Catherine Bell: JAG to The Good Witch

Catherine Bell gives us the scoop on her Hallmark Channel original movie The Good Witch’s Garden, airing February 13 on the cable network. The former JAG star and current cast member of Army Wives says she is simply following a dream.

Catherine Bell in The Good Witch's GardenCatherine Bell is widely known to audiences for two military-themed shows, both enormous hits.

First, Bell played Lt. Colonel Sarah “Mac” MacKenzie from 1996-2005 opposite James David Elliot on the CBS hit JAG. Then Bell segwayed into showcasing the families that support our military on Army Wives.

The actress began her career with small roles on HBO’s Dream On and Friends. While modeling, Bell caught JAG casting director’s eye as a person who could inhabit the beautiful, smart and tough military attorney they required.

Having starred in both JAG and Army Wives, Bell stresses to SheKnows the importance of having strong military characters on the entertainment landscape. The charming actress also tells us what inspired her to begin the tough journey from unknown performer to successful actress.

Bell chimes

SheKnows: For you personally is there a first memory of acting or anything or something you saw that it clicked and you had to be a part of the entertainment business?

Catherine Bell: I grew up around the business in LA. I did modeling, and I always thought it would be cool to be an actress. I didn’t ever think I could actually do it. I remember seeing the Wizard of Oz and watching her and hearing her sing and how magical that whole experience was – I thought it would incredibly cool to take someone on an adventure like that.

The Good Witch features romance as only Hallmark can

SheKnows: It’s such a career that takes incredible commitment. I always wonder where that genesis arises.

Catherine Bell: It was all out of an effort to better express myself. To express characters that are so different than me and what it means to entertain people and inspire and encourage them during an emotional ride for an hour.

There's something in Catherine's garden

Witchy woman

SheKnows: What first drew you the idea of playing Cassandra Nightingale? Is it that she is a witch?

Catherine Bell: I read the script and fell in love. She’s lovable fun playful passion about life kind of person. That seemed like something fun to do.

SheKnows: And the element of playing a witch had to be appealing to toss into that formula as well.

Catherine Bell: Absolutely, is she a witch? Isn’t she? It’s kind of mysterious, there’s definitely some powers that most of us don’t have.

SheKnows: Also to be part of a television movie that’s getting a sequel, and from the early Buzz, it sounds like you could revisit this character again, is it something you thought when you first tackled Cassandra that it would be something you’d revisit?

Catherine Bell: I think when I first read it, it didn’t think about it. But, once we shot it and it went really, really well, everybody had great chemistry. It was a little open-ended, the end of it. It was like, ‘oh, there could be more here.’ I’m thrilled that people like it and I’m thrilled to do another one and it would be great to couple of these a year. A little series of movies it would be fun.

SheKnows: Movies like that are working out really well for Noah Wyle and The Librarian. Just keep doing them!

Catherine Bell in CBS' JAGCatherine Bell: Yeah, exactly. It’s a character people know and a few times a year they get to go on another adventure with her, it’s cool.

SheKnows: A part of that appeal in this movie and that character is honestly the work that you’ve done over the years and the fan base you’ve built for work that you bring. Is there a common thread to the characters you’ve played? Or is it that each project is unique and you feel lucky and keep doing it?

Catherine Bell: (laughs) I feel very fortunate to have the career I have, to get these wonderful roles. All very different, some strong and tense – kickboxing one minute – weak, sometimes they’re comedy like Bruce Almighty. This, is a romantic comedy, really light family movie with a heart. I love it. I’m enjoying every bit of my career.

SheKnows: You mentioned Bruce Almighty and you played Miss Ortega and the way you pronounced her name is become comically iconic. Was the pronunciation of that name written in the script or did you bring that comic gem?

Catherine Bell: That was something I did on the audition and they loved it and kept it in. You know being in LA, the ones with the Hispanic last names don’t sound Hispanic at all until they say their last name (laughs).

{healdine}Catherine Bell, reporting for dutySheKnows: Whether it’s playing a part of a military family on Army Wives or a strong military character like on JAG, the importance of that on the entertainment landscape?

Catherine Bell: It’s kind of a funny coincidence that I’ve been on shows that are military. The shows are so different. JAG was a fun; action packed – a little Few Good Men, a little Top Gun – adventure. Army Wives is so much more about families and relationships and life — the ups and downs. But again, as you said, both are so important. Presenting our military as the strong and passionate people that they are and now the families who support them who are equally strong in what they do. I feel very fortunate to be able to represent these guys.

The cast of Army Wives staring Catherine Bell (far right, top)

SheKnows: I’ve covered the military a lot, and I can tell you that your performance in both those shows deeply resonates.

Catherine Bell: Definitely – I hear that from them a lot. It makes it really special.


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