A MOTHER’S LOVE
Mum-of-two Jennifer Love Hewitt makes her small-screen return in first responder drama 9-1-1, writes
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.”