Jan Broberg talks to ET about acting in the true-crime series about her kidnappings and providing hope with her new documentary.
After nine captivating episodes, A Friend of the Family came to an end on Peacock as the limited true-crime series chronicled Jan Broberg's childhood abductions. Serving as a producer alongside her mother, Mary Ann, Broberg worked closely with the creative team and ensemble cast to help shine a light on what she and her family went through after being groomed and manipulated by their former neighbor, Robert Berchtold.
Before the series ended, Broberg, who grew up to be an actress and advocate, appeared in the finale as Dr. Carr, a therapist tasked with helping a teenage Jan (played here by Mckenna Grace) and her family, including her father, Bob (Colin Hanks), cope with what they've been through as they let go of the power Berchtold (Jake Lacy) had over them.
"I've been an actress for a long time and I love the craft," Broberg tells ET, revealing that while working with showrunner Nick Antosca, she learned there might be a small part for her – and shared what it would mean to be part of the series in this way. "I said, 'I know that I can't be promised anything. I have to be up to snuff. But if there was a little part in the show that I could do I think that would be really kind of unusual, something that hadn't been done before. And also, just to have a part of it that was my own."
For her, it was not only an opportunity to work with the actors in front of the camera, but it was also a cathartic moment. "It was really exciting and it was fun to be in those shoes. To be able to interface with Mckenna and Colin as fellow actors and to also be able to completely let go of everything except being in that moment was really a wonderful experience," she shares. "You prepare and prepare and then you let go and just let it happen. In a big way, it really felt like a full circle, almost like closure."
Broberg adds, "The part happened to be so wonderful for me 'cause I felt like I was actually comforting my dad because I don't think he ever really forgave himself." In the end, those scenes added to the "truthful and honest and vulnerable way" they were telling her story. "Feeling so vulnerable with those actors as an actor in that space, in that moment was really remarkable for me," she continues.
In fact, it's all those quieter moments on the series that makes Broberg's story and experiences that much more relatable, especially compared to the first time she shared her story on camera in the Netflix documentary Abducted in Plain Sight. While wildly fascinating, it didn't allow for the nuance and subtle context that led to what happened over nearly a decade of time with this man. "Having nine episodes is very different," Broberg says. "This wasn't like, 'Oh, they moved in and the next week he's kidnapped me.'"
In addition to the series and documentary, Broberg also co-authored a new memoir, The Jan Broberg Story: The True Crime Story of a Young Girl Abducted and Brainwashed by a Friend of the Family, and has started a foundation to help other survivors of abuse and assault. "It's a lifelong journey," she says.
And because there's still so much to tell, Peacock is releasing a companion special, A Friend of the Family: True Evil, where Broberg revisits her past, sits down for an honest conversation with her mother, Mary Ann, and other family members, and meets another Berchtold victim who speaks out on camera for the first time.
When it comes to participating in this latest documentary, Broberg says it's about showing what happens after the fact. "I want people not to be left with despair because I'm a very hopeful person and I've worked at that. I've had to work hard to overcome some of these things that have happened in my life and to build relationships that are healthy," she shares, explaining that she wants "people to be left with the fact that there is hope. That there is healing to be had."
A Friend of the Family is now streaming on Peacock with A Friend of the Family: True Evil premiering Nov. 15.