Sally Struthers, <EM>What I Did for Love</EM> Sally Struthers, What I Did for Love
Sally Struthers is a pro in the entertainment industry — from musicals and plays to TV and movies, she's covered all grounds and still loves every minute of it. Currently known as Gilmore Girls' nosy, gossiping cat lover Babette, Struthers is also juggling a play (

Nuncrackers) and popping up for the holidays in the Hallmark Channel's What I Did for Love (premiering Saturday, Dec. 9, at 9 pm/ET). And it doesn't stop there! Struthers spoke with about why she adores her job, what other profession she considered and what's next on her list. I just watched What I Did for Love and thought it was a great family story.
Sally Struthers: It is a nice family story — as Hallmark always does, you know? Where did you shoot the movie?
Struthers: We shot it up in Long Pine, California, which is up above the desert, Death Valley. It was truly beautiful in some of the scenes.
Struthers: Oh my god, it was really beautiful. The snow on the mountains and everything? It was really, really nice. What attracted you to the role of Aunt Trudy, and to the project as a whole?
Struthers: The minute I heard it was a Hallmark movie, I didn't even have to read the script. There aren't that many companies that a veteran actor like I am would feel that way about. Normally you say, "What is it that they want me to play? I have to read the script" or, "They thought of me for this part? I'm insulted!" But Hallmark has been a part of my life from the time I can remember walking and talking. The Hallmark commercials alone can make you cry every year at Christmastime, and Hallmark cards were always the sign that you were getting a nice greeting card, so I thought it was prestigious. I thought it was a great feather I could add to my very stuffed hat! Trudy's a little sneaky, trying to play matchmaker between her niece and her high-school boyfriend. Meanwhile, she has this secret romance of her own that eventually comes out.
Struthers: Aunt Trudy is a character — still waters run deep. There she is, the only woman in a household of all men. She was such a delicious character to play. In the way that she's nosy, she reminded me a little of Babette.
Struthers: Did she? Yeah, because she has this warm personality but also has this ulterior motive. I'm a big Gilmore Girls fan.
Struthers: Oh, don't you love that show? I really do.
Struthers: The dialogue, the dialogue! It's so fast and clever and dry. But I'm disappointed that Babette hasn't been in many episodes so far this season.
Struthers: Well, let's see, they've probably shot 10 shows by now, and I've been in four of them, so that's pretty good. Will she be showing up in future episodes?
Struthers: You know something? I don't know! When you're not on a contract as a series regular, you don't know when the phone's going to ring. But I always look forward to it, and they always accommodate me, because quite often I'm somewhere doing a musical or a play, like I'm doing now. Because yours is a recurring role, do you get to spend a lot of time with some cast members?
Struthers: Well, my scenes usually are with one of the leads — Lorelai and Rory or Luke, but there are some cast members I've never met! [Laughs] Really?
Struthers: Yeah, I had someone come up to me once and say, "Hi, I'm on Gilmore Girls, too, but I've never been in a scene with you." It's shot like a movie — with one camera — and it takes eight working days to shoot one episode. [There's] a day or two that you go in to film your scenes, and it isn't the same day that some other characters [are filming]. The kids who Rory goes to school with at Yale? I haven't met any of them! Well, Babette knows everything that's going on. Is it fun to play a town gossip?
Struthers: It is! And I don't know if you saw the season opener when she talks about herself and says that she has a loud voice and people tell her she needs to talk softer? She's even loud when she says it. [In Babette's voice] "I need to talk softer!" I know somebody named Marissa, who has a very loud voice, so there's a little bit of Marissa in the character I'm playing, and there's a lot of Ruth Gordon. Babette really cracks me up. I love when she gets on Luke's nerves, or asks Lorelai a million questions. There's something overwhelming but also endearing about her.
Struthers: Yeah. I just love all these characters. When you're young, they try to fit you into some sort of ingenue role, but I was never that because I've always been a comedian. So as you get older and they offer you these delicious, quirky roles, you just jump into them with glee. They're much more interesting to play, usually, than the lead... and a lot less pressure! Do you have a favorite episode?
Struthers: I think maybe when our cat, Cinnamon, died, and we had the wake at Babette's house. I loved doing that one, because everything was scaled down to her height. Have you heard anything about this being the last season?
Struthers: Oh, rumors galore. It's totally up in the air, and I don't think it's going to be decided until the spring. And then it's still going to be up to the CW — whether or not they would be willing to let it go forward with one or two characters missing and take the show in a whole other direction. Tell me about the show you're working on now.
Struthers: I'm doing Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. It's been a fast and furious two-and-a-half weeks of rehearsal. They're shoving all of us out there in our habits, and we're going to sing and dance and hopefully make them laugh. [I play] the Mother Superior, or as the gals in the show call me, "Mother Struthers." How's the cast?
Struthers: Oh my god, they're spectacular. There's the Mother Superior, three nuns that are in her order, one Father — a Catholic priest played by my darling friend Adrian Zmed, who is just a riot — and four children. They couldn't be sweeter off stage or on. We've been having a good time together. You've had so much success all over the entertainment industry. Do you prefer one form of acting over another?
Struthers: That's a good question. You know what I love? I love the chance to rotate through all of the different wings of the show-business field. I'm not on an assembly line in Detroit building a car every day, 50 weeks a year. The thrilling part of live theater is that you're like a trapeze artist without a net. So that's exhilarating, because there's no stopping and doing a retake. But the comfort level of a TV series is fantastic — knowing what you're going to be doing seven, eight months out of the year, knowing you have an income... or at least believing you do. They can axe you anytime they want, but you live under this false sense of security, thinking, "I'm on a series! I'm doing great!" It all sounds so great!
Struthers: You know something? It is. I really can't imagine doing anything else. For a brief moment in high school I thought of being a doctor like my dad, and then I realized I couldn't spend a year working on a cadaver in medical school. I couldn't do the cow or the frog in biology class, so how was I going to cut up a dead human body? This was your calling.
Struthers: This is it!

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