Like many pop stars before her, Taylor Swift has been making a concerted effort to cross over into acting, beginning with appearances on TV’s CSI in 2009, and continuing with the 2010 romantic comedy Valentine’s Day. Her latest turn is a small but pivotal role in The Giver — the much-anticipated adaptation of Lois Lowry’s 1993 young-adult novel — and we’ve got an exclusive first look above.
The haunting scene finds the singer-actress — appearing in hologram form — flexing her musical and acting chops as she plays piano alongside co-star Jeff Bridges, who also serves as one of the film’s producers. He’s been trying to make the movie for 18 years, no doubt hooked in by the plot that’s made it such a best-seller: As any fan will tell you, The Giver takes place in the distant future where a “utopian” society has been manufactured out of the ashes of an apocalypse. There’s no war, violence, hatred or poverty — but in order to maintain that lifestyle, citizens have sacrificed free will and the ability to feel. In the film version, newcomer Brenton Thwaites plays Jonas, a teenager chosen to be this society’s “Receiver of Memories” from The Giver (Bridges), meaning he’ll be the only person of his generation to see what life looked like before his society’s overarching philosophy of “Sameness” was installed.
While going into too much detail about Swift’s character would be going into spoiler territory, as is revealed in the clip she plays Rosemary, the Receiver of Memories previous to Jonas. And “she no longer exists.”
Swift, who wore a brunette wig for the part, was an 11th-hour addition to The Giver cast, signing on less than two weeks before production was to start in Capetown, South Africa. Bridges told WENN that he believed her casting was the idea of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein: “He said, ‘Well, you’re being taught piano here, and somebody who would be great for that part is Taylor.’ She came into his mind and I’m so glad she stepped on board. She had read the book and was a big fan.” Producer Nikki Silver told the Washington Post that they had auditioned several actresses for the role, and decided on Swift after seeing her in concert.
Swift’s Giver co-stars have gushed about her performance: “She’s such a brilliant songwriter and singer and a wonderful actress,” said Katie Holmes, who plays Jonas’s mother. “She’s just lovely and she’s very wise… very, very wise.” Bridges was impressed by Swift’s professionalism in addition as well as performance: “She was exhausted [from travel when arriving on set] but she was such a pro, and so up for being involved and playing and took right to the acting. I hope she continues the acting.”
The Giver opens Aug. 15.