Fan favorite Deidre Hall comes to Hallmark Channel tonight in Lucky in Love. She steps into the role of Erin, a Web company CEO who brings Jessica Szohr’s Mira into management, opening the door for her to pursue everything she ever wanted, and learn that there are sometimes prices to be paid for those opportunities. We chatted with Hall about Lucky in Love, her passion project in support of Wounded Warriors, and this week’s groundbreaking gay wedding on Days of Our Lives.
Hallmark approached Hall to do Lucky in Love and she liked the role of Erin because she was a strong woman who was benevolent with an opportunity for another woman. “I got a call asking me to do it, and I read the part and thought, ‘this is in my bandwidth,'” she says. “The harder part was finding a way to schedule it into my Days of Our Lives schedule.” Once they figured that out, she was on board.
“I love that it was women and women. [Erin] would have helped anybody, but it really was a young girl bumping against all that stuff…jealousy and being overwhelmed and all of those conflicts,” she says. “I believe in women and I like women helping women in business. And it’s such a tough field on its best day [so] when you have a role model that’s solid and encouraging and patient with you, you can fly.”
Erin and Mira have several good scenes together, and Hall’s favorite occurs when Mira comes to tell Erin she’s quitting, and Erin’s not having it. “In my script, I had marked up ‘what is the lesson?’ [in several places] because Hallmark is generous in showing us the way to be in the world,” she recalls. “Erin doesn’t accept [Mira’s resignation], and instead tells her she’s got the goods, the equipment, and the brains and just to pace herself. Sometimes you just need somebody to say, ‘you can do this.’ You learn with children that they can do anything you tell them to do. She tells her ‘I’m going to be your role model andÂ you can do anything that I do.’ That’s what she does for Mira.”
Most fans know and love Hall for her almost four-decade run as Marlena on NBC’s longest-running daytime drama, Days of Our Lives. The show has always been on the forefront of plotting to fit with the times–Hall did a crib death arc back in the 80s, and this week the show marked a milestone with the first gay marriage between two men in daytime. Marlena officiated the nuptials of her grandson, and Hall says it was a joyous shoot.
She gives much credit to the writers for having the wedding in the first place. “We’ve had brilliant, daring writers and we’ve done a lot of firsts.Â They’re brave enough and trusting enough of our audience that they’ll give them the skinny branch and something to talk about,” she says. Beyond the scripting, she also points out the special care taken to pull off the visuals. “It was beautifully, beautifully done,” she says proudly. “We rarely have time to do something beautifully. We’ve rarely taken the time to produce an excellent and beautiful series of scenes [and we did it].”
There were several moments that are special to Hall. “I loved the way the writers had our characters interact. [As an actor], any time you have crowd scenes, you get to watch the characters upstage and downstage, and you get to talk to people you don’t get to see all the time,” she points out. “It was like looking through a kaleidoscope…at all the different sets of people.”
She says pronouncing them husbands for life, and having “the days of your lives” as part of her dialogue had a tremendous impact on her. “[It was] one of the moments I could barely get through,” she says. “I was watching it with my college professor, who’s deaf, so we had the subtitles on, and when I saw the words,Â it made me cry again. It’s wreaking with sentiment and deeper value and meaning, and then you hear ‘days of your lives’ and you’re home. I loved placing my hands on their hands. It was a beautifully, gloriously shot piece.” She also loved the shot of the men leaving their ceremony. “They’re framed outside the doors and covered with the silver confetti and it’s just beautiful.”
Another landmark for Days of Our Lives this year will be the departure of Alison Sweeney, who’s been on the show since 1993.Â Hall says she’s already upset to be losing her. “My heart is breaking. I’m undone by it. She’s become such an integral part of the fabric of the show and our lives,” she says. “To watch her to find her way and make a little space for herself and grow inside that safe space. To be a woman who’s doing two shows full-time, and has a beautiful family and has written books, and does marathons, climbs mountains and jumps off cliffs….she is the embodiment of life balance. She’s someone who says, ‘I’ll have it all,Â thanks.’ She is my sister, she is my daughter, and she is my friend. I adore her beyond words.”
Hall contributed to a recent coffee table book tied to the series called Days of Our Lives Better Living. “[It has] every actor past and present from the show talking about areas of their lives where they have mastered balance–spirituality, nutrition, heath, exercise, and hobbies. It’s everything,” she says. “Greg [Meng] has done a spectacular job. If you only buy it for the gorgeous pictures…it’s a breathtaking work of art for fans and non-fans.” She also has a cookbook, Kitchen Closeup and a beauty book, How Does She Do It.
One of Hall’s passions is her support for the Wounded Warriors Project. Her ties to the organization are personal–the surrogate mother of her children has three children of her own who went into the armed forces and when the eldest son returned home injured from Afghanistan and faced a wall of bureaucracy, she got involved. “We would gather our schools to send hundreds of boxes to the soldiers [so we were always contributing, but] when he came home, we got a look at what this country does to our soldiers and it’s beyond appalling,” she says.
“I kept thinking there was something funky in his paper work, or some sort of doctor problem at the VA. I kept not understanding that our system destroys our soldiers. I called Harry Waxman‘s office and got a picture of the scope of how bad this is–soldiers can’t get their salary and benefits. They think they’re taken care of when they get home, and they’re anything but.” That dichotomy gnawed at her and she wanted to do something to help. She was sparked when she took a watercolor class and created a series of cards, which she now sells through her website. “I thought ‘what can I do, we can all do something…,’ so I produced the cards, and 100% of the proceeds go to the project.” The cards are available through Hall’s personal website.
Later this year, Hall is set to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and she was floored at the news. “I dislike the overused word surreal, but it was surreal. I was asked if I had ever imagined having one and the answer is ‘never.’ I grew up in a small town, so this is absurd.” she says. “It’s too big. I still can’t quite get my head around it that my name is going to be there…in years to come, my sons will be able to show their children and say ‘that’s your grandma.’ It’s such an invitation to the party. It’s such a huge validation and acceptance.”
You can catch Hall in Lucky in Love tonight on Hallmark Channel at 9/8c. It will also repeat throughout the month. Days of Our Lives airs weekdays on NBC.
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