Ciara Hanna stars in this weekend’s The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story as the seminal character Amanda Woodward and the legend who played her, Heather Locklear. Talk Nerdy With Us had the chance to chat with Ciara about playing an icon, her experiences on set, and the upside of playing characters that do terrible things. Read on to hear what Ciara had to say and be sure to tune in to Lifetime on October 10th at 8pm.
Had you ever seen Melrose Place before getting involved in this project?
My mom actually was obsessed with it. She was obsessed with 90210 and Melrose Place. I was an infant when she was watching, so I watched it with her unknowingly. I didn’t really watch too much of it, though, but I had Shannen Doherty 90210 barbie. I pretty much started watching it once I got the role, which I think a lot of us did. But I watched the reboot in 2008, just not the older ones when they were actually airing.
What was your audition process like for Unauthorized Melrose Place?
My agent, always, since the day I met her, she has always called me a young Heather Locklear. So she gave me a call one day and said ‘they’re doing an Unauthorized Melrose Place and I called and said they need to see you. So you need to go in tomorrow and you need to kill it.’ [laughs]. So I went in and I just did a taped audition and then I got a call the next day that I got it and then I left a couple days later. It was a really fast audition process. A lot of auditions sometimes take months, sometimes take weeks, this was just days. I didn’t even have time to wrap my head around it. It was cool, not a lot of prep time, but it was definitely an exciting experience and I’ve always wanted to go to Vancouver [where they filmed], so that was fun.
It sounds like you didn’t have much time, but what did you do to prepare for the role?
I’ve never played a real life character before, so it was a learning experience for me. I looked up everything I could; every YouTube video, I watched Melrose Place. We had to get the characters they played and also them in real life, so I was playing Amanda and Heather. It’s interesting because as an actress you normally add your own flair to it, you do what you think is good, but with a real life character there’s no leeway, you’re playing them exactly. You have to get their movements down, their voice down. So I got a voice coach, had some training a bit, and then I literally just non-stop watched YouTube videos.
It’s kind of hard finding interviews of 90s Heather Locklear. You don’t realize how hard it is. Nowadays everything’s online but back in the day it wasn’t like that. So there were very few videos that I was actually able to watch but I watched them over and over again to watch her body gestures, the way she crossed her legs in her lap. It was a difficult learning experience for me but it’s always fun to challenge yourself as an actor.
The character of Amanda was very specifically the villain of the show. Did you find there were very different personalities between the two characters you were playing, off-screen Heather vs. on-screen Amanda?
Oh yeah. There’s definitely a similarity, which there always is when there’s an actor and a character. She’s a very strong person, Heather is, and so is Amanda. But, Heather is very fun, light, and loving and I feel like Amanda’s a little more snarky and sharp and there’s definitely more of a bitchy side to Amanda. Heather’s just the most loving person you could meet. She comes off very strong but she’s the kind of person that would break the ice in any situation, that’s what I noticed.
You mentioned this being the first time you’ve portrayed a real person. Do you feel any extra pressure because of that?
Oh, yeah. I’m terrified. [laughs] I’m so scared to see what Heather would think if she actually watched it. It’s hard to play a real life character especially with Heather Locklear because the whole world knows who Heather is. You say her name and you have this sexy image of this wonderful blond bombshell. Everyone knows her personal life, everyone knows who she’s been married to, her struggles. So it’s not like I can just do what I want to do, everyone is going into it already knowing. I am terrified to see what people think. I did the best I could and I think I added my own piece to it, my own Ciara flair to it. But, I am absolutely terrified. I just did my best and I hope I did it justice. I hope she does watch it and is pleased with it.
Is Amanda the first time you’ve played the bad girl? Do you enjoy playing this kind of character?
It’s definitely not my first time playing bad. Especially when I first started acting, I got very typecast in that role. I have very sharp features, my nose, and sometimes if I’m not smiling it looks like I’m just snarling at you. [laughs]. It comes naturally, unfortunately, to me that I can play bitchy very well. That’s where me and Heather are a lot alike where I’m very bubbly and positive in person but when it comes to acting a lot of times I’m playing that snarky bitch. But it’s the funniest thing ever. You get to get that out of you. You actually get to be something that you’re not. That’s the whole fun of being an actress. Like I can be a bitch today but then I can go home and bake cupcakes, like it’s all good.
Yeah. It’s almost easier to be nice in person when you have that outlet to be bitchy somewhere else.
Exactly! Cause you know, I don’t have to be bitchy or mean or anything cause I’ve gotten it all out on set.
Absolutely. So, what was your favorite scene to film?
I would have to say…I have two of them. One of them was my entrance scene of Heather Locklear when she first arrived in the limo. I thought it was just a really cool experience, just showing what an impact Heather was, and what a star she was. Getting out of the limo, having paparazzi there, it just kinda gave it that whole star power. But also, the scene where the whole Melrose Place exploded. That was so much fun. I love explosions and doing stunts. I used to do Power Rangers so it kinda took me back to my days of doing that and being able to do my own stunts and crash against the wall and go on a crash pad and having fire explosions on me. We all had a great time. We had to put fireproof spray in all of our hair cause you know 90s and their hairspray [laughs]. That was definitely my favorite. I loved it.
Do you have anything else coming up that you want our readers to look for?
I am working currently…let’s see. I can’t remember the name of it, I just signed on yesterday. It’s a new film coming out. I’ll post online on twitter, @ciarahanna20. I post everything I’m allowed to online, once I know the name and everything. It’s gonna be a cool project, some cool Disney stars in it. So that’s pretty much what I’m working on. I’m just kinda taking it as it comes, traveling a lot this year, and just being an actress. I love it.
Our site is called Talk Nerdy With Us, so we love to ask people what they like to nerd out about.
Oooh. I’m obsessed with two shows right now. I’m obsessed with Once Upon a Time. I just love fairy tales. And then also I was obsessed with Heroes when it was out and now that Heroes Reborn is out, I’m obsessed. I’m so stoked. I was so sad, I watched Heroes literally on Netflix like a million times. I just keep re-watching it. I love Hayden [Panettiere] so I just watch everything of her. So those are my two nerdy things.
Well, thank you so much for chatting with me. I’m clearly a little older than you are, but I loved Melrose Place and I’m really looking forward to the movie. I totally ate up the 90210 one last week.
Did you like the 90210 one?
I loved it.
I love that they’re doing all these Unauthorized movies! It’s just really cool to see. I had no idea half the things happened that were happening when we did ours. I read the script and there’s so much drama, not just with the actors but the writers and producers that people don’t even realize. That was probably the coolest part about it. Everyone loves to hear about the hookups and everyone knows about Heather and the drama with her marriage, but there’s so many different aspects that are cool to see. I really want them to do a Friends one.
Maybe they will. They’ve certainly made it through a lot of the 90s classics.
They are busting them out, so I sure hope so, I am fully for it!
The Unauthorized Melrose Place Story airs at 8pm PT/ET on October 10th on Lifetime.