TV viewers know Kim Raver for her work as Dr. Teddy Altman on Grey’s Anatomy, but she worked behind-the-scenes for the fourth time as an executive producer on Sleeping With Danger, premiering on Lifetime Saturday.
Inspired by Ann Rule’s true crime collection, Mortal Danger and Other True Cases, the film deals “with the trauma” of its characters, Raver tells TV Insider. Flight attendant Grace Tanner (Elisabeth Röhm) thinks she’s met her dream man in Paul Carter (Antonio Cupo), only for her to realize the exact opposite is the case when his jealousy leads to a horrific attack.
“Grace is this strong career woman but yet she’s missing something in her life, and so that really resonates when she meets Paul,” Raver says. “Elisabeth Röhm did just an extraordinary job of bringing those different layers. I think the audience will really lean into this character and these experiences. That’s also what Lifetime does so well, showing these different multi-layered female characters.”
Here, Raver previews Sleeping With Danger. Plus, scroll down to watch an exclusive clip from the movie.
What draws you to these stories on Lifetime?
Kim Raver: First of all that they’re women, and I just love that Lifetime champions women’s stories and also women behind the scenes as well. [The stories are] so in-depth and complicated, and it’s not just one layer. For me, as an actor, I’m always drawn to the multi-layered characters, so I’m trying to also do that in terms of my producing. Also, I love that I have Shondaland and Krista Vernoff as models for me in terms of women doing so many different jobs, so I like to be able to carry that over and do the same. I’ve been working with Geena Davis’ idea of just having women at the forefront.
It’s important that Lifetime now is also doing this incredible ripped from the headlines thing, and that was exciting to do. That was new for me, to do something like that, which was very different from the first three that we did.
Speaking of that, what drew you to this story in particular? Was there anything about the relationship between Grace and Paul or the true crime aspect?
The true crime and also the difficulty in domestic abuse. It’s something important to address and to understand. Elisabeth Röhm is just so brilliant in this. She really portrays how domestic abuse happens. When I was first reading it, I was like, “Wait. Why would she stay with this person?” So to really get to the depth of that and the understanding — it’s very modern, in the sense that people are talking about it. I think it’s really important to have discussions because then people don’t feel alone and it’s a relatable thing, in the sense we need to discuss it so we can help other women with it and help people with it.
How does Grace and Paul’s relationship begin? What draws her to him?
She has her everyday life, having her job and feeling like something is missing in her life, and there’s this dream man and being swept off her feet. She notices along the line signs and that’s really interesting, too, that knowing but yet a lot of the times we’re taught to not listen to our instincts. “Oh, you’re crazy,” or “oh, you’re overreacting.” That was also a really interesting journey of her knowing something was off, but it was just such a passionate love affair and she was filling up so many things she felt missing in her life. That’s a nice character arc, too, the way she wakes up to what’s happening, the fight for survival, the journey of her starting out in one place, lonely, going to work and not feeling that there’s much in her life, but then he fills up so much in her life. He was this very charming, romance guy, so she fell for that.
I kept thinking, “How are we going to play this so that we understand why she falls for this guy?” I’m not an expert on domestic abuse, but in this situation, she kept trying to want to make it better for him. She was in love with him but also [they had] these huge fights and realizing that he needs help and being the one to help him. Then her really coming into her own at the end is a really beautiful arc. The chemistry between Elisabeth and Antonio was amazing. Their performances are so raw and there’s some really intense scenes and both of them were so brave and willing to go there that it was amazing to watch.
I noticed that due to when this takes place, we really see just how isolated Paul makes Grace because she has to rely on landlines and the cabin is in the middle of nowhere.
Yep. The isolation’s a really good point, and now also, with people feeling isolated, it’s understandable. I’m glad you took that away because that was something we definitely felt when making it and wanting that to be a part of it.
Watch an exclusive sneak peek, as Grace hears other stories similar to hers:
Sleeping with Danger, Movie Premiere, Saturday, August 1, 8/7c, Lifetime