Fans of Beverly Lewis’ one million-plus-seller, The Shunning — about a young Amish woman whose world turns upside-down when she learns she was adopted — will be surprised by the Hallmark Channel original movie adaptation of the book, debuting this Saturday (4/16). Barely seen in the novel, the worldly birth mother figures prominently in “Beverly Lewis’ The Shunning.'”
“When I got to the location, I was about to read the books and they’re like, ‘Don’t read them! Don’t read them!'” recalls Sherry Stringfield, who plays the character of Laura Mayfield-Bennett. “I go, ‘No? Okay, I’ll wait.’ There are three books. I think there might be two more movies,” she adds.
The actress, still fondly remembered as Dr. Susan Lewis of “ER,” says she’d definitely be game to continue as the wealthy, troubled Laura in the next installments of the story. She adores Danielle Panabaker, who does a nice job with the challenging part of betrothed, bothered and rebellious Amish girl Katie Lapp, and she enjoyed working with director Michael Landon, Jr. His decision to expand Stringfield’s character’s presence in the TV film got author Lewis’ stamp of approval, by the way.
“My agent had read the script and he was like, there’s some interest in you for this, and I read it, and thought, ‘Wow, it’s actually good,'” Stringfield recalls. “I’m like, ‘Yes, I love it.’ I was shooting a series pilot in San Diego and I go, ‘Oh, my God. Don’t give it to anyone else because I’m not there.'” (That pilot, a female cop show called ‘Criminal Behavior’ for Lifetime, did not get picked up for a series.)
“Cable only does, like, 12 episodes a season, so that is the only reason, honestly, that I considered it. You know, you can have a life with that. That’s doable. But any more than that becomes problematic,” says the divorced actress, who’s the mother of a 10-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son.
There are still viewers who remember her for leaving “ER” in consideration of wanting to reconnect with her personal life back in 1996 — five years before returning to the long-running NBC hit. “It’s funny, some people go — gasp — ‘You still think you made the right decision?’ What? Gosh, I’m happy they even care. It just boggles my mind, though…
“Don’t get me wrong, I love money. But it’s not what drives me. Or fame — I’m not driven by that,” adds the avowed feminist. “I enjoy my relationships and my friends and my family. I’m an outdoors person. If I get away from those things for too long, I don’t feel good.”