To follow up her acclaimed Netflix limited series Seven Seconds, which brought Regina King her fourth Emmy nomination, Veena Sud decided to wade into darkness once more with Toronto-premiering drama The Lie, placing a magnifying glass on a parent’s worst fears.
Starring Mireille Enos, Peter Sarsgaard and The Kissing Booth’s Joey King—playing strongly against type as a teenage murderer—Sud’s remake of 2015 German film We Monsters follows estranged parents wrestling with the consequences of their daughter’s terrible mistake. Under immense pressure, they decide to make her crime disappear.
As a parent herself, watching Sebastian Ko’s original film was a deeply affecting experience for Sud. “I’m drawn to the extremes of human nature,” the director told Deadline in Toronto. “I’ve always been fascinated by the terrible things we do, who we are when we think no one’s looking, and also through going through the crucible of darkness in our own lives, how we get through the most severe conflicts in life and emerge better people, or not.”
Dealing with “themes of the ferocious love a parent feels for a damaged child who’s done wrong,” The Lie demanded actors who could push themselves to “the very, very utter edge of the spectrum,” remaining emotionally open in the midst of utter darkness. Fortunately, Sud found two such talents in Sarsgaard and Enos, the latter an actress she knew well from her time with AMC drama The Killing.
“We had a lot of fun conversations around it. We’re all parents, we all have children of varying ages, and when you become a parent, you become vulnerable in a way you’ve never imagined,” Sud noted. “It’s like your heart is out there in the world, open to anybody doing something terrible to it. So it was a very personal thing for all of us.”
Casting King as daughter Kayla, Sud saw an actress who could sell the girl’s transgressions, while exuding a deep underlying humanity. For the director, it’s important to stress that The Lie is not a story about a crazy child. “This is a story about a damaged, broken girl,” she explained, “and it’s a fine, fine line between the two.”
For more from our conversation with The Lie director Veena Sud, click above.