Seven years since playing the role of Lucky Spencer in General Hospital, three-time Daytime Emmy' winner Jonathan Jackson stars with Golden Globe' and Emmy' Award-winning actress Judy Davis (The Reagans, Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows) in the Lifetime Original Movie, A Little Thing Called Murder, a chilling drama based on true events of Sante Kimes and her son Kenny, whose string of cold-blooded murders in the late 1990s shocked the world.
'The story of Sante and Kenneth Kimes is a fascinating and tragic tale of greed and manipulation,' said Trevor Walton, Senior Vice President, Lifetime Original Movies. 'Their recent Los Angeles murder trial, during which Kenny broke free of his mother's psychological grip and testified against her, brought stunning new revelations to light. We are extremely excited to have the phenomenally talented and versatile Judy Davis bring this dark and complex real-life character to the screen.'
Sante Kimes (Davis) dazzled everyone she met with her glamour and charisma. She also stole from them, conned them and, in the case of the unsuspecting housekeepers she smuggled from Mexico, enslaved and tortured them. But as cold and heartless as she could be, Sante had a deep, yet twisted, emotional bond with her son, Kenny (Jackson). By the time he reached grade school age, Sante had begun instructing the sweet-natured boy in the art of subterfuge and petty larceny. After Sante served time for a slavery conviction, she persuaded her then teenaged son, against his better judgment, to join her and act as her 'enforcer.'
In the 1990s, mother and son crisscrossed the country building a fraudulent real-estate empire and leaving behind a trail of bodies, including those of a California businessman, a bank auditor from the Bahamas and a Manhattan socialite. As law enforcement officials closed in on them and began to untangle the duo's web of deceit and murder, some even more disturbing questions arose: How did Sante maintain total control of her son and convince him to do the unthinkable? And what justice would their victims receive? A Little Thing Called Murder revisits charm and horror of the Kimes.
What drew the former daytime star to the role of Kenny? 'My attraction to playing Kenny [were] the different levels--every actor says that, but this role has a lot of levels I haven't really played before as an actor,' shared Jackson. 'And it was interesting to me the kind of brainwashing his mother puts on him throughout his life. So to play a character that is battling between making his own choices, being his own man, and ultimately giving way to his mother in everything, was just a unique thing.'
To prepare for the role, Jackson devoured television footage and interviews with the real life Kimes that gave him good insight as to the public face that Sante and Kenny would present. 'That is another interesting facet to me as an actor because they were extremely charismatic and charming,' Jackson said. 'Their ability to convince people pretty of much of anything was amazing, and I got to see that first hand in the interviews.' Also for Jackson, there is no better research than the written word. 'As an actor, that's always the best thing: what is in the script?' In the case of the Kimes, however, 'there is a lot more to this story that isn't in the script that you can't fit in an hour and a half or two hours,' and that's where the real life television footage played a major role.
Far as his character, Kenny Kimes, is concerned, Jackson feels that the son absolutely resented his mother. 'They do touch on that in the script,' revealed Jackson, 'which I thought was great. There are some scenes when Sante was in prison for a few years, and he was functioning as a fairly normal, healthy teenager,. When she comes back, there is this absolute rage and anger towards his mother. That's the tipping point right there, because that kind of teenage rebellion, in a sense, is kind of healthy, and when she comes back, it's in him. There's this independence, but she ultimately conquers him, and he ends...
... up being her hands and feet and her mouthpiece.'
'I think the main problem for Kenny is that he never grew up, really,' Jackson continued. 'He never left his mother. He never became his own person. He tried when he was a young teenager, but I think something in him had to die and just surrender to her because she was such a dominant force. He didn't have the strength to say no. I really have no idea, but my guess is that he had very conflicted feelings about committing those murders. I don't think he wanted to, but I just think he had to find a way to justify it in his own mind, in order to please his mom.'
Jackson enjoys playing 'bad guy' roles and has played quite a few -- a serial killer, an abusive boyfriend, a heroine addict. But Kenny Kimes was a different kind of bad guy because he was extremely charming. 'I enjoyed this role because it was both disturbing and fascinating,' said Jackson. 'Often times, if a character is pretty straightforward, he or she is not as interesting to portray.'
Far as Jackson having any aspirations to play the good guy, it would have to be quite a role! 'I would rather portray the hero, if it's a really great film,' he said. 'All my favorite fictional film characters are heroes, such as in 'The Last of the Mohicans' and 'Robin Hood.''
Jackson also learned a life lesson from his participation in A Little Thing Called Murder. 'I walked away from this movie thinking how important it is to have a genuine selfless love for your children. You can really mess kids up if you don't have the right kind of love for them,' he said. 'The movie also had a lesson about the importance of being honest; once the truth becomes relative, a lot of dangerous things can start happening. So, I've taken a heightened appreciation for the truth, and just a reinforcement of how unnecessary and what a dead-end it is to manipulate and lie and cheat. This is a kind of extreme example of what happens if you live life like that, but it just gives me an appreciation for being honest.'
And what of Jackson's days on the set of General Hospital? Does he still associate himself with the goings on in Port Charles?
'I've been off the show for almost seven years now, but people still come up to me, remembering me from GH,' he said. 'It's funny, since it was such a long time ago; but it doesn't bother me. My experience on General Hospital was incredible and I owe so much to the people whom I worked with there.'
Along with starring in A Little Thing Called Murder, Jackson is also focusing on his music. 'My Richard, and I have a band called Enation and we play rock. Our Web site is enationmusic.com. I play guitar and piano and I also sing. My brother plays the drums.' Enation released a record last year.
A Little Thing Called murder is based on the true events of notorious mother-and-son con artists Sante and Kenny Kimes and is adapted from the book, 'Dead End: The Crime Story of the Decade: Murder, Incest, and High-Tech Thievery' by Jeanne King. It premiers on Lifetime Monday, January 23, 2006. Check local listings.
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