Dani Montalvo on Playing Lorena Bobbitt in New Lifetime Film
The Peruvian American actress Dani Montalvo talks about stepping into Lorena's shoes for the new movie I Was Lorena Bobbitt.
Dani Montalvo stepped into the role of Lorena Bobbitt for Lifetime's upcoming I Was Lorena Bobbitt, a task that was no small feat given the American public's longtime fascination with the case. "I watched a ton of footage and coverage from the media, the televised trial," the Peruvian American actress tells People CHICA. "Lorena was on set for a couple of days and she talked to me about some of the most difficult parts from that part of her life."
When the real Lorena was in front of her, it all came together. "Meeting her was such a surreal thing," Dani recalls. "It felt like a dream. I felt like I had already connected to a part of her, like I knew her, so when we met I felt like she came back into my life. It was bizarre in a beautiful way."
Morphing into Lorena was an interesting journey. "As soon as I got all the hair and makeup done, that helped me so much to find myself in the role," she says. "I watched all of her footage to see her mannerisms, how her shoulders moved when she was feeling scared, how she fidgeted with her hands, and which direction of the room she would look at when she was nervous."
"She is a lot different than how she was 26 years ago," the actress says of Lorena, who now uses the last name Gallo. "She went from being a victim to a survivor and she learned how to put herself back together in order to stand up and use her voice for other women." Lorena today is a confident woman who has healed from her trauma, Montalvo declares. "When you look into her eyes she glows. She has this beautiful smile and you can just see it — you can see the transformation."
Filming scenes of domestic violence with co-star Luke Humphrey, who plays John Bobbitt, was challenging. "When it came to the more physical and violent scenes, that was more about creating a safe environment on set for me and Luke to perform in," says Montalvo. "It starts to take its toll on you, but you have to remember to remove yourself from that dark place once you're off set. I always had to make sure that once the director yelled 'cut' I went back to my own head space and returned to Dani."
Montalvo enjoys writing songs and has been exploring Latinx music lately. "I've been working on a lot of music, doing some songwriting, and trying to stay creative at home," she says. "I started playing the guitar when I was 10, and since then I've been writing poetry and songs. I also play the piano and ukulele, and this quarantine has been making me want to impulsively buy a violin."
The actress says the best thing about this Lifetime film is that it's Lorena's true story. "It's all coming from her. She executive produced it and is the on-screen narrator. This is her narrative. She is being very transparent and raw. She doesn't want to hide anything about the reality she went through. She knows that people are ready to listen."
I Was Lorena Bobbitt airs Monday, May 25 at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.