charlie Chaplin and Clara Bow, so when I got the opportunity to celebrate their art, it was touching. Michel Hazanavicius did an amazing job striving for 1920’s authenticity, and it shows!

The Artist focuses on a declining male star and a rising actress as silent cinema begins to be replaced by “the talkies.” Considering her love for the genre, being a part of The Artist was huge for Lilley. “I remember calling up my agent and telling her she had to pitch me for this project,” she recalls. “When I went in to audition, I told Michel that I knew so much about this era and I was simply delighted to hear he was making this movie. I asked him if he wanted it to really simulate a 1920s silent film, and when he said yes, I did what I knew — Clara Bow. Michel had the writers add a part for me! He was a delight to work with, as was Jean Dujardin.

“I’m actually one of the few characters that has a line in the film!” Lilley continues. “I am near the end of the film, one of the neighbors who helps rescue George Valentin [played by Dujardin]. I say, ‘Oh my God, it’s George Valentin!’ after a policeman rescues him from a burning building.”

After filming was over, Lilley walked away with an experience she’ll never forget. “There are great actors who also have small roles. I’m sure they feel just like me — thrilled to be in such an amazing film.”

The Artist also stars French actress ** Bérénice Bejo** (A Knight’s Tale) and Americans John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penepole Ann Miller and Missi Pyle. The film opens on Friday, November 25. To see the trailer, click here.

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