Interview with stars Jennie Garth, Anwen O’Driscoll and director Gloria Ui Young Kim of “Left for Dead: The Ashley Reeves Story” on Lifetime by Suzanne 5/19/21
I enjoyed speaking with these actresses and the director. It was one of several Lifetime movie casts we spoke with in a special Zoom press call on the same day. The movie is worth watching. The story is good and the performances are great!
BEGIN LEFT FOR DEAD PANEL
Moderator: Wonderful, well we are officially getting started on our third panel today – three out of seven and today is going to be the cast and creatives from Left for Dead: The Ashley Reeves story today we have Jennie Garth, Anwen O’Driscoll and director Gloria Ui Young Kim.
Let’s go ahead and get this started. So I’m going to go ahead and kick it off and do the first question with Gloria, our director Gloria.
Gloria (director): Hi, how are you?
Moderator: I’m good. I’m glad that you all are able to join us today. Gloria how does Left for Dead: The Ashley Reeves Story stand out compared to other films you have directed?
Gloria (director): It was such an important story, I think to tell. I was immediately drawn in by the script and by the strength of the script and the strength of the story of resilience. And I had so much support at all levels from the producer Jeff Vanderwal, at Cineflix, and from Lifetime, our Executive Chris Wade. I mean, we were all aligned in the story that we wanted to tell, and it was full steam ahead. It was just really exciting.
Moderator: Awesome, well glad that you’re here. So we’re going to go ahead and get some press up here. Let’s go ahead and go with Lisa first – Lisa.
Lisa (Starry Magazine): Hi guys, thanks so much for taking some time to chat with us. For Jennie this is such an intense role for you. How did you shake off a long day of filming this one?
Jennie Garth (talent): Yeah, it was definitely a… so heart wrenching, especially, you know, being the mother of three young girls, this movie really tapped into a lot of very deep true emotions for me. So it was important for us to have as much fun as we could on the set and while working crazy, under the crazy time constraints…he was dealing with and kind of…Giving everybody their space to sort of go through everything that they needed to go through and then sort of let it all go at the end of….
Moderator: Great, awesome. Thank you Jennie. You were cutting out on my end so but I hope everyone was able to hear that. So thank you. Our next question is from Jamie – Jamie.
Jamie (SciFi Vision): Hi guys, thanks for talking to us. This is for Jennie and Anwen. I’d like to know how you two kind of worked on your relationship. Did you hang out at all outside of production or anything like that?
Anwen (talent): I mean, there it was hard to do a lot because there were covid restrictions, of course. But we did, we did have a get together, Gloria, Jennie and I one time beforehand where we talked through everything and talked through our characters and the journey of the edge and had dinner one time. But it wasn’t too much because of Covid going on. We did a lot of it on set, which was great.
Jennie (talent): *cuts out* a connection.
Gloria (director): With Jennie’s dog. And she brought her dog, so we all bonded.
Anwen (talent): Yes, immediately.
Jamie (SciFi Vision): We always bond over pets, right?
Moderator: Awesome thank you Jamie and Jennie we might have to hear more about that dog in a little bit, but moving right along with Jay Bobbin.
Jay Bobbin (Gracenote): Hey Jennie, how are you? How are you?
Jennie (talent): Good! How are you?
Jay Bobbin (Gracenote): Good! Good to see you. A lot of people refers to the many perils of Kelly Taylor – burned on drugs, stalked, kidnapped. When it comes to something like this do you draw a lot on all the drama you did on 90210? I know it’s been a good number of years now, but did you find that good training as you look back to do a project like this?
Jennie (Talent): Working on camera sort of serve you as you get older and do more complex roles. Absolutely yeah, my character went through so much on that show that there’s a lot there. Real life experience with being a mom and having a young daughter and just putting myself in this woman’s shoes, you know, and really kind of feeling this terrible tragedy first hand. So it was a combination.
Jay Bobbin (Gracenote): OK, thanks.
Moderator: Wonderful thanks Jay. Up next, we have Suzanne.
Suzanne Lanoue (TVMeg): Hi, my question is for Anwen. Your role seems very physical – was that difficult at all for you? Did you have to work on your upper arm strength?
Anwen (talent): Yes, it was. It was very challenging because I had never done something, so just like deep dive into something so physically and vocally challenging. We, Gloria and I, worked beforehand with an occupational therapist for physicality and vocal which really helps. And we also had a physical therapist on set sometimes which was great to remind me to do certain things, but I did practice a lot and watch as many videos as I could and I would take little videos and little clips of my voice and send it to Gloria and be like, what does this sound like? How does this sound like? Is this just trying to keep it consistent and accurate. I suppose I didn’t want to make it – I was afraid to make it kind of like a caricature thing, so I wanted to really get Gloria’s opinion and get everyone to tell me that it was OK.
Gloria (director): Anwen, you were great.
Suzanne Lanoue (TVMeg): Gloria, can you give us insight as to what went into shaping the movie in terms of that you decided pretty early on to show that he was definitely or seemed to be the person that tried to kill her rather than making it more say of a mystery. Was it a boyfriend? Was it someone else?
Gloria (director): Sorry, what’s your question?
Suzanne Lanoue (TVMeg): Yes, can you give us insight as to how it went into making the movie in framing it that way? Focusing more on her as her rehab and all that kind of thing?
Gloria (director): Yeah, I think it was really, really important. I think just to everyone involved
that this be Ashley’s story, that this be the story of her resilience and her overcoming the obstacles, I think. You know this story was in the news. Everyone knew that it was. The person who it was that attacked her and you know, he was the one that led the police to her body. So in some ways the mystery aspect didn’t really quite work for this story and I think also just given the time that we’re living in, I think it’s just really, really, really important that women’s stories are in the forefront and that her actual story of survival was the story rather than the mystery story.
Suzanne Lanoue (TVMeg): Thank you.
Gloria (director): No problem.
Moderator: Wonderful, thank you Suzanne. Up next, we have Steve Gidlow.
Steve Gidlow (Media Village): Hi, my question is actually for Anwen. You were terrific in this. It’s just so so good. I was just wondering, one of the things you really seem to encapsulate with this whole performance was the frustration that your character went through. How much of it was frustrating for you?
Anwen (talent): Well, one of the things that drew me when I first read the script, and write to Ashley herself, was I could connect with the feeling of not being believed by people. And that was one of her huge struggles throughout the movie, was not being heard and not being supported by a lot of people that were close to her. She did have some support by, you know, her mother. But I think it was because could really connect to that feeling so the frustrations were real and I couldn’t pull on that because it was a real thing that I’ve experienced in my own life. Which is unfortunate, but it’s common and it happens all the time.
Steve Gidlow (Media Village): Yeah, well, you’re quite remarkable. So thank you so much.
Anwen (talent): Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you Steve. Up next is Barb Oates.
Barb Oates (Channel Guide): Great, thank you. This question is for Anwen. What did you learn or maybe take from after walking in Ashley’s journey?
Anwen (talent): I was very inspired by her bravery. And playing the character because I wouldn’t say that I’m a very brave person or confrontational in real life, so getting to play that character and playing that truth of her really inspired me as a person, and I felt that it encouraged me to be braver. So I feel like I pulled that from Ashley and learned that from Ashley herself. It’s great.
Barb Oates (Channel Guide): Thank you.
Moderator: Wonderful, thank you Barb. Up next, I believe Jay Bobbin. Do you have a follow up question?
Jay Bobbin (Gracenote): I asked you, if you don’t mind sure. Jennie, another one Jennie, another one for you. Now that you’ve produced as you did on the 90210 reboot a couple of summers ago. Do you enjoy being an actress for hire as much, or do you look more for getting into situations where you can produce as well as act?
Jennie (talent): Well, it’s definitely changing hats when you’re producing some. On all fronts, kind of calling the shots and in charge of things. So I was very respectful of the producers that did such a great job with this film and Gloria, who did such a wonderful job directing it and trying to kind of zip it creatively, and let them do their job and stand back and let me do my job. So it was definitely changing gears but there is something refreshing about just being an actor for hire sometimes.
Jay Bobbin (Gracenote): Sure, thank you.
Moderator: Great thank you, Jay. Jamie, did you have your hand up for a follow up or is your hand just still up?
Jamie (SciFi Vision): Sorry, yeah I just forgot to put it down.
Moderator: Sorry, no all good. I just wanted to make sure you got your question answered. Let’s go on then to Lisa, Lisa.
Lisa (Starry Magazine): Now Jennie about that dog. Just joking.
Jennie (talent): No, that was buddy. He was an emotional support dog for everybody on set. I think everybody benefited from having an animal on set. It was such a comfort issue and everybody was so spread so thin emotionally, that we all just sort of took turns clutching on to him.
Gloria (director): It’s true.
Moderator: Also, I love that the dog was brought back, so let’s go now. Steve, I believe has another follow up – Steve.
Steve Gidlow (Media Village): Yeah, I did actually have another question for Anwen. I’m just wondering how much time or how much interaction did you get to have with the real Ashley?
Anwen (talent): I didn’t get to speak with her unfortunately. Maybe hopefully one day. But I did want to give space and I respected you know, her space. I wouldn’t want to come at her with this super heavy subject matter. It’s her story and I feel like maybe she’s done talking about that and done having people come at her about it so. I just did a lot of self stuff and just tried to connect with her bravery and her heart and make that the focal point.
Steve Gidlow (Media Village): Was there a part to playing her without having interacted, that made it a little better for you, because you kind of were doing your own thing versus, you know if you had spoken to her, it would have been a different story.
Anwen (talent): Yeah, it’s true. I think it allowed me to add a bit of myself into it and I liked doing that, just you know, a little combination of me and her together, I suppose.
Steve Gidlow (Media Village): Thanks so much.
Moderator: Awesome, thank you Steve. And our last question should be from Barb – Barb Oates.
Barb Oates (Channel Guide): Thanks, I was wondering, this is for Gloria mainly, but were the Reeves family – are they aware of the film and did you approach them at all and do they have any input into anything?
Gloria (director): Yeah, the Reeves family is aware of the film and it would have been Christina Welsh, the writer, and Jeff Vanderwal, the producer, who were the ones who had the relationship with her. They spent time with her and interviewed her. So she was a part of the process. And in terms of my relationship, I just worked with the script and I worked with the materials that I had been sent and the stuff that I had done research online. We’re trying really hard to tell a respectful story.
Barb Oates (Channel Guide): Got it, thank you.
Moderator: Wonderful, and that was the last question from what I could tell. So thank you everyone for your questions and especially thank you to Gloria, Jennie and Anwen. We will be prepping for our next panel here in just a moment so stay tuned.
LEFT FOR DEAD: THE ASHLEY REEVES STORY
PREMIERES SATURDAY, JUNE 12 at 8/7c
(L to R): Jennie Garth and Anwen O’Driscoll
In 2006, 17-year-old Ashley Reeves (Anwen O’Driscoll) is left for dead in the woods following a brutal attack. After spending 30 horrific hours in the cold, gravely wounded, lying in the dirt, and paralyzed, the police find her alive. Her injuries are so severe that she must re-learn how to walk and talk. With no memory of what happened, she begins a long and painful recovery while searching her shattered memory to unlock the mystery of who did this to her. Left for Dead: The Ashley Reeves Story is based on the extraordinary true story of an ordinary teenage girl who had to fight for her life three times; first in the woods, then in the hospital, and finally in court. Jennie Garth stars as Ashley’s mother, Michelle Reeves.
Left for Dead: The Ashley Reeves Story is produced by Cineflix (Left For Dead) Inc. Jeff Vanderwal is among the executive producers. Gloria Ui Young Kim directs from a script written by Christina Welsh.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda