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Hines directs film based on Shelly script

By KAREN BUTLER   |   April 29, 2009 at 7:23 AM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, April 29 (UPI) -- Actress Cheryl Hines says she felt proud, not pressured, in making her feature film directorial debut with a script penned by the late Adrienne Shelly.

Shelly was strangled by an intruder at her Manhattan office in 2006, shortly before her hit independent film "Waitress," co-starring Hines, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Before she died, Shelly had completed the screenplay for a dark comedy called "Serious Moonlight." Determined to see her vision brought to the big screen again, her husband Andy Ostroy decided to produce the film and, having gotten to know Hines while promoting "Waitress," tapped her to direct "Moonlight."

"I did feel a responsibility to the project because of Adrienne, but what was really good was working with Andy and (producer) Michael (Roiff). They never made me feel pressured about carrying Adrienne's torch. We didn't really sit around and say, 'What would Adrienne want?' Which was really helpful because I think, really, what Adrienne would want is for us to make a good film," Hines, is best known for her starring role on TV's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," told United Press International in New York recently.

"And I think you'll get yourself in trouble if you approach a project, thinking: 'What would somebody else think? What would somebody else want?' So, I felt like that wasn't the right place to be in."

Hines said one of the aspects of the "Moonlight" screenplay that appealed to her was how Shelly deftly wove humor into some serious subject matters.

"Adrienne was so gifted at capturing drama and comedy at the same time," Hines said. "And 'Serious Moonlight' does what 'Waitress' did. Where you're watching it and you're like, 'I know this is a comedy, but I can't believe that just happened. That's not funny.' And then you get a little confused and are like: 'Is this a comedy or is this a drama? I thought I was coming to watch a comedy.' And then you let go of the idea. It doesn't matter what it is, I just want to watch the story and see what happens."

She added that she thinks a well-executed blend of comedy and drama is "more of a representation of life, what people really experience."

"Moonlight" stars Meg Ryan as Louise, a woman who discovers her husband -- played by Timothy Hutton -- is planning to leave her for a younger woman -- played by Kristen Bell. Louise responds to the situation by holding her spouse captive in a bid to get him to commit to working on their relationship.

The role is a plum one for Ryan, a popular actress who has had a few career misfires of late.

So, does Hines think the movie might be something of a comeback for Ryan?

"Yeah, well, it's nice to see Meg in this role because she's playing a woman who's come undone a little bit and losing control a little bit," Hines said. "In a lot of her work, we see her in control and so to see her come undone and still find the levity in the character -- it's really good to see Meg doing that."

"Serious Moonlight" premiered last weekend at Manhattan's Tribeca Film Festival. It is scheduled to screen again at the festival Thursday.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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