There have been many reports surrounding Elizabeth Smart’s abduction and even her TV movie, The Elizabeth Smart Story, which was released shortly after her rescue, but now the survivor is ready to tell her own story in Lifetime’s I Am Elizabeth Smart.
“I’m not apprehensive about what the audience might take away,” Smart told reporters at TCA today. “It is the best worst movie I’ve ever seen. It was so well done and accurate. I’m very proud of it.”
Smart was joined onstage by EPs Joseph Freed and Allison Berkley, as well as actors Deirdre Lovejoy, Skeet Ulrich and Alana Boden.
I Am Elizabeth Smart details the kidnapping of Smart at age 14, told from her perspective and with her full participation. In June 2002, she was abducted from her Salt Lake City home by religious fanatic Brian Mitchell. He brought her to a hilly encampment where he and accomplice Wanda Barzee kept Smart in chains. She was starved, drugged, raped and subjected to bizarre rituals until she enabled her own rescue after nine months.
Smart, now 29, said she initially never intended to write books or do movies, wanting just to put the experience behind her. It was after she got more involved in advocacy for victims in similar circumstances that she was inspired to change her tone. “I realized that I have a unique opportunity to share my story because there are so many other survivors who struggle every day,” Smart said.
The movie was two years in the making, and with Smart’s involvement the filmmakers were able to flesh out an authentic story.
If you look at [The Elizabeth Smart Story], it really doesn’t portray what Elizabeth endured. It doesn’t even mention the word rape when that was a pivotal part of what Elizabeth overcame,” said Freed. “Now we can tell the complete story and do it with Elizabeth herself.”
Premiering November 18 on Lifetime, I Am Elizabeth Smart is also executive produced by Steve Michaels, Jonathan Koch and Joan Harrison, Barbara Lieberman and Smart. Sarah Walker directs from a teleplay by Tory Walker.