It hasn’t always been like this for Lori Loughlin. She hasn’t always seemed to be living the perfect life, in the perfect balance, complete with fulfilling work and children and stepkids and dogs and a famous fashion designer husband. But there’s no question that the actress who rocketed to fame as Rebecca Donaldson on the long-running sitcom “Full House” has got the world by the tail now.
Loughlin (pronounced “Lock-lin”) has a co-starring role on the latest incarnation of “90210,” which already has been renewed for a third season next fall. She’s starring in the new Hallmark Channel in HD Original Movie “Meet My Mom,” which premieres Saturday, May 8 (9p.m. ET/PT, 8c), portraying a divorcee and single mom who falls for a divorced military man. She’s got daughters aged 10 and 11 from her second marriage to designer Mossimo Giannulli, along with an 18-year-old stepson. She’s also got two dogs, including a brand new Golden Retriever puppy who yips and squeals constantly on the other side of the phone during a chat.
“I’ve got my own full house going here, that’s for sure,” Loughlin admits with a laugh. “There’s really never a dull moment. I’ve also got yoga and Pilates. My husband thinks I’m insane. As soon as the kids get a little bit more responsible, I can’t handle the extra freedom and I have to get the puppy.”
Just then, the puppy does something in the kitchen that catches Loughlin’s attention.
“Oh no,” she says. “The puppy just pooped on the floor. There, it’s OK. It’s OK little girl. You’re gonna be OK.”
As this is all going down, Loughlin’s other phone rings. It’s her youngest daughter, Olivia. She’s overheard saying, “Oh, hey sweetie…What honey?…The sweater? Sure, I’ll bring it…No don’t worry, I’ll bring it…It’s OK…Really, I’ve got it. Yes…OK…Love you. Bye.”
Loughlin comes back to the conversation.
“My 10-year-old,” she explains. “It’s a 24/7 job, this motherhood thing. Sometimes I think, I didn’t really have to star in a Hallmark movie, because I’m living a Hallmark movie!”
That she is. Nonetheless, the sweet and charming Loughlin took the time during her “90210” hiatus last year to make “Meet My Mom.” It finds her portraying Dana Marshall, a newly-divorced woman looking for a fresh start and the mother a 10-year-old son. As an assignment for his fourth grade class, the kid writes a letter to a U.S. soldier overseas, resulting in a budding romance for his mom when the sergeant (Johnny Messner) pays an unexpected visit. TV legend Stefanie Powers (“Hart to Hart”) co-stars as Dana’s mom.
“I loved working with Harvey Frost, our director,” Loughlin recalled. “He just made the experience wonderful for all of us. It was this three-week shoot in Simi Valley, and it was an unbelievably pleasant and civilized set. There were no crazy work hours. It was one of those things you hardly ever get in this business.”
She also cherished being able to work with an “amazing lady like Stefanie Powers,” which inspired a story Loughlin now likes to tell anyone who will listen.
“There was this one day where we were watching dailies together, playing back scenes from that day’s shoot,” she recalls, “and there’s a shot of someone walking up the driveway to a house. At first, it looked like me, and I thought, ‘Oh my God, my butt looks really good! The Pilates must be paying off!’ Then I realized it was Stefanie’s butt! I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I freaked!”
Yes, the backside of a 67-year-old woman put Loughlin to shame.
“I was jealous,” she says with a chuckle. “I still am.”
It’s easy for Loughlin to laugh now. But it wasn’t quite so simple back in the mid-1990s. Her longtime gig on “Full House” was coming to an end, as was her first marriage to Michael Burns (they divorced in 1996). And while it would take some time before her career got back on track, her personal life stabilized almost immediately when she met and married Giannulli in 1997.
Of course, the earlier part of the ‘90s weren’t a total washout for Loughlin. Her time on “Full House” playing the love interest of John Stamos was a blast, remembering how great it was to be such a big deal during a moment when the networks still ruled the television roost.
“It was a time in TV where the studios and the networks were flush with money,” she emphasizes. “Everything was just big and elaborate and fun. When we’d go to the upfronts in New York, it was just party after party. Holiday parties. Wrap parties. There wasn’t nearly as much competition then. When you made it, you really made it. We had ‘American Idol’ numbers without knowing they were ‘American Idol’ numbers, because everybody had them.
“We had a lot of laughs. It was a dream set. All of us had the best time.”
It just ain’t the same today, Loughlin readily acknowledges. But she has no complaints about how things are going for her, or have gone. She’s done series TV (also including “Hudson Street” starring Tony Danza and the family drama “Summerland,” which she also created and produced); features (including the horror flick “Amityville 3-D” back in 1983 and the 2009 comedy feature “Old Dogs” with Robin Williams and John Travolta); and TV-movies like 1992’s “Doing Time on Maple Drive” with Jim Carrey.
Yes, Loughlin has been around, though a lot of people seem to have trouble acknowledging she’s 45. This may be because she looks 10 years younger, or because “Full House” is still out there daily in syndication displaying a bouncy and energetic twenty-something version of her.
“I’m really good with how old I am, who I am, where I am in my life,” Loughlin insists. “And I’m not one of these people who feels like they’re only doing television until they can land better roles on a big screen.
“I love TV in part because you can still keep regular hours. I’m not much for living in hotels and being gone for months at a time. I’m not much for being a nomad or a gypsy. I’m a homebody. I mean, who would put together groovy outfits for my 10-year-old or clean up the puppy poop if I’m gone?”
Just then, as if on cue, the other telephone rings again. It’s the mother of one of her eldest daughter Isabella’s friends. “Oh hey there Jamie…Sure, I can have her there, no problem…When? At 6:30? Well sure…OK great…See you then.”
Loughlin hangs up the other line and emits a sigh.
“Welcome to my boring life,” she says. “It’s full, and it’s chaotic, and it’s all very Disney-rated. But I’ve got to say, I really like it.”
“Meet My Mom,” a Hallmark Channel Original Movie premieres Saturday, May 8 (9p.m. ET/PT, 8C), as the crown jewel of the network’s “Countdown to Mother’s Day” campaign, which will include two weeks of programming designed to celebrate the mothers and mother figures who love us, encourage us and support us.