Actress Lauren Lee Smith is ready to shake things up after four seasons of starring as the main character in The mysteries of Frankie Drake.
So when he was offered the lead role in the Made-for-Lifetime TV movie Doomsday Mom: The Story of Lori Vallow, in Saturday premiere at 8 / 7c, Smith recognized it as the tough round she was looking for. “I wanted something that would turn me on and trigger something inside me that I had never experienced before,” the Vancouver, BC native told TVLine of director Bradley Walsh‘s role in her. offers.
“I dove deep into the whole story and found it morbidly fascinating,” she adds. “I found the character so surreal and hard to understand, and the idea of trying to figure out how this woman came to do what she had done intrigued me. That, and come up with our own take on it. the way she got to where she got was a really interesting challenge. ”
Last month, Idaho prosecutors charged the real Vallow and her husband, end-time perpetrator Chad Daybell, with the murder of her two children: Tylee Ryan, 16, and Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7 years. The two minors’ disappearance in 2019 made national headlines and authorities found their remains in Daybell’s backyard a year later.
Doomsday Mom: The Story of Lori Vallow attempts to fill in the blanks before and after the children’s disappearance by following the whirlwind affair of Vallow and Daybell, when they were both still married to other people. The two met after Vallow read one of his books and became a fan. Vallow’s brother would later kill her ex-husband in self-defense, he claimed, and Daybell’s wife died from what were believed to be natural causes at the time. But his death is now under investigation as a possible homicide.
Before Vallow met Daybell, many described her as a loving and devoted mother who was brainwashed by Daybell. Smith says that part of the story also piqued his interest.
“It was almost a double life where everyone kept saying they couldn’t believe she would do something like this,” discloses Smith, who watched hours of cops and footage of Vallow news before filming began and reflected his manners and expressions. Smith even had hair extensions. “How does an all-American wife, mother, friend and family member turn into this?” “
To keep things light between takes, Smith says she, along with Buffy the vampire slayer and Underground Vet Marc Blucas, and the rest of the cast and crew checked each other out and added lightness when and where they could.
“We all knew what we were getting into,” Smith says. “And we knew how dark and heavy the material was. Marc, who plays Chad, and I tried to end the heavy conversations about the characters before we started filming. When the time came to shoot, we just had to do it, let go at the end of the day, and move on with our lives. “
There were times, Smith admits, when she couldn’t let go. “It’s heartbreaking what happened to her children,” she adds with a sigh. “It was hard when I had scenes with young actors. It wasn’t scripted to be emotional, and I mostly wanted to eliminate the emotion because that’s what makes Lori so obsessive.
“But it was really hard for me, and there was a scene where Lori takes JJ [played by Aias Dalman] in his arms, and I was a complete, tearful mess when the blanket was on him, ”Smith recalls. “When the camera was on me, I had to hold it together. When it was on him I would bawl my eyes because I find it so disturbing and difficult to watch. As a mom, I can’t understand.
As for future projects, Smith says she would like to reunite with the cast of CSI for the restart / resume that CBS is planning. She played Warrick Brown’s replacement role Riley Adams in Season 9. “I would totally go back to CSI if they asked me, ”Smith says. “I had a fantastic experience and I feel so lucky to have done this and been a part of such an amazing show. You never know, right?”
What Smith knows is true crime aficionados will appreciate the story Doomsday Mom: The Story of Lori Vallow try to say. “People know the headlines,” Smith presumes. “Our interpretation examines what happened between the timelines of all of these horrible things. Hopefully it will be of interest to people when they watch it.