Lifetimethe original movie Secure room can be suspenseful, but behind the scenes it was a family affair. Boris Kodjoe’s directorial debut and starring his wife Nicole Ari Parker, the real-life couple looked back on their acting debut together to make this dynamic new work. “We have such a good relationship back and forth because we met on soul food twenty years ago in a TV set, so we know how a set turns, ”explained Nicole Ari Parker during a press conference for the promotion of the film. Her instinct was to help her husband, but she soon realized that wasn’t the best way to support him. “He is the captain of the ship and I have to let him. So I pushed back like day one, scene one. And then after that, I just did what he said.
“She realized that it took a lot of preparation to put these plans in place and that I had the confined space, the time, a lot of things to manage, and I think she realized that I had been through these things many times,” Boris added, revealing this Secure room not only had a tight filming schedule, but also a lot of challenges during production. “We had flooding on the set. We had an active shooter in the neighborhood which made it very difficult for us to continue. Additionally, cameras were stolen from a production van and Brood X cicadas swooped down on the sound department.
“[Boris] had a plan, and when things went wrong he had a way to counter it, and when things went wrong the second time around, he had a way to counter it,” explained Mackenzie Astin, who plays Dominic, one of the two villains of the film. “I don’t know where it comes from, but it was a treat to work with a guy who is so natural to lead a team.” The sentiments were echoed by Mackenzie’s on-screen partner in crime, Rocco, played by Drrea De Matteo. “I’ve been on too many movie sets, TV sets of course, and I thought Boris looked like he’d been doing this longer than any seasoned director I’ve ever worked with.”
Playing Nicole Ari Parker’s 14-year-old son on the spectrum is Nik Sanchez. “Since I have autism, playing autism is like a man playing a man,” the actor explained. “It’s part of who I am, but what I love most about playing Ian is that it helps me learn more about myself and aspects of my own autism, and what other people on the spectrum are also going through and Ian likes a lot of things like video games, STEM, gadgets, cars, basically, etc. He’s a big geek, but I like those things Ian and I are very similar in character and traits, and I really enjoyed playing the role. It made me feel that if I was in a situation similar to what he was in, I would be able to be brave and confident, just like him.
Nicole Ari Parker found it easy to connect with Nik Sanchez to bring the mother/son relationship to the screen. “When I met Nik Sanchez, it was very easy to love him and want to protect him,” the actress explained. “Nik was so generous with me because when you play a parent, it’s not just the title of mom. It’s the little things, the way you touch your son or your daughter, the way you hug them. and talk to them, and I really wanted to respect Nik’s space, and he let me violate him with kisses and hugs. So yeah, it was a wonderful experience to work with such a talented young actor playing my son .
The creative team took great care in the portrayal of Ian, not only with casting an actor on the spectrum, but also in how the character was written. “We’ve done a lot of research and partnered with organizations that support children and young adults on the spectrum,” Boris Kodjoe explained. “We wanted to make sure it happens with complete authenticity and truth, and that’s why I fought to hire an actor who was on the spectrum. And Nik, he exceeded every expectation I had in this project, and I was so thrilled and grateful to have him on board. He really got everyone around him going and not just on camera, but also just the energy on set changed when he stepped on set, which is amazing to watch. Representation is everything. It’s really important because it creates normalcy around everything we’re talking about, in this case, autism. And we wanted to shed some light because we want to make sure young players on the spectrum are supported and opportunities grow in the industry. It is very necessary. It’s time, and that’s completely normal. The problem is that we project too much onto these artists, these children, these young adults, and that’s our own problem, and this experience opened my eyes in that we should talk less and listen more, and Nik taught a lot during these four weeks that we spent together.
Following the releases of Secure roomLifetime will introduce viewers to resources for learning more about autism. Secure room premieres Saturday, Jan. 15, 1 8/7c on Lifetime.
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).