Heather Graham dishes on 'disturbing' 'Flowers In The Attic'

Heather Graham gestures as she talks about Lifetime's

Heather Graham gestures as she talks about Lifetime's "Flowers in the Attic" during the Winter 2014 TCA presentations in Pasadena, California, January 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:40 PM ET

PASADENA, Calif. - When I first heard the basic plot of Flowers in the Attic, I have to admit, my first reaction was, “Wait ... what?”

Cuteness and cruelty, desire and despair, intrigue and incest. The novel, by V.C. Andrews, came out in 1979 and sold 40 million copies. It was made into a movie in 1987.

But now comes a made-for-TV movie that debuts Saturday, Jan. 18 on Lifetime. It stars well-known actresses Heather Graham and Ellen Burstyn, as well as Mason Dye and Kiernan Shipka, who you'll recognize as Sally Draper on Mad Men.

“I had never read the book, but one of my best friends is obsessed with the book, and she was quoting me all my lines,” said the 43-year-old Graham, who plays Corrine Dollanganger. “I mean, there is a really rabid fan base out there for this book. But yeah, after I got the job, I did read it.

“I also screened (the 1987 movie). I think it's a little more cheesy-funny. There's an aspect of kind of really enjoyable cheesiness to it, but it's just a powerfully disturbing story, even in that version. There's just something about it, you're just watching it, and it's really disturbing.”

Disturbing? Yup.

Flowers in the Attic weaves the twisted story of the Dollanganger kids, who, after the unexpected death of their father, are convinced by their mother Corrine (Graham) to stay hidden in the attic of their wealthy grandparents’ mansion so she can reclaim the family fortune.

But as Corrine's visits begin to wane after she becomes involved with a new husband, the children endure unimaginable treatment at the hands of their ruthless grandmother Olivia Foxworth, played by Burstyn. As years go by and the eldest children Cathy (Shipka) and Christopher (Dye) come of age, both emotionally and physically, their family’s sordid past entraps them further as they look to each other for comfort.

“I know (Burstyn) was really glad when she was finished - she said, 'I can't wait to get out of this character, it's so disturbing,'” Graham said. “But all the little kids were really excited to be scared by her. They were so excited for the scene where she kicks them and pulls their hair. They were just like, 'We're excited for you to scare us,' and she was just laughing.

“You know, early in my career I was on Twin Peaks. And I did Scrubs. I also did Californication. I just did a film. So I like doing both (TV and movies). But I think there's a lot of interesting things going on in TV right now. TV seems to be taking more risks. What used to be the independent films, it's seems that a lot of those really creative projects are coming to TV.”

Lifetime is so confident about Flowers in the Attic that a sequel - based on Petals in the Wind, which is the second book in Andrews' Dollanganger series – is already in development.

Viewers beware. Flowers are pretty, but sometimes they bite.

Twitter: @billharris_tv

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca


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