Hallmark’s month-long Loveuary with Jane Austen continues this weekend with Alison Sweeney’s newest movie, Love & Jane – and in honor of the premiere, FIRST for Women caught up with the Days of Our Lives favorite turned Hallmark star, executive producer, and writer.
Sweeney shares everything you need to know about her new Hallmark rom-com, Love & Jane, teases how Victor Webster will fit into the next Hannah Swensen Mystery, and talks Days’ Sami Brady. Plus, the mom to two teenagers reveals her top health and beauty tips!
Hallmark star Alison Sweeney previews Love & Jane
When the trailer for Hallmark’s Love & Jane dropped, Alison Sweeney was busy shooting the next installment of the Hannah Swensen Mystery franchise – and she was positively giddy.
“I was showing it to everyone on set,” Sweeney tells FIRST. “It’s just so cute!”
In her newest Hallmark rom-com, which premieres on February 10, Sweeney plays a book lover and writer named Lilly who finds herself in a bit of a rut. Things take a turn, however, after Lilly’s wish to talk to her favorite author comes true and Jane Austen appears in her living room.
“I’m a huge Jane Austen fan, so when the director, David Weaver, pitched me this idea for a love letter to Jane Austen, I agreed 100% it should be a movie,” Sweeney shares. “I’ve been part of developing and executive producing Love & Jane since day one. This is our baby, and I’m so thrilled with it. I’m falling in love with it all over again!”
Love & Jane is the second installment of Hallmark’s Loveuary with Jane Austen, which features a new Jane-inspired movie every Saturday in February.
“When Hallmark first told us there were these other Jane Austen concepts, I felt my heart drop,” Sweeney admits. “And then they said, ‘So we’re going to do a whole Jane Austen month.’ It’s genius! I can’t imagine a better way to honor Loveuary than with Jane Austen.”
Alison Sweeney reunites with Hallmark hunk Benjamin Ayres
While Love & Jane is about Lilly finding herself, this Loveuary tale is also about, well… finding love! Sweeney was thrilled to bring the romance to life with costar Benjamin Ayres, yet again.
“Ben is amazing and talented,” she raves. “We did five movies together, and it’s fun to have that comfort with an actor – especially when you’re tackling new roles and something totally different, like Lilly and Ben’s character, Trevor.”
Interestingly, as Sweeney was shooting this movie about a writer who has lost her mojo, the star was also writing the outline for her very first Hallmark script – the next installment of her Hannah Swensen Mystery franchise.
“It did feel very meta to me,” says Sweeney, who adds that the creative, comic energy on the set of Love & Jane helped fuel her ideas for Hannah’s newest mystery – as did walks with her dog and some intense Peloton sessions!
“My best ideas always happen when I’m working out,” Sweeney explains. “Inevitably, it’s always when I’m dripping in sweat that I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s how I’m going to fix that.’ So I get a good workout…and good ideas.”
Alison Sweeney talks A Hannah Swensen Mystery after Cameron Mathison
Cameron Mathison is not bringing his character Mike back to Hallmark for One Bad Apple: A Hannah Swensen Mystery, but there’s a new man on the scene when the franchise returns in April – and that means Sweeney got to develop and introduce a brand-new character, played by her The Wedding Veil costar, Victor Webster.
“Joanne Fluke has written 30 novels about Hannah, and Hannah has several men in her life that come and go over the years,” Sweeney says. “So it felt very honest to bring in this character Victor is going to play. He’s in the prosecutor’s office, and he has high expectations. It just ups the stakes for Hannah.”
While Sweeney never crossed with Webster when he played Days of Our Lives’ Nicholas from 1999 to 2000, these two have indeed found their happily ever after on Hallmark before.
“But he’s playing a totally different role than he did in The Wedding Veil, so it was fun to write for him,” Sweeney teases. “He’s also coming into a world that exists. Hannah’s already got her gang of troublesome friends that help her solve these crimes. Writing to the whole comedy of the sisters dealing with their mother and Gabe Hogan’s Norman just felt… delicious! Victor only adds to that.”
Days favorite Alison Sweeney promises the “door’s always open” for Sami
When Sweeney landed on Days of Our Lives as a teen in 1993, she was a super fan who set her VCR, daily. She never imagined what an iconic character Sami Brady would become — let alone that by the time she exited in 2014, the troublemaker fans loved to hate would become a heroine and devoted mother.
“The fans let me know they still use Sami as a threat on the show, all the time – like, ‘Oh, I’ll tell your mother!’” Sweeney says with a grin. “I can only imagine what hijinks those kids are up to without me, and I am sure when they need to, Days will come calling again.”
Since Sweeney left daytime to spread her wings, her career has flourished — but that hasn’t stopped her from popping back into Salem for a bit of drama now and then. While she’s not yet sure whether she’ll get to return for the episodes honoring Bill Hayes and his character Doug, she’s certainly game.
“Bill Hayes was such a wonderful man, and they know my door’s always open,” she says. “Getting to play Sami is a huge part of my life. I’m so grateful to everyone on set, and Days fans will always have such a special place in my heart. I want to come back. It’s just a question of availability and filming schedule.”
Hallmark’s Alison Sweeney shares health and beauty secrets
With Sweeney a busy working mom with two teenagers, FIRST couldn’t let her go without asking how she keeps her energy up and the germs at bay – especially during flu season.
Sweeney’s number one tips? “It’s important to stay hydrated and get enough sleep,” she says. “Such hokey, mom answers. But when my kids are like, ‘I don’t feel well,’ I say, ‘Have a glass of water. You’ll be fine.’”
The Hallmark star, executive producer, and writer also believes that sometimes, you just have to say no — whether that means skipping lunch with girlfriends, skipping a workout, or putting on your air pods to tune out the world.
“Sometimes you have to conserve your energy so that you have it when you need it — to perform, for your kids, or for whatever your priority has to be that day,” Sweeney says. “And when I need a recharge, I can take 15-minute cat naps, anywhere. That comes from working on soaps. I’d have my hair and makeup done at 6 in the morning, and then I’d lay perfectly still, so I wasn’t messing it up. Then when they called my name, I’d have to jump up and go.”
While Sweeney enjoys getting glammed up for work, anyone who follows her on Instagram knows that this seemingly ageless Hallmark star is a minimalist in real life.
“When my hair and makeup are done, it doesn’t feel like me — it feels like a character,” says Sweeney, who sites sunscreen as her number one beauty tip. “I have a lot of freckles, so I wear it every day. Because you can’t undo that sun damage. I am a big fan of that self-tanner, though. That stuff really works.”
Love & Jane premieres Saturday, February 10 (8 p.m. ET/PT), on the Hallmark Channel, as part of the network’s Loveuary with Jane Austen event.
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