Jemima Rooper Says Flowers In The Attic: The Origin Viewers Will Love This Character - Exclusive

Lifetime's new four-part series, "Flowers in the Attic: The Origin" stars Jemima Rooper as Olivia Winfield, the infamous character at the center of V.C. Andrews' "Flowers in the Attic" novels. In an exclusive interview with The List, the actress hinted at Easter eggs in the series and opened up about her first impressions of the material. "It's described as American Gothic Horror, or American Family Saga Horror," she explained. "And it's brilliant. There's something that grabs you like nothing else."

Rooper shared the spotlight with high-profile castmates, including Kelsey Grammer, Paul Wesley, and Kate Mulgrew. The all-star cast, along with the series' deft sense of atmosphere, can make the viewer feel trapped, like Olivia, and take them somewhere they've never been before. "It's weirdly escapist," Rooper tells us, teasing that readers familiar with the source material or previous film adaptations can expect to be thrown off-balance by Lifetime's new series. Part of the reason is that the narrative begins with the prequel novel, which was the most recent release. And in doing so, there is a notable perspective shift that successfully flips the well-known story on its head.

The scripts explore her character in new ways

Jemima Rooper had little familiarity with the "Flowers in the Attic" series before she signed on to play Olivia Winfield, but once she began digging into the story, she was completely absorbed. "I plowed through the scripts like nothing else, which is actually how everyone reads the books," she shared with The List. "They are page turners, and there is something that sucks you in."

Rooper's preparation process began with the internet, and "a very short breakdown of "Flowers in the Attic" which left her thinking, "'Wow, that's a really nasty story.'" However, reading the scripts gave her an entirely new perspective. "They are so brilliant and you've got four 90-minute episodes that chart this woman from age 30 to age mid-60s, or whatever — this life that unfolds, and these horrific things she has to navigate, and these things she survives," Rooper explained. "And suddenly you are where you thought you were going to hate this woman, and how are you going to watch this monster for hours and hours? Suddenly, you are relating to her and on her side and rooting for her." 

What's the major difference between the books and the Lifetime series that will make fans root for Olivia Winfield in a way they haven't before, and how does this protagonist reconcile her role in the story's horrifying plot twists?

One character is no longer the central protagonist

"Flowers in the Attic: The Origin" star Jemima Rooper told The List, "What I thought was so interesting was the prequel fills in the 80% that we don't ever see in 'Flowers in the Attic.'" Although reading the books made Rooper question if any key material was being left out of the series, she realized the primary difference was an important shift in the storytelling. "I squared it with myself that 'Flowers in the Attic' is very much Cathy's voice, and a young girl's opinion of this woman, where you fill in the gaps of what you think this person is and their perception of them." 

The actress also talked about the series' four-episode progression and how the viewer will grow to care for its characters: "The first episode was a lot more serious. It was a lot darker, but it was necessary to have that because the payoff comes later, if you're invested with these characters. You need the roots of truth to invest in these characters."

Ultimately, "Flowers in the Attic: The Origin" will satisfy long-time fans of V.C. Andrews' novels and new fans alike with its fresh take on the material — and both audiences will find surprises in store. 

New episodes of "Flowers in the Attic: The Origin" air Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. ET on Lifetime through July 30.