Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Interview: Lacey Chabert's Thrilling New Role

For those of you who know Lacey Chabert only from her role of the young and sweet Claudia Salinger from the 1990s hit nighttime drama “Party of Five,” first of all, I have to say shame on you, since she’s done tons of work since then. And I also have to tell you that you’re going to be surprised when you watch her Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. ET/PT in the Lifetime Movie Network original movie, a psychological thriller called “Non-Stop.”

Lacey plays an executive assistant, Amy Nightingale, on a long nighttime flight to Zurich who strikes up a romantic encounter with a handsome stranger seated next to her. When she later wakes from a nap, she finds that her bag with her ID, cellphone and laptop are missing — as is the mysterious stranger. Furthermore, no one admits to ever seeing the guy in the first place. Recently I spoke with Lacey, who told me she was delighted to play a different character from what her fans are used to seeing.

Celebrity Extra: This is quite a different role than many fans are used to seeing you play. What were some things about Amy and “Non-Stop” that attracted you in the first place?

Lacey Chabert: I like that Amy is in a situation that is completely out of her control and starts to unravel. She’s going through a very difficult time in her life. It was just a lot of subtext to the character. I wanted to do this because it’s a bit more dramatic, and I really like that the whole entire movie basically takes place on one set, which I thought would be really interesting. It was actually really, really fun. It was a little bit of a departure for me from what I have been doing recently. I always try to keep it interesting. I’ve been in the business a long time, and I’m constantly trying to find new roles or find aspects of a character that I’ve never gotten to delve into before.

CE: Can you give me a little backstory about your character and where we are when the movie starts?

LC: Sure — the story picks up when she’s at a point in her life where she’s gone through a very devastating breakup, which is something I, in years past, have gone through in my life. She’s really searching for clarity and just trying to find an anchor in her life again. And there is also this mysterious side about her job, which I don’t want to give away, but she’s delivering paperwork to Switzerland, and it is something of great importance.

I could relate to here. I’ve certainly had times in my life where I felt a little lost. And I was in a transition in my life with relationships and work. I think everyone goes through that. But there was a lot about her that I hadn’t seen in characters I had played before. And I liked that she’s in a situation where things are completely out of control, and she’s starting to feel like she’s going completely insane. At the same time, she has to be the sanest character in the film because she’s driving the story. So, it was definitely a challenge.

CE: How was the shoot? Pretty fast-paced?

LC: Yes, the movie was shot rather quickly. We were shooting like eight pages, 10 pages a day. You just have to be really prepared. For me, the hardest part is doing the work beforehand, really laying out the scripts, so when we jump from the first scene to the last scene, I know exactly what’s happened in between. It was very fast-paced.

CE: How was the cast and crew to work with?

LC: It’s like a family. The director (Richard Gabai), the director of photography and most of the crew were people who I had worked with about a year and a half ago on another Lifetime movie called “Imaginary Friend.” So, we all have a shorthand with each other, which makes everything go faster and have a good time. You’re working all hours of the night, and when you are with people you enjoy hanging around with and chatting with, it always makes for a better experience. The cast was wonderful. Drew Seeley is a sweetheart. I got to work with my friend Amy Davidson a couple of days. She’s a real-life friend of mine, and she plays my friend in the film. It was just great fun.

CE: That must have been a big deciding factor in taking the role.

LC: Exactly. I love watching Lifetime movies. I’m a big fan of the network. With “Non-Stop,” I liked the story, I liked the cast and crew — there really wasn’t much else to think about.

CE: You have a Hallmark Channel movie coming up called “The Color of Rain,” which is a great departure from “Non-Stop.” What can you tell me about that movie?

LC: “The Color of Rain” is based on a book by Michael and Gina Spehn. It’s their story of finding each other and finding love, and the blending of their families after they both suffered the awful tragedy of losing their spouse to cancer. That was a very special experience for me because I got to actually meet Gina and speak with her and spend time with her.

When you’re playing someone who’s real and you’re telling her story, there’s such a great responsibility to do it justice and to make her proud. They were just the loveliest people, and they were so happy to be on set. They are just so inspirational — their strength and the way that they are so open about their story; you can ask them anything. And they just want to help other people. They have this beautiful foundation where they help other families who have been affected by cancer. They’re just lovely people. It was a wonderful experience.

CE: Doing a 180, I see that you are also in a horror movie coming up called “The Lost Tree.” Tell me about that.

LC: I worked with my friend Thomas Ian Nicholas on that. He and I were on “Party of Five” together, like 15 years ago. He called me up and asked me to be a part of “The Lost Tree.” It was really fun to work on. It’s more of a classic horror movie. It’s fun to do things that are different, especially when you can do different genres of projects back to back.

CE: Speaking of different genres, I loved you in “Mean Girls” and would love to see you in a comedy again soon. Would you be up for that?

LC: Absolutely. “Mean Girls” was one of the greatest working experiences I’ve ever had. I’m so honored to be in the movie. It’s really nice that 10 years later people still quote the movie. I feel like it’s almost had a second life. It’s something I’ll always be grateful to have experienced. It was a really special time in my life for a lot of reasons — working with Tina Fey and Mark Waters and all of the cast, it was just a very special experience. The 10th anniversary is coming up. I wish the cast would get together or something.

CE: I’d love to see a “Mean Girls” reunion. Let’s make that happen!

LC: People keep asking, “Are you guys going to do a reunion, or are you going to do a sequel?” I don’t have any say in that part, but I think we’ll all definitely get together to celebrate. I’m still really, really good friends with Jonathan Bennett, who played Aaron Samuels. He’s a dear friend of mine. I see him often. So, you never know!

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