In what will hopefully be a memorable television event, Lifetime Network is bringing to life the final installments of the Dollanganger book series by famed author V.C. Andrews—If There Be Thorns and Seeds of Yesterday. The series spans decades full of surprising twists and turns in the lives of Cathy and Chris Dollanganger, wonderfully portrayed by Rachael Carpani and Jason Lewis, respectively. Both Carpani and Lewis were kind enough to answer my questions.
The Flowers in the Attic series from V.C. Andrews is a literary cult classic. How familiar were you with Andrews’ books, and what interested you in working on the film If There Be Thorns?
Jason Lewis: I knew of them but had not read them when I was approached about playing Chris. Reading the script and then diving further into the stories, I was intrigued at this man who had gone through so many hard and unusual experiences and yet strove to do good, at least as best as he could interpret what doing good meant.
Rachael Carpani: I had actually read the entire series when I was a teenager. I had originally found an old paperback copy of it on my mother’s bookshelf and was pretty much hooked on the series from there. When the opportunity to play Cathy arose, I went out and got copies of all four books and read them again—as I was sure they were far more complex than I had realized reading them as a teenager. The most interesting part for me was researching the author, V.C. Andrews, and finding the parallels between her life and the books. That definitely helped in understanding where this quite dark saga and characters had emerged from.
In terms of playing Cathy in Thorns, I wanted to stay true to where she and Chris were at in that stage in their lives — basically living and raising a family together whilst technically living under the burden of their ‘secret’ and at any moment, it could be shattered. The writing had set up this dream-like but dangerous world that Chris and Cathy had created for themselves so beautifully, so mainly I felt a responsibility to continue the character of Cathy that had been set up so wonderfully by the previous actresses who had played her.
While filming If There Be Thorns and Seeds of Yesterday, what scene/scenes or moment stood out the most for you and why?
JL: For me, the relationship that the characters had with Corrine was very poignant. Her character’s revisionist history is something I think that many people in the world live with. Being put upon by someone in their life and having that person out of their own need to survive, projecting their own issues onto them as Corrine does with her children.
RC: It’s hard to answer that without giving away some of the best moments for the audience, but I will say that there was a day we were filming a very disturbing scene in Thorns where Cathy witnesses Bart acting out in a way that threatens not only the life of one of her children but begins to unravel their ‘perfect’ life she and Chris created but threatens to reveal their past.
There is also a big moment between Cathy and Corrine that shakes both characters to their core and finally provides some resolution between mother and daughter. It was a very intense scene but it was wonderful to work on that with Heather as Corrine…but I can’t give away how that one ends!
The character of young Bart Jr., portrayed by Mason Cook, has some disturbing moments in the movie. What was your reaction to this character and his actions?
JL: Mason did a fabulous job of portraying a young man struggling to find his identity. As a character, and as (with) myself, I felt empathy for a struggle that most of us have to face, his being especially confusing for such a young person.
RC: That moment is quite a shock for Cathy and that scene is pretty much the moment Cathy begins to unravel in terms of realizing that their past and their “sins” have not only caught up with them but that their children’s lives are threatened and hugely affected by their choices.
How would you describe your experience working with such a diverse cast?
JL: It was a good time! Some of the actors I really hit it off with both personally and professionally.
RC: Each movie was a very different experience. In If There Be Thorns, Cathy and Chris have young children—awesome young actors Mason Cook and Jedadiah Goodacre—and have created this world where they are attempting to live as a normal family. So it was quite easy to slip into the role of being a mother as Jason and I were basically the adults in that cast, Although, it was fun playing around with the younger actors between scenes; they were so much fun. It did feel like a family.
In Seeds of Yesterday, the children are grown up, practically adults themselves, so I was much closer in age to the actors playing my children. It was actually a really interesting experience as the makeup department did a wonderful job of aging Cathy up to her 50s. That definitely made it easier to be a ‘mother’ to these adult actors once the ‘wrinkles’ and special effects were on my face. But it was much more of a group dynamic.
If there’s one aspect of your character you would want your viewers to take away from the movie, what would it be?
JL: That Chris’ overwhelming need to do the right thing and be the foundation to his family, sometimes blindly, is both his greatest strength and weakness.
RC: I would just want the audience to enjoy the crazy ride of this saga, and hopefully see the transformation of Cathy from a child who was essentially a victim of her mother’s and grandmother’s past, to being a mother herself, realizing she too is capable of repeating the actions of her mother. But in the end, she is, as we all are, capable of change and despite her past mistakes, there is hope.
If There Be Thorns premieres April 5, 2015 at 8:00 pm ET/PT, only on Lifetime. To find out more about the movie, visit the official site http://www.mylifetime.com/movies/if-there-be-thorns to learn more about the cast, view photos, and watch clips.
Like If There Be Thorns on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lifetime.
Photo credit: ©2015 A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved
© 2015, Connie Allen. All rights reserved.
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