Through her conversations with Morton and another round of discussions with the filmmakers, the scene eventually reached a place that Perkins could accept. She said she was grateful that Gardner was willing to spend an “emotional” hour on Zoom hashing out the discrepancies.
“She was very receptive and respectful and kind and listened,” said Perkins, who has set up benefit screenings of the film, sponsored by Universal Pictures, for her campaign in London and Toronto.
Madden’s story was equally fraught, though she had no notes on the script, which depicts her deciding to go on the record just as she is dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis. “It was pretty much my words,” Madden said of the script. Then the filmmakers sent her a 24-hour link to watch the movie earlier this year, when Madden was dropping one of her daughters off at university. Already emotional, the two sat in their hotel room and watched.
“I was soundly upset by it, is all I can say,” Madden said in an interview. “I physically recoiled. I just felt I was facing this person that I had become that I did not want to be. And it was really upsetting and shocking. I was upset that my life had gone in the direction it went,” she said, choking back tears. “It was quite awful.”
Since that early viewing, Madden has come around to the film. She has seen it three times, and it’s helped that her daughters are proud of the film and proud of her for standing up. They were instrumental in her decision to go on the record in 2017 and in helping her reframe how this experience had affected her life.
“Before the article was published, I told my eldest daughters that this was about to go out, and I had been on background, but the journalists wanted me to put my name to it. I was nervous. I expected them to push me away and say, ‘Look how disgusting’ because I’ve never spoken to them about it. Instead they were like ‘Oh, my God, you’ve got to do it, Mom, you’ve got to do it.’
“And it’s so funny because it’s so clear to them. It’s wrong. You stand up and you be counted, and you don’t allow yourself to be bullied. And it has really brought me much closer to them.”