Mary-Margaret Humes talks tough parenting in THE GIRL HE MET ONLINE
When I recently spoke with Humes, she told me how she came to accept the role she very nearly abandoned. “When Peter Davis (Executive Producer/Showrunner) asked me to do the role, I thought, ‘I’ve played so many moms.’ So, I said I’d wait for something else. Then, they sent me the script. I said, ‘Oh, well, I’ve never played this kind of mom. I’ve never played a mom where I was the one being abused. It’s something that doesn’t get discussed very often. You hear about parents abusing children, which is equally as awful, but I don’t remember too much in recent years about what a parent goes through with abusive children. I just thought it had a nice message to it.
“I also liked the writing. I liked the challenge of it being a non-glamorous role. And, I love Yvonne. I think she’s a great actress. I wanted to team up with her and see where it would take us. I knew who she was, but I’d never worked with her before. Off camera, we became really good friends. She’s funny, very quick witted. I admire her, and her technique is that she can just switch it on and switch it off when the camera is rolling. We have a good chemistry. On the sidelines, we were listening to dance music and doing dance moves. It was fun.”
The role took on a life of its own, with Humes having difficulty at times distinguishing acting from reality. She said, “The most challenging aspect of the role, physically and emotionally, as well as mentally, was when Yvonne was trying to strangle the life out of me at the end. We shot that time and time and time again at different angles one whole afternoon. I think we probably did 24 takes. And I think the end result turned out well. I just watched it last night, and I thought, ‘That looks real.’
A Part Well Played
“At one point during the filming of the scene, I actually thought, ‘Is she acting or is this real?’ But, it would never have gone to a point where I lost consciousness. Yvonne and I had this little thing that if I felt like I was going to pass out, I would stick my finger into her wrist or kick her from behind to say ‘enough.’ Anyway, her thumbs were on my jugular vein, and my face turned bright, bright red. I was coughing so hard – and that was for real. I just wanted her to get the performance she wanted. I think that scene was physically and emotionally draining for both of us.”
Though some of the backstory of Agatha didn’t make the final cut, Humes said the original opening scene depicted Gillian’s (Yvonne Zima, Iron Man 3) reaction to her at their first meeting. “There was a scene where she told me I would never be her mother, no matter what. I asked God to make this little girl love me, and then 15 years passed, and we saw that she was holding me accountable for everything that was wrong in her life, maybe blaming me for her real mother’s mistakes, even though I’d tried the best I could. I’d adopted these two little girls, and there was no problem with the relationship between myself and the older girl.
“I’m trying to deal with someone who’s delusional, bipolar, and whose reactions are volatile. You never know which way she’s gonna come at me. At the beginning of the project, she’s been living with me over a 13-year period with these physically, mentally, and emotionally draining episodes. It’s gotten to the point that she’s moved in with this guy, Tony, and I think everything’s gonna be okay. She finally has a boyfriend. Then, in the opening scene, you see where she’s going to Tony’s apartment, and he’s getting ready to leave her. So, she’s saddled with me again.
“I have a good relationship with my older daughter, and she has a good relationship with her sister. In the end, I have to turn to the older sister for advice, because I can’t really talk to anybody else. I don’t have a friend in the script or a sister, and no other relatives, so I’m kinda stuck.
An Added Strength
“When I initially met with the writer, David DeCrane, he said whatever I wanted to bring to the role would be good. It just felt like the right role to play. They did call me at one point and tell me they wanted to make my character stronger, which I think I needed, because I couldn’t play a wimpy mom.
“That added strength became the turning point of the script. At that point, Gillian had thrown me against a wall, and I knew I had to talk to my older daughter about it. Somebody was gonna die if someone didn’t stop her. The older daughter understood that.”
Humes’ next project will take her to Italy, where she will shoot an indie film about a Medieval town and witches.
The Girl He Met Online premieres on February 8 on Lifetime.
Cheryl has been a freelance TV/film writer for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, she has worked in PR for Bon Jovi Productions in NYC, PolyGram Records (also in NYC), and Rogers & Cowan Public Relations. Cheryl has published articles at suite101.com, “Sci-Fi Entertainment” magazine, and “Soap Opera Weekly.” She was also a credited researcher for English author Denis Meikle’s JOHNNY DEPP: A KIND OF ILLUSION. Cheryl enjoys writing for the entertainment industry and meeting new people. She is also an animal lover.