Natalie Morales is making a new (dead) friend…
The 38-year-old Cuban American actress will star opposite Ed Harris and Sonequa Martin-Green in My Dead Friend Zoe, a dark dramedy about two generations of veterans, family and friendship.
Kyle Hausmann-Stokes will direct the project in what will be his feature debut.
Written by Hausmann-Stokes and A.J. Bermudez, the film tells the story of a female veteran (Martin-Green) engaged in a mysterious but comfortable friendship with her wise-cracking (and dead) best friend from the Army (Morales). When the vet is summoned to the remote lake house of her estranged Vietnam vet grandfather (Harris), she is tasked with providing the one thing he refuses…help.
The film is based on Merit x Zoe, a short that Hausmann-Stokes co-wrote and directed last year, and both films draw inspiration from his real-life experiences during and after the military. A graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Hausmann-Stokes served five years in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper and convoy commander and was awarded the Bronze Star while in Iraq. He co-founded the nonprofit Veterans in Media & Entertainment, and has focused his directing career thus far on the social and human sides of the military and veteran experience.
“My fellow veterans and I often get reduced to archetypes and melodramatic tropes. We’re much more dynamic, funny, complex than that,” said Hausmann-Stokes. “This will be a story about veterans we haven’t seen before; one that anyone, military/veteran or not, can relate to and enjoy.”
A Gotham Award nominee who’ll next be seen in the third season of Apple TV+’s The Morning Show and Sony’s R-rated comedy No Hard Feelings, Morales has previously appeared in such studio features as Stuber, The Little Things and Battle of the Sexes, as well as well-regarded indies like Language Lessons and I’m Totally Fine.
She led the NBC sitcom Abby’s and has also been seen on series like Dead to Me, Santa Clarita Diet, The Grinder, Parks and Recreation and White Collar.
Other upcoming projects for the actress include two films out of SXSW 2023: the sci-fi romance If You Were the Last with Anthony Mackie, and actor Jake Johnson’s feature directorial debut, Self Reliance.