Is 'Other People' Based On A True Story? The Molly Shannon Film Has A Heartbreaking Inspiration
It's been a big summer for Chris Kelly. The comedy writer, who cut his teeth at New York's venerated UCB Theatre, was named the new co-head writer of Saturday Night Live (with Sarah Schneider) on August 12, and now is set to see his feature film debut as a director and screenwriter, Other People, hit theaters on September 9. The movie tells the story of a 29-year-old comedy writer who leaves New York and returns to Sacramento to care for his mother, who's dying of cancer. The film is a mix of comedy and heartfelt drama, but is Other People based on a true story?
Actually, the film is based upon Kelly's own life, as he is also a comedy writer who, while living in New York, temporarily moved back to his hometown of Sacramento to spend time with his mother during her fight against cancer. "The time I spent living with her and my family while she was sick had such an enormous impact on me, that it just felt like that's what I should write about," the director told Alamin Yohannes of NBC News. "Anytime I thought, 'What do I want to say in a movie? What do I care about?,' it always came back to my mother and my family and that time in my life."
He shared more specifics about the story's inspiration in an interview with Indiewire's Kate Erbland. "My mom passed away in September 2009 and I wrote the first draft of this in the summer of 2012. It didn’t just happen and instantly I was like, 'I’m going to write a movie about this.' It was when I decided I wanted to try to write a feature. I wanted to write something I felt I could do in a truthful way," he said. He also states that, while his and most of his family's surrogate characters in the film aren't 100 percent true-to-life, his mother, played by Molly Shannon, pretty much is.
"It’s loosely autobiographical, but I don’t look at the movie and see my dad as that, or myself, or my sisters, but I do see my mom, and it was kind of accidental," he said. "[Shannon]’s very similar to my mom and so funny and a smartass and very strong. It was hard to direct her, because I do feel like I’m with my mom a bit now."
Chris Kelly may be known for comedy, but by using the most heartbreaking event in his life as inspiration, he's shown that he knows a thing or two about the other side of human emotion as well.
Images: Vertical Entertainment