Lifetime continues to mine the headlines for the basis of its summer movies of mystery and murder. The latest tale of sex, lies and social media, “He’s Not Worth Dying For,” debuts at 8 p.m. Saturday on the cable channel.
The Lifetime story deals with a love triangle that includes Isla (Rachel Boyd), a 19-year-old girl who has established herself as a beauty and fashion influencer, Grace (Hilda Martin) the expected valedictorian of her class with hopes of a veterinary career and Jake (Lachlan Quarmby), the man they are both dating without the other knowing.
The love triangle gets a new angle when Isla and Grace discover that Jake has been cheating on both of them. They turn on each other in a jealous rivalry and use their arsenal of social media platforms to badmouth and attack one another.
The real events that are the foundation for the cable movie unfolded when Boyd was still in elementary school and seven years away from her first professional acting job. This kind of tale was not on her radar. But, she also missed a key clue as to during the audition process regarding the reality behind the TV movie.
“When I first got the audition script I actually somehow missed the words ‘based on a true story’ when I was reading the description of it,” Boyd says with a light laugh. “So, I had no idea until the callback that I was auditioning for something that was based on a true story.
“I think, for me, seeing the sides and the character, I really connected to it, because it’s such an experience that a lot of young people on social media, and especially young women can relate to in how we are taught to compete for a man’s exclusive love. And then how that manifests in different ways in the age of social media, and how that has real effects on our self-worth and the way that we behave as people and change our character.”
Quarmby has a good excuse for not being aware of the real events behind the movie as he was living in Canberra, Australia, when the story unfolded. As soon as he got the script, he started researching the story and found it to be a “tragic experience.”
The three actors playing the characters in the love triangle see “He’s Not Worth Dying For” as more than just being entertaining. They want those who watch the movie to come away with the idea that no matter what may seem like a great tragedy in their life, everyone should remember they have great self-worth.
Boyd says, “I think I want people to know that they are 100% significant and 100% enough just in themselves. That outward validation will always come and go, but that it really is that inner self-worth that you should focus so much of your energies on.”
Quarmby points out that it is obvious from the name of the film that this is a cautionary tale. He adds that if social media is having a negative effect, then put it away.
Working on the movie led to Quarmby making some big changes in how he deals with social media. These days, he is more conscious and more aware of the purpose and point behind the posts he makes. There have been times when he didn’t know why he was going to post something and opted not to do it.
Boyd likes how the movie shows that society is living in a dark time for social media.
“What this movie does though is hold up a mirror to the reality that we’ve been living in and how we reduce people and their self-worth and value to their viral abilities,” Boyd says. “And how we turn real human suffering into its own entertainment genre on social media, and it’s really horrible.
“It’s something that everybody who’s on social media is immersed in one way or another. But what the movie does is it holds up a mirror to the realities of that and how those facets of social media have real-world repercussions on people, and their lives and their feelings.”
All three actors have been working hard to find the balance between using social media to help their careers but not going too far with what they reveal. In the past, Boyd has been able to share information while working on “Shazam!” and “Grand Army” while Martin has appeared in “Superman & Lois” and “Our Christmas Journey.” Quarmby’s credits range from “A Very Merry Bridesmaid” to “Charmed.
The cast of “He’s Not Worth Dying For” also includes Robin Givens who plays Grace’s mother, Cher, while Lochlyn Munro stars as the District Attorney investigating the case.