Soap Opera Digest: Ali, this is the fifth movie in your series of CHRONICLE MYSTERIES. What is it about?
Alison Sweeney: The premise is one of the main characters, a new character named Zack, tries out a self-help weekend retreat and Alex is a little nervous about him and the situation. This guru that runs it has a rocky past, so she goes up there to investigate and it turns out her instincts are right and someone dies, so Sheriff Williams is brought in to investigate. Was it an accident or was it murder is the fun setup of the story. I’ve been developing it for maybe a year and a half. And it happened to be the perfect outdoor situation because of the pandemic to be able to shoot a little safer, and everyone felt a little better about what we were able to accomplish, so it was the right script to have.
Kristian Alfonso: It’s such a fun script. And every character is so full. They all have something special about them that makes you pay attention. I had no idea who did it until the end! It was well-written.
Digest: How did Kristian get involved?
Alfonso: Well, that started over a delicious meal!
Sweeney: What’s sort of amazing is that over the late part of the summer, at a meal together, Kristian and I realized that we were going to be in Vancouver at the same time and she was going to be working there, too. So, I started suggesting, “Wouldn’t it be fun for you to come and do a couple of days on my movie?” And she had a previous commitment, so we found a role that would accommodate her other schedule so that we could play together and have fun on our set. And I was so grateful to have Kristian join us because she’s such a talented actress, but also a dear friend.
Digest: Kristian, how did it feel for you to do this project together?
Alfonso: Is that even a serious question [laughs]? It was just so fun to be on a project together and to have Ali think of me. It’s a cameo and my character’s name is Sheriff Williams, be still my heart. Thank you, Ali. I was in Victoria and we weren’t sure if it was going to work out or not. So Ali was scrambling with the other producers to try to get me my paperwork because I couldn’t use my same work permit. She was jumping through hoops, doing backbends and flips, you name it, trying to get this done which, of course, she did because she’s amazing and she doesn’t take no for an answer. I know I trust Ali and I love her and she’s a dear friend. And are you kidding? A moment together? We were so excited to see each other, especially when we met for dinner.
Sweeney: I had been in Canada for a while and my friends there are lovely and I have a great experience there, but Kristian and I have known each other for so long and we’re such good friends and to actually see someone in person, I almost get emotional now because I knew I could hug her. I can’t even tell you how much it meant to me to see your face, to spend time with you, to have a couple of glasses of wine with you. But to have someone who cares about me, who I care about, and to be together was really special.
Alfonso: I was so grateful on so many levels. It really gave us the opportunity to not be distracted by anything. We were just in the moment, enjoying each other, enjoying our friendship, enjoying how much we really love each other because we hadn’t been home to see our families. Sweeney: And we sent pictures and just really included all of our dear friends in the moment. We could be together, but it really felt like the whole group of us was together, if that makes sense.
Digest: So, filming starts, and Kristian, you’re showing up on a set where Ali wears various hats. How did you feel going into this experience?
Alfonso: Completely confident that she had my back. But I know she was nervous for me, too. And then to actually be on set and watch her in her element? I actually took a little video because I was just in awe of her. She’s a woman, but to me, she’s Ali, she’s like a little sister that I watched grow up and blossom, and she’s so gracious and humble and kind to everyone on that set. It doesn’t matter what your position is, and that’s exactly what I love about her is nobody is different from anyone else and everyone is helping one another and supportive of one another. Everybody is there with their A game, and that I admire. And they all admire her, so it was really nice to be a fly on the wall and to watch that. But also, I was a total nervous wreck because I didn’t want to let her down!
Sweeney: Awwww. Well, I was so excited that we could make the schedule work. It is a cameo role but of course, there’s the nod to Hope that we made it Sheriff Williams, and I know Kristian’s comfort and skill at playing that leadership/detective dialogue. But then I started reading the scene again when it was time for me to learn my lines and I was like, “Oh, my God. She has this big monologue and all this cop stuff she has to say. Ali, you are the meanest friend: ‘Oh, yeah, come play, but by the way, can you say these 37 lines that are so complicated that I was just so grateful I didn’t have to memorize it!’ ” I had such confidence in Kristian in general, but I knew she’d make me look good and she’s an amazing actress. But Kristian, I did not make it easy for you! Sorry!
Alfonso: I just knew whenever I had to speak, I would look at you, you would look at me, and I would take a deep breath, “Okay, here we go.”
Digest: Now, obviously you have a great real-life relationship, but you had never worked together not being Sami and Hope. So what was it like to create a new dynamic on camera?
Alfonso: Well, I mean, nothing but wonderful. I pray and hope that we will have many more moments and projects together because I really do admire and love working with Ali. Total professionalism.
Sweeney: I love that Kristian came to set with new ideas and interesting takes on the scenes. She totally was prepared but is really a smart actor who comes to work with ideas so the director was really inspired by Kristian’s facile ability to go with the flow. You could tell that he was super-inspired by her performance and that it added complexity to the scene.
Digest: Kristian, you came back to DAYS in 1994. Ali started a year before you got there. What is it like for you to look back at the people you were when you met and now you’re working together over two decades later on a completely different project. Could you ever have imagined your trajectory would lead here?
Alfonso: You never know. Life is so unpredictable. I never expected to be on DAYS for as long as I was and I don’t regret a second of it, ever, but to be able to develop solid, loyal friendships that are honest is very special.
Sweeney: And there was Kristian running out on set to fix my belt because it’s not flattering. She doesn’t say anything to anyone, just comes out of the darkness, fixes something and then runs away like, “Carry on.” We just have each other’s backs.
Alfonso: That’s what makes a good friendship. There’s a lot of trust, no competition whatsoever and we only want the best for each other.
Sweeney: And the lessons we learned from each other. I have learned so much working with Kristian, not just about the work, but being a mom, being a professional mom, being a caring woman in this industry. I so appreciate and you’re so kind to say how you saw me on set, but I see that in you and I’m inspired by that. Just the opportunity to work with someone for so long, it’s a gift. It’s a hard job and you see each other through the highs and the lows and through thick and thin. That’s a friendship for me that will last my entire life. Just knowing that we’re there to support each other and I can always call her to share is just amazing. I also look forward to doing more projects together.
Digest: The fans get so excited when you post photos together. What does it mean to you that you have this group of people who are invested in the fact that you two are real-life friends?
Sweeney: For me, I was a fan of Kristian’s before I got my job because I watched DAYS.
Sweeney: So I know how they feel. I remember when Kristian came back, saying to myself, “Don’t call her Hope, don’t call her Hope. Be normal. Just be cool.” So I get it. I get why it matters to them. They love the insider aspect of it.
Alfonso: And they feel like they know us from DAYS. I can’t believe that my one-year anniversary of not shooting DAYS OF OUR LIVES is this month. So I think it’s like seeing family together, and to see us smiling and happy, I know when I look at people that I don’t know, really, when I see them smiling and enjoying life, it makes me feel good. I think they get that feel-good from it, that Hope and Sami from DAYS are good friends.
Sweeney: I think it’s fun because I feel we know them, too. I love the DAYS fans and I recognize them on my social media.
Alfonso: You took the words out of my mouth because I try to correspond with them to say, “I see you and I hear you and thank you. We’re on the same ride together.”
Digest: Ali, you are back filming at DAYS. What is it like to be there without Kristian?
Alfonso: There are no snacks!
Sweeney: No snacks! I really wanted a Girl Scout cookie the other day and I was like, “Where’s Kristian [laughs]?” They’re doing the best they can and it’s a very difficult set of circumstances and everyone is trying hard to be safe but it’s really weird to be somewhere that felt like home for so many years of my life and to feel isolated. It’s hard on everyone. So it does feel lonely and I miss Kristian even more during those times. And also, I feel that Kristian was the welcoming committee. She was always the one who said hello to everybody and made everyone feel included, so there’s a spot missing now.
Digest: And how are you doing in general, Kristian?
Alfonso: I’m doing great. Getting ready for the premiere of HELPED TO DEATH, which I’m really excited for Ali and for myself to be a part of, and for Hallmark. But I have to say, life right now is really very sweet, and I look forward to 2021 getting better and better and better.
Digest: Ali, will we see more CHRONICLE MYSTERIES after this?
Sweeney: I hope so. We’re working on more and have more in development. But I feel now, in life, I’m taking things one day at a time.