Josie Bissett and Jack Wagner, who co-starred as Jane and Peter on the steamy 1990s prime-time sudser MELROSE PLACE, are now making magic on-screen in the Hallmark Channel movie franchise THE WEDDING MARCH. Here, the actors talk about their new project — and reminisce about their days at L.A.’s sexiest apartment complex.THE WEDDING MARCH 2 premieres on the Hallmark Channel on Saturday, June 17.
Soap Opera Digest: Tell us about THE WEDDING MARCH 2.
Jack Wagner: THE WEDDING MARCH 2 picks up where our characters, Mick and Olivia, left off in the original film, and we see where they are now emotionally.
Josie Bissett: Romantic comedy is so much fun to play, especially when you see how Jack plays it. My character can be a little closed off, which makes it even funnier because his character is just constantly frustrated. We enjoyed working with the material and I think that shows on camera.
Digest: Does being friends in real life help with chemistry?
Bissett: Jack and I laugh about that because we didn’t really know each other that well on MELROSE PLACE. Our characters hardly ever crossed paths, but when we did the first WEDDING MARCH [last year], we just had this instant chemistry and connection. I’m sure it’s part of us being on the same show for so many years. Even if we didn’t work together that much, it created this safe environment. And we have similar senses of humor. We get each other, and that’s hard to find in this business, and in this world, actually. We love the writing. Playing romantic comedy is such a blast for me after playing all that emotional turmoil for so many years on MELROSE PLACE.
Wagner: I look at it like the Scotty[Kin Shriner]/Frisco days [on GH], when we were friends on camera and off camera. We’d all hang out and that’s what it’s like here with the cast and the crew. We share that sense of playfulness. When you’re on a set where there’s stress and tension, or personalities that may not get along so well, it’s not fun. I said to Josie after the first movie, “How am I going to work with anyone else now? You’ve spoiled me!”
Digest: In this go-round, your characters decide to work together. What are your thoughts on that? Can so much togetherness be too much of a good thing?
Wagner: Well, that’s really what this movie is about, the challenges that are faced. Josie plays this Type A personality who wants to start the best wedding lodge in Vermont and now she also has to survive Mick’s expectations of them just having this huge lovefest now that they’re together. It’s all about: Can you work and live in the same environment?
Bissett: That’s really true. Olivia wants to be with Mick, but she has a more pragmatic and practical mind. She knows that it’s important to take it slow and he’s ready to just dive in. As far as working together with someone you love, I mean, Jack and I love each other and we have a blast, but I don’t think I would want to work with someone I was married to. When I worked with Rob [Estes, ex-Kyle, MP/Bissett’s ex-husband], it was fine, but I just feel like it’s good to separate the relationship from work. There’s something refreshing about not bringing work home with you, you know?
Digest: Josie, you also guest-starred on Jack’s show, WHEN CALLS THE HEART, earlier this year. How was that?
Bissett: Oh, my gosh, I had so much fun. It was a very different character that I got to play there, especially after just coming off Olivia in the first film. Jack and I got to play our banter but with very different characters. The horse riding was fun for me, and we got to shoot out in the woods in the pouring rain, so that was fun [laughs].
Wagner: I was thrilled for Josie to come on. She was such a breath of fresh air for me and for [his character] Bill Avery, because it was an action-adventure storyline, which was fresh for the show. Josie’s look was very different, and there was an element of mystery around her character. They’re open to bringing her back, so that’s an exciting possibility.
Digest: We have to ask: Has there been any talk of a MELROSE reunion and if so, would you be open to participate?
Bissett: I haven’t heard any talk about a reunion. Have you, Jack?
Bissett: I would do it, though. I think that’d be fun.
Wagner: If there were ever to be some sort of MELROSE reunion, it would have to be done with a lot of thoughtfulness. How do you get an audience inspired to watch these characters who are 25 years older? In my opinion, they’d have to jump right into some of the insane storylines and not try to do exposition about how they got here or where they are or any of that. It would have to be funny with a lot of crazy stuff — the same elements that made MELROSE so magical and powerful. Expect the unexpected!
Digest: Josie, it was nice to see Jane back for a few appearances in the 2009 MP reboot. What was that like?
Bissett: That was interesting. I thought the actors were great and the set was really incredible. Unfortunately, I don’t think it got a chance to get on its feet. As fun as it was, it just wasn’t the same without the rest of the cast.
Digest: Do either of you keep in touch with anyone from the MP days?
Bissett: I talk to Laura [Leighton, ex-Sydney; Ashley, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS] every once in a while.
Wagner: I keep in touch with Josie Bissett. I do movies and television shows with her.
(They both laugh.)
Digest: Did you watch 2015’s THE UNAUTHORIZED MELROSE PLACE STORY? What was it like watching someone play you?
Bissett: I caught a bit of it because the guy who played Doug Savant [ex-Matt, portrayed by Joseph John Coleman] was in the first WEDDING MARCH! Have you seen it, Jack?
Wagner: No, because it was based on the first season, and Peter Burns came in later. I really wasn’t a part of that time frame, so I didn’t watch it. I don’t watch a lot of Lifetime, anyway [laughs].
Digest: So, back to THE WEDDING MARCH. It sounds like we can expect to see a lot more of the two of you together.
Wagner: Well, this has become a great franchise. Josie and I are getting ready to head to Vancouver next week for THE WEDDING MARCH 3. This one now is part of Hallmark’s June Weddings, and will premiere on June 17th. We’ll be doing THE TODAY SHOW on the 16th in New York, and hopefully we will garner the great audience from WHEN CALLS THE HEART to jump into THE WEDDING MARCH series and support us. Next, we’ll be shooting a WEDDING MARCH Valentine’s movie, which will air Valentine’s Day for Hallmark’s Valentine’s sweeps. So, we’ll be continuing into next year. But the real goal here is to just continue the romantic comedy and to see how this relationship unfolds and to build a future for Mick and Olivia.
Digest: That’s a lot of togetherness. Josie, are you sick of this guy yet?
Bissett (laughs): No, I can’t get enough.
Digest: Jack, since Mick is a musician, you get to combine your two loves, acting and music, again. How’s that been?
Wagner: Great! I actually grabbed from the old bag one of my power ballads from the ’80s and was able to edit it and lay some new background vocals with the choir I teach. My character is going to be doing this performance at a Valentine’s benefit for the third film, which is really going to be something to see. Through Mick’s music and the songs he has written for Olivia in all the films, we see a side of him that really is caring and deeper than just what appears on the surface. I love being able to tell a story using music, and I’ve been working on things that will fit this format, this franchise, as well as the character, keeping in mind what will be fun for the audience to hear, as well. It can be challenging, but I think it will be pretty poignant when we actually see the final product.
Digest: How do you both like being a part of the Hallmark family now?
Bissett: It’s wonderful. I really enjoy working with them, and I really love the content. I love getting to play the characters I play now as an older woman and being a mom. The content is family-friendly, so for me it’s just wonderful. The bonus, too, is that a lot of these things shoot in Vancouver, which is just a couple of hours from Seattle, where I live, so I can drive there. It’s always nice when you don’t have to travel too far.
Wagner: Your readers know this because they’ve been on this road with me, but I’ve been blessed to have great mentors along the way: Gloria Monty [former GH executive producer] in the ’80s, who was someone I could go to for story and character. Then there was Aaron Spelling in the ’90s [former MP executive producer], and then [B&B Executive Producer/Head Writer] Brad Bell, where I had nine years [playing Nick], of sitting in his office talking storylines and direction and things like that. What a blessing! Now at Hallmark, there’s Bill Abbott, the president and CEO, Michelle Vicary, the executive VP of programming, and Randy Pope, senior VP of programming, who are all accessible and they all communicate. I’m very proud and happy to be working for the Hallmark Channel. It does produce family-friendly programming, and people love it. I know I do. w