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‘Lou’ Star Jurnee Smollett Says She’d Return For A Sequel

Jurnee Smollett is fully in mama bear mode in the movie “Lou.”

She plays Hannah, a single mother whose daughter, Vee, is kidnapped in the middle of a storm. Her landlady, Lou (Allison Janney), helps Hannah find Vee and embarks on a grueling journey through the woods.

The thriller premieres on Netflix on Friday, September 23.

Smollett, the film’s executive producer, has a five-year-old son with musician Josiah Bell. She told TODAY that the “mama bear spirit” of her character is “very familiar” to her.

Jurnee Smollett with Hoda and Jenna.Helen Healey

“There’s something that happens, or happened to me, when I became a mom. My priorities completely changed in life. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s an absolutely accurate description to say that it’s like your heart is alive.” out of your body when you become a mom. Or that has been my experience. The fear and the vulnerability and everything that comes along is very real. And this feeling of just wanting to protect your little puppies,” she said.

The 35-year-old “Lovecraft Country” star said her experience with motherhood influenced some of her approach to playing Hannah. But the other part, Hannah being a survivor of domestic violence, was an experience that she researched.

“I spent a lot of time trying to research that aspect because women who are survivors of domestic violence, often in society, are judged as weak. It’s something I totally disagree with. It’s not a sign of weakness.” she said.

Jurnee Smollett on the TODAY show on September 22.Helen Healey

That point of view is at the core of the clashes between Lou and Hannah, which Smollett said was not originally part of the script.

“Through my research, we were able to add a little more context and accuracy about Hannah’s backstory,” he said.

To research the role, Smollett visited Los Angeles at the Jenesse Center, a treatment facility for survivors of domestic abuse. She said her time there was eye-opening, with details breaking through into the character.

“Karen Earl, who founded it years ago, I mean, she’s doing God’s work, she was so amazing in my vetting process and really gave me access to the facilities, but also to the experts and the counselors and the lawyers. I got to talk to some of the survivors and got a very intimate, first-hand account of what it’s like to leave, to have that courage and what it really takes to make that decision,” she said.

The film also explores what it means to be a mother, a conversation that Smollett said is urgent.

“Society doesn’t really have room for the very different shapes, colors and shades of femininity. Not everyone should be a mother. Not everyone wants to be a mother. And that choice, while it’s part of the (‘Lou’) subplot, it’s interesting dialogue, and I think it’s very relevant to our times,” she said.

In terms of her approach to motherhood, Smolett said that Lou and Hannah are “very different women.”

“They come from very different backgrounds. Hannah has dedicated her whole life to her daughter. Lou is the complete opposite. She has dedicated her whole life to her country and her sense of duty. I think there is an initial judgment they have towards each other. … because of the different life options of each one,” he said.

“Lou” ends with a plot twist that sets up a sequel. Smollett did not deny the possibility.

“Without giving away too much, I think Lou is such a fascinating story,” he said. “It’s really about putting the right pieces together. I had an amazing time collaborating with (producer) JJ Abrams and Bad Robot and Hannah Minghella. They hired me as an executive producer, and it was my first time, and I learned a lot from JJ and from All the team.

“I would trust that they would feel like there are more stories to tell,” he said.

Smollett knows that fans so I’d like to see her reprise her role in “Lovecraft Country,” a popular and critically acclaimed HBO show that blended history and horror, which was canceled after one season.

“I know, I know,” Smollett said sadly when asked about the cancellation. “That was a special one.”

The show was created by Misha Green, and Smollett said there is more to come from the two.

“Misha and I have a lot of exciting projects that we are collaborating on. Hopefully, that won’t be the end of our collaboration,” he said.

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