Celina Sinden Talks Playing a Woman in Prison in Lifetime’s “Bad Behind Bars: Jodi Arias”

It’s been nearly a decade since one of Lifetime’s most successful true crime movies was released, Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret. Following the events of Jodi’s incarceration, Celina Sinden takes over the role in a new film, Bad Behind Bars: Jodi Arias, premiering Saturday, January 21st at 8/7c on Lifetime. Celina Sinden recently opened up about her experience making the film and trying on Jodi’s black, white, and orange uniforms.



“I wasn't aware of Jodi's story because I grew up in England and it wasn't a story that reached me, so I came at it with fresh eyes and I can see why she captivated the public,” Celina Sinden revealed about her approach to the role. “She is a very charismatic character, very complex, so I was really drawn to her. Having a costume to help get into a role is so helpful and so delicious and delightful. Unfortunately, my Jodi was in jail, so I couldn't really use costume or hair or makeup. It wasn't indicative of Jodi in who she really is when she wasn't in jail. So, I tried to use her voice as much as I could to step into being Jodi and that mindset.”

In the film, Jodi befriends a couple, Donavan Bering and Tracy Brown, with Donovan becoming her defense at her trial. “I did not speak to Jodi or members of her family, but we were really lucky in that we had the real Donovan Bering and Tracy, who really knew Jodi,” Celina shared about her research. “They were incarcerated with her. So we could make sure that we were trying to tell as best we could, an accurate and respectful version of Jodi in the events that happened while she was in jail.” Celina also used interviews Jodi gave to capture her mannerisms. “She doesn't come across as what you would imagine a killer to be. She's very soft-spoken and very sweet and very girlish, and she doesn't look physically strong. I tried to put the crime in my head to one side and focus on her as a character.”

“I don't know if I'd want to speak to Jodi,” Celina revealed when asked if she has any questions for the real person she portrays. “The question that I would ask if I could write her a little note and see what she says would just be, ‘Did you really think that you would get off? Did you truly believe that you would get away with the crime?’ It is interesting because I've played a few real people up until now and I've been lucky enough to actually speak to them, and I've been so eager, and I've had so many questions for them. But in this case, people have different opinions of Jodi, and it depends on what corner of the web you go to. The general opinion is that she's quite a manipulative person. She's probably not mentally well. And so I had a really wonderful script. I used that as my base. I watched her for mannerisms. I was also really aware that the Jodi that we were showing is a fictionalized version of Jodi. We're not showing the real Jodi, this is our version of her. And I tried to, as best I could, make it as accurate from what I'd seen as I could and really allow audiences to come away making their own conclusions, not wanting to feed them an answer, but rather letting them decide for themselves from what they see. When you're playing someone who potentially has really dark thoughts or dark intentions sometimes, and we all do, we're all made of light and dark, but when you're living in that head space, it does stay with you. It resonates with you. And there were definitely times I would go and listen to current-day music or something to snap out of it.”

When you’re acting in a film, there’s a tendency to keep the character with you until the final scene is in the can. For Celina Sinden, there was one easy way to shed the character at the end of each day of filming. “Having a wig is nice to take off,” she revealed. “I am not the character, we are not one, and I can put her to bed at the end of the day.”

You can watch Celina Sinden in Bad Behind Bars: Jodi Arias premiering on Saturday, January 21st, at 8/7c on Lifetime.

Lifetime is part of A+E Networks, a joint venture by Hearst Communications and The Walt Disney Company.