Sigourney Weaver delivers an Emmy-worthy performance on Lifetime

 
 

Sigourney Weaver has been making the talk show circuit this week to promote her Lifetime movie, Prayers for Bobby.

Wait — Sigourney Weaver in a Lifetime movie? Was Melissa Gilbert unavailable?

True, the fact that Weaver’s TV movie debut is on Lifetime made me cringe a little. Not because I don’t like Lifetime — I’ve spent my share of rainy Sunday afternoons glued to the Lifetime Movie Channel for reasons I can’t explain. But the usual my-husband-beats-me-so-I-killed-him-and-got-amnesia-and-married-the-brother-I-never-knew-I-had formula just doesn’t seem to fit our favorite alien fighter.

Weaver, however, isn’t concerned about where the movie airs. “Wherever these compelling stories are told,” she said, “I’ll be glad to work.”

Compelling, the story definitely is. In Prayers for Bobby, Weaver plays Mary Griffith, a devout fundamentalist Christian who believes that her gay son Bobby (Ryan Kelley) can, with God’s help, overcome his gaiety sin.

At age 20, Bobby commits suicide, forcing Mary to acknowledge that her anti-gay religious beliefs led to his death. Her pastor has no answers for her, so she educates herself and eventually reaches out to the gay community.

 

The movie was a tough sell, as our brother site AfterElton.com chronicles. Susan Sarandon originally was interested in playing Griffith for NBC, but that deal fell through. In 2000, Lifetime bought the film with Sela Ward in the lead. (Come back to TV, Sela. Do it for me.) That, too, didn’t happen. The producers sold to Showtime a few years later — with Christine Lahti as Griffith. No go. By the end of 2007, the producers almost gave up on TV. Then Lifetime called again, this time with Sigourney Weaver on board.

The screenplay is based on the book Prayers for Bobby by Leroy Aarons. According to a review on SFGate.com, the main disconnect between the book and the movie is the speed at which Mary’s transformation happens. But Weaver was able to spend time with the real Mary Griffith so she could capture the essence of her journey even with the time constraints.

Other recognizable faces in the cast include Susan Ruttan (L.A. Law), openly gay actor Dan Butler (Frasier) and Austin Nichols (John From Cincinnati).

According to Variety, Prayers approaches the story “with the sort of uncompromising passion not readily associated with Lifetime titles like last year’s Sex and Lies in Sin City: The Ted Binion Scandal.” And critics predict an Emmy nod for Weaver’s performance.

I’m looking forward to seeing this film, despite its difficult subject matter. As one who struggled mightily to overcome my sexual orientation as a fundamentalist Christian, I am ready to see an honest portrayal of the tragedy that can come from believing lack of faith is somehow responsible for the inability to change one’s sexual orientation. My own story easily could have ended like Bobby’s. Perhaps Prayers for Bobby will give hope to others in the same situation.

Prayers for Bobby airs Saturday at 9 p.m. ET on Lifetime.

 
 

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