The new Lifetime movie Death Saved My Life is bringing attention to domestic violence and the importance of having a strong support system.
The film stars Meagan Good, her sister La’Myia Good, and British actor Chiké Okonkwo as a family caught in a web of abuse and mental health issues. Meagan leads the cast as Jade, a successful marketing executive, whose abusive husband controls every aspect of her life, including what she wears.
Meagan, who serves as an executive producer on the film, said at the virtual press conference she was drawn to the topics the movie addresses.
“It wasn’t just about domestic violence, it was about the mental illness the characters were dealing with. It was about the dynamics. It was about just so many things I felt are important,” she explained. “Also, as an actor, it was a challenge for me. I’ve never really played a character like this.”
Okonkwo portrays her husband Ed, an admired surgeon, who berates and beats his wife behind closed doors.
“I spoke with a clinical phycologist beforehand and got a bit of a bead on what it means to be a malignant narcissist, and how that can be very controlling and sometimes overtly loving, but mostly very, very violent and dark,” he said.
According to Psychology Today, malignant narcissism is a combination of narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders.
Okonkwo said some of the scenes depicting abuse in the film were so intense, that he later took time to reassure Meagan on set.
“As soon as cut was called, I would make sure that Meagan was okay, because it wasn’t nice having to put her through that,” he explained.
In Death Saved My Life, Ed hires a hitman to kill Jade after she decides to leave him. The abused wife turns to her sister Leigh (La’Myia Good) for help. Meagan and La’Myia told reporters they tapped into their personal experiences for the roles.
“We were definitely drawing from a place of past experiences and things that only one another would know, and there was this internal dialogue going on and this communication,” La’Myia explained. “We were sharing the words on the page, but there was definitely a connection, and there was a link and there was experience there.”
Meagan added that having her sister on set helped her get through some of the more challenging scenes. “Literally, we left the set and we had a good cry,” she recalled.
The movie is part of Lifetime’s “Ripped from the Headlines” slate of films based on real events.
The network hasn’t confirmed which case inspired the script, but according to published reports, it’s likely based on the experiences of Noela Rukundo, who faked her death in 2015 when her husband Balenga Kalala hired hitmen in Burundi to kill her. Rukundo made international headlines after surprising Kalala at her funeral and telling him, “Surprise! I’m still alive!” He later pleaded guilty to incitement of murder.
Death Saved My Life is produced by Jarrett Creative. Executive producers include Julie Insogna Jarrett, Seth Jarrett and Meagan Good. Seth Jarrett directs from a script written by Barbara Kymlicka.
The movie premieres Saturday, Feb. 13 at 8:00pm ET/PT on Lifetime. It will be followed at 10pm ET/PT by the documentary Beyond the Headlines: Faking Death on the phenomenon of “pseudocide” or staging your own death.
Watch the trailer for Death Saved My Life below.