September 27, 1991 at 04:00 AM EDT

Suzanne Somers is about to appear in the most challenging role of her career: Suzanne Somers. The former Three’s Company star plays herself in ABC’s Keeping Secrets, re-creating some of the most painful moments of her pre-stardom past (including an adulterous affair, an abortion, an arrest for writing bad checks, and life with an alcoholic father). ”It gave me the willies to crawl back into that skin,” Somers says. ”Once again, I had to become this insecure woman who didn’t like herself very much. I knew (the role) might be too close to me, but I also knew I could help people (by telling) the story of how an alcoholic affects the entire family — to tell people that it’s not too late to change your life and to get help.” Somers also served as the film’s co-executive producer (along with her manager and husband, Alan Hamel). Working as the movie’s assistant location manager was Somers’ son, Bruce, 25, who also appears in a cameo as himself.

”I’m something of a control freak,” Somers admits, ”but I still sweated through the whole thing and had many sleepless nights.” She didn’t stop sweating until she held a private Secrets screening for her family. ”It was hard for them to watch, but they liked it. So I can relax now.”

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