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Karen Allen OK with aging

Karen Allen plays mother two teenagers headed for juvenile deliquency wife an abusive husb'White Irish Drinkers.'

Karen Allen plays the mother of two teenagers headed for juvenile deliquency and wife to an abusive husband in "White Irish Drinkers."

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Updated: April 21, 2011 12:16AM

It’s time for a baby boomer reality check. Marion Ravenwood is about to turn 60 — or Karen Allen, the actress who stood up to Indiana Jones is about to hit that milestone.

Just don’t ask her about trying to look decades younger.

“I’m an old yogi from way back. I just try to stay as healthy and physically fit as possible,” she says. “I’ll never be someone who gets into the plastic surgery aspect of trying to maintain. I’m a wuss. If I get a paper cut, I’m crying. I can’t imagine volunteering to let someone cut my face. I’d much rather let my face age the way it will age and call it a day.”

She’s hardly calling it a day on the big screen. Allen stars in the drama “White Irish Drinkers,” director John Grey’s story of two teenage brothers in 1975 Brooklyn who live with their abusive father and well-meaning mother. The brothers embark on a life of petty crime as a way to get out.

Allen loves bringing strong women to the big screen.

“In ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ you meet me when I’m running a bar in Nepal drinking the men under the table. This man who wronged me when I was 16 comes into the bar and I punch him in the jaw.

“It was delightful,” says the soft-spoken Allen. “There aren’t many introductions to a character that give you that much.”

1 Is it true that you grew up in Illinois?

My parents met when they were at Illinois College in Jacksonville. I was born in rural Illinois but moved when I was a baby. My grandparents continued to live in Illinois and I spent my summers there. My father worked for the government [as an FBI agent] and we traveled around a lot when I was a kid. I loved going to back to these amazing small towns.

2 What was the appeal of “White Irish Drinkers”?

I just fell in love with the writing because it was such a beautifully, complex, heartbreakingly rich role. My character, Margaret, is desperately trying to protect, defend, support and figure out her sons. I thought of this mother as a woman from my mother’s generation. She had her children young and was like so many women who didn’t have independent lives or careers. Their world was very much their family.

3 Her hard-drinking husband is abusive physically to both Margaret and his sons. How can she defend him?

I think she loves him deeply. She loves him in spite of what’s happening. He’s a hard-working, hard-drinking man. There are also wonderful moments where she stands up to this man and barks him down.

4 Is there any truth to the rumors about another Indiana Jones film?

We have an interesting starting point now with Indy and Marion married with a grown son. But until they have a script where everyone is in agreement, it won’t be done.

5 How did you do a 180 and embark on a new career?

I’ve been knitting my entire life and have a store and a clothing line where everything is all handmade. I work in an old barn studio where I have eight Japanese knitting machines. I create very fine Italian and Scottish cashmere sweaters, hats and unique scarves. It’s an awful lot of fun for me and also balances out my life. Working in film and theater is a very collaborate process. A sweater is something I can make on my own. No one has to say, “This sweater is greenlit.” It’s something where I can say yes. (Check it out at

Big Picture News Inc.

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