Actor Annabeth Gish has always been good at turning a sow's ear into a silk purse. And while the pandemic quarantine left her stranded alone in a Canadian apartment for 14 days while her family stayed home in Los Angeles, it also proved a treasured experience.
"It was a great gift, a positive in the wake of the coronavirus," she said.
That solitary confinement gave Gish the chance to work on her character, Jennifer Dulos, the real-life mother of five who was murdered, her body never found. The film about Dulos, in which Gish stars, is titled "Gone Mom" and is part of Lifetime's "ripped from the headlines" series.
"It was 14 days of immersive preparation for me and to really get into the spirit of Jennifer and hopefully tenderly honoring her," Gish said.
The COVID-19 lockdown proved beneficial in other ways, too. "This pandemic has absolutely reframed my sense of time, and I'm not rushing as much. I'm valuing staying still and staying home," she said. "It was just a beautiful reset with a ton of worry and fear and stress and anxiety, but I think it really reset my awareness of the fragility of our life and how quickly things can change."
Gish landed her first professional acting gig at age 13.
"Getting my very first role in 'Desert Bloom,' it changed the direction of my life because it was out of nowhere," she said. "And I was one of 800 girls to audition. It was a singular experience that opened up a whole new world of creativity and collaboration and industry and broadened my view in a way that wouldn't have happened had I just stayed in Cedar Falls, Iowa."
A different role
Her folks were not acquainted with the quixotic nature of showbiz.
"My parents were very grounded," she said. "They're professors. They're not entrepreneurs, they're not businesspeople, but my dad was absolutely insistent about saving my money from the get-go, saving and investing. That set me up to being protected."
Married for 20 years to stunt coordinator Wade Allen, Gish is the mother of two sons, ages 12 and 14. She isn't sure how she would react if her kids decided that they wanted to become actors.
"If I think about it for my children, I would hope that they can choose a career path with a little more structure and reliability," Gish said. "But at the same time, there is a beauty in this wild, gypsy adventure. There is much beauty to be found."
Gish's stardom started when she co-starred in the cult favorite "Mystic Pizza." Since then she's been in scores of shows, including "The X-Files," "Pretty Little Liars," "Sons of Anarchy" and "Nixon." But there have been work gaps, too, she admits.
"When the lean times have come, it's really about being resourceful — pivoting," she said.
"I'm writing a bit now and just optioned a novel and adapted it as a screenplay and want to direct. I'm moving in that direction, which I'm excited about. Something happens in your 50s; you just want to take ownership of your voice."