Barbara Hershey stars as Sandra Chase in the Lifetime movie Left to Die, about an American mother wrongly sent to an Ecuadorian prison for drug trafficking.
Produced by Sony Pictures Television and based on a true story, Left to Die stars Oscar nominated actress Barbara Hershey in the role of the wrongly imprisoned Sandra Chase along with Rachael Leigh Cook who plays Sandra’s determined daughter, Tammi.
As the gripping story of Left to Die begins, Sandra Chase (Hershey) bravely agrees to accompany a friend to Ecuador for a much needed vacation; but paradise quickly turns to misery when she is accosted at the airport in Quito and is unjustly imprisoned for drug trafficking. With no trial or any recourse, Sandra is sent to a women’s prison with subpar living conditions and is terrorized by the other inmates.
In taking on such an emotional true story, how intimidating was it for Barbara Hershey knowing the seriousness she’d have to confront in order to play the character effectively?
“I just tried to prepare,” Hershey told The Deadbolt ahead of the Lifetime premiere on Sunday, November 4. “I met the real Sandra, and Tammi is one of the producers, so we had a lot of first hand knowledge of what went on. It wasn’t intimidating in a bad way, it was intimidating as an actor in a good way. It’s the kind of intimidation you want.”
With her mother in prison in Left to Die, and limited knowledge of the laws and legal processes of Ecuador, Sandra’s daughter Tammi (Cook) works vigilantly on getting her mother released from prison. Unwavering in her belief of her mother’s innocence, Tammi is forced to drain her life savings while fighting with embassies and governments as she races against time to save her mother.
In Tammi’s determined fight for justice, she recruits a U.S. Congresswoman, Rep. Corinne Brown, and together they work to secure Sandra’s release.
“I think Americans often walk through the world thinking that they’re kind of impervious,” Hershey added to The Deadbolt about the unexpected dangers around the world when traveling abroad, “or their consulates will protect them or their government will protect them when they’re in another country. And here this woman is just absolutely innocent and thrown in jail with no trial for two years and no one was interested in helping her. And they presumed she was guilty, even the American consulate.”
Barbara Hershey also revealed that while imprisoned in Ecuador, Sandra Chase had to deal with something immediately life-threatening in the incurable disease called Scleroderma, a connective tissue disease that affects skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs.
Hershey added that Chase’s battle with Scleroderma was chronic but couldn’t be treated while she was in prison.
“She was also dealing with dehydration, bad food, being beaten up and dealing with this disease,” Hershey continued regarding Chase’s many obstacles. “It was incredible what she went through. She just stepped right out of her normal life into this, there seemed to be no exit from it. That this all really happened and continues to happen to some degree all of the time, it was pretty incredible to me.”
Left to Die, also starring Vincent Irizarry, airs Sunday, November 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.