In two weeks at IFC, a screening of Orphans will be shown in memory of one of the films' stars. Lily Wheelwright, the 24-year old who played one of the two estranged sisters in the film, Rosie, died on March 22nd.
In the film, the twenty-something sisters reunite five years after the death of their parents only to "revisit their treacherous history." In real life, Ry Russo-Young (the writer-director) and Wheelwright were friends while growing up in the West Village and attending Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn. After high school the two parted ways, only to reunite during the casting process of Orphans. Wheelwright had mentioned a history of drugs to Russo-Young during that time, but there was no evidence of a current problem while filming in upstate New York early last year.
After filming Wheelwright moved to Barcelona and only rejoined the cast in Austin last month for the SXSW Film Festival. From the NY Times:
“At the festival, I hung out with her, we saw some movies, went to some parties together, stayed up late and had a fun time,” Ms. Russo-Young said.
Ms. Wheelwright returned to New York for her parents’ 25th wedding anniversary and a 60th-birthday party for her mother. “There were people there she hadn’t seen in years,” Ms. Hicks said. “Lily was talking about going for more acting calls and was torn between going back to Barcelona and staying in New York.”
Then came the news of Ms. Wheelwright’s death. Ms. Hicks said the medical examiner surmised that Ms. Wheelwright “had a relapse moment real bad.”
“It was something that would call to her — something in the brain — that takes time to get out when they have a relationship,” she added, speaking of her daughter’s problems.
On March 26th the following was written on the Orphans MySpace page: "Orphans doesn't usually blog but today is special. We have some very sad news to announce. Lily Wheelwright, one of the orphans in ORPHANS died at the age of twenty-four last week. It was a terrible mistake but we hope her memory can live on with this film. We love you Lily!"
In Lily Wheelwright’s memory, a screening of Orphans will be held April 30 at 10 pm at the IFC Center. You can watch the trailer here.