Elizabeth Smart and the executive producers of her Lifetime biopic “Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography” say the last portrayal of her story, a 2003 TV movie on CBS, didn’t tell the entire story of her horrific abduction.
In 2002, the then-14-year-old Smart was kidnapped from her home by religious fanatic Brian David Mitchell. She was brought to an encampment where she was held captive for nine months and starved, drugged, raped and subjected to bizarre religious rituals until she enabled her own rescue.
“When it comes to the film that was made all those years ago, it was made very quickly after Elizabeth’s rescue,” executive producer Joseph Freed said at the Television Critics Association press tour on Friday. “If you look at the film now, it does not portray what Elizabeth went through. It doesn’t even mention the word rape, when that is clearly such a critical part of what Elizabeth overcame.”
Smart narrates the upcoming Lifetime movie, which mixes documentary elements with a scripted recreation. She also serves as a producer on the project.
“What was great was to be able to work with Elizabeth and see what was not able to be included in that version of the story that we can now do properly,” Freed said. “We can finally tell the complete story and do it with Elizabeth herself.”
“We first met Elizabeth after seeing her speak, and it was an honor to even have a meeting with her,” said executive producer Allison Berkley. “We read her books and then we got to know her to see what kind of story she really wanted to tell. So we worked on it for two years before we even went out to pitch, because it was really important to us to build that trust, understand Elizabeth’s point of view.”
Finally having the opportunity to share her own story on screen, in her own words, for the first time was cathartic, Smart said. But she said it was difficult to see Skeet Ulrich portray the man responsible for her suffering.
“I will say it is the best worst movie I’ve ever seen,” she said. “I mean, I think it’s so well done, and I think it was accurate and I’m very proud of it. But at the same time, part of me will be happy if I never have to watch it again.”
“I’m very proud of it, but I hate it at the same time,” she said.