By Kristin Mattern
Agnes Bruckner, well known for her recurring roles on television shows like 24, Alias and Private Practice as well as for playing one of the lead roles in Lifetime’s The Craigslist Killer, is now the star of Lifetime’s Original Movie, Anna Nicole. Her diligent research in preparing to play such a character, along with the help of an innovative pair of prosthetic boobs designed by Greg Cannom, enabled her to capture both the Anna Nicole Smith in front of and beyond the flash of the paparazzi cameras. The woman whose ability to make people smile inspired and awed Bruckner, who believes that Smith “loved life.”
Anna Nicole follows the story of Smith (born Vickie Lynn Hogan) from a Texas high school dropout and single mother dreaming of a better life to a stripper who shockingly marries oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall (played by Martin Landau), 62 years her senior. Smith’s Hollywood career takes off when she becomes a centerfold for Playboy and models for Guess. Sadly, her life begins to deteriorate after her husband passes away and her partying, yo-yo weight fluctuations, drinking and ceaseless pill-popping catch up with her. Deprived of financial support, constantly in and out of court over Marshall’s estate and still hungry for the limelight, Smith decides to launch a reality show about her life. The starlet enjoys a brief upswing, but when her son Danny dies of an overdose while visiting her in the hospital after giving birth to her daughter, a grief-stricken Smith falls hard into her self-destructive ways and dies of an overdose herself a year later – an end eerily similar to her idol Marilyn Monroe.
The movie avoids focusing too much on Smith’s silly side, though Bruckner promises there are plenty of “hot mess” moments in the movie. Instead, the heart of the film focuses on where the model came from, how she grew up and her relationships with her son and husband. “I think it came together,” the 27-year-old explains. “We found the perfect balance of fun, goofy wild traits and the heartfelt, human characteristics. I think that a lot of times we saw her as someone who wasn’t a real person. For the film, we definitely wanted to show all of her.”
To physically transform into the blonde bombshell, Bruckner had to undergo four hours of makeup and the application of faux breasts that took her from a B to a DD. After the experience, the tomboy says, “I took a little piece of Smith away with me. She made me realize that it’s okay to be girly.”
As we eagerly await Bruckner’s portrayal of the tragic star and her relationship with Marshall, everyone wonders if Anna Nicole was just in it for the cash when she married the octogenarian oil tycoon. In the actress’s opinion, however, there was more than money tying this couple together: “I really think that they had something for each other. I think he wanted companionship, love and joy in his life, and she gave those aspects to him with her charisma and love for life. She never really had a ‘father figure’ or a good relationship with her family, and this guy showed her love and treated her the best she’s ever been treated. I do think they both had something for each other and they kind of came together.”
And what about Marshall? “He really did love Anna so much,” she adds. “His eyes lit up when she walked into a room.”
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Bruckner calls the people who surrounded Smith after Marshall’s death “enablers” who did nothing to stop her boozing, drug habits and over-exposed lifestyle. “I think she put people in a sort of trance,” the California native shares, “especially men. Besides her son, there weren’t any men who were really there for her.”
Bruckner’s favorite moments were when she was filming scenes that depicted the struggle between Anna Nicole as a struggling mother and the relationship with her son. She notes that Smith and Danny really had a “special relationship, and there was so much love.” To Bruckner, Danny was more than a son; he was Smith’s rock and best friend.
During her time on the Anna Nicole set, Bruckner says that she realizes how fortunate she is to have friends and family who care about her career, health and happiness. This is what keeps her grounded.
Regarding her love life, Bruckner seeks someone who is a potential partner. “I look for someone who is honest and fun,” she says. “At the end of the day, what matters is being with someone you have strong feelings of love for. As a human being, we need that. We need to be loved, feel love, and give love. I think that is so essential.”
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