Chicago native Marilu Henner seemed to surprise even herself when she admitted, “I’ve made something like 46 feature films — plus so many TV shows and movies — but ‘Imperfections’ is the first one I’ve been able to shoot in Chicago. I’ve shot all over Europe and the U.S., but never in Chicago until this one.”
Calling from her Los Angeles-area home, the former “Taxi” star said she loved playing the mother of an aspiring actress, Cassidy (Virginia Kull), who sabotaged her real first break. Henner said she understood her character “from the moment I read David and Jon’s great script. She’s a survivor. She’s feisty. She gets up every day and pulls herself together and goes to work behind that department store fragrance counter — even though she knows she could have done more in her life. But she’s got bills to pay.”
The actress had “an immediate connection” with Kull, “plus I’ve known Ed [Begley, Jr.] forever, so it was very easy for us to work together.” Begley plays a veteran diamond importer who becomes romantically involved with Henner’s character. He then hires Kull to work as a courier for his small firm.
The germ of the idea for “Imperfections” — a nice wordplay on both flawed gems and flawed human beings — came years ago to director David Singer, who wrote the film with his brother Jonathan Singer. Growing up in Lincoln Park, the Singers attended Frances W. Parker School, and David “had a friend 25 years ago who actually had the job that Cassidy has in the movie — being a runner for jewelers on South Wabash Avenue in the city’s diamond district. She would take thousand and thousands of dollars of gems, stick them in her pocket and simply courier them to other firms around the city.”
Along with filming all over Chicago, Jonathan Singer said, they found the perfect setting for their diamond business in the film at the Malnekoff & Sons firm on Jewelers Row. “When we walked in, we knew it was perfect,” said David Singer. “We told them, ‘Don’t touch anything! Leave the papers on the desk.’ We could never have afforded to make a set look this authentic than Malnekoff’s,” which has been in business since 1880.
As for landing Henner for the role of Valerie, the Singers were able to use an old high school connection. “Her niece was in Jon’s graduation class,” said David Singer. “We asked her to get the script to Marilu — and she made it happen! … We had been thinking we wanted to get a ‘Marilu Henner-type’ to play the role of Val, and then thought — how about getting the real thing!”
After making the rounds of the film festival circuit — including the Chicago International Film Festival last fall —”Imperfections” is getting a limited theatrical release. In this area, it will open at the Logan Theatre in Chicago and the Wilmette Theatre on Friday. The Singers — joined by one of their actors, Chelcie Ross — will participate in a post-screening Q&A at the Logan on Sunday and at the Wilmette on Tuesday.