Alexandra Breckenridge drew on her own personal experience with her son as she approached a tragic story line in season 5 of Virgin River.
In the new season of the Netflix show, which premiered in September, fans saw Mel (Breckenridge) suffer a miscarriage with fiancé Jack’s (Martin Henderson) baby while in the midst of delivering someone else’s baby. Breckenridge, 41, later revealed that going through a past health scare with her son Jack, now 7, helped her connect to the tragedy. (The actress shares Jack and daughter Billie, 5, with husband Casey Hooper.)
“I’ve had personal experience; one of my children was very, very sick when he was young and could have died so I have a personal connection and understanding of the emotional loss of a child,” Breckenridge told Deadline on Monday, November 27. “When you’re a parent and you come so close to that edge of not having them anymore, I already experienced that in a different way, so I came into that scene reliving that experience. That’s how I approached it, because that’s what I know.”
Breckenridge went on to say that she let herself “go back to that emotional point” of almost losing her own son.
“Yeah, I didn’t have to do a lot of quote unquote, acting, so to speak,” she explained to the outlet. “In that moment, it was all just very real to me.”
Breckenridge added that the story line was an important one for the show to cover.
“We felt like [if we didn’t do it] we were doing a disservice to the women who have had trouble conceiving and have fertility issues — which are so many women — and this storyline felt very real and very powerful for those women,” Brecknridge told Deadline, adding that she felt a “responsibility to women who experience infertility to be as grounded as humanly possible.”
Virgin River showrunner Patrick Sean Smith previously explained the necessity of having Breckenridge’s character deal with infertility issues in season 5.
“It was an opportunity to not blow past something that has defined Mel’s character that felt like an important topic to explore even further,” Smith told Glamour in October. “So it felt like an organic way for it to come up. The past few seasons have been very defined by her trauma and [Jack’s], and this is a shared trauma. We now see this couple struggle their way through this loss together because it was the one thing that literally killed her last marriage.”
Smith wanted the series to portray the actual miscarriage on screen where Mel sees blood in her underwear and gives herself an ultrasound.
“The network didn’t flinch at it. I think you’re always wondering if there’s a softer way to dramatize something that’s traumatic, but at the same time, we couldn’t come up with something that felt as important to show,” he told Glamour. “We also wanted to be clear what was happening with her in that moment. This was an opportunity to show a woman go through a very specific experience, and if you’re going to do it, do it.”