Friday, February 19, 2016

INTERVIEW: Josie Bissett Turns the Tables

Josie Bissett (photo courtesy
We all know and love Josie Bissett from “Melrose Place,” where she played Jane Mancini off and on for about a decade. In February, you can catch Josie in the Lifetime original movie “Pregnant at 17,” where she plays a wife named Sonia, who realizes her husband (“Days of Our Lives” and “Pretty Little Liars” alum Roark Critchlow) has had an affair with a 17-year-old girl … and has gotten her pregnant. I spoke with Josie recently about this heart-wrenching role, and she is excited for fans to see her exploration of this character. “Pregnant at 17” premieres Saturday, Feb. 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Celebrity Extra: Tell me a bit about the premise of the movie, and about your character, Sonia.

Josie Bissett: I play Sonia, who is a veterinarian and is married to Jeff. She’s unable to have children and has had a miscarriage. Roark plays my husband, who is a really great actor. I’d never worked with him before. Sonia finds out that he’s having an affair, and of course that’s devastating. She becomes obsessed about finding out who she is, but a lot of it is that feeling that anyone would get when someone is being betrayed. She figures out where the girl works, and she goes in and gets a sorbet. She ends up chatting with her, and she realizes that Chelsea is just this really sweet, innocent, young girl who’s only 17 and pregnant. She also realizes that the girl has no clue about Jeff being married. She finds out through Sonia and ends up not wanting to have anything to do with Jeff.

CE: How does Sonia feel about Jeff after learning all of this?

JB: I just love what my character does with the situation. There’s nothing in her that wants to salvage the marriage after what has happened. And she develops a friendship with this young girl, Chelsea, and can’t help but want to help her and help take care of her and the baby. The relationship is just beautiful between Sonia and Chelsea. It’s just a really sweet relationship that develops, and they both grow throughout the film.

CE: What about Roark — how is his portrayal of Jeff?

JB: He really does a great job of making you want to punch him. Jeff is just awful. And he is one of those guys where there are no redeeming qualities in him. What I love is that there’s not even an ounce of Sonia that wants to forgive him or wants it to work out. We all make mistakes in life, and he realizes he made one, but there’s just no chance for him. You really see the torture and the pain in him for what he did. You see it in his eyes. The dialog that is coming out of him might not be what Sonia wants to hear, but inside, the way he plays it, you can just see this tortured soul. Roark does a great job.

CE: The viewers will find out pretty early on that Sonia doesn’t go all revenge-y and postal on Chelsea — I love that twist, that they put the blame where it belongs and they don’t get into some big catfight over a cheating man.

JB: I really love that twist. I’ve never seen it in a cheating movie where the one who’s hurt the most ends up just really rising above the situation. But, of course, there’s a bunch of drama that comes about — someone from Chelsea’s past comes back into her life, and Sonia and Chelsea have to save themselves and the baby. There are scenes where we’re fighting in the woods and trying to escape people trying to kill us. I got to do all my own stunts. They weren’t big stunts, just fighting and running through the woods, but it was fun. And it was like, “Hey, I got a workout today.” It was a pretty intense 14-day shoot.

CE: Tell me about working with Zoe De Grand Maison, who plays Chelsea.

JB: She’s got this look that is a mixture of stunning but then haunting but then sweet. It’s all these different emotions. It’s hard to explain unless you work with her, but she just has this incredible way about her. She’s just very good, and she takes her time, and she’s unique. I think she’s going to do really well. She can just look at you, and you see everything in her eyes. And she’s also an incredible singer and plays guitar. She’s really talented.

CE: Tell me your big news!

JB: I’m so excited. I’m playing Liam Neeson’s wife in this movie called “Operation Chromite,” which is about the Korean War. It’s going to be fun, and I get to bring my daughter. I love shooting in places like that, where it’s a foreign crew and it’s such a different experience. It’s only one scene, but I’m just so grateful to go over there and to be a part of this.

CE: When we spoke before, you touched on the book series that you had written. Tell me about that, and if you have plans to write more.

JB: What happened with my first book was I was five months pregnant with Mason, who is now 16, and “Melrose Place” had ended, so the timing was perfect for me. And when I had him, I didn’t want to go back onto another show, especially in those infant years. So that’s when I decided to write children’s books. It wasn’t a purposeful, “Oh, I’m going to start writing.” It just was a natural process of, “I have all this stuff I want to share and how do I go about it?” And I always had something going on creatively. The first two books I did, “Making Memories” and “Little Bits of Wisdom,” were parenting stories and advice from parents around the world.

Then the children’s books came after. And all of these books come from the kids — listening to them play and listening to their words. They have such incredible imaginations, things we could never make up on our own. “The Tickle Monster” came from that. Mason and I were tickling one night. I wrote the book in a night, and then it took six to seven years to get it finished because lots of things were happening at the time, and then I had Maya. I’m working on another series right now, but I don’t know the title yet, until we secure the trademark. I really love writing. I love the process of it. It’s something that I can control and do in my own time, and see it through from beginning to end.

CE: I must ask the obligatory question of whether you still keep in touch with any of your former “Melrose” castmates.

JB: I haven’t seen anyone since the shoot we did for “Entertainment Weekly” (in fall 2012). I don’t keep in touch regularly with anyone except for Laura Leighton. But I will see what everyone’s up to now that we have this wonderful thing called social media. I can see what everyone is doing, and we’ll have a little bit of communication through that. But living in Seattle, I’m a bit away from all of that.

CE: Did you see that not-so-great TV movie about “Melrose Place” on Lifetime called “The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story”?

JB: I didn’t see it, and I actually didn’t hear anything about it. Like, I didn’t hear if it was good; I didn’t hear if it was bad. I didn’t even know it was airing.

CE: Yeah, it wasn’t so good, so be glad you didn’t see it.

JB: (Laughs) I bet they had Jane crying all the time.

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