Actor Myko Olivier takes on the role of Erik Menendez in Lifetime’s Menendez: Blood Brothers which premieres Sunday night.
Myko Olivier takes on the role of Erik Menendez in Lifetime’s Menendez: Blood Brothers airing this Sunday. The story of two brothers murdering their parents gripped the nation as Court TV played hours of the first trial. We all know how it ended, and now Lifetime’s new movie shows us a new angle. Produced and directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, the movie asks us to question “What if they were really abused?”
Actor Myko Olivier had a quick catch up with Awards Daily TV and discussed how he auditioned for Lyle but ended up playing Erik.
You were a kid when the Menendez brothers killed their parents, so what do you recall about them?
I was too young.
You were a baby.
I don’t remember the trials at all, but I know it was referenced in pop culture. Saturday Night Live had a lot of skits. Ben Stiller had a parody in The Cable Guy, and I have no idea why that jumped out at me. Apparently, it was clear they were making fun of something that was real and my parents got it. Somehow I found out that’s what he was making fun of. Later, there was the O.J. Simpson trial, but the first Court TV big trial was this.
I told Randy and Fenton their casting was incredible. How did you get on board?
It’s an exciting script. The case was a national sensation, so it was exciting to get into the mind of someone who had committed murder, especially their parents and what goes into that. It’s a dark place to go, but it’s exciting for an actor. It’s someone totally different from who we are and who I am.
I was interested in the project right away. I actually went in to audition for Lyle. They decided to call me back and read for Erik. They liked that as well, and I got called back again to do a chemistry read as Lyle and as Erik. So I read with a bunch of people, and I quickly got the idea that they liked what I was doing.
I later found out that I was in the right emotional space for Erik, and that’s what happened. In this script, Erik is emotionally available and I hope I was able to get there.
You sure did get there. So, who is Erik when we first meet him in the script?
He’s got a lot of secrets and nothing has been exposed. This is a trial that exposed the worst of everything. That overexposure clouded what we were able to see about them. I think Erik was a kid who was constantly trying to please his parents, and we try to hammer that through.
He’s constantly seeking for mom’s help, hoping someone can help him. It’s difficult because the tipping point is the return of his brother from college and presents this out for him. Although that out is not something I agree with. I don’t think murder is the answer for anything. It’s confronting those issues that hopefully we understand where they’re coming from but not necessarily saying what they did was right.
What was interesting about getting into Erik’s shoes?
I watched a lot of documentaries and their videos. Lyle had a very moving testimony. I think Erik has a lot of mouth tension. I saw how he chewed on his fingers. Specifically, during Lyle’s testimony, you’ll see her tenses up his lips a lot. As an actor, I’m studying someone’s real life habits and trying to drown my own habits and trying to copy what this guy is doing and trying to make it real all at the same time.
It was interesting trying to get to that emotional place and in trying to understand what he may have been dealing with through all of this. We’re not trying to portray them as these villainous rich kids. Plenty of documentaries did that as it was happening.
This movie is us taking their word at what happened. That’s what it is.
What shocked you about Erik or the brothers?
I knew it had gone to two trials. I didn’t realize that the same judge presided over both cases, but he didn’t allow abuse testimony in the second trial. To me, that sounded like a weird injustice.
He didn’t want cameras in court because he thought that brought too much press to it. I think he was worried that if they weren’t convicted, he thought it would be a reflection of his work. He had also presided over the Rodney King case, and I feel there was a lot of national pressure on him to make sure these kids went to jail. As he didn’t allow the abuse testimony, it just felt like an injustice. They couldn’t defend their own case. I feel that you don’t have to believe what they’re saying, but they should be able to at least argue their case and that felt weird, shocking and wrong.
If I said that I believed aliens came and that’s why I did it, I should be able to at least argue it even if it sounds crazy. There was evidence to the extent of their own personal experience, but I don’t know why they couldn’t use what was called the “abuse excuse.”
I learned this was shot in such a short period.
It was a lot. I was on set every day and it was tiring.
It was in Vancouver raining.
It was raining every day. We were working on a movie that took place in 1989 in Beverly Hills in August so it was a challenge all around. It was a challenge to the filmmakers to hide the rain and the snow or to use it because it was there. It was cold and there I was sitting in shorts playing tennis, and you have to do it. I was hoping the tennis would warm my body up, and I’d just keep going.
There was also the pool scene. But I have to say, kudos to the crew for making us believe those outdoor scenes were nice and warm.
That was nice and cold. We didn’t get a whole lot of sun. We were lucky to get some sun that day.
They found some great locations and it was a very supportive set. I got along with everyone and Courtney Love was such a caretaker on set. She was really cool to work with because she had given me a lot of rehearsal time. I always felt really comfortable on set.
How did working on this change you?
It was a difficult topic to touch on because I don’t want to be sympathetic to people who murder their parents, but I do want to understand why they did it.
No bad person thinks they’re bad, but these guys, if they were abused they definitely needed some help. I don’t think, in that day and age, they were willing to admit that they needed it. The way they were raised by Jose Menendez… He was a domineering person in both his personal and private life. I think they were afraid. I think that fear was a symptom of the abuse that they suffered.
Menendez: Blood Brothers airs on Sunday on Lifetime at 8pm ET.