Christina Ricci plays journalist Nellie Bly, who uncovered the abuses in psychiatric institutions in the 1800s in Lifetime’s Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story.” This dramatization also features Judith Light as Matron Grady and Josh Bowman as psychiatrist Dr. Josiah.
Bowman spoke with WLE about playing a fictional character in this true story. You can see Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story on Lifetime premiering Saturday, January 19 at 8PM.
WLE: Did you feel like Dr. Josiah sees himself helping the patients, or does he know he’s up to no good?
Josh Bowman: That’s a good question. He must know he’s up to no good. He’s crossing the line. The time period, you weren’t touching anyone in any sort of way unless you were with them in some sort of relationship or there was an understanding. He was definitely taking advantage of his position which can translate to some of the issues that have been coming out in the media the last year.
WLE: Does playing a psychiatrist change your demeanor because you’re in other people’s heads?
Josh Bowman: Yeah, I think so. I think in his position, I think we went with that he was in a commanding position. He could manipulate in many ways. She was in a vulnerable position. He was taking advantage of that and yeah, he could get in her head. He could keep her there a little longer. He could talk to her a little longer if he wanted to. That’s where the lines get blurred and it was crossed in the film. It was another obstacle for poor Nelly to try and overcome while she was in there.
WLE: Was it like stepping into a time machine with the costumes and the sets?
Josh Bowman: Yeah, I loved it. I love doing period dramas or comedies if I ever get to do one of those. It was fantastic. They did a great job with the costumes, the sets. I always feel it helps even more than if we were doing a scene now. I don’t know, you feel like you are totally transported. It’s really like a uniform. Clothes fit so differently. You hold yourself differently down to the boots to the ties or the cravats. There’s a lot of layers back then, top hats.
WLE: What were your most challenging or intense scenes?
Josh Bowman: Challenging, it was minus 20 outside. That was challenging to not have a big coat on because I just had a coat and a suit jacket and tophat. And the boots were just very thin leather, so all the snow would just come in. That was a challenge to try and for it to not be so cold, to stop your mouth from going [shivering] but great to be in that environment. I don’t like being on a studio fake set. I like to be on location, to be in the real environment so that was cool. Challenging,
WLE: Did you stay in the cold for their their closeups?
Josh Bowman: Oh God, yeah. I’ve never left that in my life. I can’t stand people who do. I can’t imagine why someone would do that I want to be known as a giving actor. It’s a collaboration. I can’t believe people do that. It’s shocking to me. If anyone did that to me, I’d grab ‘em by the ear and say, “You can fuckng sit back down and do your lines.”
WLE: Sometimes they pull them to shoot other scenes while you’re still going.
Josh Bowman: Okay, that may be different but also I would tell them to fuck off if that was the case because it’s not fair, both ways. Even if I see it, I shake my head and tell them what’s what. It shouldn’t be like that. I’m not in it for just the result. I’m in ti for the experience. That’s what I like about it, the making of it. No one sadly was there for that, but you get a filtered version of what it maybe was. Then it goes through so many hands so the experience for me is what it is. If someone is running off to do something else, unless it’s like we’re cutting and delivering the movie the next day, I’m not a believer — that’s not right.
WLE: So you’ve never had that.
Josh Bowman: No, but I won’t have it because I won’t stand for that.
WLE: Where was the location?
Josh Bowman: Winnipeg. Very cold, December in Winnipeg, but otherwise it was a joy working with these actresses. We had a great DP as well, a guy called Luc Montpellier who does Sarah Polley’s films. So it was great. We were around some really high caliber people.
WLE: Do you know what you’re doing next?
Josh Bowman: I don’t yet, no. Big next month or so. I’m reading lots of scripts and meeting on jobs, so back to the grind as an actor.
WLE: Are you looking into series or films?
Josh Bowman: Series and films. There’s some great television out right now. There’s a lot of television but there’s some very good television. I’ve still got a fair bit to go, a lot of learning to do but with a bit of luck and a bit of [rub of the green], I’ll go onto the next thing and see what that brings.
WLE: Were you surprised Time After Time didn’t make it?
Josh Bowman: Was I surprised? Look, timing is everything I think. I don’t think an audience were keen on any of that to be honest. I don’t know if it was in potentially the right place. I just think timing with an audience is everything. I had fun working with those guys, Marcos Siega and Kevin Williamson who I think is really great. I think everything now is timing. Are audiences ready to see that? They’re not stupid.