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Neve Campbell on her new film Clouds: 'I wanted to honour this woman's strength'

Neve Campbell plays a mum facing the death of her teen son in Clouds


No punches pulled: cast members including Neve Campbell (second left), Tom Everett Scott, Fin Argus and Summer Howell

No punches pulled: cast members including Neve Campbell (second left), Tom Everett Scott, Fin Argus and Summer Howell

Press Association Images

No punches pulled: cast members including Neve Campbell (second left), Tom Everett Scott, Fin Argus and Summer Howell

Back in 2013 a viral folk-pop song about flying in the clouds where "the view is a little nicer" topped the iTunes charts.

It hit number one on the day of the funeral of its singer, Zach Sobiech, who died of cancer at the age of 18.

He was still in school when he learned that the osteosarcoma - a rare bone cancer - he had been diagnosed with had spread.

He spent the rest of his short life pursuing his musical dreams, as documented in the memoir Fly A Little Higher by his mother, Laura, which has now been adapted into a film.

"I read the book before I met Laura," remembers Scream star Neve Campbell, who plays her in the movie.

"I was just so blown away by this woman's strength, spirituality, maturity and courage.

"It's unfathomable to put yourself in the place of a mother losing her child. It's even more unfathomable that someone could do it with such grace and bolster her family along the journey, including her son, Zach.

"I wanted to honour her, I wanted to honour that woman and her strength.

"It's a big ask, but she was so open. It's very brave to allow people to tell your story. It must be very, very surreal for them.

"She wrote to me the other day and said it continues to be very surreal, but they are so happy.

"She and Rob (her husband) watched the movie five times in a row and were, thankfully, very, very happy with it, with the way the story was told, so it was scary, but I think we did it.

"We tried to honour them in the best way, in the most honest way possible, and to honour her words.

"There are a lot of her words in this script and I'm so glad of that. She's a profound woman."

After learning that his disease has spread, the film follows Zach (played by newcomer Fin Argus) on his journey as he and his best friend and songwriting partner, Sammy (Sabrina Carpenter), land a record deal and make the music that would become Zach's farewell to the world.

"I watched every video there is of Zach on YouTube," explains Argus over Zoom.

"I listened to all of his music and I think one thing that is really special about this movie is, while we weren't going for exact replicas of the people, we did want to capture that spirit.

"I think, having watched all these videos of Zach and listened to his music and watching the documentary about him and reading Laura's book, it added invaluable insight into the dynamics of their relationships and just how Zach was feeling - his emotional headspace during that last year, which was such a difficult year.

"I feel like a vessel. I felt like Zach was having an opportunity to speak through all of us.

"It's a really unique opportunity to share their personalities and share their love, as family and friends, with the world."

Campbell (47), who is herself a mother to two young sons, formed a close bond with Laura during the making of the film.

"I was lucky when I met her. Our energies are similar, so that made it easy and we had a great friendship," she says.

"We can learn from someone when their message and their son's message was to live life to the fullest and to go into death with courage and positivity.

"One of the most profound things she said to me was that her relationship with Zach had not ended. If anything, it has become stronger since his passing. That blew my mind.

"She ruminates on it and she gets to know him better and she gets to know herself better.

"We don't often think of death in that way. We think of it as a finale. It was wonderful to hear from her that that's not necessarily how it has to be."

Argus (22) is aware that he is part of Zach's legacy and is responsible for sharing his story with the wider world.

"It was a blessing and an honour to play him," he says.

"The reason it was possible was because the family was so open about their story and their experience.

"They opened up about very vulnerable and intimate details of that struggle. That made it possible to step into those shoes.

"Of course, it was also a bit nerve-wracking - it always is if you're telling someone's actual story - but there was so much love and support from not only the family but from Justin (Baldoni, the director), who knew Zach as well because he had made a short documentary about him."

Clouds is streaming now on Disney+

Belfast Telegraph