Juliana Dever in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND'S EX | ©2020 Reel One Entertainment

Juliana Dever in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX | ©2020 Reel One Entertainment

In the film STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX, premiering Saturday, July 25 on Lifetime, Juliana Dever plays Nina, the stalker of the title. In the opening sequence, Nina is drunk. When her husband Ryan (Adam Huss) believes Nina is endangering their little girl, Nina bashes him over the head.

Ryan survives and Nina goes to jail. Four years later, when Nina is released, Ryan is about to marry the upbeat Kristen (Alex McKenna). Kristen gets along great with ten-year-old Lisa (Joey Rae Blair), who has only vague memories of her real mother. Nina, infuriated, is determined to get her daughter back.

Dever, originally from St. Louis, recurred for seven years on CASTLE as Jenny Duffy-O’Malley Ryan, love interest turned wife of Detective Kevin Ryan, played by Dever’s real-life spouse Seamus Dever. Dever’s other credits include THE LIST, THE MANGLER REBORN, TIME AND TIDE, INTO THE ARMS OF STRANGERS, CRIMINAL MINDS, and SCANDAL.

In an exclusive interview, Dever talks working on STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX, as well as her memories of CASTLE, her award-winning travel blog, and more.

ASSIGNMENT X: How did you get involved in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX?

JULIANA DEVER: I just got a call from my agent that they’d offered me a part. To any actor, that’s crazy and amazing. I had auditioned for the casting director, Scotty Mullen, years before this, and he just always remembered me, and when the right project came along that he thought I was right for, he floated it to the producers, who knew me from CASTLE, and everybody was like, “Yeah, perfect, offer it to her.” So it’s not as out of the blue as it seems, but it’s always fun to get that call.

AX: Did you do any research for the role into alcoholism, people on parole …?

DEVER: Yeah. You always do research. You want to make the character grounded and realistic, especially in this kind of genre, to make them relatable. For this particular role, I used some life experience of adults that I knew growing up, that had some of these issues, and pulled that behavior into the character. And you’re always going to have to fill in the details, just get the clues in the script and connect the dots and see where that leads you.

Juliana Dever in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND'S EX | ©2020 Reel One Entertainment

Juliana Dever in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX | ©2020 Reel One Entertainment

AX: How do you see Nina as a person?

DEVER: I saw her as someone who was really lost, someone who had no clear parental guidance that was beneficial, at any point. But she’s still from Santa Barbara. So it wasn’t necessarily that she was disadvantaged, she was just from a fundamentally broken home. So she was also able to understand the implications of being less than perfect, growing up in that kind of town. So she knew that she needs to cover these issues for a time. And you really see the parts where she breaks, where she doesn’t have the tools to help herself at all. I just wanted to be careful that I wasn’t falling into any kind of trap of making it one kind of specific person that was suffering from alcoholism. Also, the scene where she’s talking to the parole officer, played by Paul Tigue, and she knows that the system is set up against her, and it feels hopeless. You hear her lashing out to her own detriment, and you see that she has anger issues that she can’t control.

AX: When you were reading the script, how unstable did you think Nina was?

DEVER: Well, I knew she was unstable from the very beginning [laughs], which is really what I loved about her. Because playing a character that’s good and virtuous, it’s not that it can be easy, because you still have to find the flaws in there and the humanity, but sometimes playing those characters that just careen from one self-destructive act to another, there’s so much to dig into. So that instability and some of the things that you get to watch Nina do can sometimes be even a bit cathartic for the viewer and for the actor.

Juliana Dever in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND'S EX | ©2020 Reel One Entertainment

Juliana Dever in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX | ©2020 Reel One Entertainment

AX: Where did you think the story was going? Were you surprised by any of the twists?

DEVER: I loved watching where it was going, and I hope the audience does, too. In terms of the plot twists, I didn’t see that coming until I got to that page, but I watched the movie for the first time, and it’s done even better than when I read it. It’s done so well. I don’t want to say anything, because I want the audience to go on the ride without knowing too much, but yeah, I was like, “Excellent job, guys.”

AX: Had you worked with anybody involved in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX before?

DEVER: I don’t believe so, but I knew Adam, which was awesome. He and my husband Seamus did a play together over a decade ago. I hadn’t really kept in touch with him, but I always liked him. He’s very sweet. And then I think he reached out to Seamus and said, “Hey, I think I’m doing a movie with your wife.” And then Seamus was like, “Adam Huss got cast to play your husband.” Because we already knew each other, it was very easy to quickly get into step and have a fantastic working relationship. And he’s so great and open, so we were able to sit down and work through some stuff. I had never met Alex [McKenna] before, but the minute I met her at the wardrobe fitting, I just loved her. I gave her a huge hug, and was like, “Hi! Oh, wait, we’re not supposed to be friends.” [laughs] We worked together so well.

Juliana Dever in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND'S EX | ©2020 Reel One Entertainment

Juliana Dever in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX | ©2020 Reel One Entertainment

AX: How was working with Joey Rae Blair, who plays your daughter?

DEVER: I love her so much. And then I watched it, and I just fell in love with her all over again. What’s awesome about Joey is, she gets to be a kid. She’s not one of these, “I’m going to show off,” or the kind of kid that has a sense of, “I’m doing this, so I’m important.” I don’t know how else to say that. She’s just a kid, and she comes in with this joy, and she just wants to play, and she immediately believes she’s in the scene. In between scenes, I have so many pictures of her and I making up our own side movie. She’s so smart and funny. She’s one of my favorites.

AX: What was your made-up side movie?

DEVER: It was something we called JOEY AND HER VERY REAL MOM. We shot movie poster pictures together, and we were writing the plot. There’s a scene in the movie where I go and blow up that engagement party. In the movie, she doesn’t quite know who wrecked the engagement party – it was that quote-unquote “crazy lady” – [but in the invented movie], she comes back and she sits down and she goes [defending Nina], “They said that there was a ‘crazy lady.’ And I was like, ‘That’s my mom. So if she’s crazy, I’m crazy’.” [laughs] She just would come up with stuff all the time that was hilarious.

AX: How long was the shoot?

DEVER: I think it was twelve days. It was super-fast. I have to give huge props to Dylan Vox, the producer. He managed to just fill that cast and that crew. A lot of that crew had worked with him before often, but he put together a team that just fell in instantly, and just got to work, and everybody was so great.

Juliana Dever in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND'S EX | ©2020 Reel One Entertainment/Raymond Liu

Juliana Dever in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX | ©2020 Reel One Entertainment/Raymond Liu

AX: How was working with the director, Anthony C. Ferrante?

DEVER: Fantastic. Depending on the medium, the director’s got so many things in the air, and he’s trusting you to come in and do your job. But in a production like this, where it’s a small independent film, and it’s twelve days, sometimes we had one take, and he had your back. When you’re shooting, he’s focusing. He already feels confident in the world that he’s created, and he trusts that everyone else is already doing [their jobs], so he’s focused on you. And you don’t always get that. He wants you to have your best performance, so I always felt really safe. He and I had a shorthand almost instantly. So he knew when [to say], “You were good, but I think this is what you are going to wish you did, so let’s talk about it really quick, and let’s do it again.” He was just always there for you. So it was a gift to be able to work with him.

AX: So you discussed your character together …

DEVER: Yes. I was actually the first person cast, so we had that luxury of an entire week before the movie got started. We met early on at the Shake Shack, and walked through the points together. He really gave his ideas of who she was, and I shared mine, and we hammered it out. Nina’s taking you through this from her perspective, so we needed to get that tone down, so it set the tone for the movie.

AX: How was doing the scene at the beginning, where you bang Adam Huss over the head?

DEVER: [laughs] You think, “Oh, it’s really fun,” but there’s a lot going on. Of course, I’m not hitting him with a real rock. So the idea was making that feel real, making that have heft and weight, but also bringing it on the exact right plane, so when the camera gets it, it looks like he’s been hit. It’s a lot of choreography that you have to get down. It’s always fun to plot those points out. That was the first shot of the movie, but the very last shot that I did. And it’s funny, because the last shot for me is the first shot that I shot, so it was absolutely reversed. But it’s fun to have all of that information and then whack him [laughs].

Juliana Dever in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND'S EX | ©2020 Reel One Entertainment

Juliana Dever in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX | ©2020 Reel One Entertainment

AX: How was doing the party-crashing scene?

DEVER: What’s not fun about that? [laughs] It’s one of the reasons that I took the role. This is her child – in a way, there’s a justified anger in all of this. So you can make this grounded. And yeah, maybe she goes about things the wrong way, but you can imagine this building inside of her to the point where she believes this is the only available way to handle this situation. You have Alex and Adam, and Melissa [Ordway, as Kristen’s best friend] was with us in that one, so the scene was really fun, because we were all together, but I only threw the drink once. And I was so, “Oh, please let it land.” Because it’s hard to re-set that, we didn’t have that kind of time, so I was so happy that I managed to get [Alex] square in the face. And then I had the pepper spray, which was water. There was a lot of choreography with that as well. My husband, before I left for the day, he packed all of his stunt gear for me, so I had stunt pads around my arms, and the security guard that kicks me out was actually our stunt coordinator. So I was like, “Fight me!” He had my stunt pads to hold onto while I was losing it and he was throwing me out.

AX: Do you have a favorite scene that you got to do in STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX?

DEVER: Yeah. It’s small. It’s after Nina meets with her parole officer, and she’s walking away from the building. And it’s a gut punch. You see in this meeting that she’s trying so hard to put her best foot forward, and then she feels it going south, and again, she doesn’t have those tools or that ability to go, “Okay.” You’re watching in slow motion as it all begins to topple. So when she lashes out again, you realize in her face that she’s not coping, but she knows that she messed up. She’s frustrated, she feels like everything’s stacked against her, she knows she’s failed. That [scene of her experiencing that] was fifteen seconds. But there was something about that, that I had the opportunity to play that I loved.

AX: Was there anything particularly difficult about making the film?

DEVER: I started with independent film. This is my first love. I just love the story that you’re able to tell. And sometimes those are harder to come by these days, because we’re living in a world of either making YouTube videos or tentpole summer action films. These independent films are getting a little fewer and further between. You get that difference of doing a scene once, and maybe screwing up or doing a reverse really quick, doing it twice. That’s challenging. And Scott [Collette, who wrote the screenplay and co-wrote the story with Dave Hickey] – this turned out really great.

Being on CASTLE for seven years, there was this luxury of time, in a way, that is not extended to this particular style of independent film. So for me, the difficulty was really hitting the ground running. There were times when we had one take, and maybe we’d been shooting for almost twelve hours that day, and it was like, “Oh, no, this is a really important scene. Okay, we have fifteen minutes, go!” [laughs] And you’re like, “Okay, I hope I get it right in this one scene.” There was a scene in a CASTLE episode called “The Wild Rover,” where Kevin Ryan gets slapped. And I remember we counted that day, between all of our reverses and angles and lines and close-ups, we did that scene sixty times.

AX: Do you have a favorite episode that you did of CASTLE?

DEVER: Yeah. “Under Fire” I think that was my favorite episode to make of all of the ones that I did. That’s probably my favorite memory.

AX: Is that the one where Jenny is in labor in an ambulance, and Kevin is trapped under rubble in a building, and it seems like he may be dying?

DEVER: Yes. As much as I adore comedy, which I really enjoy, digging into those scenes, you get to go somewhere so deep and pull out so much. I just connect to that, I love it. That one was really hard to make, but also super-rewarding, and probably my favorite memory. But it’s always hard to say just one, because working on CASTLE was incredible as well. The whole thing was just fun from top to bottom.

AX: Do you have any memories of working on THE MANGLER REBORN, which is the sequel to Stephen King’s killer laundry machine movie?

DEVER: [laughs] Yeah. That was fun. I think my biggest memory is just being sticky all the time, because the blood was made with Karo syrup, and you’re outside, and you’re being murdered by a laundry machine, as you do, and then you’re getting dirt stuck to you, and you have to take a shower on set, and then get covered in blood all over again.

AX: Besides acting, you also have an award-winning travel blog. What is it called, and where do you go, and what do you do?

DEVER: It’s cleverdeverwherever. It started in 2015, so it’s been five years now. I was actually going to do a huge five-year anniversary celebration, which now – you know [laughs].

AX: “I have traveled from the living room to the kitchen.”

DEVER: “You guys, it’s so exciting.” Acting is my Number One love, and travel is such a close Number Two that they really feel intertwined a lot of times, because I guess at the heart of it, it’s all storytelling. And I’ve just been in love with the world my whole life, [travel] has always been my dream, so when I was old enough and in a position to do it, I started traveling the world. It’s really about cultural curiosity, and humanity, and connecting, and sharing, and understanding the world out there, and bringing it back home to go, “Hey, this world is amazing.”

The blog itself focuses on unusual experiences in unexpected places. It sounds like a cliché, but I’m a big supporter of getting off that beaten path. There’s a reason everyone goes to the Eiffel Tower. I would never say don’t go, but I think there are other ways to enjoy these experiences, where you feel less like a tourist, so much more connected to the people around. To me, it’s people. So that’s where the travel blog started. This year, I’ve gone absolutely nowhere, but since 2015, I’ve been to forty countries in the last four years.

AX: That’s a lot of travel!

DEVER: Personally, I just love the quirky, unexpected places. So I started curating tours. Because I realized, it’s one thing to tell people about it, but I get such a huge joy seeing into these cultures. I make friends in every country I go to, and then I go, “Hey, what if I brought some people back? Would you want to share some of your little-known secrets, or your neighborhood gems, or even open up your home and talk about what’s the essence of your culture?” Those threads of sharing the world mean the most to me. And they were like, “Yeah, let’s do it.”

So I started in 2019 with a tour to the country of Georgia [formerly part of the U.S.S.R.]. I really love ex-communist, ex-Soviet countries. There are so many layers there. And it was so much better than I could ever have imagined. It was twelve women, strangers, I didn’t know them, and they took a leap and went on this tour with me, and they all said it was the best tour they’d ever taken in their lives. And they all signed up to go on my next tour, which was supposed to be in August in Slovenia, and of course, we had to cancel it. But we’ll reschedule it. It’s going to be next August. But now I’ve got four tours for 2021, two of them to Georgia, two of them to Slovenia. I’m hoping to open up the Baltics, potentially Poland. Only when it’s safe. And if it turns out that, even next year, it’s not safe to travel, or it’s not responsible, then I’ll reevaluate it. But I definitely can’t wait to get back out there. I’m missing seeing the world.

Juliana Dever at THE WAIT IS OVER! CASTLE IS BACK presented by The Paley Center for Media | ©2013 Sue Schneider

Juliana Dever at THE WAIT IS OVER! CASTLE IS BACK presented by The Paley Center for Media | ©2013 Sue Schneider

AX: Are you and your husband still involved in dog rescue, or do you just have rescue dogs?

DEVER: We’re always involved in dog rescue. We started with Stray Rescue of St. Louis – St. Louis is my hometown. There’s a man by the name of Randy Grim. We happened to be watching him one night here in L.A. on a Nat Geo program called DOG CREATED MAN, and his warmth and his compassion for saving these animals, we both were crying watching it. So the next time we went back home to visit my family, we popped in there, made lifelong friendships with him, and we went back every year to host a gala in St. Louis. Last year was the first year we didn’t do it. Randy has transitioned to a slower ranch life, so now he has Randy’s Rescue Ranch. It’s a convalescent home for differently-abled dogs, but also, he rescues neglected and abused farm animals – horses, pigs, donkeys. So we’re always supporting Randy in everything he does.

We rescued our beagle Maisie. We were involved for awhile with Beagle Freedom Project, which is [rescuing beagles] from labs. So all of our dogs are rescues. We have three of them now. [There was an international rescue when] Seamus and I were driving through Georgia. We stopped at this one rest stop that I know really well. There are always stray dogs, and I always buy food. We found this puppy, and he just needed help immediately. We weren’t exactly sure what to do. We put out a social media APB, we had help from the O.G. Rescue Group in Tbilisi, which are amazing, and one of our editors from CASTLE, Marta Evry, wound up saying, “Hey, I’ll give him a home.” So we were really fortunate. We were able to fly the little boy all the way from Tbilisi to Los Angeles, and he lives with Marta now. We see him on Instagram. He’s so cute.

Seamus Dever and Juliana Dever at THE WAIT IS OVER! CASTLE IS BACK presented by The Paley Center for Media | ©2013 Sue Schneider

Seamus Dever and Juliana Dever at THE WAIT IS OVER! CASTLE IS BACK presented by The Paley Center for Media | ©2013 Sue Schneider

AX: Do you have any other projects coming up that we should know about?

DEVER: Seamus and I do a virtual pub every Friday night at 6 PM Pacific time, on my Instagram live. It’s usually about a half-hour to a forty-five-minute show. We tell everybody, “Bring a drink and sit down.” Everyone interacts. Our shows usually have one topic each week. Last week, our show was about musical theater, and of course we broke into a song that we had written. And we just thought that we’d interact with the audience, and it’s so fun. So that is what we’re doing right now. It’s cleverdeverwherever on Instagram.

AX: And what would you most like people to know about STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX?

DEVER: It’s shot beautifully by Damian Horan, and I know this sounds really unusual, but it’s edited so well [by director Ferrante]. It takes you through the story, and you are with it the whole way. It’s a fun ride. My heart was racing a couple times when I was watching it, and I knew what was going to happen. It’s well-executed. The actors are great. It’s a good piece of escapism.

Related: Exclusive Interview with actor Adam Huss on STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX

STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX debuts on Lifetime on Saturday, July 25, 2020 at 8:00 pm ET. CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS

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Article: Exclusive Interview with actress Juliana Dever on STALKED BY MY HUSBAND’S EX and CASTLE

 

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