With her first film, 'Suncoast,' Laura Chinn digs into her emotional past

Mark Meszoros, The News-Herald, Willoughby, Ohio on

Published in Entertainment News

Just released to Hulu, the semi-autobiographical "Suncoast" is the feature debut from Laura Chinn.

Chinn, to this point best known for appearing in episodes of several television shows, also has written a memoir, "Acne," which she is considering trying to adapt for her next project.

"I am also interested in never talking about myself again," she says during a recent video interview.

"Suncoast," from Walt Disney Co. subsidiary Searchlight Pictures, is a coming-of-age tale inspired by Chinn's experience as a teen when her brother, near the end of a battle with cancer, was admitted to the same Florida hospice facility then home to Terri Schiavo, whose end-of-life saga captured much of the nation's attention roughly two decades ago. The film stars young actress Nico Parker (2019's "Dumbo") as Doris and prolific actors Laura Linney, as Doris' grieving and overbearing mother, Kristine, and Woody Harrelson, as Paul, a devout Christian who has come to the facility with others to protest efforts to remove Schiavo's feeding tube.

In a conversation edited for length and clarity, Chinn talks about fact and fiction in "Suncoast" and what the trio of actors brought to this personal film.

Q: "Suncoast" is described as being semi-autobiographical. How does your real experience compare with Doris' in the film?


A: The Terri Schiavo part (is real). — "What are the chances that I'm going through this while that is happening?"

That's the autobiographical part. I was 18 (when) my brother was moved into hospice, and there were protesters outside, and my mom and I were realizing, "Oh, I think we're in the middle of a massive media storm." That happened.

The characters are all kind of based on emotional ideas ... the feelings that I went through while I was dealing with this with my brother, but there's no one that's exactly this person. And Doris is not exactly me.

Q: OK, well, we had to wonder what your mom thought of the movie considering how Kristine often acts toward Doris.


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