'Age of Adaline' Director Lee Toland Krieger Talks Period Pieces & Magical Realism

In discussing the influences behind his eight-decade-spanning romance, The Age of Adaline, director Lee Toland Krieger cites a surprising source: Tom Hanks and Penny Marshall's 1988 hit Big. It's not the nostalgia or period piece factor but rather the magical realism involved which, as explained by Krieger (Celeste & Jesse Forever) adds an extra element of intrigue to the film (Not to mention a great supporting performance from Harrison Ford).

The Age of Adaline revolves around a woman (Blake Lively) who loses the ability to age after being involved in a car accident during a lightning storm and after decades of uprooting her life to avoid suspicion, meets a man (Game of Thrones and Orphan Black actor Michiel Huisman), who might finally be the one to change her life forever. Screen Rant recently spoke with Krieger about the challenges of the eight-decade-spanning story and how the added uniqueness of the aforementioned magical realism makes Adaline more than just a romance.

What was unique about the type of or amount of research you had to do for this film?

You read a lot of scripts that are period pieces but they are one period, it's the 50s or the 60s, what have you. This is a movie that travels through eight decades so it's certainly challenging as filmmaker but really exciting because you get to recreate not one but eight different decades, so that was really probably the singular most interesting and daunting part of the process.

Did it add more time that you had to spend in research and prep or was it just part of the process?

No, our prep ended up being pretty long for us,which was great for me. I talk about the Coen brothers and David Fincher a lot, you hear them both say it in diff ways that you make your movie in prep and it's true on every movie regardless of how complicated it is, if you do your job in prep, production should be boring. It never is, but that's the goal. For this it was all longer prep period than than we might have normally had on a movie of this size because getting all those eras right,and doing the research and dialing in everything in from costume design to hair and makeup to the props, was and do really critical part making this journey feel real for her.

Blake Lively Michiel Huisman Age of Adaline
Michiel Huisman and Blake Lively in 'The Age of Adaline'

I like that it has been quoted as having magical realism because watching it you feel that it's different, not cut and dry reality...

We were going from something not dissimilar from, I mean it's a love story first and foremost, but not dissimilar from a movie like Big which has this magical realism hook to it but most of the movie is played really straight and is really more about the emotional journey of the protagonist, and that's sort of the approach we had here.

Casting, it seems you have the A+ of A+ people involved, how did that come together?

We cast Adaline first which might go without saying, but we got lucky that Blake read it and really wanted to do it right away. We sat down and she really poured her heart out about how much she loved the material and clearly had a grasp on what was required. We were lucky in the fact that she sort of came to us and said 'I'd love to do this,' which is always exciting because you want an actor who really wants to be there and she came to it with that. With Harrison and Michiel and Ellen Burstyn and Kathy Baker they all fell in love with what I did, which is a unique story. You just don't get a lot of those anymore,  especially a story about the beauty of growing old which is not something we've seen much of.

Harrison Ford and Blake Lively in Age of Adaline
Harrison Ford and Blake Lively in 'The Age of Adaline'

What are you going to do next?

I trying to figure it out. The good people at Lionsgate who we worked with on this and Lakeshore, we've been talking to those guys about doing something. They've been wonderfully supportive and a good family to make this movie with so I hope something with either or both of them.


The Age of Adaline opens in theaters April 24, 2015.

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