Wednesday, May 2, 2018

INTERVIEW: Bailee Madison Shines a Light on Good Witch's Grace Russell

Bailee Madison
(courtesy Crown Media)
We all know her as Grace Russell, the daughter of Catherine Bell’s character, Cassie, on “Good Witch,” which airs Sundays at 9/8c on the Hallmark Channel. But you also might remember her from “Bridge to Terabithia” or “Wizards of Waverly Place.” We’ve watched Bailee Madison grow up in front of the camera, and this season on “Good Witch,” Grace is growing up as well, dealing with her own teenager problems — with a touch of magic. I spoke with Bailee recently, and she told me all about this new season of the hit Hallmark show, and even reminisced with me about her previous groundbreaking roles.

Celebrity Extra: Let’s start off by telling me how you got into acting — it seems like you’ve been doing it your whole life.

Bailee Madison: This question I get asked a lot, and I’ve yet out of all these years come up with a really cool story. But I started when I was so young. I never took any classes ever. I have such a beautiful family and love and support. My sister is an actress, and she was working in Orlando. And then I went off to do “Bridge to Terabithia” and came back home for a year to just be a kid, and then I came back out to Hollywood for the premiere when I was 7, and that’s when things started to happen. But from the first set that I stepped on, I knew that it felt like home to me.

CE: And you’re from Fort Lauderdale, correct?

BM: Yes, I live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in a little town called Lauderdale-By-The-Sea. I still have so much of my family there, and I go and visit whenever I can. I’m actually back home right now. But I love it. That’s truly where my heart is, and I love to get to go back there.

CE: Going back to “Bridge of Terabithia” — that was your breakout role. And you were so young! What was that experience like?

BM: I was 6, yeah. Oh my gosh, it was such a wonderful experience. I was in New Zealand for over six months, and it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. The black-sand beaches and just the people and the culture — it was such a special time for me. But, obviously, that movie is so iconic to so many people on so many levels. And I got to be a part of bringing a book to life. I don’t think I realized how special that really was, and now that I’m older, I’ve read the book and I have talked to kids who are reading the book, and it’s such a beautiful thing that I got to be a part of it. I’m so grateful.

CE: It really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you, and it really jump-started your career.

BM: I had all these beautiful people who helped to guide me but also let me feel confident and free enough to just get to experience things on my own, as well, and to try different things. But I really mean it when I say I will forever be thankful for it. It’s a part of my heart, and it allowed me to grow up and really discover who I am. Not a lot of people can say that. So, I’m very, very grateful.

CE: You came onto the show when it was already established as a popular movie series. Were you nervous or excited — how were you feeling?

BM: I was told that they were going to convert the movies into a series for Hallmark, and about how they’ve had this incredible success with the “Good Witch” movies. I went home and watched them with my family, and we all agreed that they were fantastic. And then found myself in Toronto (where the series is filmed). I was able to walk on to something that clearly almost every single person on that crew and the majority of the cast had basically lived together for the past seven years. I think that’s what it was. For me to walk into that, it could have gone any way. But I was received with open arms and support, and we really just wanted to give it our best shot.

CE: What is it like to work with Catherine Bell and the rest of the cast and crew?

BB: Catherine is wonderful. It’s a joy to get to work with someone’s who’s so lovely and supportive. I’ve known her for almost five years now, which is crazy! The last season has been so fun for her, and for me, because as her daughter, I journeyed with her. Cassie has all these questions and I’m trying to help her with it. But we have a good time together. I love these people, and I have to say we have an amazing crew who are so hardworking. And our cast is so wonderful. They really work their butts off.

CE: You film in Toronto — how do you like filming there?

BM: I love Toronto! I wish that we could film sometimes at the end of summer (laughs). We’re always up there when it’s cold, which is still a lot of fun. Last year I took so many fights back and forth from Toronto to LA. I flew home to LA every weekend for 24 hours to see my family and give them a hug. And then I’d fly back to Toronto, my home away from home. And I always, obviously, count Florida as well. But I have so many friends up there (in Toronto), and I have had such a great time so far. I just enjoy it so much. It’s such a beautiful place to get to work.

CE: Tell me what’s going on with Grace and Nick this season. Are they going to adjust well to their parents marrying each other?

BM: Nick and Grace left off on a very heated note at the end of season three. And I honestly think if you look back at the past three seasons, they have had an interesting relationship where they can just go from real hot and cold so quickly. And we’ll pick up on that in season four. They are still as contemptuous with each other as ever. I think that they have to try to pull themselves together for the sake of their parents but in a way they are doing it for each other. As they grow, it is really going to be interesting for the audience to get to see.

CE: Tell me about Grace’s journey this season.

BM: I have to say without a doubt this is my favorite journey for Grace as she develops as a teenager. She’s a very good girl. She doesn’t go out. She’s kind of that picture-perfect daughter who every mother dreams of having. But she’s also a teenager who’s dealing with newfound insecurities and questioning how good she really is. She’s in love for the first time. I think for her there will be a lot of downs, but then there will be a lot of ups, as well. But I think what’s cool is she’s imperfect, and they shine that light on her this season. I found it really refreshing to get to play.

CE: What else can you tell me about this season?

BM: I’m really excited this year; I think that this is one of my favorite seasons yet. I just feel like all of the characters mesh so well together. The storylines were exciting and different and intense and lovable. And a show like this, it has such a great ensemble cast, so I’m excited for them to have their moments in this season of “Good Witch.” I hope the audience just reacts to it because we are excited for them to see what’s coming.

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