While Jaime Pressly (pictured left, photo courtesy Lifetime Television) might be forever known best for her role of Joy Turner on NBC’s long-running hit sitcom “My Name Is Earl,” she has also put in her fair share of time on nighttime drama series, including “Jack and Jill” and “Charmed.” On Sunday, Nov. 21 at 8 ET/5 PT on the Lifetime Movie Network, you can catch Jaime as she flexes her dramatic-acting chops when she portrays Britt Shelley in “Smoke Screen,” an adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name by Sandra Brown.
Celebrity Extra: Since “Earl” ended, you’ve had a lot of high-profile roles on some big-screen movie hits. What was it about this movie and the role that made you decide to return to the small screen to do it?
Jaime Pressly: First of all, when I read the script, I thought the script in general was great. This kind of movie — suspense thrillers — can be very hit or miss. But the story was there. It was also a type of character that I’ve never played before since people are used to seeing me in comedy, and this is a different side. So I was really excited to be a part of it.
CE: What were some of the qualities of the character of Britt that you really liked and were anxious to portray?
JP: Well, first of all, she’s an investigative reporter and very career-driven. I think so many of us, women especially in today’s day and age, we all think it’s so much easier to be single and take care of yourself and not have to worry about anything. But then it becomes lonely, because after you make the money and you’ve done well in your career, then what? And I really liked that aspect of the character and the story line. And Sandra Brown’s book is incredible.
CE: In preparing for the movie, did you read the book first? Or did you not want to taint your character or the discovery process?
JP: Sandra actually came to the set and gave me a book, and then my mom and I both read it afterward. A lot of times when you do a film based on a book, it’s very difficult to kind of get it all into one movie because of time constraints. So, I read it afterward. And there’s a couple more characters in the book and there are more details in the book. I definitely suggest that everyone read the book, because it is outstanding. She is an incredible writer. And if you see the movie and then read the book, you're still going to enjoy it. It’s not like the film will ruin the book for you by any means.
CE: I love that the Lifetime Movie Network really is starting to make a name for itself with smart women protagonists in smart, intelligent movies. They are steering away from the helpless woman-on-the-ledge kind of stereotype.
JP: Which is awesome, because in this business, from the beginning of time, from the beginning of Hollywood, everything has been based around the men. You know, the leading man is cast first and they cast the women around the man. And with this network, they typically cast around the woman, which is awesome. One of the things I loved about this character is she’s an awesome character to play. She’s smart. There’s nothing dumb about this girl at all.
CE: Now, you and main co-star Currie Graham had a great chemistry together. I was wondering how was he to work with?
JP: He was an absolute dream to work with. The first three days of the film we shot, we got through one-third of the film — in the first three days! It was very difficult, and had he not been as awesome to work with as he was and as professional as he is, it would not have gotten done. I like to laugh when I work. I’m not one of those people who everybody needs to shut up and don’t look me in the eye. And he’s not that way either. So it was nice to laugh in between takes and kind of make fun of ourselves and make light of whatever situations we were in. It was nice to kind of have somebody to vent to and lean on.
CE: Is there any chance for a “My Name is Earl” reunion? Would be game for that?
JP: Oh, I would be game to go back to that set and work with those people any day, any time. And I think everybody else that was a part of the show would say the same thing. It was the greatest job I’ve ever had. And the greatest group of people that you could ever ask to work with, and they all hold a very dear place in my heart, and I miss them all terribly. Oh yeah, I would do it. It was a shock to everyone [when we were canceled]. Now here we are in syndication on more times a week, and there are more viewers now then there ever were before.