Few parents can imagine the pain and devastation of having a child die in utero. In Lifetime’s movie Return to Zero, Maggie Royal (Minnie Driver) and her husband Aaron (Paul Adelstein) receive this unthinkable news just a few weeks before the eagerly anticipated birth of their son. Now, as the couple attempts to rebuild their lives, they find that they cannot escape their grief, anger and despair over their loss. While their relationship implodes and infidelity is revealed, Maggie and Aaron find they are pregnant again, and as they face another terrifying pregnancy, they must learn to trust and love each other again.
The topic of stillbirth is rarely broached publicly, let alone in a movie, and Return to Zero is based on the true and tragic loss of the film’s writer, director and producer, Sean Hanish. In July 2005, Hanish and his wife Kiley experienced every parent’s nightmare when their son died at 37 weeks of gestation. “We thought we were the only people on the planet who had experienced a stillbirth,” says Hanish. “I discovered not only weren’t we one in a million but there were over 50,000 parents in the U.S. alone each year who had the exact same experience that we did having a stillborn baby.”
“I was able to take our story, the story of our son, and make meaning out of it,” says Hanish. Reliving the worst days of his life with a film crew in tow was not an easy process, yet it was one that he found uplifting. “I had to communicate everything that I remembered to the actors and crew — all the emotions and details — so that we could all pour it into that scene. It was exhausting but cathartic.”
Finding an actress who could play the raw and devastating role of Maggie wasn’t easy, but Hanish found it in his star, Minnie Driver. “It takes an actress who is fearless and willing to commit to going to incredibly dark and difficult places to even attempt the role. It’s relentless. Minnie Driver brought a humor and depth, humanity and pathos to Maggie that was so much greater than what was on the page.”
Return to Zero was partially funded through a very successful Kickstarter campaign, proving how greatly the public wanted and needed this film to be made. Hanish hopes it will shed light on this difficult topic, and offer insight into stillbirth. “I think Return to Zero offers the friends and family of those affected by this type of loss a way to walk in the grieving parents’ shoes and a way to empathize with them in a way that would have been difficult doing otherwise.”
Alfred Molina, Connie Nielsen and Kathy Baker costar.
Return to Zero > Lifetime > May 17