Interview with actors Ben Savage, Lindsay Navarro, Erica Durance and EP Abby Hernandez of “Girl in the Shed: the Kidnapping of Abby Hernandez” on Lifetime by Suzanne 1/10/22
This was a very weird movie to watch. It was very creepy. Everyone did a good job in it. It was odd having the actual victim in the movie there in the panel, though. I think that was a first for me. It was wonderful to speak to Erica Durance because she was so great in this film as well as in “Smallville,” “Saving Hope” and “Supergirl.” Ben did an amazing job. If you’ve seen him in comedies before, this movie will really surprise you.
MODERATOR: Hi, everyone. Please welcome Executive Producer Abby Hernandez and stars Ben Savage, Lindsay Navarro and Erica Durance of “Girl in the Shed: the Kidnapping of Abby Hernandez.” Thank you all for being here today.
LINDSAY NAVARRO: (Waves.) Hi.
BEN SAVAGE: Hi.
ABBY HERNANDEZ: Hello.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Our first question is from Right on Digital.
QUESTION: Hi. Am I muted?
MODERATOR: You’re good.
QUESTION: Hi. This question is for anyone who would like to answer it. Tell us a behind-the-scenes story about something that took place on set.
LINDSAY NAVARRO: Behind the scenes, hmm. Erica, Ben, you got anything? There’s so much that happened.
QUESTION: You can tell us a fun fact.
LINDSAY NAVARRO: I’ve got one. I’ve got one. Okay. So, there was a scene where Abby and Kibby are outside. It’s their first time being — it’s Abby’s first time being outside in I believe six months. And there’s a scene where she has this moment, a beautiful moment with a horse. But in reality, this horse was not having it. He did not want to be there. So there’s a couple scenes that where you see this beautiful, majestic horse and then there’s another one where you see a close-up of my face. The horse is not there because the horse has taken off. It like completely jetted. It was quite funny and all of us were a little bit scared because he was running across the field. Yeah, it was a great time.
ABBY HERNANDEZ: That’s hilarious.
LINDSAY NAVARRO: Yeah.
ERICA DURANCE: Not to do any spoilers, but remember when we, Lindsay, we had to walk in the field and we had to be looking straight up and it had to be very graceful.
LINDSAY NAVARRO: Oh yeah.
ERICA DURANCE: We kept trying to avoid all the — I don’t know there was a bunch of cow pies and all sorts of stuff. And so you’re trying to have this like ethereal really beautiful moment and we’re trying to spot check each other somehow by not looking down.
LINDSAY NAVARRO: Yeah, fun times.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Abby, did you have a chance to speak with the cast before they shot the film?
ABBY HERNANDEZ: Yes. Pretty much everybody, all the main characters, everybody that’s here.
MODERATOR: Awesome, thank you. Noah Wilson, you’re up next.
QUESTION: Hello, everyone. By the way, Erica, great to see you again.
ERICA DURANCE: Oh hi, Noah. I don’t see you, but I hear you and I know your voice.
QUESTION: Yes. Well, it’s so great to be with you guys. First off, Abby, I do want to ask you, you know, being executive producer, but also this being your story, how was it like to relive this, something that happened thank you personally, but it come to life in a movie on Lifetime based on a true story?
ABBY HERNANDEZ: Obviously, it’s a weird experience to have this happen in the first place. And then to have it made into a movie is obviously like an even weirder experience. But ultimately, I did find it healing in a weird way just to have it out there.
QUESTION (from Noah): Lindsay, you know, this is a film based on the real-life kidnapping of, you know, Abby. You know, 14 years old. Learning her full story, what was it like for you to personally portray Abby on the screen and act out some of the scenes of what actually went on in her, you know, real life?
LINDSAY NAVARRO: Yeah, wow. There was such a responsibility that came with that. It being a true story, knowing that Abby was a part of the project. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to do it as well knowing that Abby was on board. So it was challenging in that way. And but it all made it easier knowing that I could get in touch with Abby and we could talk things through. So for that I will be so — I will be forever grateful having her there, accessible on What’s App getting to video chat with her. But yeah, it made it heavier and it was challenging to walk through those scenes knowing that she had experienced this. And there was that weight that came with it.
QUESTION (from Noah): You know, Erica, last question goes to you, my friend. What will viewers learn from watching this movie look forward based on Abby’s real-life story?
ERICA DURANCE: Oh, I don’t know if that should be — thank you for giving that to me. I think that’s more of an Abby question. I suppose I can only share part of what I learned playing the part of Zenya in it and in speaking with her. Is the absurdity, the cruelty of life, the beauty that can come out of things that are awful and with Zenya, I found that she was just so incredibly powerful and strong and but yeah, I was kind of awe struck in dealing with her and talking to her. So originally when I was going to do this, she talked to me through her whole experience and it was incredibly generous of her. It was a three-hour phone call. But yeah, I don’t quite know how to answer that succinctly which is why I’m bumbling about. But it’s the human spirit and what we are capable of doing or what we are capable of doing to each other, how we are capable of finding our way around it in some way. But I do feel like I’m kind of — I’m the actor playing it. It wasn’t my story in that sense. I think it will be really awe-inspiring for a lot of people.
QUESTION (from Noah): Absolutely. Thank you guys so much. I appreciate it. Great to see you again, Erica.
ERICA DURANCE: You too.
LINDSAY NAVARRO: Thank you, Noah.
QUESTION: Bye guys, thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Jay Bobbin?
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Erica, actually my question is also for you. It puts a different twist on what was just asked. The mother role on all these projects…
ERICA DURANCE: I hope I do better this time. Anybody else can kind of chime in as I bumble about.
QUESTION: I’m sure you’ll do fine. The mother role on these projects. It’s interesting because depending on how it’s cast, whose playing it, how much they’re given attention in the script, we’ve seen Jenny Garth do it and she did it to a great extent in the one that she was in. Joely Fisher did one and she had maybe a few scenes here and there. It was largely, “Where’s my daughter? What happened to my daughter?, etc.” With you, as you approach this, how did you approach the mother role? Because you want to make your mark, but even as you said, it’s really the daughter’s story. How did you go about portraying the mother to make your mark in the film based on what you’d read in the script?
ERICA DURANCE: Well, the first thing that I did was talk to Zenya. And I think that’s very important when you know you’re doing a true story so you’re portraying somebody else. You have to get inside as much as they’ll allow you access, to their process and what it was like. And so because she was so incredibly generous as I said in really walking me through the scenario and like Lindsay had mentioned there was a couple of moments on the set where I was going to do a scene that was specific and to something that kind of had happened to her. And I just had a last minute need to call her and go, “What was it you did when this happened?” And she was just right there. And just so helpful. So that gave me a blueprint of how she would have done it. And then at the end of the day, you have to take the situation that you’re dealing with and process it in the way that you would just naturally, if you can be natural, but how you would respond to those given situations as truthfully as you can. And for myself, it was tricky because I have little kids. And so I knew that there was going to be a point where I would probably step into a zone which was difficult to come back to and figure out how to separate myself from it. But you kind of have to dive into it. And so for myself then because it was such an intense, every day was intense and they shot my stuff all very sequentially so I had, you know, five days and it was all the scenes. And it was all of it all at once in that way. I just kind of locked myself in my green room and listened to music constantly and then just tried to give it my best. And I depended a lot on Jess Harmon who was our wonderful director to help guide me through those different nuances and what she believed was truthful and maybe not as truthful or kept me on point with the story as close as I could be.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you so much. Ben and Lindsay, most of your scenes are together. What was it like working together for this project and how did you tap into these characters? Of course after speaking with Abby and crafting the relationship?
LINDSAY NAVARRO: Ben, you go for it. You go for it.
BEN SAVAGE: I think that it’s such a difficult subject and it’s such a complicated story that I think Lindsay and I both wanted to be very careful about how we approached the subject and how we approached the relationship. And I think when we first got started, I think Lindsay and I were both a little apprehensive about making sure that we did this properly. But I think we gelled together as well as we could. I mean Lindsay is a total pro. And we had a wonderful crew, a wonderful cast, a terrific director with Jess Harmon. And I think we worked together as well as we could. It’s a tough subject and I think everyone wanted to be very sensitive to everything we were going through. But yeah, it was an interesting journey.
LINDSAY NAVARRO: Yeah. We gave each other space when we needed to have space when there was a difficult scene coming up that we needed to film where it was perhaps more emotional or more physically demanding. We would give each other that needed space. And then there were other times where Ben and I would check in with one another make sure we were doing okay. I really appreciated that from Ben actually that he would come over and just ensure that I was comfortable, I was content. And truly, I mean you said it, right Ben? We had an amazing cast, amazing crew that made everything feel very safe and easy to drop into. But it was a challenge.
MODERATOR: Thank you both so much. Rick Bentley?
QUESTION: Hi. Thanks for coming. Abby, I can’t even pretend to wrap my head around the hell on earth you went through with this. I’m just wondering where you found the strength and the courage to face it again through this production? And ultimately, what do you want to come out of this?
ABBY HERNANDEZ: Ultimately, I guess I’ll answer the last question first. What I want to come out of this is awareness I guess. I think that a lot of teenagers, since, you know, the age of social media and socialness is such an important thing. I think everybody, or not everybody but a lot of people have that a voice in the back of their head. You know, if I disappeared it wouldn’t matter. And I learned that yeah, it does matter. It affects a lot of people and it will forever. And then I guess, you know, the first question, how did I must the courage to, you know, sign off to do this movie. You know, it’s nothing new to me. It’s something — it’s in here constantly. Has been in there since 2013. I’m almost kind of numb to it, you know what I mean? And I feel like the world has progressed since then. You know, when at first I did not want to give Kibby up. I was really, you know, under tight pressure. And that’s when I gave up and I said I know the name of the person. But we’re in a day and age now where I think, you know, it’s encouraged to be honest about what’s going on. I don’t feel as scared anymore.
QUESTION (from Rick): And Abby, if I can follow-up real quickly, have you seen the final film?
ABBY HERNANDEZ: Yes.
QUESTION: Was it a tough watch?
ABBY HERNANDEZ: Yeah.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you so much. Thank you, Abby. Abbie Bernstein?
QUESTION: Hi. Thank you all for doing this. For Ms. Hernandez, can you talk about changes made between reality and the film either for time or dramatic clarity or things that they felt would help people understand the story better that maybe happened differently?
ABBY HERNANDEZ: Sure. I think the ultimate thing that, you know, trust in the movie seemed to be kind of linear. At first it was nothing and then it grew. I think in real life, Kibby was almost in sort of a way — I don’t know want to say manic, but he would trust me and then no trust. Trust me and then no trust. So marijuana cleaning was one of the very first things that happened in October. In the movie it was portrayed afterwards once he had really gained my trust. So I think that’s basically what it was. And ultimately that’s kind of true. I mean he didn’t trust me at first really at all to see his face or know his name. But later on, he did. I think that’s a good way of portraying it.
QUESTION: So his psychological ping-ponging was made more streamlined for the film.
ABBY HERNANDEZ: Yes, exactly.
QUESTION: And were there any things about you that you thought, oh I wouldn’t have done it like that or gee, I wish I had done it like that?
ABBY HERNANDEZ: Lindsay was more classy than me. (Laughs.) Gosh. I don’t know. I mean I really don’t know.
QUESTION: Well, thank you very much.
ABBY HERNANDEZ: Yeah.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Suzanne Lanoue?
QUESTION: Hi. Can you hear me okay?
BEN SAVAGE: Yeah.
QUESTION: Okay, good. Ben, you usually play the good guy. Have you ever played this kind of psycho role before? And was it challenging?
BEN SAVAGE: It was certainly a change of pace for me. But again, I just, as everyone said here, I think it was such an important story to tell. And I was just happy to be a part of the storytelling in the film. And yeah, certainly a departure, but you know, it was a very interesting role to play.
QUESTION: I’ll bet. And Erica, were you familiar with everyone that worked on the show before? Had you worked with any of them previously?
ERICA DURANCE: I knew Jess Harmon through her family. So I kind of knew of her, but I hadn’t met anyone else. I was of course familiar with Lindsay and Ben. And Abby somewhat through the news, right? But otherwise, it was all — yeah it was kind of the first day meeting everybody.
LINDSAY NAVARRO: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Great. Thank you so much guys.
BEN SAVAGE: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you. We have time for one more with the Hollywood Times.
QUESTION: Hi. Could you talk about this film, how it’s relevant to the others that are in Lifetime’s girls’ initiative? And also what can — maybe talk about what can young women learn from watching the film?
MODERATOR: The first question I just want to jump in for a second. The first question is more of a question that we are happy to get you an answer to on the press side. But the cast can answer the second one.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
ERICA DURANCE: Sorry. Can you repeat the second one again?
QUESTION: Yeah, what can young women learn from watching this film?
ABBY HERNANDEZ: Keep your cool.
LINDSAY NAVARRO: Sorry, Abby. Go ahead.
ABBY HERNANDEZ: Oh I just said to keep your cool which is easier said than done especially as I’ve gotten older, but yeah.
ERICA DURANCE: Abby, one of the things that your mother said to me and you mentioned and in some of the earlier conversations we had which still shocks me to this day is your ability to — where you kept your cool in a way, the way your mother described it was to somehow find a way of seeing the humanity in the person that was treating you so cruelly.
ABBY HERNANDEZ: Mm-hmm.
ERICA DURANCE: And use that as a survival technique. And that still to this day is just shocking to me that you were able to somehow see that and find a way to make a connection with this person who was doing these things.
LINDSAY NAVARRO: Mm-hmm.
ERICA DURANCE: And spoke to such a huge amount of power and strength and I believe the young gals and whoever’s watching this, men or women, I think that that will be something that resonates a lot.
BEN SAVAGE: If I could just add, jump on that. I would just say I certainly can’t speak about what women can take away, but I think a larger message of course that I certainly took away from it was just strength and strength of character. And I think everyone associated with this film was so impressed with Abby and her story. And I do think there are some lessons to be learned here. But again, I’m just glad that we were all able to come together and tell this wonderful story as best the way we could. And Lindsay, I think you should jump in, too.
LINDSAY NAVARRO: Yeah, yeah. I was just going to add on as well, the tremendous courage that Abby had and continues to have in being so passionate about sharing this story as well. It’s truly remarkable. And I’m with you, Ben. I think it’s — for a larger audience, I think a lot of people are going to be inspired and will continue to be inspired by Abby’s story. And the crew, yeah the crew valued it so much as well. Everyone was so careful about telling the story as truthfully as we could and with such passion into telling it. So I think people can take away this hope, the power of prayer, the power of faith and the power of not giving up.
QUESTION: Wonderful, thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you so much. Thank you to the cast and to Abby. You were all fantastic in this film. Please make sure to tune in to “Girl in the Shed: The Kidnapping of Abby Hernandez” on February 26th at 8, 7 Central. Thank you all so much for being here today.
Girl in the Shed: The Kidnapping of Abby Hernandez is the true story of 14-year-old freshman Abby Hernandez (Lindsay Navarro) who vanished while walking home from school in North Conway, New Hampshire. Kicking off the state’s largest search, Abby’s disappearance left her family, especially her mother Zenya (Erica Durance), investigators and the community mystified of her whereabouts. Taken by Nathaniel Kibby (Ben Savage), Abby was kept is a soundproof container and forced to wear a shock collar while enduring psychological, sexual and emotional abuse. Despite suffering daily torture, Abby kept hope alive that she would one day be able to see her family again.
Girl in the Shed: The Kidnapping of Abby Hernandez is produced by Sprott Productions Inc in association with Johnson Production Group and executive produced by Abigail Hernandez, Stacy Mandelberg and Michael Vickerman who also wrote the script. Jessica Harmon directed.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda