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‘The Last Word’ Filmmakers and Cast on Working with Shirley MacLaine (Video)

Sundance 2017: ”Mark asked me to play Shirley MacLaine’s daughter and I said, ‘Yeah sure, when?'“ Anne Heche tells The Wrap

Shirley MacLaine stars in “The Last Word” as Harriet Lauler, a retired businesswoman who is underwhelmed when she hires a journalist to write her obituary before she dies. Deciding to rewrite the story of her life, she drags a few people along as unwitting accomplices.

“The genesis of this idea was, ‘What kind of person would want to have their obituary written while they were still alive?” asked writer Stuart Ross Fink. “The character of Harriet Lauler was created from that question.”

Writer-director Mark Pellington expounded on MacLaine’s influence on him during the shoot, and vice versa: “She’s a tough bird. You gotta just lay it out straight. I’m a better director for it. I also think that she will go on record as saying she learned how to be in the moment a little bit. We shook her up. I was like, ‘Don’t worry about marks; don’t worry about rehearsal. Just go, live in the moment.’ There was a style of making the film that was new for her and she embraced.”

The cast, including Anne Heche and Thomas Sadoski (“Life in Pieces”), cited the chance to work with MacLaine as a primary reason for accepting their roles.

“Not to diss [Fink],” said Heche, “but Mark asked me to play Shirley MacLaine‘s daughter and I said, ‘Yeah, sure, when?'”

Watch the full interview above.