Soap Opera Digest: You’ve got quite the full plate of Hallmark Christmas movies!
Rebecca Staab: It’s crazy! I did one Christmas movie earlier this year, finished a second one and swung right into the third one, which I just wrapped on. Then I went right into working on the mystery series, THE CHRONICLE MYSTERY SERIES, with Alison Sweeney [ex-Sami, DAYS]. It’s really been quite a year. Working this much is becoming normal for me and it’s taking me back to when I first started in the business and the jobs never slowed down and I never stopped working. It’s so nice to be at this point in my life and have my career like that again. I’m just really treasuring it. I have more wisdom and insight at this age than I did in my 20s and 30s and stuff, so every job is just so much richer in every relationship and situation.
Digest: The first of the Christmas movies you worked on for Hallmark is called ROAD TO CHRISTMAS, which premiered in November. Tell me about that project.
Staab: With ROAD TO CHRISTMAS, Hallmark came up with the best format to get everything Christmas-y all into one movie. Chad Michael Murray and Jessy Schram are the leads in it and I play her mom and we live in Nebraska. I’m from Nebraska, and for the first time in my life I got to play this character from Nebraska! The funny thing is I didn’t even have to audition; they just offered it to me not even knowing I was from Nebraska. Jessy plays a TV producer who has to shoot over Christmas and she’s sad that she’s not going to be able to come home, because Christmas in Nebraska is the quintessential Christmas that everybody dreams about. But it’s really a road trip movie and they do end up coming to Nebraska. It’s a very sweet movie.
Digest: Next, you shot MINGLE ALL THE WAY, which premiered last week.
Staab: That’s with Jen Lilley [ex-Theresa, DAYS], who is adorable. My part in that is smaller. I was on hold to play the mom, but they got Lindsay Wagner. I was like, “The Bionic Woman? Okay, I don’t feel bad now, I love her!” There was a different role that was supposed to be a 70-year-old man and they rewrote it for me. In the movie, Jen creates a dating app and I play a potential investor for the app. I have a smaller physical presence in that one, but the story is about her character dating this guy to see whether or not the app works and seeing if the app is going to get bought. I loved working with Jen. She is just a doll!
Digest: What’s the one you just finished up?
Staab: It’s called CHRISTMAS BELLS ARE RINGING, and this is one of Hallmark’s bigger ones because it premieres right before Christmas on December 23rd. This one I love, love, love. It stars Emilie Ullerup, who’s one of the series regulars on CHESAPEAKE SHORES, and Josh Kelly [ex-Cutter, ONE LIFE TO LIVE]. Those two are a hoot! The story is, will they get together or won’t they? I hate to say, “Oh, it’s magical,” but it really is! He is just so lovable that when I was watching them do scenes, I just sat there enraptured. Watching them do it seven, eight, 12 times, every time I would get teary, or I would laugh. They’re just wonderful. Mark Humphrey and I play her parents, but we have our own storyline, which is that we’re actually getting married. It’s a really unique movie because you have two full-blown love stories going on. It’s a lovely story and we had the greatest time shooting it.
Digest: Continuing your Hallmark streak, next year we’ll see you opposite Alison Sweeney in her new series, THE CHRONICLE MYSTERIES, on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel.
Staab: Ali and I did THE IRRESISTIBLE BLUEBERRY FARM back in 2016. Melissa Salmons, who was a writer on DAYS, is the head writer on this series, and they actually wrote this character for me, which is really great. The premise of this CHRONICLE MYSERIES is of a small-town newspaper that’s struggling and Ali’s character comes to town and she’s doing a podcast; she’s trying to solve a mystery of one of her high school friends. She becomes part of our newspaper family, and we get involved in helping her solve mysteries. I play Eileen, and I’m the social editor, also known as the gossip columnist, but I won’t let anyone call it that. It’s a great character because I know everything about everybody in this town since the beginning of time. She’s kind of sassy. They let me have a lot of liberty with her and create things, and it’s just really amazing to have that kind of a platform. I love Ali’s character, too, and I love how it’s written; it’s so clever and smart and you’re intrigued by the mystery part of it — but then all the relationships are so interesting, and the characters are so unique and specific and dynamic. I think the first one in the series will air early next year, and now we’re working on the third one. We’ll just keep shooting them as long as everybody keeps watching them!
Digest: Ali has raved to us about working with you, by the way.
Staab: Well, the feeling is mutual! I just adore her. From the first time we worked together, I think we both knew that it just really clicked. She said, “I want to work with you again,” and she’s true to her word. She came back and she’s like, “I have a series and I have a part for you!” She followed through on it, and I just couldn’t be more excited to be working with her again.
Digest: You also have a feature film coming out next year with Chrissy Metz from THIS IS US.
Staab: This movie is off-the-charts unbelievable. It’s a faith-based movie called Breakthrough, it’ll be in theaters on April 21, and it’s based on a true story. Chrissy Metz, I love more than anybody in the world, and it also stars Topher Grace, Josh Lucas and Dennis Haysbert. It’s such a remarkable, inspiring story and it was directed by Roxann Dawson, who used to be on STAR TREK. She’s married to Eric Johnson, who is one of the biggest casting directors in L.A., and he and I went to college together. When I very first moved to L.A., we all just kind of hung out making our way in the business. Eric cast me on MATLOCK, which was the first TV show I did in L.A. In January, she posted on her Facebook page that she was going to be shooting this movie in Winnipeg with Chrissy Metz and I was like, “Oh, my God! I wanna do this movie so bad!” I never said that to Roxann, because you don’t do that to friends, but I told my agent, “Keep your eye open for this movie. I want to work with Chrissy Metz!” Well, she did, and I ended up putting myself on tape for two roles, one of which I only auditioned for because she had scenes with Chrissy’s character — and I booked that character! I was beyond euphoric when I found out that I booked that. I wanted so badly to be part of the team that gets to tell this story, and on top of that, getting to know Chrissy was incredible. She’s wonderful.
Digest: You’ve been shooting so much in Canada, and William deVry (Julian, GH), your real-life love, is working back in L.A.
Staab: Yes, poor Wil is at home having to juggle 16,000 things on his own! I really have to give him credit because as soon as he started on GENERAL HOSPITAL, I just kind of took over everything at the house because their schedule is so demanding. He could have been really selfish, but instead, he said, “You’re not done acting. There’s work in Canada; go to Vancouver. I can take care of everything here. There’s so much more left for you to do.” None of this would be happening if he wasn’t completely selfless and supportive. As blessed as I am that my work in Canada has been really consistent, there’s a little bit of a price that you pay; I don’t get to be home. And Wil has just taken over everything — shopping and cleaning and the yard, and taking care of our five dogs and our cat. It is tough [to be apart], but our relationship hasn’t suffered; you work hard and prioritize and the relationship remains the priority. I really couldn’t be doing any of this without him, and I never lose sight of that.
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