Credit: Waking Marshall Walker Photo: Sarah Drew in Waking Marshall Walker

Update (February 10, 2014): The film Waking Marshall Walker has its premiere set! The filmmakers, Giorgio Litt and Thom Canalichio, tell Wetpaint Entertainment, "We are thrilled to be premiering Waking Marshall Walker at the Sonoma International Film Festival [set to be held April 2-6, 2014, in Sonoma, California]. This is a great festival and one that is gaining stature going into its 17th year, with many insiders declaring 'Sonomawood' to be one of the industry's favorites. We couldn't imagine a more fitting place to debut our film."

Original story (November 15, 2013):

Much as we love Grey's Anatomy's April Kepner, we can imagine that actress Sarah Drew doesn't have a whole lot in common with a neurotic, sometimes-grating, love-triangle-prone surgeon.

Her new project, though — the short film Waking Marshall Walker — seems to hit closer to home.

As Sarah exclusively tells Wetpaint Entertainment, the film resonates with her on a personal level… and not just because her former classmate, Giorgio Litt, co-wrote the screenplay.

"He brought me the script, and I just loved it," she explains. "And I was excited to go do something different. I wanted to go play someone other than April for a minute, and drawn to the story mainly because it's a story about second chances and there's this magic to it that's pretty amazing."


Credit: Waking Marshall Walker Photo: Sarah Drew in Waking Marshall Walker

In the short film, Sarah plays Charlotte, a daughter who thinks she's too late to help her despairing dad, only to find a way to rewind the clock. And part of that reconnection involves a revelation we won't give away here — but one with which Sarah was very familiar at the time of production.

"That [experience] was super fresh in my life and in my world and something that was incredibly emotional and just alive for me … I thought about my actual dad while we were shooting that, which kind of helped tap into that emotion of it — if that had been my dad crippled by sorrow and me trying to pull him back — and pulling him back with love but also pulling him back by new life … There was a lot that was in there that made me fall in love with my dad all over again. I ended up calling him after we finished shooting to tell him how much I loved him."

As Sarah describes, her character is struggling to support her father as he grieves over his late wife. "And it's been really hard, but I think, through the course of her journey, she really sees the world through his eyes and empathizes in a way that she's never been able to empathize before," she says. "And I think putting herself in that position gives her the power to love him, empathize with him, and ultimately call him back."

Charlotte also makes a "massive, huge sacrifice" by the end of the film to cement his recovery process.

"Love ultimately requires sacrifice and requires giving up pieces of yourself in order to care for somebody else," Sarah elaborates. "And this film shows that story, so that means a lot to me … There's just so many things about this story that resonate with deep-seated values that I have in my own life about what it means to love."

Credit: Waking Marshall Walker Photo: Richard Warner in Waking Marshall Walker

Another personal connection Sarah has to the film is that Richard Warner, the actor playing Charlotte's father, was her acting mentor in college — and she raves about the improvisational approach they took in discovering their characters.

"[Richard] is really the first coach that I ever had in my career and in my life who really understood how to communicate direction in a way that immediately made everything real and honest and dropped it in into a space of gravitas," she recounts. "Before, I was sort of manufacturing an emotional response to something — whereas his instruction helped me to actually fully jump into the shoes of whoever it was that I was playing."

Unsurprisingly, Sarah and Richard give hugely moving performances in the elegant short film — so be on the lookout for it in the coming months and keep checking back here for updates about which film festival will screen Waking Marshall Walker's world premiere, marking the film's release!