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About The Characters
Ellen Burstyn was attracted to the role of Vivi because, in her estimation, "she has survived all of the difficult, painful and tragic things that happened to her and she understands life a little better because of it."

Plus, Burstyn found it satisfying that the women in both the book and script are presented as "complex, intelligent and funny. These are whole women, not stereotypes. Often in literature and films, women aren't recognized as multi-faceted individuals. This story represents women as I know them and see them in life. Callie has transformed this book into a screenplay without sacrificing depth."

Burstyn sees Vivi as "vivacious, neurotic, selfish, funny, deep and loving. She had youthful dreams that were never realized and a complicated relationship with her daughter."

Khouri fully supports Burstyn's interpretation of Vivi, saying "She brings her own focus to the role and yet is open to other ideas as well and there was never a moment when I hesitated about discussing anything with her. Her performance makes you feel that there is no limit to what she can convey."

A bonus for Burstyn was her onscreen reunion with James Garner, who plays Vivi's husband, Shep. "It's very sweet for me to be playing opposite Jim," she says. "Forty-one years ago in summer stock we worked together in John Loves Mary. We met as young talents and now we have an opportunity to come together again as actors with history. When I look at him now, it's as though I can see all the years of his life and I'm sure he can see mine."

Ashley Judd read Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood when the book was first published and immediately saw Vivi as a film role she would enjoy playing. As she describes it, "I could easily imagine being Vivi, I so identified with the character."

When offered the role, Judd did not hesitate to accept. "It was a great opportunity for me," she says, "to portray a character whose development follows a realistic arc.

"She's definitely a survivor," Judd continues. "Vivi is a force of nature -- full of life, energy and potential. Due to a series of tragedies she experiences as a young girl, some of that passion gets drained out of her. She's able to survive because of her friends - the Ya-Yas."

To understand the various facets of Vivi's personality, Judd kept a diary during production and referred to the book to organize into categories the things that Vivi said or were said about her.

Khouri believes that Judd completely captures the character. "Vivi definitely has passion," says Khouri, "and that can work negatively as well as positively. In those moments when Vivi is kicking up her heels, Ashley is radiant and you really feel that she's having fun. It's pure joy. Then in the darker moments, Ashley leaves no doubt about the abject desperation Vivi feels. It's a beautifully nuanced performance."

"My character introduces the story," says Sandra Bullock of Sidda Lee Walker.
"Sidda becomes the catalyst who brings all the past and present situations together. She's the daughter of the craziest Ya-Ya, Vivi."

Because of her misunderstanding of certain harrowing family events, for which she blames her mother, Sidda is on the verge of making a huge mistake by rejecting a marriage proposal from her longtime live-in boyfriend Connor McGill. "She's afraid that if she gets married she will do to her own children what she remembers her mother doing to her," Bullock explains. "This is when the Ya-Yas step in to help. They take the bull by the horns, meaning that they drug Sidda and hold her against her will, forcing her to hear them out. They introduce her to her mama's secret scrapbook, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

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