‘A Friend of the Family’: Jan Broberg Talks ‘Surreal’ Finale Cameo as Family Therapist

Jan Broberg as Dr. Carr in 'A Friend of the Family'
Spoiler Alert
Peacock

Jan Broberg produced the dramatization of her two-time childhood abduction, A Friend of the Family. But what viewers didn’t know was she would appear in the Peacock limited series’ finale as her own family’s therapist. After Mary Ann (Anna Paquin) and Bob Broberg (Colin Hanks) get their daughter free from Robert “B” Berchtold’s (Jake Lacy) clutches, the healing begins. As Jan actor Mckenna Grace previously told us, coming back together as a family was the Brobergs’ revenge on the predator, played with chilling effect by Lacy. Broberg tells TV Insider the series nailed the essence of her experience and getting to play Dr. Carr was a new addition to her lifelong healing journey.

Like in the show, Broberg is an actor. The stage (and now, screen) has been a lifelong lifeline as she processed difficult feelings. Broberg says appearing in the series was an if, not when thing.

“It goes way back to some of the early conversations that I had with Nick [Antosca] and Alex [Hedlund] when we were trying to figure out how we could make this whole series happen,” she says. “And at one point, I said, I’m an actress; that’s my passion. It always has been. It saved my life as a kid during those four years when I wasn’t telling or talking about anything. I could get on stage and cry and sing and be happy and be mad and do all the things that I couldn’t do because I thought I was being watched and I was gonna be vaporized.”

The right role had to be found for Broberg for it to really make an impact for all those involved. When developing the finale and the character of Dr. Carr, Broberg says Antosca knew, “This is it. This is the one.” But one production issue led to another, and Broberg was actually replaced by another actor and a new cameo was being brainstormed. Broberg cried over the loss of that specific role, as she felt it fit so perfectly. But when an actor was exposed to COVID-19, causing the therapist actor to be exposed and thus have to leave set, Broberg got the role back.

Jan Broberg and Mckenna Grace in 'A Friend of the Family' finale

Peacock

In the finale, Broberg tells Grace’s Jan and Hanks’ Bob there is a path to healing — it’s just a long road. No other actor could make the line more poignant. Who knows that truth better than the woman herself? Broberg tells us speaking those lines was like a fantasy of going back in time to tell your younger self that everything will be OK. Bob died in 2018, and it’s clear in our talk that her scene with Hanks gave her the chance to work through some of the grief she still harbors from that loss.

“It was like looking at my dad,” she says of Hanks’ heartwarming performance. “I felt like I was actually an adult Jan in that role, comforting a person that I tried to comfort my whole life that I think never truly forgave himself for his mistakes. And he was such a good father. He was such a sweet, loving father. Unconditional. I mean, all during those years when I turned into a robot and didn’t ever let him touch me or talk to him, he still just would say, ‘I don’t know what’s the matter, Janny, but I love you! I’d die for you. Two things: I love you and the gospel’s true!'”

Broberg gushes over all of the actors’ performances in the show, saying Paquin, Hanks, Grace, and Hendrix Yancey (young Jan) nailed the essence of her family. “It was surreal, and it was amazing. And I’m so glad I got to do it.”

When looking at Grace as her, Broberg says she didn’t feel out-of-body, but rather detached from herself and immersed in her therapeutic role. Figuring out how to talk to a traumatized 14-year-old in order to build an implicit knowledge of trust and safety was illuminating, giving her a new perspective on how the other half of her healing journey in the early years must have been.

Broberg was seen again in the finale credits when footage from her 2004 court appearance with Berchtold plays. It marked the first time Broberg saw her abuser since she was a teen, and she powerfully confronted him for his monstrous acts. Berchtold killed himself one year later.

Jake Lacy in 'A Friend of the Family'

Peacock

Next, Broberg will be the complementary documentary A Friend of the Family: True Evil, where she’ll return the scenes of Berchtold’s crimes and meet another of one his victims for the first time. The documentary will also show the Brobergs talking about how they live with and heal through the generational trauma the predator caused. While she loved acting in the finale, making Abducted In Plain Sight, A Friend of the Family, and True Evil cemented Broberg’s commitment to activism.

Through the Jan Broberg Foundation, she will pursue the end of child sexual abuse and provide a safe space for those impacted by it. “It’s kind of like AA and Al-Anon, but for sexual assault and abuse survivors.”

“My foundation and our family’s purpose in telling the story was to help people, so that’s what I want to do. Doing the series is the best teacher, because it’s entertainment and it’s so well done,” Broberg says. “You can see how predators groom, you can see how that happens. And so that last episode is hopefully that crowning, that little cherry on top where people go, ‘OK, now what do we do next?’ not ‘Oh, whew! I’m glad I got through that story.’ I want to go, ‘OK, what’s next? What am I not seeing? How can I help somebody?’ I know someone that was abused; I was abused. How do I tell my story? What do I do next so that I’m healthy and happy and can move forward and can help other people?”

Through her foundation, she’ll begin the continued journey of finding that out. Personally, her life will be dedicated to giving herself back her childhood. “Let’s reclaim that. Reframe your life and let’s get it.”

A Friend of the Family, Streaming Now, Peacock