Interview!

ICYMI: Alison Sweeney Interview

Credit: CROWN MEDIA

Alison Sweeney’s newest movie, CHRISTMAS AT HOLLY LODGE, premiered on December 3 on the Hallmark Channel. The actress, who also serves as the executive producer, worked with former DAYS writer Melissa Salmons to develop the story, which centers around a woman who owns a ski lodge that welcomes people who have nowhere to go for the holidays.

“This lead character, Sophie, is someone we could really relate to,” explains Sweeney. “She’s a cool, hard-working woman who has a small, family-owned B&B where people who don’t have families come and create their own family and traditions. Sophie is happy, then in walks this handsome stranger and boom, he knocks her socks off. She then discovers that his purpose for being there is in conflict with her business, and she reacts as only someone who played Sami for 22 years could, by coming up with these crazy schemes to get him to leave. It’s a really fun story, it was a really great character, and I loved filming it.”

CROWN MEDIA

Though she has done a slew of films for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, this marks her first inclusion in the überpopular holiday season on the Hallmark Channel. “There are a lot of big decisions to make when you’re making a Christmas movie for Hallmark,” she points out. “It’s a serious business because they know how important Christmas is to their viewers. I meet people literally every day who tell me that they turn the Hallmark Christmas movies on at the beginning of the season, and that’s what gets them in the mood. That’s a really big responsibility and we really wanted to make a movie that could be a good part of people’s holiday experience.”

Sweeney’s co-star in the film is Jordan Bridges, son of actor Beau Bridges. “He’s awesome,” she raves. “He was so charming and funny. The funny part for me was that I realized that I quote his grandfather [Lloyd Bridges] all the time because I quote the movie Airplane! on a daily basis. I only realized it when I was standing next to his grandson, thinking, ‘I hope he doesn’t think I’m only doing this because he’s there [laughs].’ I really had to make an effort to include some of the other ’80s movies that I quote all the time, but he was super-funny about it, and he had great stories about his family.”

Sheryl Lee Ralph is also part of the ensemble. “She’s amazing and so talented and lovely, and we could not have her in our movie without taking advantage of her incredible singing talent,” relays Sweeney. “The end of the movie makes me happy cry every time.”

The actress, who is still airing on DAYS, says she had a blast during her most recent comeback. “It was so great,” she enthuses. “It was so fun to be with Dee [Hall, Marlena] and have those big, emotional scenes right when I got back. I’ve absolutely loved the scenes with Bryan [R. Dattilo, Lucas]. Those just really were so fun and challenging, and he was so great to work opposite. And then Kristian [Alfonso, Hope] and Galen [Gering, Rafe] were great. I’d never worked with Eileen [Davidson, ex-Susan et al] before. We did a few scenes here and there, but never real story scenes like that, and she’s amazing. It was really a pleasure to work with her.”

JPI

Sweeney was touched by the fan support she received upon her return. “The fans have been amazing,” she smiles. “It’s funny to take a break from the show and then come back to it and receive such a warm welcome, and also get thrown right back into the mix of all the different fandoms and debates online. For a while I wasn’t on all those threads, and now I’m being included and I love it.” As for whether she’d be up for another visit, Sweeney offers, “It’s fun to check in. I really enjoyed my visit and I love being there.”

Though her heart will always be in Salem, she doesn’t regret her decision to leave in 2015. “It’s opened the door for so many new opportunities for me, and such different experiences,” she reflects. “I have had so much more time to spend with my family and my kids, and done so many new and challenging things. I’ve found new ways for me to use my skills and exercise my dreams of being a storyteller.”

Sweeney is already hard at work on a new project. “I’ve kind of teased it a little bit on social media, and as soon as I’m allowed to talk about it, I will, but I’m having a great time.” 

FATHER’S DAY
Sweeney cast a very special extra in CHRISTMAS AT HOLLY LODGE: her father, Stender. “My dad came to set this time, and that was really exciting for me,” she shares. “He’d never been to one of my films before. He’s been to DAYS and to BIGGEST LOSER, but he’d never been to the movies I’d done, so it was really fun to have him there. In fact, he’s one of the skiers on the slope in one of the scenes when I’m on the mountain. He happened to be wearing a jacket that could pass for ski suit-y, and so we put a little knit cap on him — they call them toques up in Canada — and gave him some skis and he walked across.”

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