Lisa Durupt Talks Murder She Baked, Working for Hallmark, and More [Exclusive]
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
It’s the nature of the business that an actress can work on several projects over the course of the year, only to have them land on TV at the same time. This weekend, Lisa Durupt will be on Hallmark Channel Saturday night in The Convenient Groom, and Sunday, you can catch her on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries in her recurring role as Hannah’s sister, Andrea, in the latest Murder She Baked. I recently chatted with Durupt about her Hallmark projects, living and working with Multiple Sclerosis, dabbling in horror movies, and what’s next.
The Murder She Baked films have a fixed core cast of seven regulars, and then rotate in guest cast for the central caseÂ of each movie. Durupt loves being part of the franchise. “It helped that they were looking for a specific look [to align with Alison Sweeney],” she explains. “Everything lined up, which is nice. We don’t have a locked in number [of movies], but it was made very clear from the beginning it would be an ongoing process. There are 18 books. As long as Hallmark and the fans are supporting them, we’ll keep making them.”
She says the cast have become a family with each successive film, that the first one is the one you learn from, and from then on, it’s just fun. “I was on a series where we shot four seasons. The first season is like the first movie. You’re just beginning to know each other,” she says. “Once you get past that…you learn about each other and grow together, and learn what sets each other off and makes them laugh. It’s very comforting. It’s like going to camp. We get to go back every few months and hang out together. We all genuinely like each other.”
In this Sunday’s film, A Deadly Recipe, Andrea is very, very pregnant, so she’s freely enjoying Hannah’s baked goods, and Durupt was happy to do so, as well. “That’s a twofold [benefit]. Andrea was excited and Lisa was excited. Normally you do get put into tighter outfits,” she points out.
“On these last two films, I could eat what I wanted to, within reason, because I had a pregnancy suit on. I could load up [at lunch]. It’s a rule of thumb…anything where you’re eating [on camera], you try not to [really eat]. Our director, Kris Tabori, is very big on, ‘if you’re eating in a scene, eat. You have to be careful, though, because he’s going to want you to do it every take.”
This movie also marks the first time that Andrea (sort of) discovers the body, and Durupt says they do laugh about how preposterous it is that Hannah keeps finding murder victims. “How long are people going to wonder why she keeps finding bodies?,” she says. “It’s such a small town–how was no one moved?”
If you pay close attention, you will notice that Hannah’s bakery has moved, and is now filmed inside the location that was used for the competing bakery in the last outing, A Peach Cobbler Mystery. Durupt explains that it came down to availability, and the two locations–past and present–really are across the street from each other in Squamish, outside Vancouver. The very first bakery was actually in a separate town, until that location became unavailable.
Her favorite film so far in the series is the second one, A Plum Pudding Mystery. “I think each one has something that was my favorite. In the first one, you’re excited and it’s new and you’re learning where you character sits,” she says. “In the second one, you get to be free and play a little more. That was one I remember being really jazzed about because it was familiar.”
In The Convenient Groom, Durupt goes head-to-head with Vanessa Marcil‘s character, a relationship expert who has to carry on a faux engagement to save professional face. “I do a little cameo and I am the complete opposite of Andrea,” she says. “I’m the villain who tries to take her down.”
She’s also filmed a role in the pilot for E!’s The Arrangement, a drama series coming later this year about an actor who hires an actress to play his girlfriend, while living a secret life that resembles a well-known, controversial, LA-based, quasi-religious organization. “I tend to get the spectrum of bubbly flirty, flippant, fun characters like Andrea and then these absolutely complete opposite spectrum, out for blood, vicious, not-so-kind villains. The women who are hurting, I like to say,” says Durupt.
“Where [this] character goes, I’m not completely sure. She’s one of the villains. We’ve only shot the pilot. We haven’t gone back to camera. None of us know what’s going to happen but we’re excited. I’m someone who causes problems for the ingenue. I am the [former ingenue].”
Durupt just wrapped a Hallmark film for the upcoming holiday season called Operation Christmas, were she co-stars with Tricia Helfer, Marc Blucas, and Gabrielle Rose. She’s happy to keep getting asked back to work on their projects, and credits Murder She Baked co-star Barbara Niven with guiding her.
“I took the lead from Barbara. She’s been such a mentor to me. She told me the beautiful thing about [the Hallmark team] is that if you do good work and you’re a kind person…they keep using you,” she shares. “[That] is refreshing, because that’s not always the case. It give you comfort and makes you feel good as a performer. It’s a nice pat on the back. It’s rare in this business.”
A native Canadian raised on skates, Durupt would love to play hockey in a film, and recently got back into it in real life. “I hadn’t played in almost 10 years, and this past fall, I hosted Hockey Helps The Homeless, and it raised a ton of money,” she says. “I was asked to play a couple of the games. It’s like getting on a bike. Your body remembers how tiring it is. I just started playing coed and it’s all ages, all abilities. It’s so fun…so great.”
Durupt was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis as a teenager after two flare ups–one at 16 that left her with impaired motor skills for three weeks, and two years later, at 18 when she experienced a sudden desensitization to heat. She was helped tremendously by her doctor’s practicality in figuring out what was going on,Â and her mother’s positivity.
“[My doctor] looked at my MRIs from when I was younger, and he thought it could be cancer or it could be MS. He was very clear that I wanted it to be MS because [he said] there will be a cure in my lifetime,” she recalls. “He was very positive about it. My mom said, ‘you can own it or let it own you.’ She never let me feel sorry for myself.”
When Durupt relocated to Vancouver, she got into a trial treatment at the University of British Columbia, and that medication plus a healthy lifestyle help her keep her MS in check. “The only other episode…was at 24 when I wasÂ stressed out [about a breakup],” she recalls. “I have been so fortunate. I try to eat healthy, get my sleep. I’m really good about working out and keeping myself healthy. For me, that’s made all the world of difference, and being positive…not stressing.”
She adds that a lot of that outlook stems from having had such an extreme flare up at 16, when you’re so focused on teenage things that suddenly become very unimportant when you can’t do something basic like brush your hair. “I think it helped that I had that happen at 16,” she says. “From then on, I tried to lead a positive, happy life, and that’s made a huge difference for me. I’m very lucky that I’ve also been so taken care of with our healthcare system.”
While she waits for word on The Arrangement and the next installment of Murder She Baked, Durupt is going to shoot Going For Broke, a pilot with Corner Gas’s Fred Ewanick and Dave Colette, and she’s getting into producing with a horror musical. Her appetite was whetted for the latter after she shot a horror movie with a heavily Canadian cast called Puppet Killer.
“That was amazing. I don’t think I’m someone one thinks to call for a horror movie. You don’t get invited to do a horror move until you’ve done one. It was a great cast. It was so much fun,” she says. “They had to reshoot my death scene. There was fog but we couldn’t use it. You’re crying and screaming and all this stuff that people wouldn’t normally see you do. It’s another tool in your toolkit. I’m totally engrossed in horror now.”
The Convenient Groom airs Saturday at 9/8c on Hallmark Channel. Murder She Baked: A Deadly Recipe airs Sunday at 9/8c on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries after a daylong marathon of all of the previous films. Here are sneak peeks of both.
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