What is it with true stories that make them so difficult to portray on screen? And if the person you are representing before the camera is right there behind the scenes looking at you, it becomes even more difficult.
Lacey Chabert recently took on the role of Gina Spehn, one of the authors of “The Color of Rain”. She has already acted out the characters of Claudia Salinger in Party of Five and Penny Robinson in Lost in Space.
Lacey said she was pretty excited about playing a person who was alive. It was a chance she had taken because she felt she was suited to copy and mimic the moves of that particular person.
"Whenever you have the opportunity to play someone that is a real live person, and to be a part of telling their story, it's an exciting chance," Chabert said in an interview conference call last week.
Lacy had read the book by Gina Spehn and also delved into the real life story of Gina and Michael. And she felt their loss with such an intensity that she knew she had to play a part in “The Color of Rain”.
Gina and Michael Spehn wrote a bestseller about how when they lost their individual spouses to cancer, they decided to merge their families. Matt Kell died of cancer leaving Gina and her two kids behind.
"I saw a piece that Gina and Michael (Spehn) had done on the 'Today' show, and I was really moved just by their story and the fact that they were able to find each other after suffering through such loss. And I read the book actually before I read the script, and I was just so moved by it," said Lacy.
Meanwhile, Cathy Spehn too became a victim of cancer and that left her husband Michael and his three kids bereft of a wife and mother respectively.
Warren Christie plays Michael Spehn in the movie. In fact, he didn’t know that it was a true story until he had read the last words of the script. Then he felt that it was definitely a more serious role he had to fulfill since he had to be true to life.
"When I was sent the script. I didn't realize that it was a true story until the very last page, and at that moment my stomach dropped a little bit and I went back to figure it out," Christie said.
"You know there's obviously an added responsibility, like Lacey (Chabert) said, that comes and you want to make sure you put the heart and soul into the story that it deserves and that it warrants. And I just thought it was a really beautiful story about love and loss and healing, and an important one, and one that was going to resonate with a lot of people."
The two put their last ounce of effort into the making of the movie and it was a success. It was an extraordinary tale about human strength and the ability to cope with extreme circumstances. And it was also about the spirit of healing after the trauma of losing your alter ego and life partner.