Lisa Durupt talks Hallmark’s Reunited At Christmas in new interview

During a recent interview with Lisa Durupt, we discussed her upcoming roles in Hallmark’s Reunited At Christmas, Benchwarmers 2, and Fox’s biographical-drama Breakthrough.

As one of the most recognized names on the Hallmark Channel, Lisa Durupt has established herself as a force to be reckoned with. She’s appeared in a number of movies for Hallmark and doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. Keep in mind that Durupt also has a career outside of the TV movie arena.

In terms of upcoming roles, Durupt will make her next appearance in Hallmark’s Reunited At Christmas. She’ll be playing a character by the name of Annie who’s summoned back to her family home when she finds out her late grandmother has arranged a Christmas reunion for them.

Following Reunited At Christmas, Durupt is going to appear in the long-anticipated sequel to Benchwarmers. This quasi-sequel to the 2006 breakout comedy isn’t a direct continuation but it possesses all of the same elements that the original did. A few of the actors who appeared in the original will also be in the sequel but Rob Schneider, Jon Heder, and David Spade are not returning.

In addition to Benchwarmers 2, Durupt also has an upcoming part in Fox’s Breakthrough. Durupt will portray Paula Noble, one of the people who came to Smith’s side after his incident.

Breakthrough chronicles the true events of John Smith’s life following his drowning — a terrible experience that Smith survived.

For those unfamiliar with the story, John Smith fell into Lake St. Louise and remained submerged for almost an hour. The young man was pronounced dead but eventually resuscitated with minimal injuries and no damage to his brain.

Hidden Remote: Lisa, for Reunited At Christmas, your character Annie is going to be directly involved in Samantha’s Christmas reunion. What can you tell me about your character’s role in Samantha’s get together?

Lisa Durupt: Annie is Sam’s sister so she too is summoned back home, having received a letter from her late grandmother. Upon arrival, the family dynamics of the usually distant Murphy family become adorably awkward very fast.

Annie, the fun-loving school teacher takes on a supportive role as the easy-going mediator who also provides love advice to her career-driven sister. When Simon, Sam’s long-term boyfriend joins the family for his first-ever family Christmas experience, Annie ends up helping Sam sort through what her true feelings are for him before the rest of the family can find out.

HR: With Nikki DeLoach playing the lead and having acted opposite her in the past (The Perfect Catch and A Dream Of Christmas), was it easier shooting scenes together in Reunited At Christmas?

Durupt: Working with Nikki is quite possibly the easiest job I have ever (or will ever) have. This was our third film together and from day one we have genuinely become as close as sisters. She is also really talented so playing with her is not only fun but effortless.

So many times the director, Steven Monroe, had to kindly ask us to stop laughing so we could finish a take. He had worked with us both on The Perfect Catch so he knew what he signed up for, but I am sure we still drove him a little nuts at times — with love of course.

HR: Having worked together on a few projects together, have you and Nikki developed a friendship since?

Durupt: In real life, we are extremely good friends. Nikki has such a big heart and so much positive energy that you cannot help but love and adore her. She is always my first call when I’m heading to Los Angeles. I constantly find myself asking her for advice and guidance, she really is a big sister to me and I am so grateful for our relationship.

HR: What would you say makes Reunited at Christmas stand out from the rest of Hallmark’s Christmas-themed TV movies?

Durupt: I think viewers will respond to several things which set this film apart from some of the others this season. While the others are all great and have lots to offer the true Hallmark fans or newbies alike, this story touches on the idea that divorce is no longer really taboo. It is a common topic that so many wonderful families navigate quite well, with love and respect. Hallmark does not tend to talk about that very often and I am really proud of Nikki for coming up with a story that addresses it.

Another idea that I really took to was that not every Christmas movie family has kids. Both of us are no longer in our 20’s and having one married daughter with no kids and one that is not even married yet was refreshing. I think it’s was very smart of Hallmark to showcase another beautiful option of what of today’s families look like.

The bonus was that they allowed us to do so as an ensemble cast which was extremely fun. I was proud to be a part of what I think is going to be a new and even more successful chapter for Hallmark.

HR: Is there anything else you’d like to add about Reunited At Christmas?

Durupt: Annie definitely wins the award for the best gingerbread decorating skills in the family. Her hubby, not so much! Lol.

HR: Aside from Reunited at Christmas, you’ll be featured in another TV movie this year, Christmas Lost And Found. You’re playing a character by the name of Gloria. Who is she in the film?

Durupt: Gloria is the owner of a long-running beloved family department store desperately in need of some last minute assistance over the holidays. Hollywood gem Diane Ladd plays Frances and the hilarious Tiya Sircar plays her granddaughter Whitney, who by chance encounter, saves the day.

HR: Not many details are known about Christmas Lost And Found, what if anything can you tell me about the movie and your part in it?

Durupt: Christmas Lost and Found is the story of a busy event planner named who decides to head home and spend the holidays with her grandmother for the first time in years. Not only does she come across an old flame (Brian played by Ed Ruttle), she accidentally throws out a box of very sentimental family Christmas ornaments while decorating Granny’s tree.

The hunt is on to find them; however, she is thrown a curveball when her main focus is sidetracked by local business owner Gloria who enlists her services to save her family’s department store. It is a beautiful story about literally stopping to take stock of what is really important in life.

I think it is a lesson we can all relate to but rarely take the time to follow through on. It airs on Lifetime in early December.

HR: Outside of the TV movie arena, you also have roles in Benchwarmers 2 and Fox’s Breakthrough coming up. Are you beginning to act in different genres or have you always taken a broad approach to the projects you work on?

Durupt: I have been really fortunate to have a wide variety of roles in different genres since I first started. From an MTV movie with Lizzy Caplan right out of the gate to doing stunt work for several years, then landing my first series regular role in a dark comedy series for Mark McKinney.

I even got to dance in Shall We Dance with Stanley Tucci, I am a bit of a jack of all trades and I welcome it. I think it is important to constantly push yourself outside of the imposed comfort zone others might have picked for you.

HR: As for Benchwarmers 2, are you in a supporting role or does your character play a more prominent role in the quasi-sequel?

Durupt: Dana is one of my favorite types of characters to play. She is a loveable villain interjected into her ex-husband Ben’s (Chris Klein) storyline to add just enough extra chaos to what is an already tense situation.

The overall cast was very much an ensemble, but Dana and her son hold a special place in the film because they bring out Ben’s struggle to navigate the idea of a healthy family dynamic after a very bitter divorce.

Lisa Durupt

Image Credit: Photography by Kristine Kofsky. Photo courtesy of Katz Public Relations

HR: Benchwarmers 2 should have a fair amount of laughs in it. Does your character get to participate in the comedic parts?

Durupt: Oh, Dana is definitely involved in the comedic scenes. The more viewers can relate to a situation and think to themselves “Oh my gosh that is so true!” the more they respond to the comedy. Because Ben and Dana are forced to deal with issues so many divorced couples will recognize every time he comes to pick up their son at her house, I have no doubt that people will enjoy their short and not so sweet interactions.

HR: What, if anything, would you like to add about Benchwarmers 2?

Durupt: Chris Klein is one of the kindest people I have ever met. Talk about a total gentleman! We hit it off instantly. I definitely want to work with him again soon.

HR: And for Breakthrough, you’re in a role opposite Topher Grace. He’s playing Pastor Jason Noble while you’ll play Paula Noble, Jason’s wife. Pastor Jason appears to have an integral role to play but what does Paula add to the film?

Durupt: Paula was and is what we all want out of our life partner: A champion for our well-being, someone that makes us want to be a better person, someone who loves us unconditionally through anything. She is a feisty, no-nonsense, loving mother who is devoted not only to her husband, her children, and her faith, but to the success of all who attend their church.

When her husband is called upon to support a young boy who has fallen through the ice of Lake St. Louise, she selflessly steps up to support the community, organizing help and support from the church congregation for the victim’s family. All the while, she is encouraging her husband to do whatever he needs to do to be there for the young boy and his family.

HR: Surely, Paula isn’t just the wife to Pastor Jason. Who is she in this world?

Durupt: She is the ultimate mama bear. She is kind, warm, and welcoming but underneath it all, she is stronger than you will ever know.

HR: Since Paula Noble is based on a real person, did you conduct any additional research into the role after you accepted the part? Or did Fox’s production team give you all the necessary information beforehand?

Lisa Durupt: I was able to research her a bit on the internet but the ultimate discovery was meeting the real-life Pastor Noble. I was able to ask him all about her. The love he so evidently has for her and the adorable, kindhearted way he spoke of her really gave me some insight into what their relationship must be like.

HR: What did you take away from your time working on this biographical feature?

Durupt: There were so many moments that I found myself trying to not forget but I would have to say as an actor, it was chatting with the insanely talented cast. Their stories are all so different but yet so inspiring in their own way.

As a person, it’s the unbelievable story of a mother that would not give up on her child and the community that rallied behind her. At the end of the day, that is true love and that is what we should all strive for

Next: Interview: General Hospital's Carolyn Hennesy

HR: Would you accept another role in a different biography having worked on Breakthrough?

Durupt: Oh, without a doubt. I don’t look a thing like her but I would swing for fences and take on the amazing life of Bette Midler any day!

Reunited At Christmas is currently airing on the Hallmark Channel. Benchwarmers 2 is set for a release date of February 5, 2019. Fox’s Breakthrough opens in theaters on April 12, 2019. For more on Lisa Durupt, check out her Twitter Page here at @thelisadurupt.

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