How David Oyelowo and Storm Reid Became the Stars of ‘Relive’ – a Film Originally About White People on an Ohio Farm (Video)

Sundance 2019: Writer-director Jacob Estes did some rewrites when Oyelowo joined the Sundance drama

When writer-director Jacob Estes originally wrote his new Sundance drama “Relive,” the script centered on a white family living on a farm in Ohio. But after acclaimed actor David Oyelowo agreed to join the project, he happily got to work rewriting.

“Relive,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday, follows an LAPD detective who has a close bond with his niece, Ashley (“Wrinkle in Time” star Storm Reid). When tragedy strikes, their bond continues through phone calls that transcend time. Together, they solve a mystery and try to save each other’s lives.

As Estes told TheWrap in a Q&A at the WanderLuxxe Fimmaker Lounge on Sunday, he had practical reasons for originally setting key scenes in “Relive” on a farm in Ohio: a series of gunshots early in the film had to take place somewhere no one would hear them.

But when Oyelowo signed on as the film’s star and producer, they agreed to move “Relive” to a mostly African-American neighborhood in Los Angeles where, Estes explained, the sound of gunshots is far too common. Because “Relive” is partly a family drama, casting Oyelowo opened the door to several other black actors joining the project, including Reid.

Oyelowo told us he first saw Reid’s gifts as an actor when he visited the set of “A Wrinkle in Time,” in which she starred as Meg, a young girl who travels through space and time in search of her father. “A Wrinkle in Time” was directed by Ava DuVernay, who also directed Oyelowo’s Golden Globe-nominated turn as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma.”

Estes’ script needs the audience to believe that the love and faith between Oyelowo and Reid’s characters is strong enough to transcend seemingly impossible obstacles. The two actors told us about a pact they made early on to make sure they always supported each other through every scene, even the ones in which their characters can’t see each other.

You can watch the video above. The Q&A starts at the 15-minute mark.