Spring break couldn't be kicking off any better! Lifetime Movie Network is getting the season started with a slew of exciting films for their Spring Breakdown weekend, one of which features The Young and the Restless' Lauralee Bell (Christine Blair). The film is titled Nightmare Tenant, and the actress -- who also executive produced the movie -- says the drama is just as exciting as the title implies.
"I did a Lifetime film about a year ago that had some scary elements, but this one, to me, was a little bit scarier," she shares with Soap Central. "I saw the screener not too long ago, and I knew what was going to happen and had to turn away! But it was fun."
Nightmare Tenant follows Bell in the role of Dr. Carol Allen, a kindhearted Ivy League alum and single mom whose high-achieving and well-rounded daughter (Heather Hopkins) gets accepted into the same Ivy League university. At her daughter's suggestion, she takes in a hard-luck student (Virginia Tucker) so she won't be living alone when her daughter starts college. Fans will have to tune in on Saturday, March 22, to find out what happens -- but Bell does reveal that it was refreshing to play Dr. Carol Allen.
"It has been so great playing a doctor. It was interesting to do that after playing a lawyer for eighty percent of my life! It was a nice change," she says, adding that wearing the doctor's coat was particularly fun. "It definitely felt like a superhero cape every day when they handed it to me. I was like, 'Okay, here I go. I can now save the world!'"
Of course, that begs the question: had Bell not gone into acting, does she think she would have been more likely to become a doctor like Carol or a lawyer like her Y&R character, Christine?
"I would think a lawyer, only because, personally, I'm just not a big needle fan," the actress confesses. "I'm starting to watch shows like Dr. Pimple Popper, and every once in a while, I'll watch a little bit of the surgery. But if anyone comes into a room with a needle or even if I have to have my blood taken, my neck is twisted so far the other way. I think I'd rather question people, even though opening statements and closing statements are terrifying. I think I'd rather put the pieces of the puzzle together and figure out the court case, rather than be a doctor. However, I am eternally grateful to every doctor in this world because, obviously, they save lives. But I'll leave that strong work to them!"
With that being said, one of the things that convinced Bell to take on Nightmare Tenant was facing her fears head-on.
"I loved the script, in terms of the challenge of it, being a doctor. And I loved played a single mom who is a very strong, independent woman," she says, adding that the family element also played a big part in her decision. "I have worked with this group before, and it sort of takes over your life for a month, but you get to come home and spend every night in your bed, and I get to be close to my kids. I'm a mom and a wife first, so I've turned down projects in the past that would require me to leave for a couple of weeks. It's so hard for me [to take some projects] with my mom around, who's ninety, and my kids... I'm not that happy when I'm away from my family."
Bell says she's also a big fan of the Lifetime Movie Network format.
"I just think so many people on the weekends don't want to get crazy caught up in some nervous court case like The First 48 or something where you're seeing real life [drama]," she explains. "You want to escape, and that's what soaps are all about. You want to relax and know you're going to see some good programming. And the Lifetime format is you get involved in the family, something crazy happens, you're worried about them, there's some sort of big ending, and then at the end, hopefully everyone is smiling, and you can take a deep breath and move on. You have a beginning, a middle, and an end in two hours. And that's great."
While Bell stars in Nightmare Tenant, she also served as executive producer for the film. It was her first time stepping in as EP for LMN, but she has a lot of producing experience under her belt. She wrote, directed, and produced the Emmy Award-winning mI Promise, which recently debuted on Amazon Prime. She also previously created, produced, and directed the award-winning Family Dinner web series that debuted each celeb-filled episode on Funny or Die, as well as the fashion-meets-commerce web series Just Off Rodeo.
A lot of people in Bell's family have executive producing experience -- her father, William Bell, created and EP'd The Young and the Restless, while her brother, Bradley Bell, serves as EP on The Bold and the Beautiful. So, does her family have a lot of opinions about her work as an executive producer?
"They don't so much because I think after you've been on a show for so long, and you really take time to talk to [the people behind] every aspect of what happens, like if you talk to the camera guy, if you talk with the audio and sound people, [you learn]," she explains. "I'm a huge fan of editing. I love that whole process. And I think it all just sort of sinks in as the years go on. If you sit and talk with me, you understand that I don't just show up to work, slap on some makeup, and say a few lines. I really understand the whole process and enjoy that just as much. We had to come in and correct the audio [for Nightmare Tenant], and that was the most fun day for me! It's such a challenge to try and match your lips to your exact same words. And no one is harder on themselves than me. If it seems off, I would love to do it again, and if for some reason, they say, "No, it's fine," I will spend the next hour driving home, thinking, "Did that word match my lip at the exact same second?!" And then you think, "If nobody knows that it's that line, and they're not looking for it how I would be looking for it, then nobody is ever going to catch it." But in my brain, I'll know that forever, and my whole goal is to make it as natural as possible. I don't want any fake moments or anything that is off. So that's where I feel like my producer brain came into this whole thing."
Luckily, Bell's history with The Young and the Restless helped her when it came to the speed of producing Nightmare Tenant, which was made from start to finish in less than a month.
"I watch it and think, 'How did we do all of that in this short amount of time?!'" she says with a laugh. "There's car stuff, and we were working at a real college hospital. We were all over the place. But again, this group is great, and I think they realize, at least with me, I'm so used to speed, and there is no room for not knowing your lines very well or not understanding why the cameras are moving or why they're doing what they're doing. So, I think this nice group trusted me to just come back in with them and crank out this movie in a couple of weeks"
She continues, "I'm excited that they're using this film as their kickoff to the Spring Breakdown movies. There's a nice younger group, and I left my kids to go hang out with them, which was fun. And [the younger actors] were so amazed that I knew all the hottest bands and knew all the lyrics to every song! I hope to do another one with them. I love The Young and the Restless, and I'm constantly working on selling concepts and shows to networks and things like that, but if I can do a couple of these Lifetime films a year, that's my perfect world."
To catch the premiere of Nightmare Tenant, be sure to tune in to Lifetime Movie Network on Friday, March 22, at 8PM ET/PT, 7PM CT.
Photo Credits: Dove Shore Photography (Head shot) | Lifetime Movies/Lifetime Movie Network (Nightmare Tenant still)
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