‘Party of Five’ alum travels far for her latest job for Hallmark Channel
Though not necessarily in a party of five, Lacey Chabert usually doesn’t travel alone when she films her many movies for Hallmark Channel.
The actress opted to leave her family — including her daughter, soon to turn 2 — at home, though, in going to South Africa to make “Love on Safari.” Premiering Saturday, July 28 (and launching the channel’s “Summer Nights” event), the drama casts Chabert as a Chicago-based Web-page designer who inherits an overseas animal reserve. While finding new romance there with a park ranger (Jon Cor), she debates selling the property, which could be disastrous for the animals as well as locals who depend on the site for their livelihoods. Fellow Hallmark veteran Brittany Bristow (“Royal Matchmaker”) also stars.
“Everything was real,” the pleasant Chabert attests of “Love on Safari’s” setting. “We shot it at this beautiful wildlife preserve, and it was an incredible experience to be so up-close and personal with the animals. Obviously, we were very respectful of them, and I just learned so much. The people of South Africa are so kind and good-hearted, and they were so welcoming, it really was a dream come true to be there.”
Despite spending almost a month filming “Love on Safari,” Chabert allows, “I didn’t get a chance to see as much of the area as I would have liked, but what we did have the opportunity to see was absolutely breathtaking.” The star appreciates the film’s advocacy of conservation alongside more traditional Hallmark-movie elements: “This movie has a few different messages, not only about protecting wildlife, but my character really comes into her own. It’s never too late to believe you can do something different.”
Also well-known from the 2004 movie “Mean Girls” (which inspired a current Broadway stage hit), Chabert reports that she maintains close ties to her former “Party of Five” castmates, particularly Neve Campbell and Scott Wolf. “They’re all such special people,” she reflects. “They always will be a huge part of my life, and getting to see their children and introduce them to mine is very exciting for me.”
Chabert’s connection to Hallmark also will continue, since she’ll soon appear in her seventh Christmas movie for the channel (“Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe,” based on a same-named book). “I feel like their movies bring a little light and love into the world,” she says of working so frequently for Hallmark, “and the fans I run into who enjoy them always tell me what it means to them that they can sit down with their entire family and watch them. I’m really proud to be a part of that … and now that I’m a mom, I think about that a lot.”