(CBS Local)– It’s been almost 10 years since a woman named Shannan Gilbert went missing on Long Island and triggered the search for the Long Island Serial Killer in Suffolk County.
Authorities discovered the remains of four bodies in December 2010 and eventually found the remains of Gilbert in a marsh about half a mile from where she reportedly disappeared. The Long Island Serial Killer, also known as the Gilgo Beach Killer, allegedly killed between 10 and 16 people over a 20 year period and still hasn’t been apprehended.
A new Netflix movie called “Lost Girls” from director Liz Garbus tells the story of Gilbert’s disappearance and her mother Mari Gilbert’s relentless effort to discover the truth. Actor Amy Ryan plays Mari Gilbert and says this was an important role for her.
“Before we started production, Liz Garbus and her team handed me a treasure trove of when the real life Mari Gilbert was on local news stations,” said Ryan in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “I would mine through that as best I could. What can I take of her rhythms, voice, pitch, anything that might hook me into it. She had such incredible drive and I don’t know how she worked two jobs, lived up in Ellenville, New York and would go out to Long Island. She had a lot on her plate. What I love about Lost Girls is that it’s a murder mystery and a thriller, but it’s not a who done it. It shifts the focus really quickly onto the victims and the victims families and gives them back some dignity that was never given to them. The police department and the news media would only refer to these women as prostitutes, hookers, sex workers and Mari wanted to refer to them as mother, daughters, women, and friends and not dismiss them.”
Gilbert was a murder victim advocate until she was stabbed to death in 2016 by her daughter Sarra, who was allegedly having a schizophrenic episode. Ryan says that the people of Gilgo Beach didn’t welcome the cast and the crew with open arms when they came to shoot the movie.
“It is a community that had no interest in us coming back to film and in fact they chased us away,” said Ryan. “I’m guessing they don’t want to open old wounds. We’re coming from the point of view of why wouldn’t you want to help and shout this from the rooftops. As Mari says in the film, why don’t you want to help us get to the bottom of it and help these families. Our hope is that the film will drum up interest and make people ask questions.”
The movie premieres on Netflix March 13. Ryan has been in many other great films like “Birdman,” “Beautiful Boy,” “Capote,” and was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in “Gone Baby Gone.” While Ryan has built a name for herself as a dramatic actor, she also gained a whole new group of fans by playing Holly Flax in “The Office.”
“Dark is always easier,” said Ryan. “I think comedy is harder. There was this moment on The Office like right before the camera rolls when I said this is going to work or I’m going to make the biggest fool out of myself. Like true fear. I couldn’t cry myself through it. It was such an insanely supportive group, especially since I joined the company so late. Steve Carell was so encouraging. He was always saying do more and he was great. I felt at home and at ease and then I made a fool out of myself.”