Jennifer Love Hewitt grew up on television, so you knew when her
long-running series Ghost Whisperer was cancelled in 2010, it
was only a matter of time before she returned to the spotlight.
return is coming with a sizzle, as she has agreed to star in a
Lifetime series version of her earlier made-for-cable movie The
Client List, about Riley, a Texas mother and masseuse who joins
a new spa which offers "special" services for a select group of
patrons. This leaves her in a moral conundrum: she needs the
money to raise her children, but she isn't comfortable with the
services she may have to do.
series is a re-imagining of the movie, not a remake, so the
character names and some plot points are different. The series
co-stars Cybill Shepherd as Riley's mother, Loretta Devine as her
new boss, Brian Hallisay as her estranged husband and Colin
Egglesfield as her brother-in-law.
About a week before the series debut, we were one of a select group
of media outlets who were invited to speak with Hewitt about her
career and The Client List.
You starred in
the film version of
List. What made you want to be a part of the television
We had joked
around when we were doing the movie about how fun it would be to
turn this into a series and really get in deeper with the lives of
the women in the spa and everything. So when the movie did really
well, I talked it over with everybody and said letís pitch it and
see what they think and here we are.
How has your
online promotion helped with the television show? Youíre a big part
of Twitter now ó taking pictures from the set and things like that.
How has your social networking enhanced interest in the show?
I have to say
that by nature, Iím like a 90 year old woman, so the whole Internet
thing and the Twitter thing and Facebook and all of that Iím very
new to. But I am quite shocked at how much fun it is to be able to
reach out to people on a daily basis and keep content out there, and
how much it actually really does help promote things in such a
different way. I also feel like sometimes as actors and artists, we
donít really get to be an effective integral part of the promotional
process, other than doing interviews. With Twitter and Facebook now
and all of this stuff, it really allows us to play and have fun
vis-ŗ-vis the pictures that I send every day out on Twitter or
little videos or whatever it is. I feel like Iím getting to promote
the show in my own way as well, and Iím really enjoying it. Itís a
lot of fun.
You love your
I do love my
love quotes. I really do love them. Sometimes just during the day,
because I have to film the show or they get mad at me, I donít have
enough time to think of all these original Tweets. So the love
quotes are great, because I can Tweet those back out and people feel
like Iím thinking of them and I can say something, but Iím not
always having to be like ďI just ate a hot dog,Ē so itís nice.
What do the
men in your life think of you playing such a provocative role week
The men in my
life are our crew members and the actors that I work with. On the
massage table, theyíre pretty happy about it because theyíre usually
getting massaged. My one male dog is very jealous, because Iím gone
a lot with the hours.
Are even your
male friends perhaps intimidated by you playing such an intense role
or provocative role?
No, but I have
had a lot of my guy friends be like, ďSo have you learned anything
in massage yet? Can I get a massage?Ē Iím like, ďI just worked 14
hours, no; you cannot have a massage. Thatís not what we do
there.Ē I think people are having a pretty good time with it.
enjoying it overall ó filming and everything?
I am. I love
it. Itís a lot of fun.
How did you
mentally prepare for that first scene at the massage parlor and did
you get as nervous as your character Riley did?
It was a
little nerve wracking the first day for sure. It is still ó
essentially, even though weíre actors, the guys are strangers to me
at the time. Iím there in lingerie and everything. I will say
that the guys that weíve hired so far have just been just such
gentlemen, theyíve been so lovely. I think itís awkward for them
also because IĎm in lingerie, theyíre in pretty much nothing, but
weíre in front of so many people. But it is a very intimate thing
to have to massage people, so it does take a couple of takes to feel
comfortable with it.
Since the show
is on Lifetime, obviously thereís only so much they can show, but if
it aired on HBO or Showtime instead and the role actually required
nudity, would you still have done it?
have done nudity, no. Thatís not something that I feel particularly
comfortable with. I also think that itís sexier not to show
everything. I feel that peopleís imaginations can do way more, so
no it probably would have been a different consideration for me.
I was watching
the scene where Riley comes home from work and her mom asks her how
her day is and she sort of brushes her off. It made me think, have
you ever done anything in your life where you had to keep a big
secret from your loved ones, so that you can relate to this?
It wouldnít be
a secret now, would it, if I tell you? No, I really havenít. Iím a
pretty bad liar and Iím not very good at keeping secrets. Iím one
of those people who is like, ďLet me tell you what happened today.
Youíre never going to believe it.Ē So I feel like I probably would
not be as good at this as Riley is.
Can you talk
about the research you did? Did you actually go to massage parlor?
No, I chose
not to. For me, the funny thing is that even though the show has
this provocative setting and I know what people are talking about is
this ďhappy endingĒ aspect of the show and everything, for me, the
part that I did more research on was being a single mom. Playing a
Texas woman in economic struggles, somebody who emotionally has to
carry all of these secrets and all of this loneliness, and all of
the stuff that she struggles with emotionally in the series. Iím
from Texas. All the women in my family are from Texas, so I did
more research in spending time with them and the women that I know.
Being single moms, and how they hold it all together with a full
time job. [I looked at that more] than I did the happy ending part
of it, because for me thatís not who Riley is. Thatís where Riley
finds herself, but that is not who she is. So I chose not to do
research on that aspect of things, because it wasnít something that
I needed to know to play the part.
You are from
Texas and the show is set there. Is there anything that you drew on
from your personal experiences to create the character or the
setting or anything like that?
Itís really funny ó Riley and Linette are sort of these great
combinations of my own mom. I feel like Riley is who my mom
definitely was in her 20s and 30s and still so much of her spirit.
I feel like Linette is how my mom is now in so many sort of great
ways ó not in what they do in the show necessarily, but in the
spirit of who they are. Iíve really drawn a lot ó my mom was a
single mom who did have a boy and a girl. She was a Texas mom and
all of those things. Iíve gotten to go back to my original accent,
which has been really fun for me, but itís hard to drop now
sometimes when I go home. So I talk goofy, and my friends are like,
ďWhat are you doing?Ē So that part of it has been really fun and
itís been good. Itís reminded me how lucky I feel to be from Texas
and how much I just love this spirit there, so itís been nice.
where you sang ďHey, Big SpenderĒ was pretty popular. Are you
looking to get back into singing or recording albums ?
Iíd like to at
some point. Theyíre keeping me pretty busy at this moment, but I
would definitely like to do that again someday.
How do you
feel about women like Riley who are caught between conventional work
and perhaps comprising their morals to get ahead?
I think itís
realistic. It may not make people comfortable and it begs the
question of are there any other options. For her there isnít at the
time ó for Riley ó and I think people are just going to have to try
to be as nonjudgmental about that as possible, but I do think that
this is real. The story that weíre telling is real. There really
are families that are economically put in these positions. There
are women out there who are in sex worker positions that you would
run into them at the grocery store with their hair piled on top of
their head and have no idea. Itís a reality. I feel like as women
ó and men and people on the planet ó you just have to do the best
with what life gives you. Hopefully on our show people will have a
lot of fun watching Riley do the best with what life has offered
her, and itíll be an interesting series.
double life that Riley leads, whatís the biggest challenge for you
in playing her?
pasta, because Iím in lingerie all the time! I miss pasta so much.
Probably my biggest challenge is not eating all the food that I want
to eat sometimes.
Do you think
your stint on
Whisperer really helped you in terms of getting ready for this
role, and if so, in what ways?
completely different roles. It definitely prepared me for the work
schedule and for the hours, and for whatís itís like to promote a
new show and all of those things. As far as emotionally, theyíre so
different. Such different people, so in that way, not really. But
definitely in the off camera aspects of how to live a life and work
these hours and do this sort of job, it definitely helped for sure.
What role do
you like playing more ó
List right now or Ghost Whisperer, or do you like both of
I like both of
them. Again, theyíre two totally completely different parts. I
will say that thereís one common theme between them, which is their
empathy. That is something I apparently am very attracted to in the
characters that I play, because I loved that about Melinda and
really do love that about Riley. I think sheís quite possibly to a
fault, one of the most empathetic people Iíve ever met, and thatís a
really lovely quality. Itís hard to find in a human being. I like
that about her and Melinda was that way as well, so I think in that
way they were sort of similar, but I couldnít choose a favorite
one. I like not always having to talk to dead people. Definitely
giving a massage beats the crossover any day, but I like playing
How hard was
it for you to decide to jump back into a regular TV role again?
It took some
thought, but after meeting everyone at Lifetime and after knowing
that this was the part I was going to jump into, it was pretty
easy. The only real consideration was the hours and just how sleepy
you get and things like that, but the work made it the easiest
decision ever. I love this part, and I love what the show
represents. Iím really, really so excited for and blown away by
Lifetimeís commitment to change their network and do bigger, bolder
things and to let us help them do that. It was exciting .
What do you
think audiences will enjoy the most about the show?
I think people
are going to take away different things. Itís extraordinarily
relatable, even though people may not think that right off the bat
with our promotional campaign, but I think that it is relatable in
where we are right now that economically. I also think that there
are lots of single moms out there in the world who are doing the
best that they can. There are lots of people that married their
childhood sweethearts and it turned out different after some time
went by. I think there are also different characters that people
will identify with on the show, so I think thereís a little
something for everybody. I do think that we make the journey really
fun for people to watch, and thatís the best television. We all sit
down to watch television to forget about reality for a minute. We
want to do that for people.
Is there any
characteristic of Riley Parks that was so complex that you had to
take time to adjust to?
For me playing
her every day, I still ask myself every day was there another
option; could she have done something else? Hopefully my journey
emotionally playing her will be the same journey that the audience
will go through, which is just as you start to feel like you could
judge her for a minute ó or go I donít know, maybe she shouldnít
have done that or is there another way ó I think you will realize
that there isnít. Sheís doing exactly what she should be doing and
that sheís on the right place. Sheís growing in her humanity in
doing this. And sheís becoming a better mom and a better woman and
a better daughter and just a better person because of her
circumstances and that makes it really cool. So other than that,
no, but I think that I definitely have asked myself a few times
ďOkay, are we telling the right story here?Ē and ďAre we doing it
the right way?Ē
Is it hard to
shake off Riley sometimes when the scenes are very intense?
No, itís kind
of fun, actually. Sheís real feisty and Iím pretty feisty in life,
too, but itís good. Itís good for me to get to do that stuff
sometimes. The hardest thing is because Iím 33 now. I go home
sometimes at the end of the day after a day of massages or a day of
really high, high heels and all that stuff and Iím like sore. Iím
like, ďReally? Really you old lady, youíre sore from giving
massages all day?Ē But no, itís good.
Do you get to
ad lib or do you follow the script completely?
We pretty much
follow the script. We do ad lib. I mean we definitely make things
[up]. The writers are amazing, and I have a lot of respect for what
they do and how they break down stories and make it happen. But
when itís passed off to us as actors, our job is to go ďOkay, are we
saying it in a way that theyíre going to be able to grasp it the
best?Ē Are we emotionally? Yes your thought process was this one
thing, but emotionally can I deliver it better, so that they can
cry, or that they can laugh, or that they can feel something even
deeper than what you intended? And so the only reason to change a
line or ad lib is to have that be the purpose. We do that
sometimes, but not all the time.
There has been
apparently some backlash from massage therapists over the fact that
this show portrays one side of the job ó that happy ending element
to it, and might be down playing the medical, the therapy aspect of
it. Whatís your take? How do you feel the show does in terms of
portraying the realities of this profession?
From the word
go, itís a television series, so I donít think anybody thatís
watching it or turning it on is expecting me to keep the logistics
of giving a proper massage. If theyíve seen our billboards, theyíre
definitely not expecting that. I played a medium on Ghost
Whisperer for six years, and the mediums never complained at the
fact that I had cleavage while I was crossing people over into the
light. In fact, they were super-excited that a hot person was out
there representing the medium. I have the utmost respect for the
massage therapy industry. I get massages all the time. Friends of
mine are massage therapists. Itís important for people to
understand ó and they will when they see the series ó that we also
give legitimate massages at the spa, so itís not all happy endings.
There is a client list and those people and those people only get
extras. The rest of the people are there for real massages, so we
do represent both sides of them. But at the end of the day itís the
reality. There really are these places. There are lots of people
that go to them, and weíre just trying to entertain. Weíre just
trying to tell a story and would never ever disrespect any
profession intentionally. I hope that some of those people
eventually will be able to stop for a second, watch the show and
find themselves enjoying it.
How do you
dive into character for a TV series versus how you portrayed it in
her the same way essentially, except Iím getting to know her every
day. That is what I do love about television is that you actually
really do get to know a human being because weíre all different
every day and so stuff happens in my life comes into how I play
her. If you have PMS, maybe Riley is a little bit feistier that
day. If youíre really, really happy, she might be super elated or
whatever it is. So itís different in that itís an everyday thing.
Weíre getting to break her down emotionally and psychologically
much differently than we did in the movie. In the movie we had two
hours and so it had to go from A, B, C, D, E, F done. In this,
weíre still on A in season one. Season two would be the next step
and the next unfolding of who Riley is. Weíre still figuring that
out. Thereís definite things that we thought we were going to do in
this season that either weíve pulled back from now and have decided
not to do in this season because we want to give it more time. Or
things that weíve rushed because we went we can get there that
quickly, letís do that. So those are the ways that itís different.
some episodes of
Whisperer. Is there any chance youíll be stepping behind the
camera for this show?
Yes, I am
directing the season finale, which Iím super excited about.
How do you
feel directing a cast when youíre in the show?
itís really fun. The good news is that theyíre used to me and
essentially because I direct, Iíve been able to observe them ó what
they like, what they donít like, their power, all of their greatest
attributes. Iíve been watching from day one, so when I get in there
to direct, I know if somebody is an actor who likes to keep moving
while theyíre acting, or an actor who needs to use props in order to
forget that the camera is there. Iíve seen them figure out how to
get to an emotional spot, and so I know where in the day to place
that scene or what to say to them to bring that out in them. I
start at an advantage, which is really nice when you get to direct
the cast like that, so thatís cool.
Is there a
show runner or a person whoís doing the main writing?
We do have a
show runner. His name is John Tinker and heís fantastic, but the
writing is sort of divvied up between different writers. Some are
combinations of people, some single people are writing episodes,
Youíre one of
the executive producers. Do you ever get involved at all with the
writing of the show or the way itís going to go or anything like
I do, probably
more than the writers like, because I have lots of storyline ideas
swirl around in my head and lots of opinions on things. Thatís my
job as playing Riley. As an executive producer here to watch over
her and the rest of the cast and where theyíre going emotionally in
their characters in this first season and what weíre saying to the
audience and things like that. So I have been very vocal. Iíve not
physically written anything, but Iíve definitely been very vocal.
like the Karaoke scene, because Iím a big Karaoke person and I
thought it was the most realistic Karaoke Iíve ever seen portrayed.
We had was so
much fun. We really sang it every single take. By the end of the
day, like none of us had any voices, but we really did it every
single take. We really decided to do it Karaoke style. We didnít
have track one minute and the mic here and all that. It was live
and we did it and it was so fun. We had the best time.
What do you
prefer, movies or TV?
I like them
both for different reasons. Films are amazing ó to be a part of a
movie is the greatest. Itís so historic and exciting and all of
that. Television for me is great because I love to act every day.
I love to work that muscle. I love to learn, and I love to be able
to just do what I love. Itís when Iím at my best, so I love TV for
that reason because itís every day.
drew you to the role of Riley Parks?
I just thought
it was really interesting, even initially with the movie. Itís an
interesting thing. Itís interesting to create empowerment in a
woman, who essentially could feel powerless and who could find
herself in danger and could look at the situation sheís in if she
wanted to as not very female empowerment. This is actually very
powerful, and sheís making these decisions, and sheís making them
consciously. Sheís growing sexually and emotionally and physically
and mentally in this job. Sheís connecting in a real human way with
the human condition and human spirit and hearts of the people on her
table. Itís super powerful. So I was really interested in that. I
just thought that that was really cool and a neat message to send
When in your
life do you most need a massage? When do you call up and make an
A friend of
mine is a really amazing masseuse, so on those few very days that I
got off really early, sheíll come over and give me massage. I
really do it ó itís a way for me to consciously like take a minute
for myself. I donít always lay down on the table. Sometimes itís
just like sitting up in a chair and getting my shoulders and neck
rubbed or whatever, but itís good. For now itís research for me as
well, because if she does something that Iím like, ďOh wow, thatís
really cool and that feels nice,Ē then she can teach me how to do
that, so that when Iím actually doing a massage on the show, I can
look like I know what Iím doing. And the actors can go home and be
like, ďYes, I actually got a little bit of a massage, thatís super
On the other
end of that ó you giving massages ó how do you handle or how did you
handle having to run your hands through hairy back and hairy
That was very
interesting, but he was a lovely man and he was very sweet and was
so gracious and lovely knowing that I was making all these funny
faces behind him. But it was definitely something I have not
experienced before for sure.
As a fan of
your music, I really want to know if youíre open to recording a song
that we could possibly hear in a future on the show.
Yes, I would
love to. We definitely played around early on with the fact that
possibly Riley have had other dreams when she was younger about
maybe being a singer or doing something like that. So if we get
lucky enough ó knock on wood ó to do another season or two, weíd
like to find a place in the series if possible to work in some
something that you were really looking forward to exploring more in
the series that you didnít necessarily get to do in the film?
Just more of
her being a mom, more of the double life, more of the friendships.
The odd friendships that she would make with the people either in
the spa, outside of the spa, clients, whatever. That kind of
What do you
think it says about the economy that a woman like Riley would find
herself in a position where she has to do something like that to
make a living? Has playing the role changed your mind on maybe the
morality or even the legality of that type of job at all?
of it are not something that Iíve really thought about. Again, I
will say for me, Iím an actor playing a part and I find it
interesting. I do think that it is no surprise that economically
weíre in trouble. Thereís been a lot of trouble out there. I
think I read a stat maybe like a year and a half ago that more women
than ever found themselves in these positions ó mostly phone sex and
things like that ó to help pay bills, so that they could be two
income households. They could do these short-term jobs and still
pick up their kids at the school at the end of the day and drop them
off in the morning and all of that stuff. I find it fascinating.
Iím not one to judge the people in that situation. nor would I
really want to. I think thatís why Iíve not done research on that
side of things. Thatís not for me to really be a part of, but I do
think that it makes for a really interesting television series. I
think that thereís enough in the story that people will be able to
relate to that you will be able to watch an episode and ask yourself
some real questions about where you stand on certain things. If
youíre talking about us after weíre off the air, then weíve done a
really good job.
Whatís it like
working with Cybill [Shepherd]? Is she a lot of fun to be on set with?
She lights the
set. All the lighting that you see on the series is pretty much
just Cybill being in the room. She is hysterical. I love her to
pieces. Sheís just an awesome, awesome lady. We were able to bond
in the movie and there was no way that I was going to do the series
without her. She was not going to let me do it without her. Itís
great. Itís just great. I love her to pieces. We have a really
I watched the
pilot last night and it was really entertaining, and it seems like
thereís a love triangle thatís going to form with the two brothers.
Can you talk more about that?
There might be
a triangle. You never know. Yes, there could be a bit of a
triangle. Itís a complicated relationship between Evan and Riley
and Kyle. Itís complicated when you go into a family and youíre
that close with both brothers. The audience is going to help us
make up our minds a little bit on where that cookie is going to
crumble. It might be a little bit of both. I donít want to say too
much about it, because I really donít want to give away anything,
but thereís definitely going to be a triangle. Rileyís life is
going to be turned upside down, and one brother is the driving force
behind it being turned upside down. The other brother is there to
hold her hand through it, and so thatís going to bring up some
complications and some interesting storylines.
slight differences in the storyline between the movie and the show,
especially with just the names and also with her husband leaving in
the show. Can you talk more about that?
conscious choice to start over. The movie was the movie and we are
beyond grateful that people loved it for what it was and that it did
really well and all those great things, because it got us here. We
really want people now to look at the series as its own thing, so we
made subtle differences and changes in things and places where we
could to say this is its own deal. We felt like that was important
and hopefully the audience will be cool with it.
first episode had me thinking about the current series that Iím
Oh, I just
heard about this; I canít wait to read it.
Yes, I was
just going to ask you if you have read it and if so, if the role of
Ana would appeal to you. But since you havenít read it yet, that
answers my question.
I just heard
about this today and I canít wait, but from what I hear about it so
far, I will say yes to Ana. I will say yes.
with Brian Hallisay. What has it been like working with him?
He plays my husband in the series. Heís not had tons to do because
he leaves Riley, so the husband in the series will play out in an
interesting way for the audience. Heís there and heís not there.
That will be explained as the episodes unfold, but itís been great.
Weíve gotten really lucky to have really great actors who are
really amazing at their parts and itís been so fun that way.
Particularly with Colin [Egglesfield] and Brian. Itís been really
to fun to play the scenes with both brothers, because theyíre so
different. Thatís been really fun for me in playing Riley.
Are you a
Hunger Games fan?
I have not
read Hunger Games and I have not seen it yet, but Iím excited
and intrigued to. I love Jennifer Lawrence. Sheís amazing.
What is the
most important lesson you learned about yourself throughout your
Oh, wow, that
I bounce back pretty quick from rejection. I think in 24 years in
the business, you have a lot of doors slammed in your face or a lot
of people say mean things or youíre not right for this or whatever
it is. Every time Iím constantly surprised at how the span of time
gets quicker that I get okay with it, go out grab something and Iím
over it. Thatís been an interesting thing to learn.
planning on writing another book? I just started your book and I
love it so far.
much. Iíve been playing around with some new ideas for one and yes,
if I get a second to sit for a minute, I might take another stab at
one of Americaís darlings for a long time now. What are you looking
forward to the audience to see from the show?
that theyíll just have a really good time. Itís a fun story that
weíre telling; itís an interesting story. I hope that they will
really love Riley and root for her, as well as judge her sometimes.
Iím one of those weird people that thinks a role model is an
imperfect person, not a perfect person, because thatís who we are as
real people. So weíve consciously tried to make Riley imperfect in
the most perfect way, so Iím hoping that people will appreciate
that. I just want them to have fun. Itís a really fun show. We
want to catch them by surprise and grab them by their shirt collars
every now and then and have them cry or laugh unexpectedly or get
angry for her unexpectedly. But for the most part, we just want
them to have a good time.
Tell me a bit
about a regular day on the set.
Itís very funny. The show subject matter leads to a lot of fun
jokes and we have a great time. Loretta Devine is the best. She
and I are always in hysterics. My favorite thing to do is try to
bother all day, so we have a really good time. Like I said, Cybill
is just this ball of light. Itís great. Itís a lot of fun.
deeply connected and immersed in a role, any kind of role, have you
ever had a dream that you felt was not yours but one of the
characters you played?
interesting question. I donít know. I definitely ó I donít know.
I feel like every time this studly dudly guy walks into my massage
parlor on the show, I kind of feel like that thatís a dream. Thatís
one of those fun moments for me, so I donít know. Iíd have to think
about it. I might have to get back to you on that one, but I like
What do you do
in your downtime to recharge and find some balance in your life?
I watch The
Voice and American Idol. I sit in my Brookstone foot
massager. Itís so exciting at my house. And I donít know what
that you have taken from paper to flesh, do they ever revisit you
after youíre done and if so, are you able to release them and what
happens to them?
I donít think
I ever say good-bye to them. I always try to take a little bit of
whoever I just played into the next character, so I feel like Iím
not saying good-bye. Itís very strange to feel like you get
attached to essentially a piece of paper, but emotionally you create
a real person. That person feels like a friend for however long you
get to play them. Iím not good with good-byes, so I donít think I
ever fully say good-bye to them. I just let them rest for a while
and watch over me in the next character, up to where I try to bring
a little bit of that old gal into the new one.
us Let us know what you