Wicked Horror participated in a conference call earlier in the week with actress Clea DuVall to talk about the upcoming Lifetime series The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. DuVall is an incredibly prolific actress who has appeared in so much over the years, including The Faculty, But I’m a Cheerleader, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Girl, Interrupted, Heroes and Argo. A sort of pseudo-sequel to last year’s hit TV movie Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, Chronicles features Christina Ricci and DuVall reprising their roles as Lizzie Borden and her sister, Emma. The eight-part limited series premieres Sunday, April 5 at 10pm ET/PT.
Given that the movie ended with the trial and didn’t leave a ton of room going forward, there’s a lot of room for questioning on how this new series continues the sisters’ story. “We approached the series as though the movie was a very separate thing,” says DuVall, “for us, it wasn’t connected.” She goes on to add that “It kind of created a different history and so in that story there was a lot more questioning. And I think in this story, Emma believes her sister and all of the doubt is so subconscious… She’s still holding onto this idea that her sister is good and her sister is innocent, even though there’s a part of her that knows that isn’t true.”
On where we find Emma with her acceptance of Lizzie in the new series, DuVall says “Emma is in a place of blind acceptance. And it’s not, you know, she can’t find any other reality than her sister being innocent. That really motivates her to stay with her and to protect her, because ultimately Lizzie is the only family she has left.” She also adds, “I think Lizzie needs Emma more than Emma needs Lizzie. I think that Emma is the only reason Lizzie has been able to survive as long as she has because Emma is kind of her greatest enabler.”
One of the things separating Lizzie Borden Chronicles from serial killer centered shows like Dexter and Hannibal is that Lizzie Borden Chronicles is also a period piece. “Our costume designer was so incredible,” says DuVall. “He, I mean, was so creative and so beautiful and able to make everything that Christina and I wore from scratch. I met him in LA before we went out to shoot and he had these bolts of fabric in this room just stacked up and would just go, ‘Do you like this? Do you like that? Do you like this?’ And then when I got to Halifax, there was this rack full of incredible, incredible clothing. And it, you know, the second you put it on it was hard not to slip into that character and that time.”
Elaborating on her chemistry with co-star Christina Ricci, DuVall says “I think I met Christina when I was 20, so she would have been 17. I’ve known her for a really long time and we ran in the same circles. We weren’t necessarily that close when we were younger, but there’s a level of comfort there that just really came naturally to us. And we got along well during the series—during the movie and then coming back, we spent a lot of time together and I really care about her. I think she’s a really special person, a really smart person and such a good actress. I was never not impressed by her. There were days when I was just like ‘How are you even doing that? How are you just acting totally normal with me and joking around and then the camera turns on and that’s what you’re doing?’”
On what she’s most excited for audiences to see in the new series, DuVall says, “I think the last two episodes are… they were my favorite. They were my favorite scripts and my favorite to shoot. And there are two really great actors who come in at the end. There are just some really exciting actors that I really want people to see that I was so blown away by when they got there.”
Teasing the show a little further, DuVall also adds, “I would say the last three episodes, there are a lot of changes.”