Something wicked is coming to TV, but not in a creepy, watch-from-behind-a-couch-cushion kind of way. (No? Just me?) "The Witches Of East End" centres on the sleepy town of East Haven, which gets injected with a little bit of magic when two sisters -- free-spirited wild child Freya (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) and shy, goofy Ingrid (Rachel Boston) -- discover they possess stunning powers. It's a secret their mother, Joanna (Julia Ormond), has been keeping from them for hundreds of years (that's right, hundreds) but you'll soon understand why she did it.
No, no, the show isn't based on the 1987 movie that stars Jack Nicholson and starts with "Witches of East..."; rather, the Lifetime drama (which is executive-produced by Maggie Friedman, who brought "Eastwick" to the small screen) is inspired by Melissa de la Cruz's best-selling novel that follows the lives of the Beauchamp family. The first thing viewers will notice is that the women are all gorgeous and sport big, beautiful soap opera hair, and while the series does have some nighttime soapy qualities, it's kind of like "Practical Magic" meets "Dallas" -- and that's a good thing. The show will cast a spell on viewers, because not only is the acting and writing engaging and funny, it's sexy and mysterious too.
HuffPost Canada TV was on the Vancouver set of Lifetime's next big hit to chat with the cast. And while they didn't spill too much, we managed to scrounge up some information that might come in handy before the show's premiere (and other fun stuff).
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The Ladies Of 'The Witches Of East End'
Jenna Dewan-Tatum As Freya Beauchamp
Rachel Boston As Ingrid Beauchamp
Julia Ormond As Joanna Beauchamp
Eric Winter As Dash Gardiner
Madchen Amick As Wendy Beauchamp
Virginia Madsen As Penelope Gardiner
Jason George As Adam
At The Cemetery
The Four Main Cast Members
From L-R: Madchen Amick, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Julia Ormond, Rachel Boston
Julia Ormond (Joanna Beauchamp, The Family Matriarch)
Why producers wanted her to use her own accent: My accent is all over the place and I think they decided they kind of liked it in terms of living 600 years. My sound is a horrible hybrid mish-mash of years of living here, living there. That's actually quite neat for me to just be able work on my sound because I've actually, as an actor, rarely done it. Even when I first came out in my first job, my natural sound is much more modern or common than the kind of roles I get.
On why the role -- and her voice -- is perfect for the show: The role just fit. It wasn't a conscious choice of mine, it's something they came up with in terms of they would love to see it like that, and it fit the piece in terms of her history, her sound and hiding, and being a little bit different than everyone else. And I think there's also something about the hint of an English accent that sometimes people have a relationship to. In America, in particular, there's always this thing that English people somehow sound smarter, but we're not.
On "Witches'" similarities to "Mad Men" (where Ormond plays Marie Calvet):In order to have it work as a piece and keeping it light, it's challenging. You can't just go in there solid and serious ... Both (shows) are liberating but they're both different. Matt Weiner is very specific on "Mad Men." It's written in the stage directions, but there is something wonderful about that -- that's the piece of dressage that I'm given as an actor to do. This, there's an interaction that lets us change a word here or a word there, there's a flexibility and freedom as the world emerges and relationships change. There is a nice collaborative feeling that we can work stuff through a little bit more. Both are good, they're just different. They're different atmospheres, there are different challenges, it's a different feeling on set.
On advice she received from Sean Connery (her "First Knight" co-star): I loved him, he always gave such practical advice (in a Scottish brogue): "Get over yourself and get on with it. Don't trust anybody."
Jenna Dewan-Tatum (Freya Beauchamp, Joanna's Daughter, Ingrid's Sister, Dash's Fiancé)
On how her hectic life helps her take on Freya: I do think because my brain has to go, OK, come film a scene, I gotta go back and breastfeed, I gotta put her down, wrap her up, come back, what's my line?... there's sort of a thing that my brain is just firing this way so it does translate when I'm in a scene, and I'm with Dash, and then Killian walks in and then I'm like, wait. There's an art to balancing it. Or I'm just scattered all the time. Making Freya quite the frazzled lovely mess is translating in a watchful, relatable way.
On returning to work shortly after having her daughter, Everly (who turned four months old on the day we spoke): The universe has aligned for a lot of good reasons. Being able to come back to work and be creative and doing what I love really helped my energy, my mood has really lifted after such an amazing experience like birth, you definitely go through those first six weeks as a new mom, your hormones are up and down and you're all over the place. Coming to work and being creative really helped me focus and ignite those creative energies which in turn helped me be more present and be a great mom when I'm at home as well.
On her similarities to Freya: In certain ways, I'm very free-spirited like Freya. I don't like rules. I hate to be told no. Very much a free spirit. But I would say Freya definitely acts on her emotions and then thinks about it later and I've always been much more practical and in control of myself and my emotions than she is. Which is why it's really fun to play her, it's kind of every woman's dream to be able to go through life and act on every whim.
How she wants to share her love of dance with "So You Think You Can Dance": I want to be a guest judge so badly. [Speaks into the recorder] Nigel, Jenna wants you. I'm a couch judge. I love that show. That would have been my ultimate goal as a teenager. (Ed. Note: Mr. Lythgoe, are you listening?)
On Everly continuing her and husband Channing Tatum's dance legacy: Since I was professionally dancing, you would either go on tour, do videos or become a choreographer. For me, I didn't want to be a choreographer but I didn't know what I was going to do. Now, I'm finding that dance is more particular, more mainstream and there are ton of opportunities. Like, even the "Step Up" movies, they're doing the fifth one here. We always joke that Everly will be the star of "Step Up 25!"
Rachel Boston (Ingrid Beauchamp, Daughter Of Joanna, Sister Of Freya, Niece Of Wendy)
On how viewers will relate to her character: She's the most content in the life that she lives in this small town. She's very comfortable waking up and going to the library every day, she's inspired by books, by knowledge, by the history of witchcraft but could not ever fathom that she actually possesses this gift that can help transform a community or can help save her sister, her mother, her family. I think the audience relates to the transition that anyone goes to when we have to step into a role we're not ready for. We don't know how it's going to fit, how it's going to work and it's dangerous. So to watch a woman cautiously step into that and to come into her power has been very fun to play.
On Ingrid's relationships with Freya, Joanna and Wendy: They are two women on life paths who support each other because they have this secret, they have this gift. They have become even closer. They're trying to figure out how to navigate life. The four women of this family, it's very empowering. It's four women who support each other and want to help strengthen each other. With Freya and I, there is this deep, deep level of support and not wanting to judge anyone now that we understand the past that we've been through. I do feel it's a more empowering approach.
On how her upbringing is similar to the "Witches" world: I grew up on a mountain [Single Mountain, Tennessee] in a very spiritual community so I always believed there was more than meets the eye. The entire mountain -- it was a big mountain, there was 5,000 - 6,000 people -- is a little town very much like East Haven.
Eric Winter (Dash Gardiner, Brother Of Killian, Son Of Penelope, Fiancée Of Freya)
How a name like Dash pretty much defines his character: His full name is Dashinell. It really kind of sums him up, doesn't it? Dash Gardiner, superhero at night ... it's quite the name. He's no Rex DiMera (his "Days of Our Lives" character). On paper, he looks like he has everything and has it all figured out. That's what you see in him a lot, but as you start to learn a little more about him, he'll continue to evolve with the layers that he has. Nobody's perfect and little by little, those flaws are going to come out.
On Dash probably being the most normal guy in town: He hasn't witnessed some of the crazy stuff that's going on although he's a doctor and the doctor in this small town, he has now stumbled across some of the phenomenon that has taken place. He is unknowingly brought into it a little bit.
On how he was brought into the show: I wasn't a part of the original pilot, so the tone had already been set and I just kind of came into it. I was brought into a recast situation so my first time meeting everyone was here (in Vancouver). They reshot my scenes here. It's a first for me, I've never stepped into a recast role. It was fun, it's always interesting because you're filling the shoes of somebody ... it can be an awkward situation. I had worked with Mädchen before (on "Viva Laughlin") so that made it easier and everyone else has been really nice. It's an intriguing situation to fall into.
Daniel DiTomasso (Killian Gardiner, Brother Of Dash, Son Of Penelope)
On his mysterious character: He's kind of an enigma. In the pilot, he comes back from travelling, he's been on his boat, he's been living all over the place, it's been five years since he's seen his brother, his mother. It's a little bit questionable, some of his behaviour, but he comes back, meets his brother's fiancee, Freya, and there's an undeniable connection there. There's no question this character is mysterious and we'll see whether or not he'll be perceived as dark, but I think as the series develops, you'll see there's more to him. Without question, there is a connection between these two characters because it's a lot deeper than the surface of what you see in the pilot.
His first reaction to reading the script: I thought it was pretty funny and clever. It was fun, there's a certain amount of darkness there, the subject matter can get edgy but at the core of it, it is about family values, it follows four really interesting women. These days, truthfully, in film and TV, you don't see that much written for four really interesting women, so I think that's pretty unique to this project. And right away, I just knew it was fun. And I thought Killian would be a blast to play as well.
How he has nothing but love for his co-stars: All of the actors are amazing and obviously have a lot more experience than me and they've all been so supportive. They've all done a lot of work and they've always been a resource for me when I've had questions, always very encouraging. I've really felt extremely lucky to be part of this particular group. All of these people are so good. I think I won the lottery. The bar's been set pretty high. This is my first project and it's just been such a wonderful smooth transition, just wonderful people I get to work with.
Mädchen Amick (Wendy Beauchamp, Joanna's Sister, Freya And Ingrid's Aunt)
On how it's more than just a supernatural series: It definitely does focus on families and the family dynamic, the drama, but then there's also light moments and a lot of good comedic timing. There's a lot of opportunity for it to not just be a supernatural show. You really get invested in the family dynamic and the family drama of it. And we throw in a little bit of magic here and there.
On the strength of the four leading women: They've really given the four of us women really strong characters. It's really clear how we feel about each other, and no matter what's going on in our lives and how crazy how storylines can be, we always come back together to support each other and I think that's a really important message.
On how her life is similar to Wendy's cat-like ability to have nine lives: I have been through a lot of stuff in my short life that feels like I've gone through many lives, many generations of things. I've survived a plane crash, survived a major car crash, I've lived in so many different places, I've lived all over the world. I was 10 and my step-dad is a pilot and we were flying in a single engine plane, we were flying from Nevada up to Oregon, and halfway through the flight our crank shaft broke, which is the thing that holds the propeller onto the plane. And the propeller flew off in mid-flight. He was amazing, is and was an amazing pilot, had great training, knew how to emergency land. We crashed into the desert in Oregon, lost our wheels and we were actually stuck in Oregon, nowhere near a town and it just so happens a rancher was driving by and noticed our plane was embedded in the ground. Thankfully we were all fine, just the plane itself [was destroyed]. But when the propeller broke, we nosedived immediately. We were in a nosedive straight down and he was able to get control over the plane and land it with just the front of the plane crushing in a little bit. So that could've been one of my lives.
On the "Twin Peaks" love: I run into so many people in the industry that all tip their hat to "Twin Peaks" and it was an inspiration to them. And they got to see that television could be completely different to what it had been before, we really broke out of the box, we weren't following any TV rules.
On how David Lynch works: He very admittedly makes it up as he goes along. He admits he just sits down and lets the story come though him like he's a vessel. A lot of times he doesn't really understand what it means and that's why some of his things are so abstract because he's just letting that creative flow go through him.
"Witches of East End" premieres Sunday, October 6 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Lifetime Canada and Lifetime.