Sean Hanish was inspired by his own misfortune to write and direct the emotionally harrowing “Return to Zero,” the Lifetime film starring Oscar and Emmy nominee Minnie Driver and Paul Adelstein (“Private Practice) as a couple dealing with the devastating death of their child. As he admitted during our recent webcam chat (watch below), “What my wife and I went through nearly nine years ago was incredibly personal. One of the most personal stories you could put on screen, losing your child, especially in this way.”
Why did he want to share such a deeply personal story? “I’ve always looked, and I think a lot of people have looked, to film, entertainment and to art, for healing. I remember, after losing our son, I looked around for a movie like this, and it didn’t exist.” As he elaborated, “Film does something that no other art form can do. You can have an emotional cathartic experience, you can walk in someone else’s shoes, you can experience it yourself.”
Regarding that pivotal scene in the film where Driver gives birth, Hanish recalled just how difficult that day was for all involved: “That was the scene of the movie. I was afraid of it. I was afraid of reliving the worst day of my life. And I think everybody was. The set that day was really quite something. There was a reverence that I have never experienced on a film set.” To that end, “we rehearsed the scene for two and a half hours. Because I knew that once we started filming, I didn’t want to give any notes. I wanted to let Minnie and Paul go. And so we rehearsed beat by beat, slowly, a number of times.”
And was he satisfied with the end result? “Well, you saw what [Minnie] did. I didn’t think any actress could do that. The next day she came up to me and said ‘so how do you think that went last night?’ And I said, ‘you did something that I didn’t think anybody could do, you reminded me of my wife that day that she gave birth to my son’. And she said ‘that’s really good, because I don’t remember any of it’. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe Minnie Driver. She’s amazing.”
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