Annette O’Toole tastes authentic and liberates ‘Virgin River’ role

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Annette O’Toole enjoys her “Virgin River” role as the unpredictable mayor of a small town whose peaceful forested surroundings betray the roller coaster lives of its residents. increase.

Her personality is older, but she’s not always smart, including in love. This goes against Hollywood’s tendency to see Midlife Plus as past its sell-by date for its nuanced storytelling, and O’Toole considers himself lucky to be playing Hope McCrea.

Let it be double luck.That meant Hope was mostly absent last season when the actor chose to stay with his 97-year-old mother during the worst of the pandemic. this season Both comebacks, thanks to series creator Sue Tenney.

“She called me and said, ‘You’re in the hospital. You’ve been in a terrible car accident,'” Tenney said of Hope’s frontier condition. , Tenney let the actors decide.Would you like to return to the series based on the Robin Carr novel starring Alexandra Breckenridge?

“Are you kidding?” O’Toole replied. That kind of earnestness is characteristic, with few gaps in her, including nearly 100 film and TV credits (“Superman III,” “Nash on Her Bridges,” “Smallville,” etc.). Proven by resume. She played Rose Her Fitzgerald Her Kennedy in the 1990 miniseries The Kennedys of Massachusetts, for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award.

She is also active in theater and is a songwriter with her husband, Michael McKean. Some of their songs include the Oscar-nominated ballad “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow.” Then her Spinal Tap backup singer has bragging rights. Satire movie fame.

O’Toole, 70, was downright good-natured in a phone interview with the Associated Press while filming Season 5 in Vancouver. She’s “emotionally at stake” more than ever, and the town “will really come together,” she said of her next season.

No spoilers, but O’Toole gave us a glimpse into how her character is portrayed, Hope’s relationship with Doc Mullins, played by Tim Matheson, and finding the right partner in her second husband McKean. I was candid about my luck finding. Comments have been edited for clarity and brevity.


AP: “Virgin River” isn’t science fiction or fantasy, it’s just human drama. Was it the appeal?

O’Toole: That’s right. It’s about people and their problems and beautiful communities. And Sue Tenney was very generous. Because this character doesn’t really appear much in the books. You don’t do it (a project) to make it big. The chances of that happening are very slim. Do it because you want to and people like it. And at this point in my career, it’s doing something I’ve never done before. Because I could help make her a little more real than a lot of what I’ve read about bodies.

AP: What did you want to see in Hope instead?

O’Toole: I just wanted her to be complicated. A woman who doesn’t have answers even at her age.She doesn’t have a stable relationship to begin with. She is very rocky. It’s interesting to me, who has been through most of her life and still doesn’t understand. She is impulsive and stubborn, very generous, very kind and loving. I just wanted a perfect person.

AP: Outside of long and loving marriages and widows, it’s rare to see older characters. Hope and Doc’s story isn’t the show’s central relationship, but it’s the focus.

O’Toole: How interesting that he was having an affair early in their marriage and she can’t let him go. She never divorced him. She never said, well, that’s all. Tim is amazing and we came up with the full life they had together. Our way of thinking about marriage is that marriage can be done whether you want it or not.

AP: Hope is an attractive woman who doesn’t hide her age with hair color or heavy makeup. Given the desire for women to stay forever young, how do you play a character who says, “Here I am, the world, an older woman?”

O’Toole: Great. When I started, I was really young and kind of original. I’m not worried about it, and it’s life too. Hope and I feel the same way about it. Who are we trying to make fun of? Especially if you’re an actress, they can look you up (online) and see how old you are, everything you’ve done, and all the pictures of you.

AP: You and Michael have been married for over 20 years, and that’s impressive for any couple, especially in the entertainment industry.

O’Toole: We are really good buddies. He just left and is coming to London to shoot another Netflix series, The Diplomat. COVID has been so bad, but we’ve been so lucky because it was the most consecutive days we’ve ever been together in our marriage. I notice. It was hard because we were together all the time, and we talked about the first time we said goodbye and how we were lucky. We were so lucky to find each other. I can’t imagine my life without him, and he says the same thing about me.