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Catherine Keener on playing viola and mining emotions with Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'A Late Quartet'

Catherine Keener has acted in dozens of comedies and dramas, from playing author Nelle Harper Lee in 2005’s Capote to a single mother in The 40-year-old Virgin, but she’s never played a violist, as she does in drama A Late Quartet, out in limited release on Friday.

Keener takes on the role of Juliette, who plays in an internationally known classical quartet with her violinist husband Robert, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, violinist Daniel, played by Mark Ivanir, and father figure cellist Peter, played by Christopher Walken. The foursome are hit hard when Walken’s Peter announces he has Parkinson’s, and must end his career. In the movie, Keener wavers between tight-lipped emotion and deep, fitful explosions of expression, arguing with Hoffman and seeking solace from Walken. It’s a part the actress critics have called “an indie queen” relishes. EW spoke to Keener by phone about the movie, working with Walken and Hoffman (her co-star in Capote), and loving that her own 13-year-old son plays the cello.

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'A Late Quartet' trailer: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, and Christopher Walken make complicated music together

No one strives to be second fiddle, but what happens to the people who find themselves stuck (in this case, literally) in that role? In A Late Quartet — premiering tonight at the Toronto International Film Festival — Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, and Mark Ivanir (Schindler’s ListBig Miracle) play members of a famed symphonic foursome that is rocked when one member (Walken) announces an illness that will end his career.

The event forces Hoffman’s character, who’s perpetually played second violin in the group, to reassess his own goals and passions — both professionally, and personally with his wife (Keener). You can check out the first trailer for the film, the feature debut for co-writer-director Yaron Zilberman, below:  READ FULL STORY

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