Bewitching Hour: Julia Ormond And Jenna Dewan-Tatum Play Magical Mother And Daughter in Lifetime’s “Witches of East End.”
Joanna Beauchamp is the fiercely protective single mom of two beautiful daughters — sexy, saucy bartender Freya and sweet-natured librarian Ingrid. Though the girls are grown, Joanna has good reason to keep them close. After all, she has given birth to and buried them a dozen times over the course of several centuries and she isn’t eager to do either again.
See, the Beauchamp women are witches cursed to repeat a seemingly unbreakable cycle of birth and death, and Joanna is desperate to keep that conundrum from her daughters in order to give them a chance to live uneventfully — and beyond their 30th birthdays.
The ladies are also the main characters in Lifetime’s new series Witches of East End, based on the best-selling novels by Melissa de la Cruz. The show is by turns dramatic, funny, sexy and goose-bump scary and — if the pilot is any indication — deliciously entertaining from start to finish.
When we first meet them, Freya (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) is engaged to wealthy, handsome Dash Gardiner (Eric Winter, husband of Devious Maids star Roslyn Sanchez who earned his spot the cast when he dazzled Lifetime execs at a Maids soiree) but troubled by dreams of a mysterious lover who turns out to be Dash’s wayward real-life brother Killian (Daniel DiTomasso). Ingrid (Rachel Boston) studies witchcraft as a hobby, having no idea that she’s already an expert. And Joanna’s estranged, shape-shifting sister Wendy (Mädchen Amick, having a ball with a role the writers invented to expand potential storylines) reappears with ominous news that could force Joanna to tell her daughters the truth about their powers — if increasingly foreboding events don’t beat her to the punch.
“It’s a show that’s dark, but not terribly serious — and it still impacts you on an emotional level,” says Julia Ormond, who plays Joanna, of Witches’ family-centric heart. “And I love that it’s a group of girls!”
“We all naturally have essences very similar to our characters, so we’re able to naturally create chemistry without anything feeling forced,” adds Dewan-Tatum of the core group of actresses. “The magic only enhances the storyline between the mother, the sisters and the aunt, so it was really important to me that we focus on these really strong women characters and the bonds that they create over all these centuries.”
Ormond credits the show’s executive producer Maggie Friedman for working closely with de la Cruz to keep the essence of the popular book series intact for loyal readers, while making a few changes to give the show legs throughout multiple seasons.
“They’ve worked really hard at making conscious choices in taking the storyline from the novel and making it work as a TV series,” Ormond explains. “Probably the biggest change is bringing in Wendy as a character. There are other little changes as well, but they’re all liberating in terms of how it goes forward as a TV series — and I’m utterly convinced that has Melissa’s blessing and support. And the Wendy character is a fabulous addition! Mädchen is just amazing. She’s funny, she’s incredibly sexy, and she’s perfectly cast as this kooky character who throws a wrench in the works of Joanna’s much more down to earth straight approach of trying to protect her kids. It gives us a lot to play with.”
Dewan-Tatum says she was also excited to discover that, because of the plot line’s time-traveling nature, the women would play their spirited characters throughout multiple eras.
“Normally you find a script or you find a movie where there’s a certain place or period of time that you’re portraying,” she says. “In this series, you can go into past lives and you learn about our family’s dynamic from the 1950s or the 1920s,” she says. “And the fact that we are witches and have magical powers only enhances that strong women’s bond we get to portray.”
And, Ormond says, all moms will recognize the themes of holding on and letting go with which Joanna struggles. “Every parent dances the same dance that Joanna does with her two kids in terms of wanting them to have a normal, happy life and wanting them to be in control of their gifts and their powers,” she says.
Speaking of gifts — Dewan-Tatum laughs when asked about having the gorgeous Winter and DiTomasso fight for her affections on set, then heading home to her husband, Magic Mike heartthrob Channing Tatum, with whom she has baby daughter, Everly.
“I know! It’s like what did I do right?” she says. “Was I like a nun in a past life that I got all this good karma? It’s wonderful. I can actually pretty much say I have the best job in the world at this moment!”
Witches of East End premieres Sunday, Oct. 6, at 10/9pm CT on Lifetime.
Photo credit: ©2013 Lifetime/Mitch Jenkins