Last year, in the midst of her short stint as GH’s seemingly doomed Claudette, Bree Williamson took advantage of a multiweek production hiatus to jet up to her native Canada to shoot her second Lifetime movie, MOMMY’S LITTLE BOY, which premieres on March 18.
“It’s a really good film!” enthuses the actress, who plays the titular mommy, an alcoholic and neglectful one, at that. “She’s not a nice lady,” Williamson sums up. “There are people who just shouldn’t have kids, and she’s one of them. She has the two boys and one of them dies very early on in the movie. The other one is Eric, who is the not-favorite child. He’s an inconvenience to her. Peter [DaCunha] and I would joke that every time I said his character’s name, it was like [screeches], ‘Eric!’, with that tone of voice, because he’s just an annoyance to her.”
A loving mother in real life (to son McGreggor, who turns 7 this year), Williamson says she was drawn to the part because “as an actor, to play a character with so much going on and so much damage, is, dare I say, more fun, because you can kind of, like, dig in a little bit more and find the damage, where it comes from, and it’s not hard to figure out who they are. And,” she chuckles, “they hired me, which always makes it an easy choice!”
Channeling her inner rotten mama was made simpler by the rapport she established with DaCunha on set. “Peter is such a pro,” she raves. “He has a huge, long list of jobs and is a very accomplished, amazing actor. And he’s also a really sweet kid. The second I got there, he was like, ‘Hi! Oh, my God, you’re my terrible mother!’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I am, you little bastard! Do everything I say!’ ”
The teleflick was filmed in Ottawa, “which is a really wonderful city. Just giving Ottawa a little plug! It’s beautiful, beautiful, and my son was with me during the shooting, and when I wasn’t working, there were ample things for me to do with my kid. We were only four hours away from where my family lives [in Toronto], so that was a really nice bonus.”
She didn’t have that much down time to take advantage of, given the breakneck production schedule of the project. Even compared to soaps, “They shoot these movies so quickly, it’s insane,” she professes. “Listen, soaps are crazy, too, it’s just different. Soaps do move quickly, and you’re always in the studio, and it’s a lot of words to memorize, so your brain has to be on point. And you only have so many opportunities to get it right — usually one opportunity! When I do these films, we shoot most of it, or all of it, on location, so there are other things, other issues, to account for, like rain!”
When MOMMY’S LITTLE BOY wrapped, Williamson returned to L.A. to finish up at GH, then it was back to Canada to start work on her next endeavor, PRIVATE EYES, a Canadian series shooting in Toronto. “I love it!” she raves. “Jason Priestley [ex-Brandon, BEVERLY HILLS, 90210] and Cindy Sampson star in it. He’s an ex-hockey player turned private eye, and Cindy Sampson plays Angie, who’s also a private eye, hence the name of the show. In the second season, I come in. I’m the crown prosecutor and I end up having a relationship with Jason, which is super-fun because he’s a really nice guy, like, the nicest dude ever.” And, for the record, she says she may have been subconsciously influenced in her portrayal of an attorney by her early days as a OLTL viewer. “Before I got my job on ONE LIFE, I watched the show a little bit and the main person that I knew was Nora, because the time that I was watching was during the Roger Howarth [ex-Todd, OLTL; Franco, GH]/Susan Haskell [ex-Marty, OLTL] storyline. I love Hillary [B. Smith], so I’m sure on some level she was my inspiration [laughs]!”
To hear Williamson tell it, though, the gig comes with steep memorization challenges. “In soaps, there’s a lot of dialogue, but once you understand a character and you’ve been playing the character for a while, there is room for paraphrasing,” she explains. “There has to be, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to get through all the pages we get through. And when you’re doing a breakup scene with someone and you have a huge, 10-page monologue, it’s not hard to memorize it because, as the actor, it’s your job to figure out the character’s journey and to find the emotional reason for these lines to exist, obviously. That’s the easiest way for me to memorize lines. But when you’re, like, spewing off legal jargon, you can’t paraphrase, and it’s a lot harder to find the emotional connection to the lines. It requires actual rote memorization, which I am not good at at all.”
But that’s a small price to pay for the many upsides of the job, which she’s still shooting (“It’s on hiatus for two weeks, but I’m going back soon”). “I really do love everything about it and I’m so grateful for it,” she says. “I’m grateful for every job, obviously, but this one is really special because Jason’s so sweet and a lot of the people that are working on the show also worked on HAVEN [where she played Claire for 11 episodes and Priestley worked as a director], so it’s like a mini-reunion for me. Plus, it shoots in Toronto, so every time I go, I get to see my mom and hang out with her.” Mac has been staying at home while she commutes to the set of PRIVATE EYES. “There’s been a lot of daddy and Mac time,” she allows. “But they’ve been so wonderful and accommodating with my schedule, so I haven’t spent very much time apart from my son, which is great.”
Despite how full her professional dance card is, the actress wouldn’t hesitate to consider a return trip to Port Charles, should reports of Claudette’s demise prove to be exaggerated. When news of the character’s death broke on-screen, she recalls, “People were reacting on Twitter, like, ‘Oh, no! Come back! Don’t die!’ But I think that we all know nobody’s really dead unless you actually see it happen. And maybe not even then! But absolutely, I would be open to returning if everything worked out. I had a great time there.”
In the meantime, Williamson says cheerfully, “I’m living my life and auditioning and hoping that everything works out. That’s all being an actor is: auditioning and hoping everything’s going to work out!”
When Tony winner Renée Elise Goldsberry (ex-Evangeline, OLTL) took her final bow in the smash hit Hamilton, Bree Williamson was there to cheer on her former co-star. “I remember when she got that job,” the actress says fondly. “She was so excited for it. When amazing experiences happen to amazing people, people who you love and want to see succeed, it’s like, ‘Ugh, everything is right in the universe!’ I hadn’t been to see the show, and I think that was the only time that she’s been on Broadway that I hadn’t seen her; I saw everything she was in because I love her and she’s one of my besties. I texted her because I knew she was leaving Hamilton and I was like, ‘I can’t believe that I’m not going to see you in this!’ She wrote back right away and was like, ‘Okay, we’re getting you tickets.’ So I planned a special trip, just me, to go and see her final show.”
Watching Goldsberry take the stage “was so emotional for me, because I hadn’t really listened to the soundtrack or the music before. Now, Mac and I listen to the Hamilton soundtrack, like, every day, but I wanted to save it until I saw the show. So, hearing her sing it live onstage was my first time experiencing the amazing music in that show. It was incredible. I’m very grateful that I got to be a part of that because it was a really special, wonderful night.”
Did You Know?
• Late last year, she shot a Lifetime movie, tentatively titled HER FORGOTTEN DAUGHTER, with Lindsay Hartley (ex-Theresa, PASSIONS et al). “It was the first time I ever worked with Lindsay, who is such a lovely, wonderful woman.”
• She once got to sing onstage with Lou Reed at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser.
• Williamson is a vegan (but has been known to make exceptions when traveling).
Just The Facts
Birthday: December 28
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Daytime History: Jessica Buchanan, OLTL, 2003-12; Claudette Beaulieu, GH, 2016
Just The Three Of Us: Williamson and her husband, Michael Roberts, wed on September 6, 2008 and have a son, McGreggor, who was born on September 21, 2010.
The Graduate: She was a dual major in women’s studies and psychology at the University of Toronto.
Fur Factor: “We have Andy, our little Chihuahua dog, and our cat is Hunter. We call him Prime Minister S— Mittens. He’s the prime minister of our house.”
The Best-Laid Plans: “My husband and I joke that the second we book a trip somewhere, I get a job and we have to switch our plane tickets. It happens literally every time!”