Ashley Smith‘s harrowing story of being held in captivity by murderer Brian Nichols is the basis for Captive, a new feature starring Kate Mara and David Oyelowo.

Ashley Smith On ‘Captive’

Playing Smith, once a young mother and meth addict living in Duluth, Ga., is Mara. Though Smith admits to initially having one particular reservation about Mara’s portrayal of her, she admits that the 32-year-old actress did an amazing job in Captive.

“What I thought she got wrong at first was the accent,” Smith told uInterview in an exclusive interview. “I thought she gave me too much Southern twang, but as I watched my interviews over the last week I realized that I really do have a lot of Southern twang, and I do sound like a little country bumpkin. So, she did very good in playing me. I think she did a phenomenal job.”

When Nichols entered Smith’s home, holding her at gunpoint, she’d recently become widowed, been sucked into drug addiction and had, as a result of her demons, lost custody of her daughter. It was a low point in Smith’s life, but while being held captive, she found her strength. She handed Nichols over her drugs, but refused to partake of them herself, and she read aloud Rick Warren‘s The Purpose Driven Life to keep herself on track.

“I was definitely trying to do everything that he said, and so when he asked for the drugs I told him that I had them, and I gave them to him. He asked me if I wanted to them with him, and it – for me – it was almost as if God was asking me, not Brian Nichols,” said Smith. “Did I want to do the drugs? Because if I wanted to do the drugs I was gonna go home and be with Jesus, but if I wanted to say no to drugs then he would change my life.”

Smith added of the Purpose Driven Life that it served to dissolve the wall between her and Nichols, as they could both relate to feeling like sinners in need of some sort of redemption.

“I read it out loud to him, and I did begin to see a change in him,” said Smith of Nichols, who is currently serving a life sentence for his crimes. “He softened a lot, and we just began to talk about how we were both sinners saved by God’s grace, and how he had made bad choices in killing four people, and I had made bad choices in choosing drugs over my daughter. But ultimately we were sinners saved by God’s grace, and God still loved us despite what we had done.”

Asked what advice she would give to others struggling with a meth addiction, Smith advised that they turn to God: “I would say to them, “That’s all he’s waiting for. He’s waiting for you to give him your brokenness so he can change it into something beautiful.”

Captive hit theaters earlier this month.

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Q: How accurately did Kate Mara depict you in the movie? -

Well, she did everything very right. What I thought she got wrong at first was the accent. I thought she gave me too much Southern twang, but as I watched my interviews over the last week I realized that I really do have a lot of Southern twang, and I do sound like a little country bumpkin. So, she did very good in playing me. I think she did a phenomenal job, and her bond that she made with Elle [Graham], which is the little girl that played my daughter, that definitely got me emotional seeing those scenes, for sure.

Q: What happened on the night that you were taken hostage? -

I was coming home from my apartment that night, or coming home from the store that night, and he actually came and took me at gunpoint into my apartment, and held me hostage for seven hours. You know, a lot of things happened during those seven hours, but ultimately God really changed my life through many things that happened.

Q: Why did you give your captor meth during the kidnapping? -

Well, I actually was struggling at that point in my life. I had kind of gotten away from my Christian faith as a result of watching my first husband die in my arms, and had let drugs kind of overtake my life, and lost custody of my daughter. So, when Brian Nichols came into my life, I was desperately trying to kick that habit and get back to my Christian roots and my faith. I actually had drugs in my apartment 'cause I had done them the day before, and when Brian Nichols came in my apartment he asked me if I had any drugs. I was definitely trying to do everything that he said, and so when he asked for the drugs I told him that I had them, and I gave them to him. He asked me if I wanted to them with him, and it – for me – it was almost as if God was asking me, not Brian Nichols. Did I want to do the drugs? Because if I wanted to do the drugs I was gonna go home and be with Jesus, but if I wanted to say no to drugs then he would change my life, and quite honestly I didn't know if that change was gonna be for five minutes or whether it was gonna be for fifty years, but five minutes of change from that life was more than enough for me to say no that day.

Q: Why did you read Brian Nichols 'The Purpose Driven Life'? -

Well, as I said, I was trying to break that habit, and that addiction, and get back to my Christian roots, and that was one way I was trying to do that was reading 'The Purpose Driven Life'. You know, after I chose not to do the drugs I felt a need to support that decision with some type of religious scripture or something, so I grabbed my 'Purpose Driven Life' and Brian Nichols said I could read my devotion for that day, and so I read it out loud to him, and I did begin to see a change in him. He softened a lot, and we just began to talk about how we were both sinners saved by God's grace, and how he had made bad choices in killing four people, and I had made bad choices in choosing drugs over my daughter. But ultimately we were sinners saved by God's grace, and God still loved us despite what we had done.

Q: What would you say to someone struggling with a meth addiction? -

For me, I tried many things to get off of meth. I, you know, went to rehab several times, and tried to just kick the habit by doing it on my own. But it really wasn't until I had laid down my brokenness to God, you know. The world tells us we have to look a certain way, and act a certain way, before we can come to God, but that could be nothing further from the truth. My experience is that God was waiting on me for a long time to lay down my brokenness, and my brokenness meant my addiction and many other things I was struggling with. And when I finally gave it to God he began to show off and change my life. I would say to them, “That's all he's waiting for. He's waiting for you to give him your brokenness so he can change it into something beautiful.”