From first-time writer/director Elizabeth Chomko, WHAT THEY HAD centers on a family in crisis. Bridget (Hilary Swank) returns home to Chicago at her brother's (Michael Shannon) urging to deal with her mother's (Blythe Danner) Alzheimer's and her father's (Robert Forster) reluctance to let go of their life together.
What They Had
Cast & Crew
Hilary SwankActorHilary was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, to Judith Kay (Clough), a secretary, and Stephen Michael Swank, who served in the National Guard and was also a traveling salesman. Her maternal grandmother, Frances Martha Dominguez, was of Mexican descent, and her other roots include German, English, and Scottish. During her early childhood, her family moved to Spokane, Washington, and when she was six, to Bellingham, Washington. Hilary was discovered as a child by producer Suzy Sachs, who coached her in acting. When she was nine years old, she starred in her first play as "Mowgli" in "The Jungle Book". She began to appear regularly in local theater and school plays. She went to school in Bellingham, where she lived with her family, until she was 16. She competed in the Junior Olympics and Washington State championships in swimming; she ranked 5th in the state in all-around gymnastics (which would come in handy for starring in The Next Karate Kid (1994) years later). In 1990, Hilary and her mother moved to Los Angeles, where she enrolled in South Pasadena High School, and started acting professionally. She appeared in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) but The Next Karate Kid (1994), where she got the part competing against hundreds of other actresses, was her breakout role. Ever since then, she has been much in demand and has worked non-stop in movies. She won the Best Actress Oscar for playing "Brandon Teena" in Boys Don't Cry (1999). In addition to the Oscar, Hilary won the Golden Globe Award for "Best Actress in a Drama" and "Best Actress" prizes from The New York Film Critics, The Los Angeles Film Critics, The Chicago Film Critics and The Broadcast Film Critics Association. She also won the "Breakthrough Performance" prize from The National Board of Review. Hilary then appeared in supporting roles opposite Cate Blanchett and Keanu Reeves in Sam Raimi's The Gift (2000) and opposite Al Pacino and Robin Williams in Christopher Nolan's Insomnia (2002). Hilary then starred as "Alice Paul" in HBO's Iron Jawed Angels (2004), which told the story of the women's suffragist movement and she was honored with both SAG and Golden Globe nominations for her performance in this film. In 2004, Hilary starred opposite Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman as the title character in Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby (2004); the story of a young woman's quest to realize her dream of becoming a professional boxer. For this performance, she was honored with her second Academy Award for "Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role" and has garnered "Best Actress" prizes from the National Society of Film Critics, the Screen Actors Guild, The Broadcast Film Critics, and a Golden Globe for "Best Lead Actress in a Drama". Hilary Swank is the third youngest woman in history to win two Academy Awards for "Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role". She subsequently had a supporting role opposite Scarlett Johansson and Josh Hartnett in Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia (2006), starred in Freedom Writers (2007), the true story of Long Beach schoolteacher, Erin Gruwell, The Reaping (2007) for Warner Brothers, and reunited with her Freedom Writers (2007) writer/director, Richard LaGravenese, starring in the film adaptation of Cecelia Ahern's novel, P.S. I Love You (2007). An aficionado for anything that involves the outdoors, she enjoys: sky diving, river rafting and skiing.More
Michael ShannonActorMichael Corbett Shannon was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Geraldine Hine, a lawyer, and Donald Sutherlin Shannon, an accounting professor at DePaul University. His grandfather was entomologist Raymond Corbett Shannon. Shannon began his professional stage career in Chicago. His first acting role was in "Winterset" at the Illinois Theatre Center. Over the next several years, he continued working on the stage with such companies as Steppenwolf, The Next Lab and the Red Orchid Theatre. He subsequently relocated to London for a year, and performed on stage in London's West End in such productions as "Woyzeck", "Killer Joe" and "Bug". While in Chicago, Shannon also kept busy in front of movie and television cameras, most notably in the big screen project Chicago Cab (1997), based on the long-running stage play "Hellcab". Kangaroo Jack (2003) marked the third Jerry Bruckheimer production in which Shannon has appeared. He also appeared in Bad Boys II (2003), directed by Michael Bay and starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and in Grand Theft Parsons (2003), with Johnny Knoxville and Christina Applegate. In addition, Shannon appeared in Pearl Harbor (2001), also directed by Bay. His other film credits also include Curtis Hanson's 8 Mile (2002); Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky (2001) with Tom Cruise; Carl Franklin's High Crimes (2002) with Morgan Freeman; John Waters' Cecil B. DeMented (2000), and Joel Schumacher's war drama Tigerland (2000).More
Robert ForsterActorRobert Forster was born on July 13, 1941 in Rochester, New York, USA as Robert Foster. He was an actor and producer, known for Jackie Brown (1997), The Descendants (2011) and Olympus Has Fallen (2013). He was married to Zivia Forster and June Forster. He died on October 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California, USA.More
BLYTHE DANNERActorBlythe Danner was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Katharine (Kile) and Harry Earl Danner, a bank executive. She has German, as well as English and Irish, ancestry. Danner studied acting and got her degree from Bard College and began her career in Boston theater companies. By 25, she won the Theater World Award for her work in Molière's "The Miser", at Lincoln Center. She also won the 1970 Tony award for her role in "Butterflies Are Free". She made her film premiere in the same year in the television production of Dr. Cook's Garden (1971). For 25 years, she has been a regular performer at the Williamstown Summer Theater Festival. She has also been nominated for Tonys for performances in "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Betrayal". Married to director Bruce Paltrow, she is the mother of two acting children, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jake Paltrow.More
Taissa FarmigaActorTaissa Farmiga is an American actress, and the younger sister of Academy Award nominee Vera Farmiga, who is 21 years her senior. She was born in Readington Township, New Jersey, USA, to Ukrainian-born parents Michael and Lubomyra (Spas) Farmiga. Unlike her older sister, Taissa initially had no interest in becoming an actor. However, she was persuaded to make her acting debut in Vera's directorial debut film Higher Ground (2011). Also playing the lead, Vera wanted to cast someone who was physically similar to play the younger version of her character. Taissa was 15 years old and, apart from a second grade school play, had no previous acting experience. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and Taissa's performance received critical acclaim. It was after Sundance that Taissa officially decided to pursue acting. At age 16, she landed a leading role as Violet Harmon in the Fox horror series American Horror Story (2011). Farmiga has since starred in films from a range of genres, including Sofia Coppola's crime film The Bling Ring (2013), Jorge Dorado's psychological thriller Anna (2013), Todd Strauss-Schulson's horror comedy The Final Girls (2015), Hannah Fidell's romantic drama 6 Years (2015), Ti West's western In a Valley of Violence (2016), and Warren Beatty's comedy-drama Rules Don't Apply (2016).More
Cast & Crew photos provided by TMDb.