Denise Richards drawn to dark humor of 'Hunting Housewives'

Her co-star, Kym Johnson Herjavec, describes the Lifetime movie as a cross between "Survivor" and "The Real Housewives."

Left to right, Melyssa Ford, Kym Johnson Herjavec and Denise Richards star in "Hunting Housewives," premiering Saturday. Photo courtesy of Lifetime
1 of 4 | Left to right, Melyssa Ford, Kym Johnson Herjavec and Denise Richards star in "Hunting Housewives," premiering Saturday. Photo courtesy of Lifetime

NEW YORK, March 8 (UPI) -- Denise Richards says she wanted to star in Hunting Housewives because it was a bold story even by Lifetime movie standards.

"I was so intrigued by it. It was very different, in my opinion, to something that Lifetime has done before," Richards said during a recent virtual press conference.


"I've done a lot of Lifetime movies, but they were very dramatic, outside of the Christmas movies," Richards said.

"I loved the dark humor in this. I thought it was so empowering to see this group of women go on a fun trip and see where the challenges come up and see what these women were made of and how strong these women are."

Premiering Saturday on Lifetime, the TV movie follows wealthy friends Karla Dodds (Richards), Joli Symons (Kym Johnson Herjavec) and Sharell Bouvier (Melyssa Ford) as they survive a plane wreck on their way to a spa weekend.


They then have to use their wits to navigate the wilderness while also realizing the crash may not have been an accident and the bears and bugs aren't the only things they have to fear.

The actresses said it was easy to find ways to relate to their characters.

"I'm studying to be a Pilates instructor and so is my character, Sharell, so that made it simple for me to slip into her skin," said Ford who is best known for her appearances on the reality shows BET Style and Blood, Sweat & Heels.

Love Actually, The World is Not Enough and Starship Troopers star Richards grew up camping with her working-class family, so she understood Karla, a woman from humble beginnings who marries into money.

"I didn't come from money, so I think I could relate to growing up similar to my character," Richards said.

Professional dancer Herjavec admitted that like Joli, she is not happy exploring nature.

"I am terrible. I am not an outdoorsy kind of girl. I did Celebrity Survivor in Australia and I voted myself off," she said with a laugh. "I could definitely relate to Joli not liking to be in the outdoors."

There is one way she greatly differs from her character, however.


"She does not like her husband. Most of our characters don't like their husbands. But I love my husband in real life," Herjavec said, referring to Shark Tank entrepreneur Robert Herjavec, whom she married in 2016 after partnering with him on Dancing with the Stars.

"I love my husband, too," Richards said about her spouse, actor Aaron Phypers, whom she wed in 2018.

The cast members said they fell in love with the script for Hunting Housewives as soon as they read it.

"I'm such a big fan of the Housewives [reality] franchise. So, I thought it was like Survivor meets the Housewives," Herjavec said.

"It's also deep, as well. It is about the relationship between girlfriends, which I love, the complexities of our marriages," she said.

"There are all these different emotions you go through in this movie from girl power when we sit around the campfire telling stories about our husbands. It's got a lot of humor. It's has everything."

Ford said her reaction when her agent pitched the project to her was, "Oh, hell, yeah!"

Despite working primarily in modeling, music videos and reality television, Ford said she had no "sense of trepidation whatsoever" about taking on a lead role in a high-profile movie.


"I am a native Canadian, so I was able to go back home [to film]. That was an added bonus," she said, noting she asked not to be told who else had been cast in the project until after she finished reading the script.

"I wanted that added sense of anticipation, so when I got a chance to find out who was attached to the script I was like, 'This is a really awesome cast.' I was super excited.

"Just the whole action element and really physically being out there in the outdoors and the literal storms that we weathered added an extra layer of authenticity to the movie."

Herjavec said she felt like this was a live performance because the cast really was in the wilderness as opposed to on a carefully controlled set.

"This is one of the biggest acting jobs I ever had, so, for me, it felt very comfortable and natural with you girls being out in the elements," she said.

Richards said the cast members' chemistry was immediately obvious.

"I feel like the three of us right away bonded and that was so important for this story," she said.

Herjavec agreed.

"We had so much fun in between scenes hanging out and being girlfriends," she said.


Ford said she was surprised to discover that she really enjoyed doing physical comedy.

"It's kind of my jam," she said.

"There are a lot of funny moments in this where I took a page out of Jack Tripper's book -- you know John Ritter in Three's Company? -- when it came to the physicality of the comedy in the role," she added. "My life is moving into a new direction, one that is extremely positive."

The women said they feel like they use an entirely different set of skills when they act as opposed to play themselves on reality shows.

Richards said she felt the contrast when she recently returned to her old stomping grounds of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for a few episodes.

"I find it more challenging sometimes just being myself," she said.

"it's a different environment than when you have a script and a character. When the camera's on you, for me, personally, and you're yourself, you are very vulnerable, which can be very scary. I like doing both."

Ford said appearing on reality TV is like portraying a caricature version of yourself.

"There's a whole lot more second-guessing that goes on inside your head, whereas when it comes to acting you read through the script numerous times you develop your character and your back story and commit to it and at the end of the day you get to walk away," Ford added.


Richards said she was impressed with how Herjavec, in particular, transitioned from reality TV to film acting.

"She is so good at this. She is so natural. I am really excited for people to see her in this role," Richards said.

Herjavec said she appreciated the praise and credited her co-stars for making it a fun and educational experience for her.

"I was learning a lot, being in the moment, being present and reacting to you guys," she said.

"It's very different from dancing. Dancing, you have choreography, you rehearse it," she added. "Here, the script could change the night before. I loved being with these two and they both made it so easy for me."

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