Former Days of our Lives star Alison Sweeney (ex-Sami Brady) is in hot demand, having walked away from Salem only to find herself involved with a slew of romantic Hallmark films that keep her just as busy -- if not more so -- than daytime ever did.
Her latest movie conquest is the beloved network's The Irresistible Blueberry Farm, which stars the actress as a high-powered Manhattan attorney named Ellen Branford who goes after fulfilling her grandmother's (Shirley Jones) dying wish -- to find the hometown boy she once loved and give him her last letter. States the official teaser for the film, which Sweeney also executive produced: "When Ellen leaves her Kennedy-esque fiancé, Hayden Croft (Kavan Smith), to go to Beacon, Maine, she expects to have a quick twenty-four-hour stay. But a near-drowning experience leads her to become a local celebrity and introduces her to a man named Roy (Marc Blucas), a carpenter who saves her life. As Ellen learns more about the past her grandmother has kept hidden and works to bring closure to her quest, she may find that a twenty-four-hour visit to Beacon will never be enough."
Sweeney tells Soap Central that creating and filming The Irresistible Blueberry Farm was a "labor of love" she's incredibly proud to see make its Hallmark Movies & Mysteries premiere on Sunday, October 2, at 9PM ET/PT. But that's not all she told us! Keep reading for more details about the romantic movie; her future in daytime; what she thinks about Austin Peck (Austin Reed), Christie Clark (Carrie Reed), and Greg Vaughan (Eric Brady) returning to Salem; and more.
soapcentral.com: Congratulations on the upcoming premiere of The Irresistible Blueberry Farm! What was it about this project that made you eager to sign on?
Alison Sweeney: When I read the book from which the movie was adapted, I knew the characters had to come to life, and I began the process of making that happen. From acquiring the TV rights to hiring a great writer, to the casting, shooting, and editing, this has been a great labor of love for the past 18 months, and I'm incredibly proud of it.
soapcentral.com: The trailer hints that the movie has both romance and mystery. Why do you think that formula works so well?
Sweeney: I think viewers, particularly Hallmark viewers, love family-friendly programming that includes intrigue and love, which is exactly what The Irresistible Blueberry Farm offers.
soapcentral.com: What can you tease about Ellen Branford and the adventure she finds herself on in the film?
Sweeney: Ellen is a woman living the life she thinks she should be living until she discovers the true meaning of happiness in a small town when pursuing her grandmother's final wish.
soapcentral.com: What can you say about your costar, Marc Blucas (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)? Will audience members who don't know him fall in love?
Sweeney: You will love Marc! He's such an incredibly fun person, and it doesn't hurt that he's handsome and charming. He's a great actor -- perfectly cast for the role.
soapcentral.com: You also work with Shirley Jones, who starred as Colleen Brady on DAYS in 2008. How was it to "reunite" with her and work with her once more?
Sweeney: I absolutely love Shirley Jones. I didn't get to work with her when she was on DAYS, so I was thrilled when she agreed to play the role of my grandmother. There are not enough words to talk about how much I adore her.
soapcentral.com: You've starred in several romantic Hallmark movies in the past couple of years. They have different stories, of course, but they all seem to share a pretty similar feeling and theme. How do you keep each one feeling fresh for both you and the loyal audience that tunes in to see everything you do?
Sweeney: After playing Sami Brady for 21 years, I like playing these different characters. It's really challenging for me as an actor to discover different roles and make them come to life. These movies are also particularly exciting for me because of my role on both sides of the camera and the different mysteries of focus in each one.
soapcentral.com: You'll also be appearing on Food Network's Kids Halloween Baking Championship on Wednesday, October 5, which sounds awesome! How did that job come about, and what did you think about the experience?
Sweeney: I've loved being a guest judge on Chopped Jr. and I love cooking meals at home with my family, so when the opportunity came to host a series of specials for the network, I was ecstatic -- and my kids finally thought I was doing something cool!
soapcentral.com: You're such a champion of healthy eating, so I imagine it must have been nice to sort of "cheat" and judge all those goodies, yeah?
Sweeney: I definitely tried to only have a bite or two of each dish, but I have to admit that it was a test of my willpower because some of them were so good! Instead of eating more, I brought some home for my kids to do their own taste test as a special treat. They loved playing judge.
|Alison Sweeney's Healthy Blueberry Ice Cream|
Sweeney recently appeared on Hallmark's Home & Family and shared one of her favorite "cheat" recipes that feels like an indulgence but is actually super healthy.
soapcentral.com: News broke this week that Greg Vaughan is returning to DAYS. Austin Peck and Christie Clark will also be back soon. Has the show approached you about a possible return, as well?
Sweeney: [Coyly] I always love when actors return to DAYS because I know how much fans will enjoy it.
soapcentral.com: How does DAYS still define you both personally and as an actress, if at all?
Sweeney: I'm so lucky that my DAYS fans continue to support my projects and are with me in every step of my life and my career. It means a lot to have touched so many people with my role of 20-plus years, and I always strive to stay in touch with my fans and to do projects that they will enjoy.
For more from Sweeney, be sure to tune in to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries on Sunday, October 2, for the premiere of The Irresistible Blueberry Farm at 9PM ET/PT and to Kids Halloween Baking Championship, which airs Wednesday, October 5, at 8PM ET on Food Network.
Do you keep up with Sweeney's non-DAYS projects? How much do you like to see her tackling different characters? Are you impressed with her behind-the-camera skills? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.