Betsy Brandt Addresses Lifetime Movie ‘Bad Orphan’s Similarity to the Natalia Grace Story (Exclusive)

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Betsy Brandt is opening up about her latest project. In an interview with ET’s Nischelle Turner, the Breaking Badalum addresses speculation that her new flick, The Bad Orphan, is based the real-life story of Natalia Grace.


As was chronicled in The Curious Case of Natalia Grace, the so-called orphan adoption scandal surrounded Natalia, a woman accused of pretending to be a 6-year-old orphan by her former parents, Michael Barnett and Kristine Barnett. The Barnetts additionally allege that Natalia tried to harm them and their biological children.

Natalia, who has a form of dwarfism called spondyloepiphyseal, denied the allegations and levied claims of abuse and abandonment of her own, both of which the Barnetts have denied

Meanwhile, the synopsis for The Bad Orphan reads, “Loving parents Jessica and Karl are elated when they adopt a troubled 8-year-old orphan named Gabby. However, as Gabby’s unsettling behavior worsens, Jessica becomes increasingly concerned that she’s now a threat to the family.”

Amid the apparent similarities of the real-life story and the Lifetime film, Brandt told ET, “There are some things that happen that you don’t wanna go through in your life, you don’t want anyone you care about to go through.”

“I remember when that story came out, and I was like, ‘Oh my God,'” she said of the Natalia Grace saga. “For me, the interesting thing about the true story was that here’s this couple, you think you’re in one situation and it turns out you’re in something way over there.”

“Lifetime just took that [premise] and then just ran with it,” Brandt added. “Yes, this is [about] a couple that adopted a girl that they thought was young — it turns out [with them asking,] ‘Is she? Is she not?’ — but then it’s a fictional story. It’s a different story.”

The film’s story is something Brandt, who plays the child’s adoptive mother, had great input on as the producer of the project.

“It kind of gave me more license to really have a say in how we do it. I think that’s part of your job as an actor,” she said. “… It is a team sport. It is all hands on deck. It’s the people that spend the most time there that really set that tone, and it really allowed for me to do that.”

The secret ingredient to the project, Brandt believes, is her young co-star, Chloe Chapman, who plays Gabby, the adopted orphan.

“I don’t even wanna imagine doing this without her. I adore her,” Brandt said of the 17-year-old actress. “… She’s also really good… She’s so smart. She’s really wonderful. She quickly became a peer.”

Despite the emotional plot of the film, Brandt promised viewers that it’s an entertaining watch.

“I feel like a crazy person saying this, [but] it’s so fun. It’s not funny, I mean there are some funny moments in it, but I will find the funny in anything. It’s such a great ride,” she told ET. “… I like being on that line, like, how far can we go? It still has to be believable. It has to live in this world. The ending, I don’t want to give anything away, but you’re like *screams*… It’s perfect for summer.”

The Bad Orphan premieres June 22 on Lifetime. 


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