Hulu took over the Television Academy’s Saban Media Center on Thursday night for the special screening and conversation with the stars and showrunnner of The Girl From Plainview.
The limited series is inspired by the true story of Michelle Carter’s unprecedented “Texting-suicide” case in Plainville, Massachusetts. Writer, executive producer, and co-showrunner Liz Hannah tactfully examines the relationship between Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy III, including the events that led to his death and Michelle Carter’s subsequent conviction for involuntary manslaughter.
For Hannah, this is her second collaboration with Hulu following The Dropout, another limited series inspired by the true story of disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes.
“I really resisted doing The Girl From Plainview because of the salacious tabloid headlines,” Liz Hannah shares with Awards Focus. “Patrick McManus, my co-creator, and Elle Fanning brought me the original Esquire article by Jesse Baron and that’s when things changed,” Hannah says. “I felt like there was something here that was deeper to explore.”
Hannah had high praise for series star and executive producer Elle Fanning, particularly at the close of the first episode. “The last scene of the pilot has Elle’s character mimicking Lea Michele’s performance of ‘Make You Feel My Love’ from Glee,” Hannah says. “That was a really difficult undertaking and we filmed it a few different times. The scene really only lives because of Elle’s performance, she took it to another level from the page.”
On the red carpet and attending the post panel conversation with Liz Hannah were Elle Fanning (Michelle Carter), Chloë Sevigny (Lynn Roy), Colton Ryan (Conrad “Coco” Roy III), Cara Buono (Gail Carter), and Kai Lennox (David Carter).
For Fanning, she had just finished filming Hulu’s hit comedy, The Great, when she raced down to Georgia to start work on The Girl From Plainview. “I only had two weeks between season two of The Great and filming this series,” Fanning says.
As a producer, Fanning was fully immersed in the material and the outcome of the series. “Being a producer on this comes with a great responsibility, especially given the subject matter,” Fanning shares. “I never wanted to sensationalize it or take it in a direction that wasn’t completely authentic.”
Actor Colton Ryan, who plays the suicidal Conrad Roy III, was thoroughly impressed with Elle Fanning’s work behind the scenes. “When she got there from The Great, I’d been on location for two weeks,” Ryan says. “When we read together, she really helped offset the heaviness of it by keeping it lighthearted between those moments… it really put me at ease.”
For Chloë Sevigny, the actress was on familiar terrain as she dove into the emotionally taxing shoot. “I’d shot in Savannah, Georgia twice before this series, so that was comforting to return to as you’re working through such intense material.”
As part of her preparation, Sevigny watched the I Love You Now Die documentary that covered the horrific and shocking events. “I was really struck by Lynn Roy, how salt of the Earth she was and how she had this spirituality,” Sevigny shares. “She has been through the worst thing that can happen to you and she has such strength.”
Veteran actor Kai Lennox plays father of Elle Fanning’s character, and Lennox found an easy way into that role thanks to his real life parenting experience. “I have a sixteen year old daughter who resembles Elle in a lot of ways,” Lennox shares. “I can tell you there’s no greater nightmare than what this family faced, losing a child to suicide.”The Television Academy attendees gave a warm welcome to the cast following the pilot episode screening. The series is up for Emmy consideration in all categories and is available to stream exclusively on Hulu.