Soap fans remember Rebecca Staab for her role as Elizabeth Barrington on GENERAL HOSPITAL spinoff PORT CHARLES, but since leaving daytime, she has appeared in numerous primetime television series and movies, and can now be seen on the big screen in Breakthrough. The movie, based on an incredible true story, premieres on Wednesday, April 17, in theaters across America. “It’s so good,” the actress exclaimed to Soaps In Depth. “The script made it very real. And the actors performances make it very real. And anybody watching it, you very quickly get lost. In a good way. All of a sudden you’re in the story. It’s not like you’re watching a movie. They draw you in and keep you there and you really go along on the ride. It’s really very effective.”
Breakthrough tells the true story of John Smith, a 14-year-old boy who falls through the ice and is dead for an hour before returning to life after his mother prays over him in the hospital. And although the doctors are not optimistic for any kind of recovery at all, his loved ones refuse to give up on him. “The mother, Joyce Smith, who is played by Chrissy Metz, is like, ‘No, you don’t know my son. He’s a fighter and I have faith that God is going to restore him to full health,’” Staab previewed. “And the movie kind of takes off from there.”
The daytime alum portrays Cindy Reiger, the mother of one of the other boys who fell through the ice with John. “The boys had been at my house on the lake,” Staab related. “So basically, it was on my watch that the boys fell through the ice. And then living with the guilt that not only did it happen on my watch but my son’s fine. And it’s also the stress and strain on the relationship of the two mothers because my character just couldn’t handle the guilt.”
Because the film is based on real life events, Staab tried reaching out to the real Cindy Reiger. “Getting ahold of people is really easy on social media… unless that person isn’t on social media,” she admitted with a chuckle. “I just tried really hard to get ahold of Cindy and by the time she contacted me back we had long since finished shooting.” Thankfully, Staab had been able to get in touch with Joyce Smith to discuss the reality of what they were portraying for the movie. “We talked on the phone for over two hours,” she revealed. “So I spoke to her and I got her whole perspective on the situation as well as the character that I was playing.”
Although the story of Breakthrough is very heavy and emotional, Staab confided that it was a wonderful film to shoot. “It was just the greatest set to work on,” she declared. “Because it was just so fluid. It felt so real. Everybody really knew the story and we also knew about the honor of communicating this very rare miracle.” Staab was also thrilled to be able to work with Metz, being a big fan of the actress. “I just so admire her work,” she marveled. “I loved watching her in this because she’s just so good. And to have the opportunity to work with her and to have scenes with her, I’m just so honored to be part of this timeless story that I think will really touch so many people.”
Staab shared more backstage photos from filming Breakthrough as well as some photos from the red carpet premiere you can see in the special gallery below.
For more on your favorite daytime stars — past and present — keep reading the ABC edition of Soaps In Depth magazine.