What Ashley Williams Loved About Her Directorial Debut - Exclusive

From The Front to At Risk, Ashley Williams has been in her fair share of Lifetime films, so when it came time to direct the network's ripped-from-the-headlines film Circle of Deception, based on Ann Rule's book Practice to Deceive, she had an idea of what to expect. One thing she didn't anticipate? How nice it is getting to skip the makeup chair!

"I really enjoyed not having to go into hair and makeup, and I enjoyed not having to wear heels," she told Nicki Swift in an exclusive interview ahead of the true crime movie's release. "I had my little director uniform which was sneakers, jeans, a button-down shirt and a fanny pack, and my hair in braids [with] a baseball cap."

Circle of Deception, which stars Diane Neal as former beauty queen-turned-murder suspect Peggy Sue Thomas, dives deep into cycles of lies and deceit between Peggy Sue, her friend Brenna Douglas (Jill Morrison), and her on-again, off-again husband Russel (Paul McGillion) who's murdered. With such a complex story, Williams said it was "really fun to feel like first and foremost, [she] was getting to craft a story objectively," adding, "I think sometimes as an actor, I get kind of lost in the character, and it becomes a lot about, 'What shoes am I wearing?' and, 'Ooh, that lipstick doesn't feel right.'" She noted, "It's kind of a lot more introspective."

Ashley Williams was inspired after hearing about the lack of female directors in Hollywood

Another perk of being the director? Getting to call wrap on a hard day's work on set. "We'd jump in the car and be home," Williams laughed. "I didn't have to wash my face. It wasn't about how I looked." 

Circle of Deception marks Williams' feature-length directorial debut, though Williams' first time behind the camera was creating the short film Meats, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. She was inspired to take on directing after realizing that, as an actor, she "had a lot more set experience than a lot of the other people," having gotten her start at 11 years old. "I found that to be kind of empowering," she added. "[I] was self-conscious ... [to be] taking on what is normally a conventionally male profession but recently ... [I've heard] that there's just not enough female directors and it kind of put a little bee in my bonnet."

While the How I Met Your Mother alum assured Nicki Swift that she'll always "be an actress as well," she admitted that it was "kind of a weird transition" going back to in-front of the camera following production. "I remember thinking when I went in for my first fitting, 'I'm not just a brain anymore,'" she laughed. "I miss just being a brain and all these people are looking at my body and trying to figure out how to hang clothes on it."

Circle of Deception premieres March 6, 2021, at 8/7c on Lifetime.