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Smarts’ faith makes impression on actors

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Lindsay Frost, Amber Marshall and Dylan Baker

Lindsay Frost, Amber Marshall and Dylan Baker

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — The strong faith of Ed and Lois Smart is something that stood out to both actors who portray them in the upcoming made-for-TV movie.

"He's a man of faith in today's world. He's a guy that believed when no one else would believe that his daughter would come back," said Dylan Baker, who plays Ed Smart. "The thing about Ed Smart is, he's a simple man who has faith. And that goes a long way in this world."

"The Elizabeth Smart Story," to air on CBS in November, has been shooting for about three weeks and is nearing its conclusion.

Sunday, Ed and Lois Smart visited the set of the movie for the first time. Both received warm welcomes from the actors portraying them, and many of film's crew stepped up to shake their hands.

The Smarts are in Halifax for three days to watch the filming. Their arrival was highly anticipated; film crews from "Entertainment Tonight," "Inside Edition," "Extra" and a writer from TV Guide are just some of the media organizations that have followed them here to interview them on set.

Bloomingdale Terrace, a quiet upscale street with colonial-style homes that have undergone major renovations, was blocked off Sunday as crews shot the scenes that centered on the Smart house. In the movie, the Smarts' home resembles something that might be found on Harvard or Yale avenues rather than Federal Heights.

The executive producer of the movie, Patricia Clifford, said so far everything had gone smoothly.

"This is probably one of the smoothest shoots I've had. It's gone remarkably well," said Clifford, whose previous credits include "To Dance with the White Dog," "The Def Leppard story" for VH1 and 1991 move about the Ogden Hi-Fi murders.

In addition to being the smoothest, it has also been one of the fastest movie projects Clifford has ever put together. Her first phone conversation with the Smarts was in May. She flew to Salt Lake City soon after and had what she described as an "intense" three days with Ed and Lois Smart as they retold their story.

Clifford said she watched the Elizabeth Smart saga unfold just like everybody else.

"I'll always remember the moment I heard she was found," she said. "I'm afraid not for a minute did I think it would have a happy ending."

Now, Clifford said she's honored to be part of the project.

"(The Smarts) were interested in telling a story of hope and inspiration and faith, and that was something I was very interested in," she said.

In preparing for his role as Ed Smart, Baker talked to Smart three times on the phone, including one very long conversation in which he said Ed told him about the entire nine-month ordeal.

"I've never felt such a responsibility for trying to get something right, because when you realize what these people have gone through, you really want to do a good job," he said.

Lindsay Frost is the Lois Smart look-alike who will play Elizabeth's mother. Frost had a role in the Tom Hanks movie "The Road to Perdition," but long before that she said she acted at the Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City.

An admitted news junkie, Frost said she followed Elizabeth's nine-month saga "a great deal."

She said portraying Lois is portraying a strong woman who was grieving for the loss of her daughter but still had to carry on for her other children.

"It almost seems unreal, the odds were so overwhelming for (Elizabeth) to come back, but yet (Lois) moved on," Frost said.

Frost also noted that none of the actors in the movie would have taken the roles if the Smarts themselves had not sanctioned it.

Amber Marshall, the young girl who will play Elizabeth, was not on set Sunday. Even if she had been, CBS is declining most interview requests for the young actress so she won't be overwhelmed.

E-MAIL: preavy@desnews.com