For A Friend of the Family star Jake Lacy, playing the role of a child predator was not one he took lightly.
The Peacock miniseries follows the incredible true story of Jan Broberg (Hendrix Yancy and McKenna Grace), who was abducted at the age of twelve by neighbor and close family friend Bob Berchtold (Lacy) in 1974. When the two were discovered in Mexico, Broberg was returned to her parents—only to be abducted by Berchtold again two years later.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview, Lacy said that while the series’ crew did thorough research and took precautions to portray the real-life horrors with respect, what really stood out to him was the unbelievably compassionate note he received from Broberg herself on the first day of filming.
“The note described a bit of how Berchtold was warm and charismatic and funny and kind, and that was how he wedged himself into the family and gained their trust and how he then got what he wanted,” Lacy shared. Broberg also served as a producer on the series.
“And the back half of the note was saying, like, ‘I’m OK, I’m in a healthy place, and I’m thrilled you’re doing this, and you have permission to do this role and tell this story as you see fit without being worried.’ The level of grace and compassion for someone to offer that to me, who’s just some dumb actor playing this part, when she’s the one who’s actually experienced it, is beyond my comprehension.”
Lacy Says There’s ‘Purpose’ in Telling Broberg’s Story
A Friend of the Family is not the first time that Broberg’s story has been adapted for the screen: the case was previously visited in Netflix’s Abducted in Plain Sight.
Directed by Skye Borgman, the true crime documentary was slammed by critics for its rushed handling of the subject matter—something that Lacy kept at the forefront of his mind while working on the Peacock series.
“This isn’t some voyeuristic look at their lives or some tabloid version of a story. We wanted to be authentic and compassionate toward what the experience was like inside of this family, inside this community when this wonderful young girl gets taken,” the actor said, emphasizing that this was about the victim, not the perpetrator.
“Ultimately, the saving grace for me, and for the production, was that there’s a real purpose in telling this story: Let’s shine a light on what it is to be a victim of both sexual abuse as a child, but also as a family and the people surrounding that.”
A Friend of the Family is now streaming on Peacock.