Playing a woman whose daughter has committed suicide in the Oct. 3 movie, “Lies in Plain Sight,” was an excruciating experience for Rosie Perez — literally. The actress was suffering from a slipped disc and a bulging disc throughout the shoot in June, and underwent a bone marrow procedure and neck surgery just four days after wrapping production.
“I had spoken to my doctor prior, and he advised me not to work. But I said, ‘This film is really speaking to me. I really want to do it,'” she tells us. She wound up getting through by “having an epidural in my spine, which they said wouldn’t hurt but it hurt like hell, and I had to have ice packs on between takes and have pain medication.
“But it was good for my character. It allowed my character to be very contained. That’s the type of pain it was. That’s how it expressed itself.”
The Lifetime Movie Networks drama has Mexican film star Martha Higareda playing Perez’ blind niece, her daughter’s closest friend, who searches for the reason
behind her suicide and uncovers dark secrets involving abuse. Chad Michael Murray and Christoph Sanders play the dead girl’s former boyfriends, and Yul Vázquez her father.
“I think ‘Lies in Plain Sight’ is a wonderful title. There are so many signs that adults either choose to ignore or are ignorant of in regards to this specific type of abuse,” comments Rosie. “I think the film was well done in that regard. That spoke to me the most. The family falling apart — that’s always intriguing for an actress. And my character — how can I say this without giving too much away? I like to play characters that you as the audience may not like.”
The “Do the Right Thing” and “Pineapple Express” actress gamely showed up in Washington, D.C. in July — in a wheelchair, wearing a neck brace – for a reception at which President Barack Obama honored the work of the HIV/AIDS charitable community. There she explained that she’d been hurt doing a scene last year for “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” in which she was shaken by an extra. The President was heard advising Rosie not to do her own stunts; “They have professionals for that.”
Now she says, “I’m on the mend. It’s coming along slowly” – too slowly, in fact, for her to participate in John Guare’s new play at Lincoln Center, A Free Man of Color, to which Rosie says she was attached for six years.
“I don’t even know how to say it. It was very heartbreaking, very difficult, letting it go, being told I couldn’t do it. It got a little ugly… But I’ve realized it would have been impossible.”
However, according to Rosie, there’s a silver lining to this storm of disappointment and pain. “This healing time is a really positive time, a blessing in disguise. My doctor wanted me to be as strong as possible prior to the surgery and after the surgery, so I cleaned out my system. No drinking red wine. I’m eating healthy foods. Yes, I had a nurse — a home attendant — and assistants around, but there came the time I said, ‘Everybody go home. I’m fine by myself’ and it felt great. I’m kind of a loner naturally, but I’ve really enjoyed this solitude on a whole new level, to be able to sit with myself and not be bored. The clarity it has brought to me is incredible.”