From Spaceballs' sweet 'n' innocent Princess Vespa to edgy Melrose Place photographer Jo to the single mom she played on the short-lived Beautiful People, Daphne Zuniga has kept knocking on Hollywood's door and landing an array of roles that keep her refreshed and working hard. In fact, she's so dedicated to her craft that she was willing to shoot a holiday movie in the August heat. Starring alongside Ghost Whisperer's Jay Mohr in ABC Family's Christmas Do-Over (premiering this Saturday, Dec. 16, at 8 pm/ET), Zuniga shared with TVGuide.com her childhood Christmas memories, her wishes for the New Year, and her "That Girl moment" that raised our holiday spirit another notch.
TVGuide.com: Daphne, how are you? Coping with the madness of the holiday season?
Daphne Zuniga: You know, I feel really out of it. I haven't gotten caught up in it yet; I'm pretty organized so far. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: That's how I feel this year, too.
Zuniga: Yeah, I just got a call from my sister and my niece, who's 5 and wants a remote hovercraft or a remote spy thing....
TVGuide.com: Oh, that sounds very specific.
Zuniga: Specific and creepy! I think it's something that, by remote, can go into different rooms and spy on people. I'm like, "Where does she learn this stuff? She's 5." And she's not gettin' it! Not from me.
TVGuide.com: I'm glad I caught you in between shopping. What are you working on now?
Zuniga: Just doing press [for Christmas Do-Over], and then I really want to get a comedy series, which will happen after the New Year. And there's a movie I might go to New Zealand for in January. We're talking about it now.
TVGuide.com: And you're talking about doing a comedy series, or hoping to get a pilot?
Zuniga: [A comedy series is] what I've wanted to do, and I've had a couple of meetings. There's nothing specific, but [my reps] are going to be all over it for me, so I hope it pays off.
TVGuide.com: I laughed out loud watching Christmas Do-Over. How did you feel about the script?
Zuniga: I really loved the script when I first read it; I just really thought it was clever. And I like how the humor wasn't too saccharine — there was adult humor in it, kid humor.... I thought it was cool.
TVGuide.com: Your character, Jill, is this put-together mother who wants the best for her family, and even for her ex-husband. What attracted you to the role?
Zuniga: The writing was witty. There was some really great stylized banter between Jay Mohr and I, which I always love — the comedic back-and-forth between two people who know each other so well that it's not mean-hearted or mean-spirited, it's just out of such familiarity.
TVGuide.com: Do-Over has this Groundhog Day premise — your ex lives the same day over and over again — which I wasn't sure I was going to like, but when he changes things each time, it became really fun to watch. Was it fun to film those scenes with Jay?
Zuniga: Yeah, it was also pretty tricky. What I call the "math" of the movie was really left up to Catherine [Cyran], our director, who is very smart — she went to Harvard and, like, I don't know, Stanford — and if you notice, they don't show the full day over and over and over, but only pieces at a time. So she really had to have a grip on all of that. I depended on her to know what she was doing.
TVGuide.com: Jill has this cookie-cutter, Mr. Rogers-type boyfriend that made for a great love triangle — and an awkward holiday!
Zuniga: Totally, I agree. And I think that Jay was really brilliant at his takes and his looks as it progressed. In the beginning, he's just disgusted and can't even get it, and then by the end he's a little touched and sad. I just love his comedic takes and reactions. It's really fun to work with someone who knows comedy so well.
TVGuide.com: ABC Family's holiday movies always seem to be light and easy to watch during this hectic season, which must be a nice change from working on a series.
Zuniga: Well, making movies is never as relaxed as they come across. I mean, it was 14-hour days, and we were shooting Christmas in August. But everyone got along. And I think that no matter what you're shooting, if there's a Santa Claus in the scene or holly or a Christmas tree or kids, you're like, "You know what? This is supposed to be fun." [Laughs] We lighten up.
TVGuide.com: Is there a Christmas moment that you would like to relive everyday?
Zuniga: Well, when I was little — you know how your body, when you're a kid, wakes up at like 3:30 or 4 am, you just can't help it? — my sister and I went in and opened up all the presents. But that's always such a drag because then your parents make you sit through theirs. [Laughs] So I guess when I got a little bit older, we stopped wrecking Christmas for ourselves. I don't think that there's a specific [moment], but I really enjoy it. I visit my sister and her kids — they're in the snow — and it's all very beautiful and nice. That feeling and sense of togetherness should just be spread throughout the year more, and we'd all be happier.
TVGuide.com: Are you taking a couple of weeks to spend time with your family this year?
Zuniga: Yeah, I always manage to, because our industry really closes down.
TVGuide.com: Well, I also have to tell you that I was a fan of Beautiful People and was sad to see it go. I guess I bonded with the girls a bit, living in New York myself. Do you keep in touch with anyone from the cast?
Zuniga: I just had lunch with Sarah [Foret], who played Sophie, she's just a doll — we're very close. Torrey [DeVitto] is off in Utah shooting a movie, so I haven't seen her in probably a few months. We got very close on that show for sure, those two especially. I was just in New York and I had lunch with Michael Rauch, the creator and writer. We were all sad to see it go — that was one of the most fulfilling TV jobs I've had.
TVGuide.com: Well, good luck with everything! I hope you have a great holiday season.
Zuniga: You, too. You're in New York?
TVGuide.com: Yes. The Rockefeller tree is one of the best I've seen.
Zuniga: Huge, that tree! I was just there, and it's so beautiful. I just loved it. I skated in Rockefeller Center, I walked down Fifth Avenue like Marlo Thomas. That Girl, that's what I felt like. It was fantastic. You don't do that out here [in L.A.].
TVGuide.com: There's just something about New York.
Zuniga: It is special.
Pick up the Dec. 18, "My Big Year" issue of TV Guide for reflections on 2006 from all of your favorites, including ABC Family's Matt Dallas (Kyle XY), America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) and Today's Meredith Vieira.
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