Kellie Martin was barely 18 years old when she played "Christy" on CBS and since that time she has gone on to star in two other series, done numerous movies, earned a college degree and even gotten married. When the opportunity came up recently for an exclusive interview with her for this web site, I could not have been more pleased. It impressed me that Kellie found time to answer these questions even as she and Keith were trying to get out of town to spend Christmas with their family. I am so thrilled to be able to bring you the first interview she's done about "Christy" in many, many years. Not only that but this is the only time Kellie has commented publicly on the new "Christy" movies.
The interview with Kellie took place on or about December 18, 2001.
Q: Did it surprise you to know that now even 7 years after "Christy" that there are a loyal group of fans who have stayed behind this show and cast members?
Kellie Martin: I am both surprised and not surprised that so many people remained fans of the "Christy" television series. We had a built-in fan base which consisted of people who loved Catherine Marshall's book. Yet it is always surprising when a show is well-received and then sustains some popularity even after its TV run.
Q: In retrospect how do you feel about your time on "Christy" & about the series itself?
KM: My time on "Christy" was an incredible learning experience. I had never been the title character in a series, and I was unprepared for the demands that would bring. It was exhausting yet rewarding. It's not every day that you are able to work with such an amazing cast and crew. I think every show on the series was more beautiful than the next.
Q: Do you have any favorite memories from your time on "Christy" that you would like to share?
KM: I loved working with the children on the show. They each had such distinct personalities and brought a bit of magic to each scene.
Q: Which is your favorite "Christy" series episode and why?
KM: I must say that I am quite fond of the pilot episode. I think Patricia Green wrote a beautiful script that set the tone for the rest of the series. She also managed to modernize Christy while keeping her in the appropriate time period.
Q: What was the most difficult (least enjoyable) aspect about playing Christy?
KM: As I mentioned in the second question, the most difficult part of playing Christy was the demanding schedule--and I love to work! I was so tired one day that in the middle of one of my close-ups, I fell asleep! The beautiful period costumes were also a bit uncomfortable.
Q: Conversely, what was the most fun and/or enjoyable aspect?
KM: One of the most enjoyable aspects of the show was working with Tyne Daly. She is a gifted performer and a beautiful person. I learned a lot from her.
Q: Tell us about writing "Babe in the Woods" with Tom. How did that come about? How did you get the idea for it?
KM: "Babe In the Woods" came from a dream I had one night. I just wrote it down when I woke up. When I showed it to Patricia Green and Tom Blomquist they were incredibly supportive. I never guessed they would use it for an episode.
Q: You may be aware by now (or you may not) but the majority of the Christy fans have always preferred MacNeill for Christy over Grantland. Of course, that reflects the flow of the book, but it definitely is also true of the majority of the fans of the series. When we did a survey recently (before the mini series) we found out that 90% of the fans were supporters of Christy with MacNeill. Were you aware of the fans preference, and comment on why you think this is so or why this information surprises you?
KM: I think people want Christy to end up with MacNeill because he challenges her and makes her a more interesting character. I am not surprised to find that most of the fans prefer that outcome.
Q: Tom tells me that you have recently visited NeilandChristy.com. So tell us what you think about all the swooning?
KM: "Swoon" is an interesting word to use when referring to Christy and MacNeill. When I was working on the series I would say that they had a more passionate, love/hate relationship. I think David might have made Christy swoon, but the more complex relationship she shared with MacNeill won out in the end.
Q: I understand that you recently saw the new movies and enjoyed them. How did you react to the number of cast changes and the location change?
KM: I thought that the cast and location changes were quite smooth. Enough time has passed since the initial series that I think fans would not be disturbed by the changes. I think the new setting is more rustic, which may be more true to the book and to the actual Cutter Gap. I also think it was helpful that the audience see some familiar faces.
Q: Who and what did you like about the new movies?
KM: I enjoyed the frame story in the new series. For those who are fans of Catherine Marshall's writing, I would think that is was exciting to see fictional versions of Catherine and Christy.
Q: How did it feel to see that the old Cutter Gap cowboys were back in the movies--Dale, Bruce, Andy, Mike, and of course, Stewart.
KM: It was good to see those familiar faces, and they were doing great work as always.
Q: Was there anything in particular from the series that you missed seeing in the movies?
KM: I think the only thing I missed was the Tennessee accent.
Q: What did you think of the new Christy?
KM: Lauren brought very Christy-like qualities to the role. She handled a very demanding role with a lot of grace.
Q: Tell us your impressions of the wedding.
KM: I thought the wedding was lovely. It was one of my favorite scenes.
Q: How do you predict the MacNeills will be as a married couple?
KM: The MacNeills as a married couple...It would be a household full of interesting discussions with the occasional bickering. But I think it would work well.
Q: Was it difficult for you watching someone else play Christy? How did it feel to watch and see Christy finally get married?
KM: I thought it would be difficult to watch someone else play Christy, but, surprisingly, it wasn't. Rather than compare our performances, I just enjoyed watching the continuation of a story. I am so happy that the new movies tied up the loose ends left by the series. The marriage issue pervaded so much of the book and the series that it was nice to have the question finally answered (MacNeill or David) and have Christy with a ring on her finger.
Q: Would you mind telling us briefly how you got cast as "Christy" originally and also why you decided not to play her this time around.
KM: I was cast as Christy after a few auditions; first for the writer, director and producers and next for the network (CBS). I decided not to play Christy in the new movies because, although it's difficult to explain, it's not an experience I wanted to try to duplicate. I wouldn't go back and reprise my role on "Life Goes On," although it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Once I complete a project, I simply move on. As I said earlier, I am glad that Tom Blomquist tied up so many loose ends left by the series--it was important to the fans of the show.
Q: You turned 18 during the pilot of "Christy," and you are now 26. I understand a lot has happened to you in your personal life since then. Tell us a bit about that. And do you ever see any of the old Christy gang socially or professionally?
KM: Since "Christy" a lot has happened in my life. I just graduated from Yale with a degree in History of Art. I am very interested in photography and am a bit of a photographer myself. My husband and I live in Los Angeles with our dog and cat.
I wish I saw more of the "Christy" cast. Tyne and I run into each other from time to time, and I see Randall Batinkoff (the original David) occasionally. I do keep in touch with some of the original "Christy" writers, Patricia Green and Tom Blomquist. They're awesome!
Q: Is there anything you would like to say to the "Christy" fans that you never got to say or to correct the record on for something that you were misrepresented on?
KM: As far as being misrepresented on anything referring to Christy, I am not sure what you mean. I hope fans understand that whenever someone does an interview they can be misquoted and thereby misrepresented. I enjoyed working on "Christy" and am very glad that the book, series, and new movies have touched so many lives.