Some of Hollywood’s biggest stars were in Utah Monday night for the red carpet screening of FX’s new show, "Under the Banner of Heaven."
The series is based on the New York Times best-selling book by Jon Krakauer that surrounds the events of a notorious murder in American Fork back in 1984.
Brenda Lafferty and her baby daughter were killed by Brenda’s brothers-in-law, Ron and Dan Lafferty. The brothers claimed they were commanded by God to do it. Dan is serving a life sentence in prison; Ron died in 2019 from natural causes while awaiting execution on death row.
The show covers the crime, the origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as some religious extremists and fundamentalist sects of the faith.
“This show is very much a warning not to step back into fundamentalism,” said creator Dustin Lance Black. “It is a cautionary tale about what happens when you follow outdated rules — it can lead to bloodshed and horror.”
Black told FOX 13 News that he grew up in the Church and said this show is all to honor Brenda and her baby girl, Erica.
“[Brenda’s family] trusted me with her letters, with her journals, and so, so much of what you’re going to see in this show comes right from her voice. Words she wrote,” said Black.
Academy Award nominee Andrew Garfield plays the role of Detective Jeb Pyre who investigates the murders and questions his own faith.
“I think it’s vital,” said Garfield. “I think a life of faith is actually a life of doubt. I think a life of certainty is not a life of faith.”
Garfield told FOX 13 News what it was like reading Krakauer’s book for the first time years ago.
“I thought it was so important that Krakauer was trying to draw a line and try to connect now just the ‘how’ this happened but ‘why’ this happened,” he said.
Sam Worthington, who starred in the 2009 movie "Avatar," plays the role of Ron Lafferty.
“Our job is to portray it as truthfully as possible, allow the writing to foreshadow the terrible event that happened, and hopefully handle it with some grace,” he said.
Former and active LDS members joined the crew as consultants, including Utahn Lindsay Hansen Park, the executive director of the nonprofit Sunstone Education Foundation. Park studies polygamy and fundamentalist sects of the Church. As an active member of the Church, she said representation in the show was important to her.
“I really hope the show is an opportunity for Mormons to show us who they are. Show the world who they are, that they can handle hard discussions, we can handle hard truth and look at the shadow side of our faith and confront them head-on,” said Park.
The first two episodes of Under the Banner of Heaven will premiere on April 28 exclusively on Hulu. The remaining five episodes will come out on a weekly basis.