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‘Heartbreaking’: Kaitlyn Dever drawn to real-life role in Netflix series ‘Unbelievable’

Kaitlyn Dever stars as Marie Adler in the Netflix limited series “Unbelievable.” (Beth Dubber/Netflix)

Kaitlyn Dever knows a good script when she reads it.

That’s why she signed on to be part of the Netflix eight-part limited series “Unbelievable,” which begins streaming Friday, Sept. 13.

“I was actually brought to the series after (starring in the comedy film) ‘Booksmart,’ and it was one of those things that I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” Dever says. “It’s so moving and heartbreaking. I was drawn to the story, and I was given the first three episodes and the podcast.”

The series is inspired by the real-life Marshall Project and the ProPublica Pulitzer Prize-winning article, “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” written by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong, and the “This American Life” radio episode “Anatomy of Doubt,” with episodes directed by Oscar nominees Susannah Grant and Lisa Cholodenko.

Dever plays teenager Marie Adler, who files a police report claiming she’s been sexually assaulted by an intruder in her home.

The investigating detectives, as well as the people closest to her, come to doubt her story.

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, detectives Grace Rasmussen and Karen Duvall, played by Emmy winners Toni Collette and Merritt Wever, meet while investigating an eerily similar pair of intruder rapes and partner to catch a potential serial rapist.

Dever says going into the project helped her establish respect for the character.

“She’s a real person,” she says. “She experienced the trauma in real life. I was honored to be given the opportunity to be involved. I was so happy that she allowed these creators to tell her story.”

Getting into the psyche of Adler was also a journey for Dever.

She spent a few months reading and gathering any information she could get on the foster care system and how sexual abuse victims try to heal.

“My heart broke for her,” she says. “I felt such deep emotion. I had to give up the way I felt for a second. I had to step outside of myself and what I’m feeling and tap into what exactly she went through. To have nobody believe you after this trauma has happened. There was a sense of pressure to make sure that I was in the right frame of mind to properly portray it.”

Dever says “Booksmart” and “Unbelievable” have honesty and great dialogue.

“It’s the writing first and foremost that brings me to a project,” she says. “With ‘Unbelievable,’ I knew a lot of smart people behind the project. These forces were coming together to tell an important story and start the narrative. I’m always looking for something different. I’ve been really lucky to continue to do comedy and drama. I had never played a role like Marie, and I got to be a small part on this story that seemed to be buried when it happened. We’re bringing it to light and having the conversation.”

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.

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