A MOTHER’S LOVE

Mum-of-two Jen­nifer Love He­witt makes her small-screen re­turn in first re­spon­der drama 9-1-1, writes

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - TV Guide - - News - Michele Manelis

JEN­NIFER Love He­witt only had to turn to her real-life for in­spi­ra­tion when it came to film­ing a dra­matic earth­quake sto­ry­line for her de­but in US drama se­ries 9-1-1.

The 39-year- old Los An­ge­les na­tive has lived long enough on the Northridge fault­line to have her own har­row­ing tale to tell; specif­i­cally re­mem­ber­ing where she was and what she was do­ing when the 6.7-mag­ni­tude ‘ big one’ hit, back in 1994.

But in true Hol­ly­wood style, her per­sonal plot line comes with a glam­orous, if quirky, twist.

“Yes, I was in that earth­quake,” she tells TV Guide. “I was in the mid­dle of try­ing to put on some eye­liner for one of the very first times in my life. I poked my­self in the eye when it started, so it wasn’t very glam­orous,” she laughs.

“My mum and I had an apart­ment with a loft and the stairs ac­tu­ally dis­con­nected dur­ing the quake. I was stuck up­stairs and my mum was stuck down­stairs, so it was quite dra­matic for a few min­utes there.”

Re­minded the disas­ter hit at about 4.30am, I won­der aloud what a 15-year- old Love He­witt was do­ing up at that time, prac­tis­ing her make-up tech­niques?

She bursts out laugh­ing. “I mean, right? It’s a lit­tle dis­turb­ing be­cause I was so young and I was putting on eye­liner ... I don’t know where I was go­ing.” Liv­ing to the tell the tale, Love He­witt says she was ex­cited to hear her open­ing scenes for 9-1-1 would tap into some­thing so fa­mil­iar, al­beit on the “scary” side. “It’s an in­tense episode, but they’ve done a beau­ti­ful job,” she says.

The former Party of Five favourite plays Mad­die, a nurse­turned- emer­gency ser­vices phone op­er­a­tor, who is front and cen­tre when a fic­tional 7.1 quake hits LA.

She re­places Con­nie Brit­ton, who left her role as Abby (though cre­ator Ryan Mur­phy has left the door open for her pos­si­ble re­turn).

It’s Love He­witt’s first role in three years since leav­ing

Crim­i­nal Minds in 2015, back when her two young chil­dren – daugh­ter Au­tumn, 4, and son, At­ti­cus, 3 – had no con­cept of what their mother does for a liv­ing.

Af­ter tak­ing the time out to be a full-time par­ent, she con­cedes it’s “now weird for them” to see her go back to work.

“They’ve es­sen­tially only known me as a woman with no make-up, in a T- shirt and sweat­pants, run­ning them to Mummy and Me classes, paint­ing classes and eat­ing mac and cheese,” she laughs.

Clearly, she rel­ishes her role as a mother, which also helped alle­vi­ate the pain of her mother’s 2012 death from can­cer.

She also met her fu­ture hus­band, The Client List star Brian Hal­lisay, around the same time.

“I needed to take time off so I could en­joy be­ing a kid with my kids and it’s been re­ally fun to do that,” she says.

“I feel like my kids make me bet­ter. They make you have to be a bet­ter per­son ev­ery day. Ev­ery­thing be­comes very clear. Any­thing that you thought was dra­matic be­fore, or re­ally mat­tered be­fore your kids, just doesn’t when you have them.”

Par­ent­ing is sim­ple, she says, “as long as they’re laugh­ing, they’re eat­ing, they’re poop­ing, healthy, smil­ing, suc­cess­ful in school and not at each other’s throats, then the day is easy.”

Love He­witt lit­er­ally grew up on TV, start­ing her ca­reer at the age of 10 when she starred in Kids

In­cor­po­rated. She then ap­peared in nu­mer­ous hits, in­clud­ing Party

of Five (as Sarah Reeves Mer­rin un­til 1999) and 2005 su­per­nat­u­ral drama Ghost Whis­perer, which ran for five sea­sons.

While she has no re­grets about her early start in the busi­ness, she ad­mits “I do feel like I missed things, or rather, things were glossed over quickly be­cause I had to go to work the next day. But I was very lucky. I had a mum who was also my best friend, that took very good care of me, kept all of my pri­or­i­ties straight and never made me feel like I was in a big scary busi­ness.”

Given both of her chil­dren’s par­ents are ac­tors, He­witt re­alises there’s a chance they may one day want to fol­low the same path.

“My hope would be that they wouldn’t go and act at age nine or 10 like I did. But if they do, I’ll pro­tect them,” she smiles.

“I can’t com­plain. My life has been ex­tra­or­di­nary.”

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