Haylie Duff takes being well-rounded to a whole new level. From writing songs to performing in off-Broadway productions, there’s nothing that the 27-year-old actress-singer-dancer-songwriter is too afraid to try. More proof? She’s set to launch her very first cook book, based on her popular blog Real Girl’s Kitchen, in 2013. We talked to Haylie about her blossoming career as a cook book writer, the media’s obsessions with sibling rivalry, her new role as an aunt to her sister Hilary’s baby boy Luca, and her role as Annie in the Love Comes Softly series. The Loves Comes Softly 10th Anniversary Collection is now available on DVD just in time for the holidays.
What initially drew you to playing Annie?
I was originally drawn to the project in general because I thought the idea of doing a Western, a period story, was kind of cool. With it being set in the 1800s, which is such a far departure from the time we live in now and our technology-filled world, I thought it was a neat thing to do. I was drawn to Annie for a couple of different reasons, namely because she was a doctor in that time when it was mainly a man’s occupation and she was a pioneer of her day in that way. Her relationship with her best friend I thought was really great. I just liked her. I thought she was a good person, and I wanted to play her.
What was it like filming? Was it like a camp experience? Were you out in a built-up Western down?
It did! We filmed on these ranches outside of Los Angeles. One of the first days on set, I got there and, the first day is so busy because you’re doing your first day of hair and makeup and your wardrobe. I just didn’t get a chance to look at my phone. The next day wasn’t quite as busy, and I went to get on my cell phone, and we had no cell reception. It was like stepping into a their world a little bit because we’d go 12-14 hours with no cell reception and no internet. It definitely added to our performance and also gave me a taste of what that would actually be like.
What do you think a woman today could take away from watching these women that would still be truthful in 2012?
The thing to take away is that it’s important to carve out your own way, and if you think you can do it, you can, and to also be good to one another. Your community and your friendships are important, and they’re ultimately what get you through anything that’s challenging.
You’ve played a mom and an expectant mom so many times. Is that something that you’re drawn to or is it just a coincidence.
This is a joke within my family and friends. I think I’ve had 5 babies on TV now. I don’t know why I’m always hired to play the pregnant person. With these films in particular, I was not pregnant in the first movie. We filmed it, and then we took 3 weeks off, and they finished writing the script. We showed up to start filming the second movie, and we got our scripts 2 days before, and as I’m reading it, I’m like, “Oh my gosh! They made me pregnant in this! How does this happen to me?!” It’s not something that’s planned out. It just sort of happens.
Is there anything you learn by default about being a mom or pregnancy?
What’s funny is that my sister, of course, just had a baby. I’m so comfortable around kids because I had a kid on 7th Heaven for so long that I went from a baby to a toddler with him. I’m around Luca now and I’m like, “Oh, don’t worry, I got this. I know what I’m doing!” I actually have no real experience. I’ve just been around it so much at work. I guess it’s good preparation for one day when I become a mom.
Do you get some attachment to your children in TV and movies?
Not really, because there are so many rules and there are so many people on set – handlers – with the babies. They’re only allowed to be on set for a certain amount of hours, and they can only be under light for about 20 minutes at a time. It’s not like they say cut, and I’m still taking care of the baby. I did always find it kind of strange, especially in delivery scenes, and I’ve done 2 or 3 of those now, where your baby is so new. I look at my sister’s son and I think how bizarre that would be for just some actress who doesn’t know him to just be holding your baby and looking at it like it’s theirs. I find that dynamic a little strange. I can’t help but think that, now that we have Luca, if somebody else were to hold him and look at him like that, I guess I’d feel jealousy pangs or something like that. It’s definitely a special bond to share a moment with a baby who’s so new to the world, but I definitely don’t get my place confused in the real world!
Didn’t you convince your Mom to move from Texas to LA when you were a kid? That must have been a hard decision for her, since you were still such a young kid.
It was so long ago, it’s hard to even remember it. I just remember asking over and over and over again, and finally she was like, “Fine! Let’s go try it.”
I didn’t realize that you are also quite the cook. You have a cooking blog.
I started this blog about 2 years ago, and it turned into this great little side business that I have happening now. I sold my first cook book, and I just turned in my first draft of it this week. It will be out in October of next year. I just love it. I’m so excited. It’s half stories from my life and half recipes. I love the response I get from people on my site. I love when they send me their version of my recipes. It’s great. I’m really enjoying.
What would your advice be for a young woman who lives alone and doesn’t cook at all? What are some things everyone should know how to do?
That’s one reason why my book is really good for. It’s all very easy stuff. If you’ve never cooked anything before in your life, you could pick it up and make almost anything in the book. There are not a lot of ingredients. I have a chapter called “ESK: Everyone Should Know.” I have it on my site as well. I feel like everyone should know how to do a couple things like a fried egg, or like how to make a basic salad dressing. One thing I really love is kale. I feel like everyone should know how to make a kale salad or how to make a grilled chicken breast – very easy things like that.
How did you pick that up?
Honestly, I don’t know how I picked it up. I just started cooking more often. It grew into this thing, like an instant gratification for creativity. Sometimes in our business, you do a movie and you don’t see it for a year. This is something where I can go and do something right away and the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. I guess that’s how I got better at it. I just did it more often.
Is there any truth to the rumour that it might turn into a cooking show?
Yes, there’s definitely truth to that. We’re just trying to figure out exactly what the show would be. That’s definitely in the works.
Your resume is very diverse – you write songs, you do off-Broadway. Is there actually one aspect that you prefer, or do you like to keep it always changing?
It’s honestly something that I like to keep always changing. My Mom always encourages me to do music, like, “Haylie, you wrote so many great songs. Go back to music!” I just feel that if I follow what I feel inspired by, and sometimes that’s in film, and sometimes that’s on stage. Right now it happens to be in the kitchen.
Everyone likes to assume there’s sibling rivalry, but you and your sister have collaborated a lot over the years. Do you ever drive each other crazy?
We get along in an almost unhealthy way. We get along, and we’re each other’s best friend. It’s sad that siblings do get paired against each other in this business. I find that to be really sick. Our experience throughout has always been that we’ve had somebody who had our back the whole way, somebody that we could lean on and go to with each other’s opinion on things. We consult with each other on a lot of stuff. It’s been a positive experience for us.
Your next movie, All About Christmas Eve, is coming out in December. What can we expect?
I play a girl named Evelyn Wright. All About Christmas Eve is a really fun little movie for Lifetime. It’s one of their movies that are a part of “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” this year. I think it airs December 9th. It’s this great story about this girl who’s at a crossroads in her life of what she’s meant to do and what she wants to do. One thing happens, and her life plays out in two different ways based on this one specific thing. Without giving too much a way, the thing to take away from the movie is that, no matter what direction or what path your life goes down, you kind of end up where you’re supposed to be in the end anyway. It’s a great little Christmas movie, and I’m excited to see it.
Can you tell us a little bit about your 2013 movie 40 Is The New Dead?
40 Is The New Dead was a movie that was really fun for me to play. Diedrich Bader and I had worked together on Napoleon Dynamite years and years ago. What was interesting about this character for me is that she is like the hated woman. She’s the young girl who comes in and steals this woman’s husband. She’s kind of like the woman that everyone wants to hate. More times than not, I’m in a relationship, and I’ve always kind of been the girl with a boyfriend. To play a character who’s the complete opposite of anything I’ve ever been was really fun for me. I’m excited to see how it turns out. There’s a really fun catfight in the movie. I think I probably chose to play that part just based on the catfight alone.
Photos Courtesy of: Twitter, RHI Entertainment, Real Girl’s Kitchen, CW, MGM