Hulu’s new five-part miniseries “Candy” takes on one of the most famous true crime stories in American history: the 1980 axe murder of Texas housewife Betty Gore by Candy Montgomery. For Melanie Lynskey, who plays Gore, the greatest challenge of the show was finding a way to play the character respectfully.
“I wanted to make sure I was playing as true as I could version to life of her,” Lynskey told Variety at the “Candy” premiere at El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles Monday. “Which meant not sugarcoating anything that she went through. I think it’s an important conversation to have, she had postpartum depression, and she really was struggling. I talked to an investigative journalist who had written a book on the case. And he answered a lot of questions I had.”
Even with all of that preparation, Lynskey admits that she can’t truly ever be sure that she did the real-life Gore justice.
“It’s tough when you’re playing a real person who’s not alive anymore to tell you how they feel. And I hope that I did okay. I hope that she feels represented,” Lysnkey said, while clutching her heart and gesturing toward the sky. “I don’t know, it’s tough.”
Lynskey was joined at the premiere by the crew of “Candy,” including cast members Jessica Biel, Timothy Simons, Pablo Schreiber and Raúl Esparza, as well as series creators Robin Veith and Nick Antosca.
On the red carpet, Veith, who also serves as showrunner for the series, talked with Variety about the responsibility that comes with taking on a true crime story, and the research that the writing team did into the original 1980 case.
“There’s a tremendous responsibility in working in the true crime genre, in that these are real people, they’re actual human beings, and you can never forget that,” Veith said. “Either they’re here, or their descendants. And so, we did a lot of research. We spoke to some of the key players involved. We had a lot of help from Jim Atkinson and John Bloom, reporters on the scene. They were consulting producers on the show, and they sent us a trove of documents. We had the complete court records, we had the grand jury records, we had the jury and paneling records, we had Candy’s therapist’s hypnosis notes. We devoured as much as we could and interviewed as many people as we could and just did our best to give an honest representation of what we were able to gather.”
“Candy” is one of two 2022 miniseries about the Candy Montgomery case. The other, “Love and Death” from David E. Kelley, just wrapped filming and is expected to launch on HBO Max sometime this year. According to Veith, the case is one that is open to multiple different takes and interpretations, due to the lack of concrete evidence about what occurred between Gore and Montgomery.
“This place takes place in 1980, and there’s no texts, there’s no emails, there’s no camera footage or DNA,” Veith said. “There’s one story that got to be told because two women walked into a room and one walked out and she gets to tell the story. So in that regard, there’s 100 ways to tell the story. Because there’s not much that’s factually true. Memories are tricky things, and people always try to present themselves in the best light. So you just have to gather the evidence and then have a message, a reason to tell the story.”
For cast members like Jessica Biel, who portrays Candy, the response to “Love and Death” is one of full-fledged fan anticipation.
“For sure they’re doing something very different than what we’re doing right?” Biel told Variety. “I mean, it has to be oranges and apples. So I’m just excited. I’m excited for people to watch both and drive viewership to both. Sure if people want to compare, whatever, cool. But I mean, this whole cast, talked about it few times, like, ‘Wow, I love that other cast.’ Like I love Elizabeth Olson, Jesse Plemons. We’re all big fans and it doesn’t feel like rivalry. It just feels like excitement to see what their take on it is and see, ‘What’s your Candy?'”