Lifetime is airing a special edition of ‘Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret’ on Aug. 8. HL caught up with Tania Raymonde about playing Jodi Arias in the Lifetime movie.
One of Lifetime’s most notable Ripped from the Headlines movies, Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret, was unlike any Lifetime movie before it. The 2013 movie was nearly filming simultaneously with Jodi’s trial for the murder of her boyfriend, Travis Alexander. Jodi was convicted of first-degree murder for the murder of Travis in 2013 and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 2015.
HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Tania Raymonde about taking on the role of Jodi Arias. She revealed that the scripts were constantly being changed as they learned what was happening in Jodi’s trial in real life. Tania also admitted that she does think about Jodi and wonders how her trial would have unfolded if it happened now. Following the airing of Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret on Aug. 8, a new special titled Jodi Arias: Cellmate Secrets will premiere.
Were you familiar with Jodi Arias before you got the role?
Tania Raymonde: I wasn’t exactly. I do remember at the time though that she was sort of in the general air. I started to hear some stories and I recognized for her name. It was all coincidentally happening at the same time, so I had heard of her and I vaguely knew about the story. But it wasn’t until I was sent the script that I put two and two together and realized that, wait, this is the same woman. This is this murder case that’s happening right now, and they’re making a movie about it now. It was crazy to me. And then I started really paying attention after that, but I’ve never been sent anything based on a real life event or real person drama that was unfolding in real time. That’s never happened before.
How did you go about preparing to play her since the case was unfolding in real time?
Tania Raymonde: At first, when I was getting ready, we didn’t have too much time to prep. Also, if I recall, we shot the movie pretty quickly. Things were always changing depending on what was going on in her testimony and what new facts were coming out in the press, but I tried to watch as much as I possibly could have like real life interviews of her, everything that I could find. I tried to really get inside her head, and then as soon as we started shooting, I just stopped watching everything because she was on Nancy Grace and HLN every single night. I remember at the time, Nancy Grace was obsessed with her. She would talk about Jodi every night. I’d come home from work after 12 hours of working on the scenes inside Jodi’s head, and then Nancy would just be yelling at the TV about Jodi for two hours. So I just blocked all that stuff out because once I made a decision on how to play her, I had to stick with that. I didn’t want to get influenced by anybody’s opinions after that.
By the end of filming the movie, had your perspective about Jodi changed at all?
Tania Raymonde: I think I always try to go in with a very objective perspective at first. Inevitably, when playing someone like her, after a while you tend to really sympathize with her. It was very hard for me to divorce myself from that opinion. I always think about how this case would have unfolded if this has happened now. If we think about back then, that was way before the Me Too movement. I just wonder if the public opinion would have been a little bit different. Look, she murdered the guy, that’s for sure. No doubt, and it was horrible. But I wonder if it would have been a little bit different in light of this whole Me Too era and women fighting back against different kinds of abuse.
How did you mental process like for you to get inside Jodi’s head and build up to the murder?
Tania Raymonde: The movie unfolds, from Jodi’s perspective at least, as kind of a love story. Most of the movie is Jodi and Travis falling in love, and then Jodi falling very deeply in love and becoming obsessed and then becoming more obsessive. Eventually, she just didn’t tolerate the situation she kind of put herself in and killed the guy. I always thought of it as a romance or a love story. I really didn’t think about the murder, or any of that until we got to those parts. We shot chronologically, which was so nice. The murder sequence, the trial, all that was done at the end, especially because the trial scenes were being rewritten because they were unfolding in real time. It was nice in a way. I got to meet Travis, fall in love with Travis, and become obsessed with Travis in a way that was so organic that I didn’t really have to think about her killing him until the scenes were filmed.
You mentioned that some scenes were being reworked as you filmed. Was that difficult for you or did you like the fast-paced aspect of it?
Tania Raymonde: I kind of liked it. I do remember that we did some improvisation. The trial parts were the parts that we had so much of almost exact footage to base it on. There was so much coverage and close ups of her on the stand, and some of the dialogue was word for word what she said when she was on the stand with the prosecutor. That wasn’t too tough. That was crazy, though. She’d be on TV every night and the next day, I’m sitting in the same courthouse wearing the same outfit saying the same line she said yesterday on live TV. It was a trip.
It’s been 7 years since the movie came out. Do you think about Jodi at all?
Tania Raymonde: Of course I do. This movie could almost be like a weird commentary on the media and press because she was so infamous for what she did. Everybody knew her name and about the trial that was going on. It was everywhere. It seemed like the most important thing going on, and now you look back on it, and I think you’d be hard pressed for people to remember maybe even who she was. But at the time she was on the cover of every single magazine at the grocery store and on every single TV channel. That was just a handful of years ago, so it just shows you that certain people’s stories, certain true life crimes, certain things just catch this crazy popular attention and it becomes this insane snowball effect, most likely to Jodi’s detriment. I think she was made an example of. People get away with worser crimes, but murder is murder. Beyond all that, I do wonder about what a life sentence is like for her.