A victim, twice over, Jan Broberg has emerged as a spokewoman for resiliency and the importance of letting life’s experience serve as a motivation and teaching tool rather than a deterrent. The unfortunate victim of abduction and subsequent brainwashing as a child on two different occasions, Broberg has experienced redemption and solace thereafter.On seperate occasions, which spans a period of four years in total, Jan Broberg was the victim of a kidnapping, where she was restrained in the back of a mobile home, held down and brainwashed by continuous recordings of a monstrouous voice. Hard to explain, even more harder to imagine or survive for that matter. Jan Broberg has emerged victorious in her quest to put that horror behind her, and encourage others that they too can persevere. Playing the role of Rita, also a victim of Frank Zito, played by lead actor Elijah Wood in the filmMANIAC, Broberg has once again been given a platform for the war against what some would consider demons, while she considers it a muse. In this candid interview with the actress, learn about her life, her times of tragedy, as well as redemption and vow to be an example for others who have overcome or are seeking the knowledge to do so.
VIMOOZ: Have you ever been drawn to a film in such a personal manner before?
Jan Broberg: You know drawn to it in a personal manner, I can say that I haven’t watched many horror films so the genre was not my first choice. I’ve always loved suspense, but I do love the psycho-thriller genre, and I always hoped to be in one. In this film, it is the first time I have been drawn to the correlation with my personal experiences. While in production, I was thinking about the fear that I went through and I revisited the fear and the loneliness that resulted. You know, feelings are REAL but to be able to access them and the advantage of knowing that I am safe, and I can come back was great. In the past I’ve had roles where I was emmotional; I played a mom whose child had died, and that was challenging but not to this degree in a movie where the fear was this intense.
VIMOOZ: You have been very candid in sharing your tragedy. I can’t help but to recognize a similarity between reality, and film in the case of the role that you play as Rita. With that being the case, were there any moments of unease while in production?
Jan: Everybody was so supportive because of the process. The objective is being technically sound, and as always in any producion safety is paramount. Everybody involved was very sensitive to the casts need of an environment where we felt safe, and were able to go to unsafe places in action without worry. I didnt even feel…(pause) like when Elijah is holding my head under the water, thats REAL. As an actor / actress you have to completely imagine yourself in that moment, and the object is to eliminate feelings, but the scenes where the special effects take over you kind of get to take off. In Maniac, the greatest feeling I had was was during the drowning scene and even in that Elijah, the director, the support team were there; There was a lot of rehearsal time, learning SAFETY signals and techniques. As you watch the film, you see me struggling, fighting back and that intensified everything. With my background, being in desperate circumstances I have always come back and I felt safe enough to completely go crazy (laughs)
VIMOOZ: Was it your idea to perform your own stunts; is that a norm for you?
Jan: It was an exciting and challenging proposition by the crew. In the script it detailed several scenes of violence and stages of killing that would take place, and they asked would I be comfortable performing. I Absolutely desired to perform all the scenes myself. Practice, preparation was my priority. There was no option! i think they would have allowed me to, if I rejected seeing as though I never had done it before. I was gamed. I practiced at my parents home, funny as it may sound, with my nephews who were visiting from Arizona. They assisted and I got to see how long I could endure. Its one thing to hold my breath but the difference was that I was being held/fighting. It was a process. In other scenes gadgets are made: there’s a process of building prosthetics and all of that. All of that stuff happens over weeks before filming and gives you a chance at preparation. I was a little taken aback at first because I didnt know all the stages but I knew I would be killed. I also knew there would be brief nudity from the back. The torture I found out about as I got in depth with the role, it was a litle jolting; being scalped (giggles) I wondered ‘What would that be like?’
VIMOOZ: How much of an inspiration has your story been for your career choice. It is undertandable that it motivates you in a general sense that you have emerged as a survivor and spokeperson, but what I am asking is how much a of role did it play in your decision to pursue an acting career?
Jan: Interestingly enough I was already into acting prior to being kidnapped. When I was about 6 years old I was in a musical at Idaho State University, back in my home state; my neighbor had children and they ended up being the lead in “Sound of Music”. It was my first play and afterwards I was taken by theater and I had done a number of plays before the first kidnapping . I Already had the bug you could say. Post-trauma all of those emmotions that developed, I gained the ability to go to deeper places in my role playing than maybe other people can. There is a reality and naturalness that comes to character when you have experiences.. I did alot of self-help, I have counselors., advisors, family, a great support system. My ordeal was 4 years long and I didn’t talk to people; no one knows what I was going through. I was fortunate to have a great community of supprters.and after taking a while, when I oepned up it was very therapeutic. Throughout, I used acting as a means of healing. The fear of what could happen actually saved my life. I was being terrorized by a man that abducted me and brainwashed me. On stage I could express this rage / terror, I was able to tell the feelings through the roles I was getting. The ability to go to places I was not allowed to by this man who held me hostage was overwhelmingly useful. Because of it, theater will forever hold a special place in my heart. Had it not been for that, I more than likely would have committed suicide. I was depresed, and the commitment to theater camp gave me something to take my mind off of things. Most importantly, I never went through with it because I couldnt leave my cast. LOL I have always been advocate of what theater does for us. “Art has a huge role to play in our lives as people.” Couldn’t leave my team !
VIMOOZ: You are published correct, “Stolen Innocence” tell us about that
Jan: My mother took a 90 page, FBI file, notes, diaries, journal entries, and all as well as interviews of each other putting together a story. It started as a family history, a way of filling me in on what I had missed while I was gone. My mother wrote what happened on my parents’ end and I told details of what happened on mine. It was a cathartic journey; as she wrote, people who heard what we had encouraged us to print. We ended up being contacted by Justice Charles Gill, who was in attendance at a conference where I was a key note speaker. That acually happened to be the first time that I told my story in that kind of a setting, now its become second nature. When he approached us we discussed how well versed he was in criminal justice as a result of 30 years on the bench and in practice, he was very familiar with pedophilia and special victim circumstances. He remarked that my story, our story, encompassed everything that he had seen and known to be true. He also encouraged us to share it and with that we began to get some editing done, and turned a 800 page manuscript into about a 300 page book. The amazing part is that all of it is true. So well received that the second edition is under works, and in it my mother shares with you many of the updates and the aftermath resulting from how documented the story is. Alot of things have happened. I’ll tell you one occurence where the man who kidnapped me showed up at a speaking engagement of mine with a van and a gun in efforts to terrorize me some more. At that point it grew even more, and I was interviewed by Diane Sawyer for Good Morning America. But yes the book will unveil many of the current events. Stay Tuned !
VIMOOZ: And i understand a documentary is in the works ?
Jan: A documentary is definitely in the works. I want and need for all of this to inspire people to live the life that they love. There is a way out and my books, documentary will show that.
VIMOOZ: Maniac opened in theaters June 21st, playing locally @ the IFC Center and available on VOD; how does it feel ?
Jan: I am really excited. Hopefully this film will be one of those soon to be classics, with a buzz abroad; one that people embrace and do the background on so they have empathy for Elijah Wood’s character. The cinematography is beautiful. I loved my role; Rita is very complex; she makes fun of the very people who have made her rich. For me, people who aren’t really confident in themselves result to putting others down. That was a point of reference for me, that RIta has a story. ‘There is a sadness behind the bitch that I play.’ The depth in her story is intriguing. I hope my work and relation to the role comes across to the audience. Her past, Her terror, the disappointment. She has everything except maybe LOVE. For that people should have empathy for her. I am excited the world gets to experience MANIAC and all its crevices. We all relate to being afraid, its part of human nature. This kind of scary in the film, can and should be scary to everyone. The movie is very relatable. It has the potential to be a cult classic
VIMOOZ: Well aside from MANIAC, you have recently wrapped up work in IRON MAN 3, and we spoke about the forthcoming documentary are there any other projects to announce or anything that you want to leave the readers with?
Jen: More than anything we want the people to know and understand my amazing story and let that help to inform others, and maybe educate people on the warning signs and ways to protect children. My parents have always been transparent in admission of some of the mistakes they made, and I have been forthcoming about the effects of the brainwashing and abduction; especially when considering that it can come from a person that is close to you; your family, a family member or friend; some one whom has already had the time to groom you as a victim. Our hope is to educate about prevention. Secondly, the goal is to inspire others who need to heal. WE want them to know that experiences or tragedies do not have to define the rest of your life. Let my story, and recovery serve as a piece to the puzzle and know that you are not alone. In my own way, I feel like this work, the book, the documentary; this message is a way of Paying IT FORWARD.