For her first serious acting role, Taylor Swift has a memorable cameo in “The Giver” (read Jane Boursaw’s review), the coming-of-age story of Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), a young man growing up in a seemingly utopian universe where pain, emotion, struggle and love are erased.
Based on the beloved 1993 Lois Lowry young-adult novel, this is a world where no one is burdened with memories except the community’s Receiver of Memories (Jeff Bridges), known as The Giver. Meryl Streep, in a grey fright wig, plays the Chief Elder, a woman with an icy demeanor, assigns vocations to all the young people and has named Jonah to go into training with The Giver to eventually inherit his role in the community.
In a brown wig to tone down her pop diva image, Swift plays Rosemary, the previously assigned Giver, whose brief stint ended disastrously. She appears as a hologram version of her character, and plays the piano and sings next to a younger version of The Giver (Bridges). Swift materializes as this ghostly image only in a hologram because, Giver explains, “she no longer exists.”
The 24-year-old music superstar, in a pretty floral mini dress, turned up recently at the JW Marriot Essex House in Manhattan to promote the film with fellow cast members Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Jeff Bridges, Odeya Rush, Emma Tremblay, Cameron Monaghan and Brenton Thwaites, along with author Lowry, director Phillip Noyce and screenwriters Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weirde and producer Nikki Silver.
At the press conference, Swift sat in the back row next to Meryl Streep, where they both seemed to try to take a low profile but ended up being the focus of attention.
As to why she chose this as her first major project, Swift noted, “It’s unbelievable to even think about having the opportunity to work with Jeff. That was just an unbelievable concept that I would get to do this dream scenario where I have a very small role that has a pivotal part in the story, but aren’t jumping into deep water your first time in a serious, dramatic movie.”
The only one of the young actors who read the book before taking the role, Swift said the story had a profound effect on her and stuck with her since grade school.
“The fact that it was written by an author I really respect, the fact that it celebrates all the things that I hold really dear, the things that are most important to me, like our history and our music and our art and our intellect and our memories, I think that really had a great deal to do with why I wanted to be a part of this.”
She spoke of the book’s message and how she related it to her life and her fans.
“In a world where right now I’m seeing so many of my fans and these people write to me on Instagram and Twitter and letters, saying they’re having such a tough time with life because they can’t imagine that we can experience such great pain, such intense loss, such insecurity … and the thing I just wish I could tell them over and over again is that we live for these fleeting moments of happiness. Happiness is not a constant, it’s something that we only experience a glimpse of every once in a while, but it’s worth it. And I think that’s what they’ll take away from this movie.”