Death is the launching point of the heartfelt, star-packed film Sister Cities which premieres Saturday on Lifetime, but its story is very much about how we choose to live our lives — and who we choose to let in or keep out.
Originating as a critically acclaimed stage production penned by Colette Freedman (who adapted her own work for the film’s screenplay and spent time on set with the actors), Sister Cities follows four wildly disparate adult sisters, each with a different dad and named for a locale. There’s aspiring judge Carolina (Castle’s Stana Katic), sensitive author Austin (The Good Wife’s Jess Weixler) who still lives at home, uptight Dallas (Gossip Girl’s Michelle Trachtenberg) and party girl Baltimore (Pretty Little Liars’ Troian Bellisario).
Reuniting at their bucolic family home after their colorful, former-dancer mom Mary (played in different life stages by Shameless’ Amy Smart and Blunt Talk’s Jacki Weaver) dies in an apparent suicide, the women battle, bond and come to terms with themselves, each other, their parentage, and the secrets and stubbornness that can make or break a family.
Weaver says that though her time on set was limited, she found a way to make sure she “spoke” to each of her onscreen daughters. Here, the two-time Oscar nominee also offers answers to our “5 Questions.”
1. Did you see the play before you became part of the film or was the Sister Cities story new to you?
I only read the screenplay. I thought it was a riveting story with interesting characters and immediately wanted to participate in the film.
2. Much of Mary’s story is told in flashback, but her impact is apparent in her daughters. Can you tell me about getting to know her as you played her?
The script is so good that everything about the character is there in the text. Sometimes the best research is just to use one’s own imagination!
3. Most of your scenes are with Jess Weixler’s Austin. How did you “connect” with the other daughters?
With director Sean Hanish’s blessing, it was my idea that I compose — in my own words and handwriting — letters to each daughter, and they didn’t know that or what their contents were, until they opened them and read them on camera. It worked well!
4. What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry?
Eggs, skim milk and rocket (arugula).
5. If your TV only carried three shows or networks, what would they be?
Veep, Seinfeld reruns and The Rachel Maddow Show.
Sister Cities premieres Saturday, Sept. 17 at 8/7CT on Lifetime.