Relative Film LLC announces today the cast of Relative, the fourth feature film from Michael Glover Smith (Rendezvous in Chicago, Mercury in Retrograde), which is scheduled to shoot on the far north side and near-north suburbs of Chicago for two weeks in May.
Relative is a comedy/drama about three days in the lives of a modern dysfunctional family: as various members of the Frank clan descend on their parents’ historic Rogers Park home for a college graduation party, they find their bonds being tested, and strengthened, in surprising ways.
Wendy Robie (Twin Peaks, The People Under the Stairs) will headline as Karen Frank, the family’s compassionate but quietly suffering matriarch who works as a reference librarian in Wilmette.
“Wendy Robie is a dead-ass legend, and I couldn’t be more excited to collaborate with her,” says Smith. “I think people who only know her from her work with David Lynch and Wes Craven are going to be really surprised and impressed to see what she does in this film.”
Playing opposite Robie as Karen’s husband, retiree David, is Steppenwolf Ensemble Member and Chicago theater legend Fran Guinan. Clare Cooney (Runner), Emily Lape (Mercy’s Girl), Keith Gallagher (Orders) and Cameron Roberts (Ben is Back) will play the Franks’ adult children.
The Frank family
Most ambitious movie
Cooney, who served as casting director and co-producer, also cast and co-starred in Smith’s 2017 Rendezvous in Chicago, a Chicago-based feature that Sun Times’ Richard Roeper described as “exhilaratingly entertaining” in a 3-and-a-half star rave. Given the success of her previous contributions, she seems a great choice to help Smith achieve what he calls, “my most ambitious movie to date.”
“I wanted to make something that would be a total about-face from Rendezvous in Chicago, a movie of which I’m very proud but one that was always intended to be a divertissement, something purely light and fun,” he explains. “Here, we’re going to go much deeper and darker — though there will be a lot of humor too.”
Echaka Agba (Work in Progress), Elizabeth Stam (Bleed American) and Heather Chrisler (Chicago P.D.) will play past and present paramours of the Frank children.
Ramona Edith Williams, who made a splash as the title character of the South-By-Southwest sensation Saint Frances, will portray the daughter of Cooney and Agba’s characters. Rounding out the ensemble cast are Penelope Walker, Gregory Fields and Sandy Guinn Gulliver.
Rounding out the cast
Also producing are Aaron Wertheimer (Skippers) and Layne Marie Williams (Women of the Now). Olivia Aquilina (Mulatto) will shoot, Maggie O’Brien (Saint Frances) is Production Designer and Eric Marsh (Orders) will edit.
Although Smith’s Rendezvous in Chicago is currently available to stream via Cow Lamp Films, the writer/director is eager to start exploring new territory with his next venture.
“In Relative, I am inspired to tackle the themes of intergenerational conflict and the things that children inherit from their parents, both physically and psychologically, for better and for worse,” he says. “I also wanted to have an ensemble cast featuring substantial roles for characters of all ages, since I haven’t really done that before.”