Christian LeBlanc and Michelle Stafford
Does anybody say no to Michelle Stafford? Apparently not. The season finale of her sizzling new web series The Stafford Project —streaming Dec. 21 via YouTube and MichelleStafford.com — will feature daytime hotshots James Scott and Nadia Bjorlin (Days of Our Lives), Marco Dapper and Christian LeBlanc (The Young and the Restless), Finola Hughes and Ian Buchanan (General Hospital) and Crystal Chappell (The Bold and the Beautiful, Venice). Here's a sneak preview!
TV Guide Magazine had an exclusive dish session with Stafford about her all-star season closer and where her sadsack, soap-queen character, Michelle, is headed in Season 2.
TV Guide Magazine: Yikes, what a cast! How'd you corral this stellar group? And who was the biggest pain in the ass?
Stafford: [Laughs] Well, I am a great f—king casting director, I must say! Basically, I asked people who've been incredibly supportive of The Stafford Project, especially on social media. Their enthusiasm has meant the world to me. [Laughs] I'm not going to ask someone who's never retweeted me! And, my God, it was such a fun shoot! Everybody came prepared and on time, ready to play. Nobody complained. They were all so excited to be there that The Paiges — my executive producers, Paige Long and Paige Dorian — were blown away by all the professionalism. [Laughs] Of course, they're so used to me being such a screw-up mess on the set that they were in shock at how real actors behave!
TV Guide Magazine: Your first season has been so great and really successful. How are you going to top it all in the season finale?
Stafford: I'm kinda nervous about it, actually, because we're still editing and I haven't seen the rough cut. We really go big. It's probably going to run about 17 minutes — much longer than our other episodes. Paige Dorian came up with the idea that it should be a Christmas episode where there's a big holiday party with lots of cool people. But this isn't about stunt casting. There's a real arc for the Michelle character, who has spent the entire season in hell, going on bad dates, doing things against her better judgment, and always being humiliated. What does she need to learn? Where does she need to be at the end of the season? We also wanted to bring in the soap-opera aspect of the show, so you get a sense of where Michelle works and who she works with and how those people affect her. You'll be seeing a lot of that in the second season.
TV Guide Magazine: So your guest stars are all playing themselves?
Stafford: Yes. Well...sorta. It's so awesome. Christian is playing Michelle's good friend, Christian, which he is in real life. Finola is playing an Emmy-winning actress named Finola, who is a horrible woman, as you can see in the preview clip! [Laughs] Basically, most of them are playing characters who drive Michelle crazy. I have always wanted Christian to be on this series and say, "Oh, God, Michelle, I begged you to get therapy," which of course we ripped off from Tootsie! We also wanted to bring in the scent of a love interest — something that might blossom into the real thing in Season 2. Michelle can't just keep going on bad dates. What does she do when, after a long string of bad men, she actually meets a good one? I notice something very interesting about single women who get so used to the bad — they can't see the good when it's right in front of them! So that's what we want to ask in the second season: Can Michelle actually have a good, positive, loving relationship with a man, or does she screw it up?
TV Guide Magazine: Wait, Michelle is going to fall for one of these soap stars? Isn't that a recipe for yet another disaster?
Stafford: [Laughs] I know, right? How can you ever have a thing with a fellow actor when we all turn on the emotion so easily? When you're in that kind of relationship, you're always thinking, "Are you really upset? Do you really mean that? Or are you just bulls--t lying like you do every day for a living?" No, the potential love interest you will see is not playing an actor! And the episode, after a season of so much angst, is really so sweet at the end. It's a great Christmas message and a great tease for what's to come.
TV Guide Magazine: When can we expect Season 2 to launch?
Stafford: Realistically, we'll probably start production in April. I'm so excited! [Laughs] I'm talking like a real producer. We don't have to wait for some network to give us a pickup. We just keep going! In the meantime, starting in January, we're going to be releasing these special little behind-the-scenes pieces about the making of each episode. They'll run about 10 minutes and we'll premiere one every two weeks to keep the momentum going until the new season starts. There's some really, really fun, hilarious stuff. I love all those behind-the-scenes extras they put on DVDs, the real nerd stuff. [Laughs] I like nothing better than watching that on a sunny Sunday afternoon when I should be at the park with my kid.
TV Guide Magazine: Speaking of Natalia, does she return for the finale?
Stafford: Yes, and she really steals the whole thing. Lord have mercy and God help me! I think I have an actress on my hands. [Laughs] What could be worse? Another me!
TV Guide Magazine: Any mistakes you made in Season 1 you won't be making again?
Stafford: Yes! I refuse to do props! I'm going to get someone to handle that for me, which is my idea of heaven. And I also want a location scouter, someone who goes off and finds cool places to shoot and sends me a picture and I say yes or no. I do all those jobs now and it's killing me! I put out a tweet with all the hats I wore during the first season. I even added "Fluffer to Miss Stafford!" [Laughs] I mean, who else is gonna do it?
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