Elisabeth Rohm Talks Motherhood, Hollywood and Her Latest Lifetime Movie Role
My phone interview with actress Elisabeth Rohm started similarly to the phone conversations I have with my other mommy friends -- with her kindly asking her five-year-old daughter, who I could hear chatting in the background, to please be quite.
To break the ice, I shared with Elisabeth, who is perhaps best-known for her role as A.D.A. Serena Southerlyn on “Law & Order,” that I named my Maltipoo “Briscoe” after her former co-star Jerry Orbach’s character. Thankfully, she laughed rather than thinking I was a crazed fan and hanging up.
As for her time on “Law & Order,” she said, “I think [procedural shows] are very smart, at the least the one I was on. I really enjoyed using that side of my brain. But I guess that’s the good thing about being an actor. Sometimes you play parts that are very creative and some are more cerebral and it comes together and kind of gives you a whole cohesive experience that’s really unusual because most people do the same job for their whole lives.”
Elisabeth’s latest role as Ali in the Lifetime Original Movie “In The Dark” is a striking example of a character very different than the attorney she played on “Law & Order.” Ali is an aspiring artist who loses her husband, her daughter, and her vision in an automobile accident. When I asked her about the role, Elisabeth admitted she was initially intimidated to play somebody blind, but she took the part anyway because, she said, “anything that scares you is worth having.” To prepare, she visited the Braille Institute and had a consultant on set, but her director was so impressed by Elisabeth’s performance that the consultant only stayed one day.
In addition to the challenge of playing a woman who was once sighted but now sees nothing, Elisabeth said it was a powerful experience to play a character who loses her husband and child. “After a tragedy like that,” she explained, “there doesn’t feel like there’s a lot to live for. And, that challenge of finding your hope and your passion, and surprising yourself by delighting in life again through the little things, is something that really that’s really exciting to play because ultimately that’s the human experience.”
“In The Dark” filmed mostly at night in Los Angeles, allowing Elisabeth to spend her days with her daughter, Easton. During the summer, Easton is available to travel with Elisabeth, but Elisabeth prefers to work in LA as much as possible to be with her. “It’s a work in progress, trying to choose the right things that will support her and support me as a parent and as a provider.”
Although Elisabeth wants to offer Easton the experience of traveling, she’s cautious not to miss Easton’s commitments and routine. Like all moms, Elisabeth struggles to find the right balance. “It’s a juggling act!” she said. “She does come with me when it works, and I try not to leave when it doesn’t.” And although she’s intrigued by mom’s work, Elisabeth said that Easton prefers watching movies rather than getting involved with other actors on set. “She likes to sit and watch what mom’s doing, like if you brought your child to the office and they colored on the floor while you handled a few emails,” explained Elisabeth.
So it seems Easton hasn’t been bit by the acting bug -- yet. Although she has an entertainer’s streak, Elisabeth thinks Easton’s more shy than she was as a child. “She’s not one for ‘Look at me! I’m doing a show right now!’ She has friends like that, and I see the difference. They remind me of how I was as a little girl.”
When I asked Elisabeth if she’d be keen on Easton becoming an actress, she laughed. “I look at people’s choices based upon if they are so passionate about something they can’t live without it, and saying that that’s really where you need to put your attention. But if you feel you can live without something then probably that’s not where you’re supposed to be, because I think life should be a passionate experience.”
Ultimately, our phone call ended so Elisabeth could tend to Easton, whose request for attention grew louder and louder as we spoke. But even Hollywood moms sometimes have to give in to the demands of their children, putting their role as parents ahead of their jobs as famous actresses.
In the Dark premieres on Lifetime Saturday, January 12 at 8pm/7c