Francia Raisa and Ken Baumann (Adrian and Ben on The Secret Life of the American Teenager) recently spoke to the press. Some of the questions and answers are spoilerish, so if you haven’t watched the season finale yet and don’t want to be spoiled, then stop reading now.
For those of you who have already seen it, or don’t care about being spoiled, jump ahead with me.
Tonight’s episode (June 6th), of The Secret Life of the American Teenager was an intense one, to say the least. Having suffered through a loss quite similar, watching it was almost unbearable. Let’s see how it affected Francia Raisa and Ken Baumann, who play Adrian and Ben respectively.
How the loss of the baby affects their characters
F. Raisa – Adrian was really just all about having this baby. Her whole life revolved around it right now. She’s had a baby shower, she is getting married, she is starting a new life, and then for all that to be just be crashing down, and I mean, there’s no baby now, so, it really affects her. It affected me, as well, to shoot the episode. It’s something that I’d hope never to witness again.
K. Baumann – It was rough. It’s a material that as actors we feel very lucky to take on, because it is such a challenge and represents an experience that you don’t often see on TV. So you feel lucky to be able to portray that, and give those people, who had the unfortunate experience, give them some representation, make them feel like they’re thought of, too. But at the same time, it takes an emotional toll on you. You’ve been just living in that situation for a short amount of time, it’s rough, it’s terrible. Nobody wants that to happen. So, yes, it was both strenuous and really pretty incredible opportunity. Ben was devastated as anyone would be, and he’s going to have to struggle for quite a long time to recover.
[Note from Megan: As someone who has gone through this in my own life, I have to say that they did a decent job of portraying the initial reaction. I’m anxious to see where the story goes from here and how they deal with it. From personal experience, it’s an event that shapes your whole life and character after the fact, so I hope that they show that.]
On how the dynamic between Adrian and Ben, Amy and Ricky is affected
K. Baumann – Well, regardless, at the very beginning before this event, it’s a pretty tricky situation, but I would say that it both kind of settles any disputes or conflicts they have just temporarily, because everyone kind of bonds together in grief, paradoxically enough. But at the same time, once Adrian and Ben are trying to recover, it gets pretty nasty. And naturally, you’re going to have two people who are stricken by grief, and they’re going to look to make themselves feel better, and that may involve trying to reach back into the past, and go back to how it was once was, and reignite old loves and all that stuff. So, it gets even more convoluted, but temporarily, like I said, everybody comes together in this tragic event, which is very, very painful and bittersweet.
How Adrian’s relationships and personality are affected by the loss
F. Raisa – Adrian was carrying the baby for nine months, and she really felt emotionally attached to it. Like I said, her whole personality and her whole character changed into this welcoming person, and she felt blessed that everything was coming together in her life: her family, her friendships, educations; and then it all just came crashing down. So she becomes very angry and bitter, and she just wants to be left alone and handle her own sorrows. Even if people try to come and try to be there for her, she just wants to be left alone. She just becomes, I guess, some sort of a loner again, and doesn’t really want to accept anyone because all she wants to do is grieve about her baby.
How Francia prepared for such an emotional episode
F. Raisa – I didn’t know what to do. I was trying to listen to some really depressing music, and the best thing that I could have done is I went on YouTube, and I typed in stillbirth, and there was a few videos that popped up, and there was one in particular, I think it’s the first one that comes up when you research it, and it’s about a couple who actually went through what my character goes through. You see the woman pregnant and how happy they are, and the whole process of waiting for her to be born, and then you see them hold their dead child and you see her in a coffin and you see pictures of her, and you just see the whole family just crying and grieving. So, yes, that sold me, and that’s how I prepared for it, and the song that they added in the video I had on my iPod and I just listened to it over and over again. The flashbacks of that baby just sticks and came back into my head every time they called action.
[Note from Megan: I don’t know if I would ever be able to post my story on YouTube. It was such a difficult and confusing time.]
On a lighter note, what it was like to wear the pregnancy padding and if she misses it
F. Raisa – I had a lot of fun wearing it. You know, every girl’s dream is to picture what she would look like pregnant. You know, want to wear something like that every now and then. So, I had fun. It was just like a pillow. It became hot sometimes, so that’s when I hated it, and sometimes it’d be a little too tight, but other than that, it really didn’t bother me. I enjoyed speaking like I was a pregnant woman. I’d be out in the streets and talking about how it was, “six weeks along,” “I’m six months pregnant.” People looked at me like, you’re crazy, you’re not even pregnant. And I would start holding my belly like it was really scratchy, because I would see woman scratch it because it was itchy. So I had fun with it. I was just acting like I was really pregnant and having a little fantasy of my own.
[Note from Megan: At least she could take that pregnancy belly off! 😉 I love the end result of being pregnant, but I hated being pregnant.]
On how it was learning her character was pregnant and then finding out about the loss
F. Raisa – When I first found out she was pregnant, I was shocked, but I was so excited. I was like, “Yay! I get to wear a belly!” I could not wait to put on that stomach. I kept asking when am I going to do it, when is it finally coming. I was very excited, and then when I found out she lost it; I love kids and I was so excited to finally work with a baby and playing with the kids, because I always play with Matthew and Joey, who played John on the show. I’m always with him when they’re on the set. So I was a little upset and devastated when I found out that there was going to be no baby, but at the same time, I was very excited to be able to play this role, because it’s probably one of the toughest roles I’ve done since I started acting. So, I appreciated the challenge that the writers gave me, and I can’t believe they trust me to take on such tough material. So in that sense, I was very excited.
On how Ben deals with the situation
K. Baumann – I think that desire is going to show up in these upcoming episodes. Again, when I first read the script, the script for June 6th, I thought, I started to think what possibly would be Ben’s future, and I had guessed that that would occur. It pops up in a really interesting ways. In the following episodes, he is stuck in the situation, and he is kind of brought down by grief, too, so there’s nothing; he doesn’t really have any sort of impetus to move away from Adrian. He realizes, too, that, at least immediately after they lose baby that, he’s not going anywhere. He’s got to be responsible, and he really doesn’t have the energy to do anything else. But after that, once he starts to recover, yes, there’s certainly that draw, like I said, to go back and kind of relive the past or try to and fail.
That’s all for this interview, and I hope you enjoyed reading. It’ll be interesting to see where they take this story, and I really hope that the characters show the emotional turmoil that a situation like this causes and they don’t just rush it along. I guess we’ll see next season!