LOS ANGELES — Alyssa Milano has distinct criteria for selecting roles she wants to play. It starts with finding the right script, as she did with the upcoming Lifetime made-for-cable movie “Tempting Fate.” She also has to work with the right production team, another checkmark for “Tempting Fate” as the directing team included the husband-and-wife duo of Kim Raver and Manu Boyer.
The film follows Gabby (Milano), a mother of two, whose perfect marriage to Elliott (Steve Kazee) is threatened when Gabby meets a handsome younger man. What starts as a business project turns into a situation that changes everyone’s life.
Milano adds that the character she’s portraying also plays into her interest in a project.
“I have to feel that I can contribute something and make that character special. The thing that made Gabby so interesting to me is how flawed she is,” Milano says. “We don’t sort of romanticize her choice. She makes the choice and her world explodes. Then we see her put the pieces back together and that was very interesting to see a character felt with so much depth and nuances.”
Raver adds the key point of the movie is to show people aren’t perfect and to examine what happens when a person must reconcile with a bad decision. The reason Raver was excited to make her directing debut with the film was the central figure doesn’t become a victim but instead finds her own voice.
Finding her own voice could be used to describe Raver’s move behind the camera. She worked closely with her husband, a veteran director whose work includes “To Whom It May Concern,” to guide Milano. Raver found working together as directors meant having to have a lot of trust and faith in each other. It also meant a lot of nights talking about work.
“What was really great was in our collaboration, we allowed the best parts of ourselves to come out and we also left room for the places where we were not as comfortable,” Raver says. “I also feel that what is the best in our marriage is what we brought to our work relationship. We are a team and there is no one big hero, no one big important person. I think that’s why our marriage has worked because we complement one another. We are our own strong individuals and that we can only learn from each other.”
Milano was excited to have the pair as her directors. She was not only working with an experienced director, but with Raver she found someone who could completely understand the needs of an actor, as Raver had been in that situation starring in projects from “24” to “Grey’s Anatomy.”
“There was never a situation of we would figure it out on the day we were shooting,” Milano says. “They knew beforehand which enable you to feel free enough to know they have a vision. I never felt more protected.”
Boyer explains that they tackled “Tempting Fate” like a small, independent feature film. That meant this was never going to be a story with a big resolve, but instead reflect the messiness that is life.
Milano knows how good or bad a job can be, having been working in front of the cameras since before she was a teenager, starring on “Who’s the Boss?” That’s been followed by a long list of credits including “Melrose Place,” “Spin City,” “Charmed,” “My Name Is Earl,” “Mistresses” and “Romantically Challenged.”
“Tempting Fate” is the first of three Lifetime movies based on novels by Jane Green. Erika Christensen stars in “To Have and to Hold” slated to air at 8 p.m. June 22, while Justina Machado and Elisabeth Rohm headline “Family Pictures,” scheduled to debut at 8 p.m. June 29.
Many movies produced for Lifetime are being directed by women, a situation that thrills Milano as she has long advocated for more gender equality. She’s been working long enough to finally see some changes being made.
“Women face discrimination at every age, in every job. It’s a woman in the workplace that doesn’t get hired because she’s not married yet, which means that she’s going to get pregnant and they’re going to have to give her maternity leave. So there’s always some battle that women are fighting somewhere,” Milano says. “But I do think the entertainment industry has sort of reflected upon itself and television has — not only with networks like Lifetime — always really been very mindful that women are the consumers, that advertisers are going to pay money for women programming.”