Lacey Chabert returns to Hallmark with two new CROSSWORD MYSTERIES
Lacey Chabert will put her on-screen crime-solving skills to use this month when two new movies, CROSSWORD MYSTERIES: PROPOSING MURDER and CROSSWORD MYSTERIES: ABRACADAVER, air on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
“I play Tess Harper, the crossword editor for The Sentinel paper,” begins Chabert. “My character is inspired by Will Shortz, who is the crossword editor for The New York Times. In the first movie, we found out that Tess’s crossword was found at a murder scene, and that brought her into the investigation. And now in the next one, in the very beginning of the film, an old friend of hers asks her to hide his marriage proposal to his fiancée in the next crossword. He ends up being murdered, so she’s brought into the case by way of that. And then in ABRACADAVER, Tess is taking magic classes and there’s a murder and so she’s brought into that one by way of that. They’re both very different movies.”
Her co-star in the series is Brennan Elliot, who plays Logan, and their connection will be explored further in the new films. “I was really proud of the first movie and I feel like we focused more on the mystery,” she explains. “Tess and Logan were just sort of getting to know each other, but now there’s a bit more of a relationship and time has passed. While the case is the most important part of the story, we get to delve into their relationship more, and not just as partners, but now that they’re becoming friends. Those are some of my absolute favorite scenes because there is a lot of banter. He’s kind of reluctant to let her be involved, but he can’t deny the fact that her perspective is helpful. So from that comes some comedy and there’s a lot of fun in their relationship while what they’re dealing with is so serious.”
Chabert and Elliot aren’t strangers — they have a successful movie franchise on Hallmark Channel called ALL OF MY HEART. “It’s a completely different dynamic,” she says of their mystery series scenes. “The first CROSSWORD that we did, we had just finished ALL OF MY HEART: THE WEDDING. We flew to a different city to start doing this one and we really had to catch ourselves because we were in such a different frame of mind playing these characters who were having their wedding and in love to transitioning to playing these characters that don’t know each other and really don’t hit it off at the very beginning. It was just a different mindset and it was kind of challenging at first. Now we love it. The thing that I love most about the relationship between these characters is they genuinely respect each other, but also love giving each other a hard time and teasing each other. And those are some of the more fun scenes. But he’s a wonderful guy, he’s a wonderful actor, our families are friends. He’s become a dear friend and he’s a great scene partner. I love collaborating with him. We’ve done seven movies now together. It’s nice when you find someone that you work with so well. I feel very lucky to work with someone that I feel makes me better.”
Chabert’s relationship with Hallmark began in 2010, when she appeared in her first film for them, ELEVATOR GIRL. Eighteen movies later, “I never knew that it would turn into what it has become,” the actress marvels. “I consider Hallmark like a family. I mean, it’s become such a home for me. I’m so appreciative that there’s a place where I can tell stories that I know are uplifting and bring some happiness to people. I consider it an honor to be a part of the family.” In addition to another CROSSWORD MYSTERY in the works, Chabert will star in CHRISTMAS IN ROME on November 30.
Career longevity is something Chabert is familiar with. Her first major TV role, playing ALL MY CHILDREN’s Bianca, came at the age of 10. “I learned what an amazing work ethic everyone had to have,” she notes. “I mean, day in and day out, the amount of dialogue that has to be memorized … I was a child. My part was smaller so the workload wasn’t on me in the way that it was on everyone else. But I just admired everyone’s work ethic. And you know what? I saw Susan Lucci [ex-Erica] at TCA a few months ago. I hadn’t seen her since I was a kid. I went up to her and just gave her a hug and let her know I appreciated how kind she was to me. It was just a really nice reunion.”
She still gets fans who recall her soap days. “People bring it up all the time,” she says. “People send me pictures of it on social media.” And she was happy to see what an impact her alter ego went on to make on the daytime landscape. “My friend Eden Riegel played her for so long. I love Eden. We were kid actors together in New York. I’m very, very close with her family.”
As she reflects on the path her life has taken since Pine Valley, Chabert muses, “I realize sometimes I don’t stop enough and look back because I feel like I’m always looking forward. There’s so much that I want to accomplish and I still have so many dreams that I hope to see come to fruition and so many stories that I want to tell that sometimes I don’t stop and look back. But when I do, I’m just incredibly grateful that at 36 I can say so many things have happened that have just brought me so much happiness and joy. I’ve worked with people that have become lifelong friends. I’ve literally, not to be cheesy, but I’ve seen a lot of my dreams come true. Now that I’m a mom, Julia is the center of my life. I hope to set the example for her that anything you want, you just have to go after it. It’s all possible.”
CROSSWORD MYSTERIES: PROPOSING MURDER airs on October 13 on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries; CROSSWORD MYSTERIES: ABRACADAVER will air on October 20.
Just The Facts
Birthday: September 30
Birthplace: Purvis, MS
Family Ties: Married David Nehdar on December 22, 2013.
Sugar And Spice: Daughter Julia turned 3 in September. “We spent her birthday at Disneyland with my brother and his kids. Seeing the world through her eyes is so special. She’s just a delight. She makes us so happy every day. She’s also really good at testing my patience. Being a mom is something you learn on the job in the most real sense. I’ve learned so much about myself being a mom. I absolutely love it. It’s a juggling act, but she’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Listen In: “If a Hallmark movie is on, Julia will sit down and watch it and she’s like, ‘Oh, Mama’s on the TV.’ She was watching SHIMMER AND SHINE, which is a show on Nick Jr. that has a special place in my heart because it was my first job when I just found out I was pregnant. I would always talk to her, ‘Okay, we’re going to work today!’ as she was in my belly. And she was watching it one day, and she goes, ‘Mama, that’s your voice!’ She was so confused. And so finally she started saying, ‘Mama, that’s your voice, but not your face.’ And she somehow just accepted it.”
PARTY On: “I was 11 to 17 on PARTY OF FIVE [as Claudia]; it’s pretty much the biggest changes a girl goes through physically and emotionally. It’s a very pivotal time in life. I look back and realize how lucky I was to spend that time with such good people and people of integrity. It shaped a huge part of who I am.”
When Chabert played Gretchen Wieners in the 2004 film Mean Girls, she never could have imagined it would become a cult sensation. “Honestly, I was so proud of the work we were doing,” she recalls. “I went to set every day and laughed so hard. The biggest challenge in that movie was not laughing at other people’s performances in the movie because everyone was so funny. I knew it was special because Tina [Fey] wrote it and because Mark Waters directed it. Everyone in it was so talented and I was honored to work alongside them. I thought it would be great, but you never know. I’ve had other experiences that I thought would turn out differently than they did, so the fact that it’s loved by so many and I feel like a whole new generation has discovered the movie, I’m honored to be in it, really. I never would’ve thought it would have such a life that it’s had.” She caught the Broadway musical version earlier this year. “I loved it,” Chabert reports. “I loved the way they modernized it and made it more relevant to what is happening in our world today. It was funny and uplifting. They just did a great job.”