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Roma Downey at the launch of IrishCentral.com

Roma Downey: My return to the acting life

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Roma Downey at the launch of IrishCentral.com

The rich are getting poorer in Ireland, but our Roma bucks the trend... Click here

Well, I decided to get back in front of the camera this year and was lured away from sunny Malibu to damp and chilly Vancouver to film a lovely movie called "Come Dance at My Wedding."
 
I star opposite John Schneider (you all remember him as the tall blonde actor from "The Dukes of Hazzard," and more recently, from “Smallville.")

Well, he is still tall and blonde -- and a really nice guy. The movie also stars a lovely young actress, Brooke Nevin, She is fresh, new, up-and-coming and could not be a nicer girl! Her youth makes me feel protective and maternal. I am sure I see myself in her, starting out all those years ago.

It's been a while since I acted, and I wondered how it would feel to be back on a movie set. Well, I am happy to report that it's much like riding a bike: It all came back to me in a heartbeat. But after two 15-hour workdays in a row, I crawled exhausted into my hotel bed and asked myself, "Why am I doing this again?"

But the truth is that the creative process of coming together with a group of like-minded people to bring a script to life is stimulating, exciting and fun.

Sure, the hours are long and it's hard to pretend you're feeling romantic when your nose is dripping and your hair is wilting from the endless dampness -- but that's the challenge.

Also, working with John Schneider -- a very tall actor -- reminded me of my first-ever film experience.

I had come up through the theater. I had trained for and worked entirely on the stage until I got my "break" in a TV show with the rather unfortunate title "The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage." I know you've never heard of it! It was so bad it never actually made it on the air!

But I was naive and didn't know this at the time, so I set off for Miami thrilled that here I was, Roma Downey, formerly of Beechwood Ave. Derry City, had been cast as the female lead in an American TV show. I knew nothing about acting for the camera and I certainly knew none of the jargon and terminology that they all spoke with such ease. But afraid to look stupid, I decided not to let on that I knew nothing -- and I nooded and agreed and tried to look smart when they spoke to me.

But the truth was that I had no idea really what was being discussed half the time. I do remember that at 5'4" I looked somewhat petite next to the over six-foot-tall hunky leading man. As we were about to do a scene, the director suggested I needed an "apple." I thought that was an unusual thing to say. In my mind, I started planning what moment in the scene I would either polish it or bite it, and I was worrying it would get stuck in my teeth! As I was mulling all this, a crew member came up and placed a box under my feet to make me taller.

Then, just as we were about to "roll camera," I put my hand up (as if I were back at convent school with the nuns), and asked with all sincerity where my apple was? Needless to say, the crew roared with laughter and shouted to me: "You're standing on it, love!"

Of course, the box was nicknamed an apple box! I have since learned there is also a "half apple" and even a "pancake" if you just need just a little extra height.

Believe me, over the years I have stood on all of them My father used to say I was hiding behind the door when the long legs were being given out. I have spent much of my career standing on an apple box.

And it was no different in Vancouver, with the 6'-4" John Schneider opposite me. At least after all these years, I finally knew what they are talking about when they called for an apple box!

So, if you like old-fashioned stories with heart, check out  “Come Dance at My Wedding" on The Hallmark Channel on June 6.

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