‘The Patient’ Star Laura Niemi on Beth’s Levity & Importance in Alan’s Journey
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1, Episode 3 of The Patient, “Issues.”]
Held captive by the patient with murderous urges, Alan is chained up in a well-furnished basement where he has a bed, is fed a variety of meals, and is forced to sit through therapy sessions with the threateningly persistent Sam. Through the darkness though are glimpses from Alan’s past which offer a little more lightness, thanks to Laura Niemi who plays Alan’s wife Beth Strauss.
It is revealed early on in the series that Beth died before Alan was taken captive, but her memories live on in him and play an important role in his journey.
“It taps upon grief, and how people grieve the loss of something,” Niemi tells TV Insider. “It also taps into that thing when we’re in a situation where we think we might die. What are the things that we go to in our minds?”
For Alan, that includes flashbacks to his son Ezra’s (Andrew Leeds) wedding, which begins as a happy occasion, but quickly grows tense when Beth, a Cantor at her local temple, goes up to the microphone to perform a song. She’s told by the Rabbi overseeing the reception ceremony, that women aren’t supposed to sing music, adhering to Orthodox Judaism practices.
“The wedding was [filmed] at the tail end,” Niemi notes of the show’s production. While The Patient gets heavier week to week, she acknowledges that scenes like that one had “a lighter spirit” to them. “It brings humanity into this storyline,” she points out. “A lot of my scenes in the temple [brought] levity with the music,” she adds.
That humanity is shown through the fractured relationship Alan has with his son Ezra who took up the Orthodox practices upon getting married. In doing so, it creates a divide between the young man and progressive parents, but it doesn’t stop their efforts to express love, particularly Beth’s through music.
“I fought for this role because this was, for me, a full circle moment,” Niemi shares. “I’m Jewish, so I knew that was an important aspect of this character, but, also I was a musician in my twenties, I toured in different bands as a bass player,” she explains. “And so during the pandemic, I picked up my guitar again and was writing songs. When this [role] came, I had to do this.”
Part of Niemi’s preparation included getting in touch with Cantors in her area. “I was working with this Cantor who’s just an amazing musician,” Niemi recalls. While most services were held virtually due to Covid, she ultimately was able to put her skills to the test when “the rabbi allowed me to come in and do a service.”
The actress admits, “It was emotional. My whole family was watching on zoom. It was just really a really beautiful moment.” And that carries on in her performance as Beth. As The Patient‘s season carries on, viewers will see how Beth’s lingering presence helps guide Alan on his journey and helps him reflect on “regrets, things that were unsaid, and the things that have happened throughout our lives.”
Stay tuned for more from the gripping drama as FX’s The Patient continues on Hulu.
FX’s The Patient, New Episodes, Tuesdays, Hulu