Bill Pullman and Gypsy Rose Blanchard, Wendy Williams Docs Interviews 5

You can’t blame Bill Pullman for feeling hesitant about taking on the lead role in Lifetime’s two-part limited series Murdaugh Murders: The Movie.

It’s not that the SAG-nominated actor was worried about going dark — he’d done so not long ago, and brilliantly, in USA’s The Sinner — he simply just wasn’t aware of the tragic story of South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh, who was convicted in 2023 of murdering his wife and son.

“I didn’t know about him!” Pullman revealed during the THR Frontrunners Lifetime Showcase held June 6 at San Vicente Bungalows in Los Angeles. “Then I asked the people in my life about the case, and they said, ‘Oh, I hate that guy!’ I thought, ‘OK this is a nonstarter.’”

Pullman, who became widely known in the ’90s for playing nice guys in films such as Singles, Sleepless in Seattle, While You Were Sleeping and Independence Day, said his fears about the role were allayed after speaking to director Greg Beeman.

“I asked him, ‘How do you think Alex felt about his wife and child?’ And he said, ‘I think he loved them very much.’ To love someone and then to kill them is a big paradox. And it’s not that you approve of what he’s done, but [as an actor] you try to suspend judgment as long as you can.’”

The subject of judgment arose in a separate conversation during the showcase with Melissa Moore, the executive producer of the six-part docuseries The Prison Confessions of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, and Blanchard’s now-estranged husband Ryan Scott Anderson.

“I learned a big lesson as a filmmaker; I got really attached,” said Moore of her aversion to Blanchard marrying Anderson. Their relationship became the focus of the final episode of the documentary about Blanchard, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after she pleaded guilty to persuading her online boyfriend to kill her abusive mother, who suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

“I saw a vision for Gypsy that maybe wasn’t her own vision. That she was going to walk out of prison, go into the safety and security of her parents’ arms, and have this relationship that she never got with her parents,” added Moore. “And then Christie and Rod [Gypsy’s stepmother and father] told me, ‘Melissa, you have to let her make mistakes. Her mom didn’t let her make mistakes.’”

In a third Q&A, Where is Wendy Williams? executive producer Mark Ford and director Erica Hanson spoke about having the former daytime talk show host’s family’s blessing to release the docuseries which has raised questions about Williams’ ability to consent to the project, given her deteriorated state as a result of her diagnosis of primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

“They told us the truth of what was going on and that helped us rationalize, in some ways, that the story is bigger than just Wendy and this family,” said Ford of Williams’ court-mandated guardianship which prevents her family from having access to her. “The story is about something that is happening in the American legal system that no one knows anything about, and this is a way for this to be addressed. The family was adamant that the piece be put out.”

Added Ford of critiques of the four-part series, “We accept everyone’s judgments on it. It’s not for us to say whether you feel it’s exploitive or not. I think that’s a subjective decision that everyone needs to make for themselves.”

This edition of THR Frontrunners is sponsored by Lifetime.

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