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How a mechanical engineer ended up playing Nate Eaton in a TV movie

Daybell Case

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IDAHO FALLS — I never thought I’d be writing a story about a guy playing me in a movie.

Sure, I’ve interviewed Nate Eaton, the baseball player, but both Spencer Lord and I agree our Zoom conversation a few days ago was “surreal.”

Lord plays me in “Doomsday Mom: The Lori Vallow Story,” a movie scheduled to air on Lifetime this Saturday. It’s a role he never imagined back in 2016 having just graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of British Columbia.

“Growing up, I was pretty good in school, so I went to the guidance counselor and was told I should try engineering because I was good at physics,” Lord recalls. “But I got a job and realized it wasn’t my forte or passion, so I thought back to what I could do that sparked some passion in me.”

Lord hated his job and remembered his 12th-grade friends recruiting him to try out for the play “Kiss Me, Kate,” where he was cast as Fred, the lead role. He sang three solos and fell in love with acting.

Now, years later, Lord decided to follow his dreams and leave engineering behind.

“I was going to give my boss my two weeks’ notice, and he comes and sits down in my office,” Lord tells EastIdahoNews.com. “I could tell what was going to happen … and he let me go before I was able to quit, which was OK because that meant I got unemployment.”

The money helped Lord transition to serving tables at a restaurant while taking acting classes.

One year later, in 2017, he was cast in his first role – Terry, an “oddball” with a tickle fetish, in the CW series “Riverdale.”

“I had a couple of days on set for two episodes, and it ended up being a great learning experience,” Lord explains. “There was a lot of learning to be done in a very short period of time.”

Since then, Lord has been cast in supporting lead actor roles but has never played a real person – until now.

nate stumped
Nate Eaton confronting Chad and Lori Vallow Daybell in January 2020. | Eric Grossarth, EastIdahoNews.com

Spencer Lords Hawaii1
Spencer Lord confronting actors playing Chad and Lori Vallow Daybell. | Lifetime

“It was nerve-wracking at first, but it was great – especially playing you – because you have hundreds of videos online reporting and interviewing people,” Lord told me during a Zoom conversation. “So in a way, it was simple but wasn’t as easy. … I watched hundreds of minutes of you and watched how you sit, the intonations in your voice and then tried to mimic the way you speak.”

Lord was unfamiliar with the Daybell case, a story full of twists-and-turns spanning several states and people. You can get caught up on the latest here.

The Canadian actor had about a week to prepare for the movie and says several scenes are nearly verbatim from my reporting – including him approaching actors playing Chad and Lori Daybell in Hawaii.

“(I) started watching all the work you’ve done, and (the story) is bizarre, it’s terrible and the fact that she’s been deemed incompetent – it’s kind of wild,” Lord says. “It’s an interesting look at the judicial system as well in how everything shakes out.”

Lord has other projects that are set to air in the coming months. His role model is Jake Gyllenhaal, and hopes to one day “do it all” – perform on Broadway, work on a gritty true-detective-type TV show, act in a romantic comedy and who knows? Maybe play another news reporter down the line.

“I sincerely hope I did you and your profession and passion justice,” he tells me. “If nothing else, that was my goal.”

“Doomsday Mom: The Lori Vallow Story” airs Saturday, June 26, at 8/7c on Lifetime. Watch my entire conversation with Spencer Lord in the video player above.

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