If Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street), Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th), or Michael Myers (Halloween) are not your idea of a fun fright night for Halloween, the Hallmark Channel has an alternative that is guaranteed not to be terror inducing. The family friendly network is premiering the seventh movie in The Good Witch franchise — The Good Witch's Wonder — just in time for those who want to get into the spirit of the holiday but keep their wits about them.
"You never quite know if she is or isn't a witch," Catherine Bell tells Bio.com about her starring role as Cassie Nightingale. "The broom will sometimes appear, and then someone does a double-take, but she's just sort of smiling innocently. So it's left to the imagination."
This time out, the Good Witch has a mystery to deal with when her newly hired assistant disappears, along with auctions items that were gathered to raise funds for a town project. Cassie must act fast to conjure up the truth and save the day before time runs out.
Bell reached out from the set of The Good Witch to talk about transitioning the movie franchise to a series in 2015, her new, short haircut, what she and her children will be wearing for Halloween, and more.
We are now seven movies into The Good Witch franchise and it's going to be a series in 2015. Why do people enjoy it so much?
It's amazing. I don't know if it's because it's a feel-good show, or that there's not a lot of shows out there like it. Don't get me wrong, I love Game of Thrones and all the deep, dark stuff, but sometimes it's nice to just lay in bed, eat popcorn and watch something that makes us feel good about life and the nature of humanity.
The name of her shop is Bell, Book and Candle, which is the name of the movie with Kim Novak, in which she gives up being a witch to love a mortal (Jimmy Stewart)... so is that an additional factor in our believing she's a witch?
Probably. All the little implications: She has the black cat, and she has that huge pot in one of the first movies where she's making a witch's brew. It's probably chicken soup, but…
To me, her powers seem to be more psychic, knowing what people need, being able to see into the future, rather than actually brewing up potions or casting spells — unless she does that when we're not looking.
That's how I've always played it. Whether it's real or not, some people have more intuition than others and she certainly has it. We've all met people who tell us things about ourselves, or call us the exact moment we need it the most even if we haven't talked to them in a year. You know that stuff where you go, "Wow, that was cool," and she's just full of those things.
So now that she has a baby daughter. Does she have any thoughts that maybe her gift has been passed on?
Yes, I think that's definitely a possibility. As you know we're doing a series, and Bailey Madison is playing my daughter. I believe we will be wondering if she's got the same abilities that Cassie has.
Can you fill us in on the transition to series?
Bailey is 13, so definitely it's going to be a little bit later. That way we get to have more of the mother/daughter issues that are going to come up, as opposed to just a cute little toddler. Oddly enough, Bailey looks much more like my daughter than my real daughter does. If she does have those powers and uses them the wrong way as a 13-year old might, does mom come bail her out and how does mom handle that? So, lots of fun opportunities there.
We have to address your haircut. It was even mentioned in the movie because it's such a big change. Why did you decide to chop it off?
For nine years I had to have short hair on JAG, because they didn't want my hair up in a bun the whole series. The last season of JAG, I begged to get extensions, so my character had long hair, and then, finally, my hair grew out. Then Army Wives was the opposite. I had long hair the whole time and was dying to go back to short hair. So I did it in stages. I went shoulder-length and then chin-length. I get bored with my hair. I go to Chris McMillan and he was starting to chop everyone's hair off at that time and I was like, "Do it, just do it. Keep it feminine but shave the sides a little bit." It grew out for filming this and now it's back to chin-length. So, I think, when we do the series we're going to have sort of a chin-length bob.
You moved to Charleston for Army Wives, but now you're back in L.A. Will you move the family to Canada to film The Good Witch series?
I had one child, Gemma, at that time and she was about two and a half. So it was really easy to pick her up out of preschool and go find a new preschool, no problem. And then at the end of that show, she was eight or nine, and then I had a son. So the show ended and friends and family were here and the business is here, so we came back to LA. Now, I can't do that to them again. Gemma's now in sixth grade.
So I'm going to be the one going back and forth. It's a short season. It's like four and a half months or so. So I'll go back and forth. Not every weekend., but, hopefully, every other weekend three or four days at a time, and they'll come once or twice, and there's Christmas in the middle. We get a couple of weeks off. That breaks it up.
So Halloween is around the corner. Other than The Good Witch, what are your favorite movie or TV witches?
The Witches of Eastwick. I haven't seen that movie in a while, but that's the first thing that popped to mind. Also, I grew up watching Bewitched.
Favorite Halloween memories from childhood?
Oh, I have so many. It was my favorite holiday. I think it is for most kids, right? Probably the year that I was Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter. I had the full costume and the wrist things. I felt so cool.
Then, it was probably a little bit later, [when I was] in high school, Prince became really, really famous, and I was Prince that Halloween, and there was a contest, which I won. I went all out. I curled my hair and went to a thrift shop and found this purple satin jacket with the white ruffled shirt. I mean the whole thing.
So how is Halloween different for you as a mom? What kind of costumes do your kids like to wear?
Oh, my gosh, my kids love it. We've already decorated the house. There's stuff everywhere. This year my son is going to be Darth Vader. So I just got my stormtrooper costume, so that I can protect him, but it's really fun. My daughter's now thinking she might want to make her own costume. We've always done store-bought so she's being creative.