A Friend of the Family's McKenna Grace on Bringing a True-Life Victim to Life

Having starred in projects like Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Captain Marvel, and a variety of horror efforts, McKenna Grace has gotten to explore the more whimsical side of movies and TV, but with her latest project, A Friend of the Family, the actor is helping tell the true-life horror that a family endured at the hands of someone they thought they could trust. In addition to A Friend of the Family telling the story of Jan Broberg's multiple kidnappings at the hands of Robert Berchtold, Broberg herself served as a producer on the series, offering Grace firsthand insight into the ordeal. A Friend of the Family premieres on Peacock on October 6th.

When asked by ComicBook.com if there was more pressure when approaching this role as compared to other projects, Grace confessed, "It was very scary. It was, and I'm going to be so honest about that. That really did scare me, coming onto it. I was like, 'I just want to make sure that I'm doing this right by Jan.' And that was the first question I asked was, 'Is Jan and her family a part of this?' and they are. Jan was such a big part of our production, which just took a big weight off of my shoulders to know that she was okay with what we were doing. She really gave us all a good sign-off to, 'This is my story and this is my life and the people that I knew and what happened to me.' But she really gave us a good sign-off to be able to do what we wanted with the characters a bit to bring ourselves, as well.

She continued, "I talked to her for about two hours the first time I ever chatted with her, and we both cried, and she told me so much, and she's been so open with me from day one, and she's been so open with all of us. It was amazing to have her be such a big part of this, and she would get sent the sides every morning, even though she was not in Atlanta where we were shooting. She would read the sides every morning, and if she saw a line or something, I think that she'd message our producers. If I ever had any questions or I ever wanted to know something or wanted to share with her what was going on on set, I would always message her, and she would give me all sorts of stories. It was just so amazing to be able to talk with her like that, and I still talk to her often. I really love her."

A Friend of the Family is based on the harrowing true story of the Broberg family, whose daughter Jan was kidnapped multiple times over a period of a few years by a charismatic, obsessed family "friend." The Brobergs -- devoted to their faith, family, and community -- were utterly unprepared for the sophisticated tactics their neighbor used to exploit their vulnerabilities, drive them apart, and turn their daughter against them. This is the story of how their lives were permanently altered -- and how they survived.

Grace also reflected on the personal impact the production had on her and what she took away from the process.

"Honestly, as an actor being on this set, I learned so much about acting and filmmaking, just being around and being a part of this story," the actor recalled. "It was such layered things and complicated performances that all of us had to give, and so it was amazing being able to watch everyone do that. But walking away from this whenever I wrapped, I honestly just felt so lucky to have been a part of it. I still feel honored to have been able to tell Jan's story and tell it from her perspective a little bit. It was an incredible experience, genuinely one of my favorite things I've ever done, and I'm just honored to be in Jan's orbit. I'm just happy to have her in my life as a person."

A Friend of the Family premieres on Peacock on October 6th.


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