Actress Elisabeth Rohm turns director with ‘Girl in the Basement’

'Law & Order' alum calls the shots for the first time on Lifetime movie

Elisabeth Rohm
Elisabeth Rohm of ‘Girl in the Basement’ Saturday on Lifetime

Q: After all the acting you’ve done, “Girl in the Basement” is your first credit as a director. How did it come your way?

A: I’ve wanted to direct for a really long time. It’s traditionally a man’s role … but after being on so many sets and watching things as they unfold, you finally get the courage to say, “Well, why not me? I’m ready for this.”

Thankfully, I had an inspiration in (“Grey’s Anatomy” co-star) Kim Raver, who produced a movie I starred in and said, “You should ask (Lifetime original-movie executive) Tanya Lopez, because she wants to be supportive in that way.” So I did, and she made it happen, and she gave me a film that I truly wanted to direct. It wasn’t just any movie, but something I was very passionate about.

Q: “Girl in the Basement” tells the fact-inspired story of a very controlling father who keeps his daughter captive and abuses her for many years. How did the work go with your stars, Judd Nelson and Stefanie Scott?

A: I felt they were really committed and up for it. They had a deep knowledge of some of the true cases that inspired this, and we all discussed that in depth. And they were really brave. They wanted to serve the story and were fearless, and it made it really a privilege and an honor to hold that sacred space for them. As you can imagine, it was pretty tough stuff.

Q: You gave yourself a cameo role in the movie. How was it to direct yourself?

A: Oh, it was easy! I think it would have been much harder if my role had been bigger. I was very clear about what I was playing, but what was really nice was to be in a scene with my actors and their still wanting to be directed, even though they were acting with me. That felt like a true win, that your actors feel safe with you and still want your feedback on what they’re doing.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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