“The level of respect towards all parties involved in this story is unparalleled to anything I've ever seen before,” Jaime King said about the Lifetime original movie Hoax: The Kidnapping of Sherri Papini. Premiering on Saturday, January 28th, at 8/7c, the film is an adaptation of the true story of a wife and mother who disappeared for three weeks and claimed to have been abducted, which later turned out to be a lie. While it would be easy to villainize Sherri Papini, Jaime King found the production to be multifaceted in its approach to all of the characters.
Serendipitously, Jaime King had just read a story about Sherri Papini moments before this role came her way. “As soon as I read it, I immediately felt something was off,” Jaime revealed. “The way that they conveyed this woman was off. And so I first thought, ‘Oh, I should option this story. Someone needs to tell this story, so I should option it for my production company.’ And it was so strange because then I was like, ‘Or Lifetime should do [it]…’ The way that they were portraying her didn't seem accurate to me. They weren't getting to the truth of it. It was just a headline.” Within 24 hours of reading the article, Jaime King was offered the role of Sherri Papini. “It was kismet. It was totally meant to be.”
“I think what's really important about these pictures and these stories is the opportunity to explore all the aspects and all the sides of it and let the audiences decide, and also give a voice to people that have their voices taken away,” Jaime continued. “Especially someone like Sherri, who is a felon. So her name, her likeness, any rights that she has to her life are stripped from her. And as storytellers, it's our job to tell the best that we can of all sides of things. So there's something that resonated with me about her, and it was ultimately that I felt that the media was not really taking account for her mental health or other contributing factors.”
While Jaime King wasn’t able to meet with Sherri Papini in preparation for the role, she did have access to a lot of resources. “I watched every single piece of material, every interview… While you're doing this, what you uncover again is that if you're a felon, you have no rights to your name and likeness, which is a fine and delicate dance that the studio has to do. And then everybody else has a right, even though they may or may not have been abusing that person. So to go back from the way that she was portrayed was to really present and connect to what I believe was the truth of her that met the truth inside of me, and present that. Because ultimately, I just want to tell the truth through, like a Rorschach really, and maybe give her an opportunity or people an opportunity to just take a look that there's always something deeper. You can make fun of mental health issues, you can deny abuse issues, but I'm not willing to do that. And as a storyteller, to be able to present it in a real way and then give it back to the audience. It's all for the people. We're just reflecting humanity back to humanity, and they can decide what happened. But it was really important to me not to have her humanity taken away just because they decided that it was a good press clip.”
“I honestly don't really watch anything that I do,” Jaime King shared, but Hoax: The Kidnapping of Sherri Papini was an exception. “It was for her, as her advocate. One of my best friends was like, ‘Wait, you're going to watch it?’ Stunned. Like, ‘Oh, you're going to watch it?’ I was like, ‘I know, right?’ Because again, I don't watch anything. But it was so important to me to just know that I could rest easy. That if ever she sees it, that maybe I, through the studio, was allowed to give her some kind of a voice. That's it. And make sure that I did a decent job.”
Hoax: The Kidnapping of Sherri Papini premieres Saturday, January 28th, at 8/7c on Lifetime.
Lifetime is part of A+E Networks, a joint venture by Hearst Communications and The Walt Disney Company.