Emma is back in The Bad Seed Returns, premiering tonight at 8/7c on Lifetime. A sequel to the 2018 remake starring Rob Lowe and Mckenna Grace, this time around, the 16-year-old actress finds herself on the creative side. “We were just sitting over COVID, and we were like we should write something together,” Mckenna Grace revealed during a TCA press conference about the script, which she wrote with her father Ross Burge. “We knew that Mark [Wolper, executive producer] was wanting to do a sequel. We were like, wait, what if we just wrote a Bad Seed sequel, because we know that they want to do one but we didn't know if y'all had a script or not. How bad would that have been if we wrote this whole script and presented it to y'all and y'all were like, ‘Guys, we already have a script. What are you guys doing?’”
“That's a producer's worst nightmare,” executive producer Mark Wolper replied, expecting to have to give Mckenna and Ross some harsh feedback. “I just started reading this script, and I couldn't put it down. I sent it to Lifetime within 10 minutes of finishing reading it.” Mark was already familiar with Mckenna’s talents and had grown close with her parents, but reuniting on The Bad Seed Returns showed him how much Mckenna has grown as an artist since 2018. “Mckenna didn't only write this with her father and then star in it, she actually honestly produced it. It's not a vanity credit that she's called producer. I would very often get the look from Mckenna over a side of the set, and she's going ‘Come over here.’ And we'd have to walk off down the street, as she was explaining something that she liked or she wanted to do more of or that she thought wasn't good… Even the food on the set. So she was very, very involved with producing this, as well, which is just phenomenal.”
Filmmaking wasn’t in the plans for Mckenna’s father, Dr. Ross Burge, an orthopedic surgeon. “My only background in writing is writing research articles in medicine,” Ross shared. “When I was 13, I used to write vampire novels on my mom's college typewriter, based on Salem's Lot and Fright Night and those kinds of things. I've always let Mckenna watch very appropriate horror movies since she was a little kid, so we've bonded over that.” Ross’ background in medicine also aided Mark Wolper on the project. “Mark would call me and I'm in the OR. And he would have a production question like, ‘Hey, if we did this to someone, would they survive? What would happen after?’ And I'm like, marking a patient, signing them in to go back to surgery.”
Connecting these new films to the original is Patty McCormack, star of the 1956 classic. “When we shoot the first one, Miss Patty was on set for a little minute,” Mckenna Grace shared about the legendary actress, who appears in both Lifetime films as Dr. March. “She taught me how to do the little skip that she used to do in the old film, and talked to me about all the things, and gave me a little Bad Seed rundown.”
Mckenna got into character by making a playlist for Emma, a trick she learned from Elizabeth Moss while working with her on The Handmaid’s Tale. “She listens to music to get into character, and that was so cool because I totally look up to her,” Mckenna shared of her idolization for the Emmy-winning star. “Since then, I've always started listening to music and making playlists to get into character… It was a lot of classical music.”
The Bad Seed Returns premieres tonight at 8/7c on Lifetime.
Lifetime is part of A+E Networks, a joint venture by Hearst Communications and The Walt Disney Company.