Jaime King: Mental health, abuse led to Sherri Papini kidnapping hoax

Jaime King plays Sherri Papini in a Lifetime movie. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
1 of 6 | Jaime King plays Sherri Papini in a Lifetime movie. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Jaime King plays Sherri Papini, who was convicted in 2022 of faking her own kidnapping in 2016 in the Lifetime movie, Sherri Papini: I Kidnapped Myself, premiering Saturday at 8 p.m. EST on Lifetime.

King said she felt media coverage of Papini's case neglected to examine Papini's mental health issues and abusive past. The film shows Keith Pappini (Matt Hamilton) describing Sherri's anxiety, saying she cried when overwhelmed.


"They weren't getting to the truth of it," King said on a recent Zoom panel. "It was just a headline."

Papini's husband reported her missing Nov. 2, 2016, after she did not return from jogging in Redding, Calif., leaving their two children at daycare. Papini showed up three weeks later near Interstate 5, about 120 miles away, and accused two Spanish-speaking women of kidnapping her for human trafficking.

Papini stuck to her story for years before pleading guilty to mail fraud and making false statements. King said the fact that Papini is a mother should have warranted further analysis.

"No one makes that choice for no reason," King said. "You can make fun of mental health issues. You can deny abuse issues, but I'm simply not willing to do that."


The Lifetime film shows Sherri living with her ex-boyfriend during her disappearance. The film, however, changes his name to Chris (Josh Collins).

During her stay with Chris, Sherri forced him to brand "Exodus 612" onto her back, and shoot hockey pucks at her body to create bruises.

The film shows how investigators discover that Sherri had a history of self-harm dating to childhood.

Because Papini was convicted, she lost the life rights to her story. King said she felt a responsibility to tell Papini's tale in as fair and objective a way as possible.

"If you're a felon, you have no rights to your name and likeness, which is a fine and delicate dance that the studio has to do," King said.

King said she worried that people without Papini's best interests at heart had rights to her story, "even though they may or may not have been abusing that person."

To transform into Papini, King had extensions sewn into her naturally blonde hair. She said the intensity of the hair compounded the intensity she felt giving the performance.

"They were down to my waist," King said. "I would wake up at 6 to 6:30 a.m. crying from the weight of these things."


King was a model who began to act in the 2001 films Blow and Pearl Harbor. She has transformed in the comic book movies Sin City and The Spirit and played characters stalked by killers in My Bloody Valentine and Silent Night.

Still, King said, playing Papini was so emotional she felt she couldn't escape it.

"That sounds dramatic, because at the end of the day, you want to release from the character," King said. "But, you can't because they're literally in your head. So you're immersed in it, and then you surrender to that process."

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