Imagine someone asking you to spend four months abroad, encased in deceit, dismay and cruelty.
Hey, how could you resist? Jemima Rooper insists it was kind of fun. Actors “became a loving family – not the twisted family you see” onscreen.
She’s Olivia — show here, right, approaching her new domain — in “Flowers in the Attic: The Origin.” That reaches Lifetime at 8 p.m. July 9, launching an avalanche of gloom. On four Saturdays, we get the roots of the dark classic, “Flowers in the Attic.”
During the pandemic, acting jobs were scarce in England (Rooper’s homeland) and the U.S. But here were four movies, filmed back-to-back in Romania. “We just felt really happy to be working.”
She went there with her baby – her partner and older son visited – and dug in.
The original “Flowers” is a tale of incest, rape and despair, with children hidden in an attic by their grandmother Olivia (played by Ellen Burstyn in Lifetime’s 2014 remake, rerunning at 6 p.m., July 9).
Now we learn more about Olivia. In the first prequel film, Rooper, 40, takes her from being a sharp and optimistic young businesswoman to becoming a scheming survivor.
“I wasn’t even aware there was this prequel” novel, said scriptwriter Paul Sciarrotta, who adapted it.
After “Flowers” soared in 1979, V.C. Andrews wrote three sequels, all of which Lifetime has filmed. In 1987 – a year after she died at 63 – her estate released “Garden of Shadows,” by ghostwriter Andrew Niederman. It views the shaping of Olivia by her cold husband, Malcolm Foxworth.
He was someone who never got over a missing mother and an indifferent father. “I had to get past the fact that he’s a horrible person,” actor Max Irons said, adding: “These days, there’s so much therapy available ….Malcolm was just left to figure it out.”
His dad does re-emerge briefly. He’s played by Kelsey Grammer, 67 … and brings along a doting new wife, played by Alana Boden, 25. Grammer “made sure I was comfortable,” said Boden – who was born 13 years after he first played Dr. Frasier Crane.
Boden and Rooper both started as young teens in British TV. Boden also reached the U.S. in the “Ride” series and portraying kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart. Rooper has been busy doing all the proper British things – onstage, on TV, in movies … and now in Romanian gloom, deceit and despair.