“She doesn’t even go here!”
Sound familiar? It’s a line so many of this generation are familiar with. Actress Jill Morrison got her start on the big screen as the young, emotional girl who wanted everyone to be happy in the blockbuster hit movie Mean Girls. We’re happy to say that Jill has come so far since then.
Since her breakout role in the film, Jill has been working steadily for almost 10 years. Along with an impressive list of guest starring roles, viewers will most recently recognize Jill from CityTV. Jill has a hilarious recurring role on “Package Deal”, a series in front of a live audience that boasts guest stars like Pamela Anderson and Eugene Levy. Jill will also be appearing in a recurring role for “When Calls The Heart”, a new series for the popular Hallmark network.
We recently had the opportunity to exclusively chat with Jill about her upcoming role on “When Calls The Heart”, her role on “Package Deal”, and what fans can expect from her next.
Read on for our interview with Jill Morrison:
Pop City Life: How did you decide to get into acting? Were you inspired or influenced by anyone?
Jill Morrison: I always knew I wanted to be an actor, from when I was a tot. I just always knew. I loved to make my family laugh, and anyone I met really. I grew up in small towns so opportunities were thin. I was a part of any community theatre I could get my hands on, I loved the stage and wanted so much to be up there. When it came the end of high school, a small town girl with very little knowledge- I auditioned for university acting programs and soon was off to the University of Windsor to dedicate myself to a classically trained acting program for four years. After that, I was ready to audition for whatever I could get my hands on.
And it’s been a tumbleweed, up and down. But I have always been inspired by others, I loved the movies, and my blood would boil when I would hear the 20th Century Fox music, I wanted it. I grew up watching sitcoms, and wishing so much that I could act out all the silly things I saw on TV. When I was young it was certain shows that inspired me, Third Rock from the Sun to 21 Jumpstreet. I wanted to be dramatic and to run from monsters, and I wanted to make people laugh. I think SNL was a big one for me though, I loved all the different characters on the show. I feel like I could list so many actors that inspire me, so I will choose the three I grew up watching and admiring, and studying – Of course, Meryl, then Kate and Reese.
Your breakout role in ‘Mean Girls’ has become practically iconic. In my opinion, ‘Mean Girls’ is this generation’s ‘Clueless’. How does it feel to be apart of something so memorable and loved?
Jill: I still laugh at the amount of attention I get for Mean Girls. When I filmed that it was my first time on set. I was pretty scared. Doing that scene in front of hundreds of extras, and Tina Fey of all people. I never could have forseen what it would do for me. It has been quite a blessing for me in my career, leading me to other jobs and opportunities. It always makes me smile when someone expresses their feelings to me about that part, or reenact the lines to me. People love to yell out ‘She doesn’t even go here’ quite often. Its pretty cool how it always makes everyone laugh. So I would say it’s pretty wonderful to be a part of something like that.
Can you talk a little bit about your role on Package Deal? How would you describe your character and the series for someone thinking of tuning in?
Jill: As I watch the episodes every week of Package Deal, I really see how unique it is. The characters on it are different from any I can see on TV! Sheldon and Ryan raised their brother Danny, giving them a ‘special bond’. Danny’s girlfriend Kim has to deal with all this. Nikki sneaks her way into the group, and is a blast to play. Whenever you have to bite your lip in life from saying something inappropriate, or not saying what you really wanted to say, Nikki says it. Which is so fun. She lives for the now, enjoys life and doesn’t worry too much about what anyone thinks. She is sarcastic and sassy, and that bump in her dress is her flask.
Playing her and being on the set with my funny family was the most wonderful experience of my life. It was so incredible to be able to grow with this character and to play out all the shenanigans that occur in Package Deal. You never know what to expect from the characters when you watch the show, what they could be up to – always something different or over the line. And then there is this lovely element of sweetness and love for each other on top of wackiness. And also, check out the list of names behind the creator and writers. I would just swallow my disbelief sometimes when I would listen to their stories of when they wrote or worked on ‘Roseanne’ or ‘Seinfeld’ or ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ or ‘Grace Under Fire’… the list keeps going. Package Deal has a whole bunch of brilliant Canadians who came together and created gold. So many talented people brought this show to CityTV, and that’s why I think it will continue to grow its fan base. At the end of the day, people like to laugh and that’s what you can expect from PD :).
After appearing in many films and guest starring roles, is there something you prefer about the sitcom format as an actress?
Jill: Learning the four camera technique for Package Deal was the most challenged I have ever been as an actress. I was lucky to be taught by the most amazing people, but it is very exciting to be challenged like that everyday, to constantly be on your toes, to stay sharp. While filming, the writers are constantly giving the cast new lines. Which is amazing, often occurring in front of the live audience- they come up and tell us our new lines, sometimes 2-3 new ones, and its all verbal.
In the first week, I was scrambling to find a pen to write down my new lines that I was about to roll on. As I grew within the format, I thrived under the thrilling challenge of a new line. I loved the challenge, loved the way we moved and used our instincts together. To work closely with the camera operators to make it all work, to watch the writers huddle around each other and come up with brilliance, to feel free to play as your character, and how the writers would enrich the character with the actor as the series goes, and how we would develop this person together, it was incredible. It was truly a dream come true for me to do this everyday, to be a part of a crew and a cast that were a family together, using our instincts, skills, and talents to create something special. All with the same goal, to create laughter. Normally on set, all you hear when rolling is the actors lines or ‘shhhh’. On a sitcom, go ahead, laugh. It was freeing for everybody, and I think coming to that environment everyday could only develop something worth your time, and your funny bone.
You’ll also be appearing next year in the Hallmark series When Calls The Heart. Can you talk about how you got involved with the series? How did you react when you found out you got the part?
Jill: When Calls the Heart has been such a lovely experience. The moment I got the script for the audition, I connected to it deeply. I am always really happy when I can be a part of something that makes people happy, make them laugh yes, but I know people need to watch TV or movies sometimes and just forget about their problems. It’s so nice to be a part of something that is pure storytelling, that you know will make people feel good when they watch it. And it’s such a good feeling to know we are doing that with this series. As a child, I loved ‘Little House on the Prairie’, I used to watch it with my sisters and my parents.
Michael Landon always reminded us of our own Dad, and he has since passed away. It has a special place in our hearts that show. So when I saw who I was auditioning for, who was doing this show, Michael Landon Jr. I felt so many things. Also just privileged to audition for him, he was like a light when I walked in the room, and that experience with him was almost enough. Of course, getting the part is better! I have loved being on the set and this experience was enriched by one of my best friends in the world also cast in it, Loretta Walsh. I have been so lucky to work with amazing directors while on the show, and everyone there is so nice and happy to do such an amazing project. Working on a period piece, everyone involved is working hard to make it magical. I think it’s a show that will be on TV for many years, and that a lot of people will love how much of our history it tells, and the incredible perseverance of people in such hardships as a failing coal mining town, and the strength of woman. It’s been a real honor to work on it.
Your resume is already so impressive and it just continues to grow. What does it mean to you to be so successful and to get to say you have shared the screen with some fantastic actors and actresses?
Jill: It’s been ten years since my first job, Mean Girls, and it’s been amazing. I have met some incredible people, worked with idols and had my dreams come true. It has also been an incredible struggle, with many ups and downs. It not an easy path. But when I think about this question, I feel deeply happy about my experiences. I worked and fought for them, and they have been worth every step. That’s what I always say to younger or less experienced actors, just keep going, even if it sucks sometimes, cause it’s worth it. So worth it. I feel deeply blessed and lucky to be able to do this for a living, to live my dream, and I can’t wait to keep going and keep doing more. And sometimes I do wanna pinch myself when I am working with people I have looked up to for years.
Your role in LEAP 4 YOUR LIFE is described as mostly improvised. Is improvised comedy something you are looking to explore more of in the future? Is this something that comes naturally for you?
Jill: Leap for Your life was so fun. Taylor and Barbara Hill wrote a brilliant script. I was so lucky to act out their lines, and also so lucky that they let me go for it with improvisation. I love to improvise, I feel so free. I started when I was fairly young, starting up improv groups in my community and doing murder mysteries. I remember my first paycheck for $35 for a murder mystery at 15. I loved it right away. I continued to do it throughout university and afterwards, lots of sketch comedy groups. As time went on, I did move away from that world but have used that skill often on set and in auditions. I do feel strong about it and allow myself to just go there without thinking. I have been fortunate enough to do quite a bit of improv on camera.
It would be a dream to be in a Christopher Guest movie, to embody a character and then the freedom to say what you think that person would say. It’s an exhilarating place to be when improvising, to fully take on another person. I recently filmed a role in Step Up 5 where it was completely improvised, it’s challenging too, you have to be sharp! I remember filming To the Mat, and the director told me he was just going to roll and I could do what I wanted. What a golden ticket for an actor! I thrive under that, and have so much fun. Sometimes in my head, I think, “I get payed for this, crazy”
Do you have a “Most Memorable Moment” from your career so far?
Jill: To be honest, the most memorable part of my career has been the first night I filmed in front of the live audience on Package Deal. It felt like I was suppose to be in that spot, on that stage, for the rest of my life. It felt so right, and I felt deeply joyful and also I couldn’t believe it. To do that job, to be in a sitcom. Right before I booked the role, I was planning on leaving for LA, on a mission to be in a sitcom. And then a long came my audition for Nikki, that changed my life. I was finally a part of a TV family. My funny family!
What’s next for you? Is there anything else that you’re working on that fans can look forward to?
Jill: Well, I will be busy working on When Calls the Heart for a while now into the new year, and I am loving my part on the show. I have exciting news for why I will be so busy in the spring and summer, something that will make me and my fans happy, and I sadly cant divulge yet, just that I will be a busy bee having the time of my life…..
Finally, just wanted to say kudos to your “Jurassic Park Phase”. Best movie ever. That must have been hard to reenact in your backyard.
Jill: Haha thanks! I am so glad you appreciate it. It’s amazing how much one can imagine a T Rex chasing you when you have just the right amount of crazy needed to be an actor. I was just re enacting Twilight last night…
We’d like to thank Jill Morrison for taking the time to answer some questions for us. We really appreciate it!
Be sure to check out Jill on “Package Deal” as well as “When Calls The Heart”!
You can stay up-to-date with Jill by following her on Twitter @Jillactress.