Natalee Holloway's mother gets dual Lifetime showcases
Tracy Pollan stars in "Justice for Natalee Holloway" Monday on Lifetime.
Beth Holloway has continued to probe what happened to her daughter during a high-school graduation trip to Aruba. Just before she launches her own unscripted show, she'll be played again by Tracy Pollan. The Lifetime TV movie sequel "Justice for Natalee Holloway" premieres Monday, May 9, followed immediately by the debut of "Vanished With Beth Holloway" and its profiles of others searching for missing relatives. (The series' regular Wednesday run starts two nights later.)
"Where I am now, my mission is to help other families bring their missing loved ones home," says Holloway, an Arkansas native who has lived in Alabama since 2000. "I feel my perpetrator (prime suspect Joran van der Sloot) is in prison, so I have a bit more tangible information about Natalee's disappearance and the case surrounding it. I want so much to have every opportunity for other families, I never want it to be about me anymore. Most people (in similar circumstances) probably do get to that point."
Still, Holloway does play interviewer on "Vanished," and she reasons those featured on the program "have a unique connection with each other. It's a very comfortable relationship I have with them. It kind of lets us get to the foundation of this, which is to get out critical details.
"I can remember being in their shoes. When you met with a reporter, you thought that maybe you had to speak quickly, or maybe you were a little nervous about the interviewing style. This is a comfortable setting that lets them really reflect on how we can share ideas on moving their cases forward."
If Holloway's very visible role on "Vanished With Beth Holloway" is unexpected, she reveals, "I'd already been doing this quietly, flying into different locations and helping families, law enforcement and search teams. It was hard for me, being a schoolteacher, to continue that with the time and the money and the travel involved. This is just being able to take that up to a tremendous level that I never could have imagined."
The prospect of reprising her 2009 portrayal of Holloway (identified in that film as Beth Twitty, her former married name) was "really hard" for Pollan. "I have to say, of all the things I've done, it definitely took the biggest toll on me emotionally," the actress maintains. "I was very happy to leave that project, just in terms of moving on ... so when they came to me (about 'Justice for Natalee Holloway'), I was like, 'I don't know if I can do it again.' "
Pollan was prompted to commit to the sequel not only by the script, which she felt advanced Beth's story substantially ("I was just floored by the events that had happened"), but also by the support of her husband: Michael J. Fox, with whom Pollan co-starred in the 1980s NBC sitcom "Family Ties" -- honored at last month's TV Land Awards -- and in the 1988 movie "Bright Lights, Big City."
"He was the one who said, 'You know what? You gotta do this,' " she reflects. "(The first) movie affected so many people, I probably had more reaction to it than almost anything else I had done. Teenagers watched, and parents watched. Everyone was so invested in it, Michael thought it would be a great thing to tie up the loose ends, and also in terms of me playing a character."
Dedicated to portraying Beth Holloway as "not just passive and reactive, because that's not who she is," Pollan deems her "a very intelligent, very straightforward person when you're speaking to her. It's not like she's stuck in that time period and that emotion. She has done the most positive things with a situation like this, and showing that was important to me."
"Justice for Natalee Holloway" builds to a crucial scene in which Beth confronts van der Sloot, who eventually was indicted for attempting extortion by claiming to have information on the location of Natalee's body -- which proved false. Now in prison in Peru, he is awaiting trial on charges of robbing and murdering another young woman.
Pollan says she didn't "make a conscious decision, one way or the other" to avoid co-star Stephen Amell ("The Vampire Diaries"), who plays van der Sloot. "I said 'Hello' to him, but we didn't actually have a conversation. I think at one point, he went over to the director and said, 'Does Tracy not like me?' He represented something to me that was so difficult, and almost subconsciously, I knew I was going to have to go there. He's a brilliant young actor, though, and he was amazing to work with in that scene."
As for Pollan's performing, Beth Holloway says, "It's an honor to me that she's playing this role. I have had the privilege on being on the set and seeing her in action, and she is an amazing actress. She really puts you in the moment, and I do not think they could have made a better choice. She's just fabulous."
That did much to lead Holloway to approve of a movie sequel centered around her.
"Of course, I'm grateful for the support of the people who care about Natalee and what happened in 2005," she says. "I think they also want to see justice served, and I think that's what we're seeing now. You stay committed, you stay focused and you keep your eye on the ball, and look what's happened. It's been a long six years."