Most likely, you know him as the man who creates some of the most romantic stories (ahem…The Notebook) that make you cry, laugh, smile and angry (only because you wish something romantic could happen in your own life). You probably recognize her as Claire Fisher from Six Feet Under, or for us ‘90s kids Denise from Can’t Hardly Wait.
Well, now these two are coming together for Lifetime’s new event Deliverance Creek, which follows Lauren Ambrose’s character, Belle Gatlin Barlowe, as she attempts to protect herself, her family and her land during one of the most historical time periods. She might even become a famous outlaw, but you’ll have to watch and see.
You guessed it, Nicholas Sparks is the mastermind behind this story — and it’s his first ever TV project. As executive producer, Sparks has created a world two years into the Civil War that tells the intertwining stories of several important characters played by Ambrose, Christopher Backus, Skeet Ulrich, Yaani King, Wes Ramsey, Caitlin Custer, Joel Johnstone, Christopher Baker and Riley Smith.
As his first big project for the small screen, Sparks recently discussed with Honest Reviews Corner, during a conference call, the trials and tribulations that come with working on TV versus that of a movie and a book. For him, novels are easier in the sense that he gets to “win every battle” because he’s the “boss” and “dictator.”
However, when it comes to film and TV Sparks says “there is more cooks in the kitchen, so to speak.” He added, “You have the studio. You have directors, and so television is a little bit more like film. I’ve got a number of films, so I’ve been around this. I think the biggest challenge is just getting the script right, the way that you want this script to be — to really capture the complexity of emotions, to create the kind of characters that people will want to watch every week. Then, of course, the next part is you have to find actors who have the ability to display a wide range of emotion, effectively.”
Which is exactly what Ambrose did, and Sparks describes her as showing “this fabulous range, whether she was angry or in love or sad or in deep mourning or frustrated or angry.” With that said, Ambrose also encountered challenges when taking on the spirit of a strong, independent pioneer woman, but it’s something she’s always wanted to experience.
“I was able to bring my pioneer spirit,” Ambrose said. Lucky her, as she always wanted to star in a Western, “…to be able to wear all that cloth and have a big gun and a big hat and a big horse and be this take no prisoner house lady in the Civil War era locking it down, keeping that ranch at close. I mean, when I read that script I was just blown away by this character and by the art of the story and I just want to know what happens next.”
To get into character, she was even sent a cowboy to teach her how to ride Western, which really got her into the nitty-gritty of that time period. In addition to the era, the costumes and the atmosphere, what also drew Ambrose to the story was her character, who she calls “wonderful, lovely, flawed, strong, [and] complicated.” Fun fact: Belle is loosely based on Belle Starr, a female outlaw.
“When I read this script, I really couldn’t believe the complexity of the character and just what I would get to do playing this part and what she does, this journey she goes on and she is easily flawed,” Ambrose told HRC. “She’s very complicated. She is devoted to her family. She can’t quite escape her past [and] she’s sort of caught between these two lives that she lived and [she’s] living. I think it’s comparable for any working mother really. (laughs) I’m just trying to keep it all together.”
Despite the challenges, none of this dissuades Sparks from hopefully a long future for Deliverance Creek. Seeing as this movie is essentially a backdoor pilot (with hopes of turning it into a series), Sparks is already looking ahead at the fourth season.
As viewers will see, the story ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, which was done intentionally. Sparks hopes to receive good ratings and that fans will tune in, so he can start producing weekly episodes. For him, he prefers to create a TV series consisting of “10 to 12 really high-quality episodes per year,” rather than a series of movies.
If all works out, would Ambrose return? Absolutely. As she told reporters, “I am all for it. I mean I really hope people watch and like it as much as I do. I just absolutely love playing this character — bringing this fierce, gritty, tough lady, who is flawed and passionate and has a lot on her plate to life. I really hope that we get the chance to go back to Texas and make more.
“I love playing my character, but I also find the other characters are so full, and then there is the whole small town living aspect of it. So you have all of the dynamics and the storyline in this small town, which is like this little pressure cooker in this era. And I can’t wait to find out what happens, and I really hope we get to make more.”
Deliverance Creek debuts Saturday, Sept. 13 at 8/7c on Lifetime.