Tracy Pollan says she was surprised to find that filming tonight’s (5/9) “Justice for Natalee Holloway” Lifetime movie was even more emotionally draining than filming its predecessor, the 2009 “Natalee Holloway.” She again plays Beth Holloway, whose daughter’s disappearance during a 2005 senior trip to Aruba made headlines around the world. Prime suspect Joran van der Sloot is in prison in Peru on a different murder charge, but Natalee’s body has never been found.
“On certain days filming it, I felt like I was jumping into a black hole and I couldn’t get out of it,” admits Tracy. “To actually force yourself to go to your worst possible nightmare takes a lot. I think it was more difficult this time around because in the first movie, Beth doesn’t know what the outcome is. She’s on a quest to find her daughter and very, very hopeful through most of the movie. This one is almost more like ‘Silence of the Lambs,’ building up to this big confrontation with the monster.”
Van der Sloot is played by “The Vampire Diaries'” Stephen Amell in the movie, and Tracy says she deliberately refrained from talking to him on the set beforehand, because she did not want to diffuse the tension. “When we shot that scene it was a very intense day. We were at a federal prison, and the whole feeling of the place was scary — that whole environment, the prisoners there, the guards with us. We shot it in a continuous sequence, like a play,” she adds.
For all that intensity, “Once we finished, it was a huge relief, almost liberating.”
Tracy says that her husband, Michael J. Fox, and their 10-year-old daughter Esme visited her in New Orleans during production, which helped a lot. So did a visit by one of her close girlfriends. “It was great to leave the set and not be alone.” And she found another way to balance a stressful day’s work, she adds with a laugh: “I was shooting in New Orleans, so I would go and have a huge dinner.”
Still, she stresses, “I think the movie actually leaves people feeling hopeful when they see how Beth has handled this horrible situation. It shows that you can get through, even things that might seem like the end of your life as you know it — you can get through and turn things around and use them for good.” That’s something, of course, that Michael and Tracy’s own story proves as well, as they have dealt with his Parkinson’s Disease by becoming advocates for others with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
“Vanished With Beth Holloway,” in which the real-life Beth Holloway tries to help other families of missing persons, premieres following “Justice for Natalee Holloway.”
MEANWHILE: Tracy has been quite selective in taking assignments as her and Michael’s four children (21-year-old Sam, and 16-year-old twins Schuyler and Aquinnah, and Esme) have been growing up. Now, she says, “I actually would love to do a series. I am always looking for right thing. Ideally, I’d love to do a series in New York. That’s what makes it tricky. A lot of shows go all over the country to shoot these days — North Carolina, Texas. I’ve had a couple of offers, but when I took myself through the whole thing, considered what the demands would be like, I couldn’t make them work. My kids are still too young for me to be away from them for too long. But if the right series came up in the right place….”
She looks at both comedy and drama, but “I think I sort of go more toward drama, toward the procedurals. I like that format a lot, and I like the idea of an ensemble. Or a cable show with a shorter season — that would definitely appeal to me if it showed up on my doorstep.”