Chrishell Hartley was a guest on Digest’s podcast, Dishing With Digest, where she talked about returning to DAYS as Jordan, her new Netflix show, SELLING SUNSET, married life with Justin Hartley (ex-Adam, Y&R et al) and more.
Digest: We are so obsessed with SELLING SUNSET. We have a lot of questions. First of all, how did you even wind up on it?
Chrishell Hartley: I got my [real estate] license when I was kind of in an off-season with the different shows that I’ve done…. I was kind of doing real estate on the side. [Justin and I] bought a home and then I helped a couple of my friends out. And then I ended up getting called back in, I started working back on DAYS, and then I got a call through Lionsgate asking me if I’d be interested in doing a show about real estate. It just kind of all kind of fell in my lap. It wasn’t something that I was pursuing or anything. And then they asked me if I’d be willing to join a new company. And then when I looked the company up, I mean, they do like this amazing business. I was kind of at this small company just doing it on the side. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
Digest: That’s amazing. Did anything take you by surprise when you watched the episodes?
Hartley: You know, there’s always those things when you watch it when you didn’t know what the other people said like straight to camera…. There’s definitely some moments where I’m sure each one of us cringe when you hear something said about you or if you say something that may have been a little misconstrued or taken out of context. You know, it’s just kind of one of those cringe-y things where we’re all kind of watching it like a little nervous.
Digest: Yeah, they were very not nice about your outfit on day one.
Hartley: I know! See, that’s one of the examples when I was like, “Oh, okay. They’re comin’ in hot! All right.”
Digest: Okay, so this is what’s sort of was fascinating to me right when you walked in. Did nobody watch soaps? Did no one recognize you or did they just not include it?
Hartley: Yeah, you know, I don’t think they’re my target demographic. I think they’re very focused on what they do and everything, so I truly don’t think any of them had ever seen an ounce of soap operas so far.
Digest: Was there not a THIS IS US fan in that room? I mean, that’s another thing. How could they not freak out?
Hartley: Yeah, there were. Once they found that out, there were a couple people that have seen the show and then other people started tuning in because of that. But I think initially it was definitely a cold room…. You know, normally you kind of feel like people might feel like they know you from something and you feel like it’s a warm reception; I didn’t get that.
Digest: Well, something that came out of the show is really your openness in discussing that you had lived in poverty growing up and really discussing you were the “smelly girl” at school, as you phrased it. Were you at all trepidatious about sharing that?
Hartley: For sure. I mean, this is a story that for so long I tried…. You know, you have a million different reasons and excuses as to answer away why those things were happening when I was little. So to kind of openly stop lying about things and to be honest about it, it’s not the most comfortable thing to do, but I also think that there’s power in being able to do that because I think that it can kind of inspire and help the people that are still in that place. I just had to get over myself ’cause I know intelligently it’s for the greater good. I still kind of sweat when I talk about it ’cause it’s not like something that … what Davina [Potratz] said on the show. It’s like not something that happened for like a week. It was an ongoing, long, treacherous struggle that we just had growing up. It’s part of my story now and I think in owning it I can do a lot of good.
Digest: Were you nervous at all about how you would be portrayed? What kind of “edit” you would be given by the producers or by Netflix?
Hartley: For sure. I mean, I think that was my major concern in signing up for the show is that I’m so used to controlling everything that goes out…. When you’re acting, you’re playing a character, and when I share on Instagram or Twitter I’m one of those people that I used to be, you know, “Miss Photo Approval”, so to go from something where it’s like just a silly, friendly environment and like asking for photo approval before people post stuff to just literally being in front of a camera and they’re gonna post whatever they want on national, not even that, like 190 countries on Netflix. It was a bit of a leap, but I really trusted [Executive Producer] Adam DiVello, the creator of THE HILLS. He went out of his way to constantly make me feel like he was gonna take care of me and he made me feel that he was grateful that I was there. I trusted him and I was in good hands. He did exactly what he said he was gonna do. Even though it wasn’t a trusted model in the beginning, I was very nervous about it, I just trusted him and I trusted the process and I’m happy with it.
Digest: Well, obviously we are really excited about the idea that there could be a season 2. Fingers crossed over here!
Digest: Now, you are also back filming at DAYS and you are currently airing, as well. Jordan is very different this time around. What has it been like for you to play her?
Hartley: Well, yeah, she’s very different this time. You know, I gotta say, as somebody that grew up wanting to be in soaps her whole life, I mean, that was truly my dream, and to have it come so full circle and to have gotten to play all these different characters…. And this one, even though it’s the same character, it’s so different. It’s kind of one of the boxes I get to check off the list. I mean, who, if you’ve ever wanted to be on a soap, didn’t want to play crazy on a soap? I mean, just saying. That is really like the most fun thing ever. So, I just have had such a blast with it. And of course, I love the first incarnation of Jordan, as well. I liked when they showed the scar and they kind of went into her backstory so we could at least validate where this is all coming from, ’cause then you’re given the freedom to just like have fun and play around as long as you root it in something that explains it. So I just kind of embraced it and I love it. They couldn’t be more different than the first time Jordan was on the Salem grounds.
Digest: You also have a Lifetime movie called STAGED KILLER. This was written by Lindsay [ex-Theresa, PASSIONS et al], Justin’s ex-wife, and Jason-Shane Scott [ex-Will, ONE LIFE TO LIVE]. I imagine you got involved through that. Clearly, you have a good relationship.
Hartley: Oddly enough, that’s actually not why I got involved. It just came to me after the company bought the script from them. They made an offer to me not knowing. It was actually me that informed them of the coincidence. They obviously saw the last name, but they didn’t even know that. It’s just a funny thing. But yeah, I mean, obviously Justin and Lindsay share a daughter, Isabella, so we’re constantly seeing each other and in contact. We have a great relationship…. I’m happy for her. But the script, I obviously liked it and it was kind of kismet and funny that it got offered to me, completely aside from that. I’m excited just because the last time I was in a Lifetime movie I was playing like the friend’s sidekick and unfortunately she met her demise pretty early.
Digest: Sorry to hear that.
Hartley: Yeah, so this one was just a real challenge and fun just because I got to really have the full arc of the story…. It was a lot more work, but it’s also a lot more satisfying when you have that on your shoulders.
Digest: Do you ever find yourself having to juggle showings with rehearsals and fittings and all of the other things that go into your performance world?
Hartley: Oh, girl! Yes, because it got so crazy. For those months I was filming all of that at the same time — SELLING SUNSET and then I also got that offer for the Lifetime movie and I didn’t really wanna pass it up. It wasn’t ideal timing. But I had to go to New York and film that and while I was there filming it, I was still on the phone during my lunch break like, scheduling inspections and working with the appraisers and talking to the lenders, all that kind of stuff. And then right when I got back, I had to report back to DAYS. I definitely had my hands full. I don’t recommend it. But when it rains, it pours. I’m just grateful for the opportunity. I can’t really pick and choose when they come, so I just have to be ready to go to work when they show up.
Digest: So when you’re out and about in showings, has anyone recognized you as an actress?
Hartley: Yeah, actually. It happens quite a bit. It’s funny and it’s nice, actually. It helps me, to be honest, because people instantly, if they recognize me from one of the shows, there’s something about them feeling like they know me a little bit that makes them feel comfortable, so it actually helped me in business. I thought it might be weird but it’s actually been really helpful.
Digest: I would buy a condo from Amanda Dillon.
Hartley: Thank you! I appreciate that.
Digest: Well, speaking of Amanda, when you look back at your time at ALL MY CHILDREN, what stands out?
Hartley: ALL MY CHILDREN, to me, was like a family…. When I moved to New York I didn’t know anyone, so these people became, like, my only friends and family for a long time ’cause we’re working all the time. They’re the only people I knew. If I had to give one word for that show I would just say family. I was texting with people just today, several people from the cast who are friends. I love them so much.
Digest: When you’re out, what would you say you’re most recognized for now?
Hartley: You know, that’s interesting. So, if you’d asked me this a week ago, I would’ve said it’s normally a tie between ALL MY CHILDREN or DAYS OF OUR LIVES. And the weirdest thing has happened. The show SELLING SUNSET has blown up and become so crazy that every time I go somewhere lately, it’s SELLING SUNSET, and that’s only within the last week. A week ago, my answer would’ve been different than today.
Digest: Tell us about married life. How are things going?
Hartley: Things are good. He’s actually in Canada filming a movie right now. He’s so great. He’s busy and having fun with it. We’re gonna have a little rendezvous. I have a long weekend, so I’m gonna go out and visit him. It’s good. We’re excited for each other. He’s literally the most supportive husband. He’s so happy for me. He remembers when I would just be going to open houses and just sitting for hours and nothing would come of it. It was such a waste of time. And I was saying no to these fun opportunities of what he was up to on a Sunday. I was trying to really try and get my business off the ground, just ’cause in my head I thought it would pay off eventually. I didn’t like in acting where you’re not really in charge of your schedule or when you work. I was just trying to build my own business as something to fall back on. Of course, he’s so sweet and nice and he’s always said, “You don’t have to do any of that.” But that’s just not me. I’ve always been very driven and ambitious and so he’s supported me from day one, even though I was like at this really weird company and had a weird cubicle and I would sit at these terrible open houses. For him to see where it’s come and now, to see the houses that I’m selling, he couldn’t be more proud. I would say married life is best as it’s ever been just because of it. Not to be cheesy, but I feel like we’re both living our best life and we’re just so supportive of each other and we’re just getting a kick out of, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe this is actually all happening.”
Digest: We’re smiling at each other. That’s so sweet.
Hartley: Aww. I always feel like I get it if people roll their eyes and they’re like, “Oh, God!” It is what it is. I don’t know what to say. I’m just so happy.