Last Sunday (April 29), Adrienne Shelly’s comedy Waitress — about a pregnant pie-maker with an a–hole husband and a serious crush on her doctor — premiered in New York City, the director/writer/actress’ hometown. Sadly, Shelly never got to walk that red carpet, or bask in the good reviews her movie has been receiving: She was found dead in her Manhattan office last year, allegedly killed by a construction worker with whom she had been arguing. But her cast — including Keri Russell, Jeremy Sisto, and Cheryl Hines — kept her spirit alive at the premiere, recalling for EW.com their favorite memories of working with her.
KERI RUSSELL (the pie-maker, Jenna): ”I think the main thing to say about her that’s unique to this movie is that unlike any movie I’ve ever done, she controlled every aspect of it. She wrote it, she directed it, she’s in it, she wrote songs for it, she picked out the color of our outfits. Every frame of this movie, every joke was hers. And it wasn’t like she just let us go out there and try a bunch of stuff. It was like, ‘No, I don’t like what you’re doing… Do it like this.’ Totally, every frame of this movie is hers. And any success it has is absolutely hers.”
JEREMY SISTO (the a–hole husband, Earl): ”There’s this scene where I had to eat a spaghetti pie, which to me tasted like the worst thing you would ever have to put in your mouth. I would gag every time I put it in my mouth, which perhaps I shouldn’t have. I really somehow got it in my head that I just really couldn’t eat it, and at the end of the take, you can see me cutting it up and starting to take a bite, waiting for her to call ”cut,” and she was over at the monitor waiting for me to take a bite. So it was kind of a game of chicken. It was a playful thing, but she was very specific about what she wanted and she knew exactly the movie that she was making.”
NATHAN FILLION (the hot Dr. Pomatter): ”My favorite story is the very first time I met Adrienne — I was trying to get a meeting with her in L.A. before she left town. And I had a trip planned to New York, and then she had to go on a trip out of town so I didn’t think I was going to get to meet her. But her trip out of town was actually back to New York, so we did meet here, in a diner in the Lower East Side of all places. And the booth she was sitting in was raised from the floor, and she was actually sitting on her feet, kneeling on the seat so when I saw her and she actually stood up to meet me, she was shorter than she was sitting down.”
CHERYL HINES (Jenna’s friend and fellow waitress Becky): ”My fondest memory is when her character Dawn is getting married, and she’s wearing a wedding gown, and she’s shooting her wedding scene. And when we would cut, she would run behind the monitor and watch the scenes and give direction in her wedding gown and then go back out in front of the camera. It was just a really fun, very special day.”
LEW TEMPLE (restaurant manager Cal): ”I had a hot affair with Cheryl [Hines’ character]. And in one scene, Adrienne, because she was acting and directing, had lost her voice. And she wasn’t able to direct vocally so she was writing notes. And in the course of our makeout scene, she was giving us directions with how to make out and what parts of the body to grab. And I have this piece of yellow notebook paper that says, ‘Grab her bottom with your left hand, no, no, no’ and she gave it to me at the end and signed it and said: ‘Sell it on eBay, maybe it will be worth something someday.’ Which of course I will never do.”
Reporting by Kristin Luna