Lauren Holly Talks Hailey Dean Mysteries and Designated Survivor [Exclusive]
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Hailey Dean Mysteries kicks off its spring 2019 run Sunday night at 9 pm/8c on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries with a trifecta of new films set to air over the next three weeks. Each will follow a separate murder case, with a throughline arc anchored by guest star Lauren Holly, who plays Paulina, Hailey’s former mentor in the DA’s office. I spoke with Holly this afternoon about joing the franchise, her upcoming role in the third season of Designated Survivor, which hits Netflix in June, and two new indie films.
The first movie of the new batch is Death on Duty, which finds Fincher (Viv Leacock) pulled into the mystery surrounding the murder of a former Army buddy. He brings Hailey onside to help him work the case off the books since the military called dibs on the investigation.
Hailey runs into Paulina at the station and gets pulled in to help on an old conviction and upcoming parole hearing. Paulina also throws out an interesting suggestion that will cascade into the other two movies. On the fun side of things, Hailey has to navigate a flood of emotions when Jonas (Matthew MacCaull) is recruited to participate in a calendar for charity at the hospital.
Holly loved working on the movies, and immediately hit it off with series star Kellie Martin. “I had such a good time. I really love [her]. I think I’ve made a new friend in my life. It’s a well-oiled machine, what the have going on there. It was very easy,” she shares.
“I’ve been around such a long time and you find that the tone is set by the #1 on the call sheet. Kellie is just awesome. She enjoys making them and it bleeds right down to everyone and we had a great time. It was fun to go in and out and do them and by the last one, we were spending time together [after work].”
“Kellie and I would have a lot of scenes where it was just the two of us and pages and pages of dialogue. You’d mark them on the schedule and plan to be prepped for that and they ended up being the easiest because we had a really good rapport and would just fly through them. Between scenes, she’d give me tutoring lessons on [social media] and that was fun.”
“I really liked working with Viv [Leacock]. He’s a very fun and funny guy. We talked a little bit about the Farrelly brothers because he’s on their show [Loudermilk] and I did Dumb and Dumber. It was an easy group to get involved with. You will see some things going on [with my character] that you’ll be surprised at that go across all three movies. This particular story is wrapped [by the end of the arc], but we might be able to see Paulina in the future.”
Designated Survivor moves from ABC to Netflix next month when season 3 drops on June 7th, and the first trailer was released today. Holly joins the cast as Lynn Harper, the wife of President Kirkman’s new chief of staff, Mars Harper, played by new cast member Anthony Edwards. Holly embraced the multi-layered role, which finds her playing the very timely topic of opioid addiction, and the added bonus of a series that shoots in her neighborhood.
“Neal Baer, who’s the new showrunner, [contacted me]. We knew each other from years ago when he was doing ER and I was doing Picket Fences. It’s a small world. This part was coming up and I happened to be in LA and he asked me to go by and meet him. I had no idea he was doing Designated Survivor, and he explained it to me, and he’d hired Anthony and he had this great part and would I play it, and they shot ten minutes down the street from where I live,” she explains.
“I was really excited about it. I think the show’s going to be really good. The writing’s terrific and they have such a good writing staff. There’s a writer named Peter Noah who’ve I’ve been a fan of. I pay attention to writers. I first noticed his name on The West Wing and have seen it many times since and I was thrilled he was one of the writers on this show.”
“I think it’ll be a little bit different than it was [on ABC]. Being on Netflix, they can be a bit deeper and darker into things than they could on network. It was a real pleasure. It was a fantastic part. It was very timely. I became obsessed with reading all about [the opioid crisis]. I hadn’t comprehended how horrible the crisis is–how many people are affected and how they are affected. You’re powerless. It’s a lifetime process [to recover]. It’s horrific.”
“[My character] is the daughter of a very prominent senator who was called ‘the lion of the Senate.’ She’s a wealthy Virginian married to the new Chief of Staff of the White House. She hurt her back and got addicted. It hits everyone [regardless of status].”
“It was really kind of fascinating. It’s an addiction that’s very hard to play because the signs aren’t outward until you’re completely broken down. [People who are addicted] hold down jobs and do all sorts of things while their organs are screaming out for this stuff.”
Holly says her work on the show was a bit silo’d as her story was mostly a two-hander opposite Edwards. “It’s so strange. It was a different experience for me altogether because my story is almost entirely with Anthony. We have our little world going on,” she says.
“I absolutely loved it. I was a fan and was excited to work with him. There’s only a few times that I crossed over with other cast members. When you’re on a network, you see a couple of episodes before you finish shooting it [and here we didn’t]. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to see it.”
“Everyone seems super happy with the way this year went. The new characters are all terrific actors. It’s still very timely. It’s amazing how the writers have their finger on exactly what’s going on. I think it’ll satisfy the fans who missed it and maybe make some new ones.”
Holly has completed two independent films that are currently in post-production. The first is a dark comedy called Tammy’s Always Dying that’s directed by Amy Jo Johnson. She has high praise for her director and the lead actress on the project. “Amy is a director to watch. She’s something else. Even just the way the crew respected her. I really liked her,” she shares.
“It was an interesting role for me. I’m in a way a mirror of Felicity Huffman’s character and exactly opposite. When you see it, you’ll understand. I play a reality show agent. It’s darkly comic. I make my money from people selling their souls. It was a really fun role. I even had some physical comedy but I don’t know who much is in the movie.”
“Anastasia Phillips [from Reign and Bomb Girls] is phenomenal. From day one, I was blown away by this girl. If this [goes], it’s going to make people know who she is, or it’ll [get her a job that will get her to that level]. This will put her on the map. She’s really good. I really liked working with her.”
The second film is The Cuban, which stars Louis Gossett Jr. as a dementia and Alzheimer’s patient in a care facility and Ana Golja as a young Afghan immigrant who works there and strikes up a friendship with him. “His nurse realizes that Cuban music kind of wakes him up, which starts this whole story and you find out who he was a young man and it’s very beautiful. I run the care facility where he lives and I’m a stickler for protocol and sticking to plans and I can’t help but see that there are other things that maybe might help [him],” she says.
“You do these independent movies because you love the material. You keep your fingers crossed that [they’ll be distributed] because sometimes nobody ever sees them. I have hopes for both of these. The sound team who did The Shape of Water and won the Oscar saw the film and came on board and did [sound for] the movie. I feel like that may be a good sign.”
Hailey Dean Mysteries: Death on Duty premieres Sunday at 9 pm/8c on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and will be followed by A Prescription for Murder on Mother’s Day, the 12th, and Killer Sentence on May 19th. Designated Survivor season 3 drops on June 7th. Here are a couple of sneak peeks.
Images and Video Courtesy of Crown Media, S.N.A.P. Films, and Netflix.
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