In Love With My Partner's Wife

Lifetime’s ‘In Love With My Partner’s Wife’ sends Jonathan Stoddard to the dark side

Every TV-movie needs a good villain. In the Lifetime thriller In Love With My Partner’s Wife, the bad guy (literally) is deliciously played by Jonathan Stoddard. Jonathan’s character Frank is a tough cop with a massive secret—he’s abusing his wife. When Frank’s partner Paul (Andrew Spach) discovers the abuse, he helps Eve (Gina Vitori) escape, but the two end up having an affair. And needless to say, Frank doesn’t take either of these new developments very well…

What makes Frank a particularly interesting character is that he’s so against type for Jonathan. Lifetime fans will no doubt recognize him from numerous other films, on the network and otherwise, but he’s normally in the more leading-man type roles where people actually like him. So how did he go from playing the guy everyone loves to portraying someone everyone will love to hate? I checked in with him ahead of the In Love With My Partner’s Wife premiere to find out.

Get to know Jonathan and then tune in to Lifetime at 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night to see him inhabiting a role that is absolutely nothing like him or anything he’s done before.

Brittany Frederick: How did you approach this character without falling into the “bad cop” stereotype? Especially since he’s someone the other characters had to have liked at some point.

Jonathan Stoddard: Fortunately, most cops—at least the stereotype for police officers—are very straight-lced and have that stoic machismo thing about them, so all you’ve got to do is add on a couple layers of anger, aggression, evilness, piece of cake. (laughs) It was an interesting character process to be a part of. [Director] Lindsay [Hartley], the team, the production company, and working with Gina and Andrew—they were phenomenal. The hardest part about diving into any kind of a character or finding that relationship, a lot of that happens in the magic of the moment. You can prepare all day long, but then when you get there, it’s “Let’s see what’s going to happen.” Let’s see the sparks, let’s see how it’s going to develop. They were just phenomenal to work with, so it was a great experience.

BF: When In Love With My Partner’s Wife starts, Frank has these long established relationships with Paul and Eve, and the movie can’t go backward into all their history. So how did you layer in that Idea of their backstory?

JS: It’s all in the little moments. It happens in those special little moments when you’re on set, while you’re fleshing out of scenes. Because you can take things on a page and you can work on [them] all day long…but nothing’s quite the same [as] when you actually get on set. When I’m working with Andrew and we’re saying, “Okay. He knows.” He has that cop instinct where he knows something’s kind of off, he doesn’t quite have the evidence or the reason. He knows to keep me at arm’s length, but at the same time, we’re partners. So how do we show the little cracks in the pavement? And that’s in our relationship, that’s in the story.

Even with [Eve], my character can’t just be all aggro all the time. There has to be an idea of how she got there in the first place. It’s all found in the subtleties. It’s all found in the little moments and then you can see how things spiral out later. Once the veil of love or that veil of partnership and professionalism fades, you’re kind of left with an interesting thing. If you don’t have a choice as to who your partner is, and then all of a sudden, six months later you’re like, “Wow, these people are not… I thought they were cool.” It’s interesting.

BF: What was it like for you to inhabit Frank and to take on such a dark role? Because these Lifetime movies do lean into that villainy.

JS: When you get a chance to really step outside of who you are, there’s something really interesting about it. All I can say is I’m excited to see me get my own butt kicked in this movie. Frank does some interesting stuff, and he just has that cringe. It’s that guilty pleasure, which makes it fantastic. You’re watching him as a character and you’re like, “Oh, I know what’s coming, and I want to stick around for it.” It’s a great, great story, and the character’s really fun.

BF: Are there particular elements of the character that you loved, or particular scenes that were a lot of fun to tackle?

JS: The movie itself is just a great movie. It’s a really cool movie. It’s stylized. There’s a flavor to this movie. And I think the audience is really going to like it as a whole. The performances weave in and out, because we all kind of tango with each other throughout the whole thing, in terms of the push and pull. There’s some fun fight scenes. There’s some witty, dark humor that I hope people are going to kind of laugh at throughout the movie. It’s so sarcastic and so cringey that you can’t help but laugh because you feel kind of weird.

Frank does certain things where we were cracking up [on set], but you were not supposed to be laughing. These were not laugh out loud moments. But he’s just so cringe-worthy at certain parts because he’s so dark and aggro. It’s almost like Gru in Despicable Me. There’s something dark but kind of lovable, hopefully.

BF: So how much of a trip was the filming experience, given how different this was for you?

JS: Frank was a really interesting story. I was actually filming another movie in Florida [when In Love With My Partner’s Wife started production]. We did a 12-hour day and I had much longer hair. The hair stylist there, on set, was awesome enough to give me a police kind of buzz cut, which was Frank’s. I jumped on a plane at 5:30 AM, landed at 9:15 AM, drove directly to set and then we shot for another 10 or 12-hour day. Those two movies overlapped. It was right on the heels of something completely different. But hopefully, that flavor comes through in a really fun, interesting way.

BF: Is there anything you’d want to say to people before they watch In Love With My Partner’s Wife? As they get to take the same sort of ride that you did making it?

JS: Just thank you for watching, and that’s one of the biggest things. Thank you for tuning in and watching this because it makes a difference. This is why we’re still here, trying to bring this cool content, these great movies that people bend over backwards for. And hopefully it gives a whirlwind of emotions—from the passion to the guilty pleasure, to the resolution at the end.

In Love With My Partner’s Wife premieres Saturday, Aug. 13 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.

Article content is (c)2020-2022 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.

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