The Hollywood Reporter has announced exclusively that Oscar winner Hilary Swank and Oscar nominee Michael Shannon will star in the film “What They Have,” which begins shooting on March 22 in Chicago. The two actors will be joined by Robert Forster, Blythe Danner and Taissa Farmiga in the film from writer and director Elizabeth Chomko.
Swank will play a woman who goes back to her hometown when her mother (Danner), who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, wanders into a blizzard. Chomko’s script received the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting from the motion picture academy in 2015. Previous scripts that received that fellowship include “Short Term 12,” “Akeelah and the Bee,” “Mean Creek,” “Finding Forrester” and “Arlington Road.”
This will be the directing debut for Chomko, who was inspired by the experience of her own family: her grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s. “The most surprising part of her Alzheimer’s — for all of us in the family — was that a lot of it was f*cking hilarious,” she said in a 2016 interview with Go Into the Story. “My mom’s side of the family lives in that space where laughter and tears overlap. There were so many times we were all laughing our fool heads off … And those moments would be sandwiched between moments that took your breath away. It’s such a strange, complicated disease.”
Swank is undefeated at the Oscars. She won Best Actress for “Boys Don’t Cry” (1999), and then won that category again five years later for “Million Dollar Baby” (2004), which also won Best Picture. Shannon is a two-time nominee for Best Supporting Actor for “Revolutionary Road” (2008) and just this past year for “Nocturnal Animals” (2016). Danner has yet to be nominated for an Oscar despite her enviable resume.