Interview with Crystal Hunt of “Mood Swings” on PureFlix by Suzanne 8/14/20
It was great to speak with Crystal! She’s a lot of fun. I used to watch her on “Guiding Light” and “One Life to Live” She’s good at playing the villain, but she’s very sweet and down-to-earth in real life.
Here is the audio version of it. Here’s the transcript!
Suzanne: So, when did you create the series? And when was it filmed?
Crystal: We shot it the year right before Christmas, year before last, and I created it when Donna Mills and Vanessa Marcil and I did that show “Queens Of Drama.” We were given a challenge. So, I create a treatment for a series that we think should be on the air. And so, my name is chosen, but Donna loved the concept of doing a female ensemble comedy and always loved “The Golden Girls,” and, you know, her favorite’s “I Love Lucy” like me. She loves Lucy a lot. So, we have a very similar sense of the style of comedy we like. And I just didn’t let her down. I was like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe we’re actually doing this.” She’s like, “You realize how big of a deal this is.” And she’s like, “There’s nobody in our industry that says they’re actually gonna do something and they actually follow through.” I’m like, “Well, I’m from Florida. I think it’s different.”
Suzanne: So had you done any writing before this?
Crystal: I had never, but I didn’t really have much of a choice once I saw what the budget was, and also timeframe before production needed to start by. And I didn’t realize just how many – because I’m not a writer, I didn’t realize just how – okay, I take it back. I did take poetry writing and things like that. I’ve always enjoyed that growing up. I’d just never formally written. So, I never really knew about writers rooms and all these different components and all these other people that add to the mix that actually makes up each episode. So, I realized really quickly, that yeah, this is too much work for anyone person in the time frame we need it. So, I happen to be friends with one of the writers of “The Golden Girls,” and I said, “Listen, I know that you [don’t want?] to do this for a long time, but it’s happening, but here’s the deal. It has to be done in this amount of time.” He’s like, “Okay, so possible.” I’m like, “Yeah, and here’s what it is. You’ll have me and one of my friends and we will -“ She has written some things. I was like, “So, she has a little bit of experience.” I said, “And I’m watching Judd Apatow Masterclass first.” I said, “So, while I finish up wrapping up the shooting the season on this other show.” I was like, “I will be watching a masterclass, so I know I can at least have an idea that I can make notes” I’m like, “And then lets beat board the whole thing out, and then let us create some female heavy content, and then you can run with it.” He’s like, “Okay, this sounds nuts but I think that it might actually be doable if you guys can do that.” He’s like, “That’s the key, like that’s where the writer room comes in, is you get to get ideas from a bunch of different heads, and a lot of different visions and takes on everything and that’s kind of what makes comedy so great.” So, it was a lesson and also opened up the doors to a lot of work right at the tail end of wrapping up season two of our show.
Suzanne: Wow. So, so, so it was difficult, but you figured out how to get help and get it all together.
Crystal: 100%. Tons of notes, tons of calls for questions and whatnot, but we got down to a really good rhythm. Some episodes, that will seem the most daunting to do, because they seem like they had the most content, turned out to be some of the easiest, and the ones that we thought were going to be the easiest, we’re like, “What? I don’t know, what do you mean?
Suzanne: So I know you’d worked for Pure Flix before, did that make it easier to sell it to them?
Crystal: Oh, it had already been sold. They had actually asked when I was actually negotiating my deal for season two. [Unintelligible] asked, “What happened to that show you pitched on, ‘Queens of Drama’?” “I mean, I do plan to do it at some point, but I just haven’t gotten around it yet.” He’s like, “Can you give me a rough pitch?” And I’m like, “Well, I haven’t even looked at the treatment in years, but yes.
Crystal: Like twenty minutes later, he’s like, “Let’s do like eight or ten episodes. Let’s just figure out like, what the beat board is and let’s do it. Like the episode, like what’s the season’s going to comprise of, and let’s do it.” So, just a treatment
Suzanne: Great. And so, did you first meet and work with Donna Mills with the “Queens of Drama,” or her did you know her from before?
Crystal: No, we actually have friends in common. One of the first executive researchers to ever hire her was a gentleman named John Conboy. He [unintelligible] “Santa Barbara” and “Capitol.” And he actually gave her one of my first jobs. He hired me for my first job on “The Guiding Light.”
Suzanne: Oh, good.
Crystal: Yeah, so, we had a lot of paths that crossed, but yes, we didn’t formally meet until “Queens of Drama.” And we’ve been like, yeah, there might be an age difference, but she and I, like you couldn’t find too closer pals. I love her pieces. She’s like family, as is her husband and daughter. They just didn’t realize they were gonna gain family from Florida, but they did…Joan Collins is a good friend of hers and Joan worked on “Guiding Light” with me. There’re just a lot of crossovers in our industry that you really don’t think of until that happens and you’re like, “Oh, oh, that’s where we know each other.” There’re so many times the things like that happen and it’s like, “Okay, now I’m not surprised anymore. Just go with it.”
Suzanne: Yeah, I read about that all the time. You’ll hear about somebody being cast and they’ll be like, “Oh, I know so and so, because we used to meet each other in the same auditions, or we took an acting class or something like that. And you’re like, “Oh, okay.”
Crystal: That happens a lot. Where like you used to, you know, do some sort of like workshop whatever with an actor and you run into them again, and then there’s like some sort of crossover.
Suzanne: Yeah. And I guess you see that a lot on Twitter too. Some actor that you know from one thing and then you’ll be talking to another actor, and you’re like, I wonder how they know each other? It’s always something like that.
Crystal: So true. And it does; it happens a lot. That’s because there’s not that many, especially in New York, there weren’t that many really reputable coaches that did workshops and whatnot. So, you had to have at least some credits on your belt to even get in there. So, if you were part of it, chances are you’re gonna see people that you’ve seen either on auditions or have worked with. [dog is barking]
Suzanne: Is that your dog?
Crystal: No, it is not. It’s my mother’s unruly dog. He is right next to me, barking next to me. I’m like, “What is she barking at?” We’re here in Florida for my mom’s birthday. So yeah, her dogs, though I love them to pieces. I got them for her, so obviously, I think they’re beautiful and I love them, but holy moly. They bark at everything
Suzanne: Yeah, that’s we always try to get dog that doesn’t bark if we can help it.
Crystal: Mine does not. I am very proud to say that.
Crystal: I’m answering a text; I have to get to an appointment that my mom’s at. Sorry I was asking on my dad’s [unintelligible] because they were walking in. My mom’s like – I told her, I’m like, “I have an interview to do on my drive over there.” Like I didn’t realize the time it was, because I was like, “I know I’ll be getting a call at that time. So I’ll head over there.
Crystal: I told him too, I was like…I surprised my mom got like this whole like, UV filtration system in their house and stuff like that, because she’s a cancer survivor…and really good it gets all the crap out of the water and stuff but also doesn’t have that water. So, I don’t know if you have long hair, but it doesn’t have that water softener feel that makes you feel like you can’t ever get your shampoo out of your hair. Because we hate it but also don’t want to have her breathing in carcinogens like they clean water with. So, I do that and the guy didn’t know what he was doing exactly, and it flooded a quarter of my parents’ house.
Suzanne: Oh, no.
Crystal: Yeah, this all happened in the last 48 hours, so it’s been fun.
Suzanne: You’ve been having a week.
Crystal: Yeah, exactly. I was like, “Friday might be a little hectic, but don’t worry. Even if I’m talking on the road, I’ll be talking.
Suzanne: Well, that’s good that you can multitask.
Crystal: [unintelligible] disaster.
Suzanne: Did you know any of the other people in your cast? You have a great cast for the show. Did you know any of them before they were cast?
Crystal: Oh, 100%, yeah. Well, obviously, Donna wrote the role for, and then Dyan Cannon she called me, and I was just like, that was beyond a pinch yourself moment. I mean, her her manager called a couple times, and I was explaining that the character that would be great for her would be be – She wanted to roll of Wanda, but I said I’ve written that for Donna, but the roll of her sister would be fabulous for her. She’s wild and crazy and a blast. But she wasn’t set to come until season two. Well, a couple of calls later, I get a call from Diane pitching me to have her come in a little bit in season one and then full time in season two. And I’m sorry yeah, it was a week before production, but you can’t get a call like that and not make it happen.
Suzanne: Right. Right. Wow. That’s great. Yeah, she’s wonderful.
Crystal: And I couldn’t have met a more unbelievable human being. She’s just incredible. Such an angel.
Suzanne: And what about Robin Riker? Did you know her before?
Crystal: Robin Riker, I actually know her through “The Golden Girls” writer; he wrote for her on “Mash.” It was so much crossover. It was crazy. And then several of my former cast mates from other soaps that are on there too, like the guy who plays my ex husband, Scott Bailey. We worked together since I was seventeen on “Guiding Light.” And a lot of people, because ultimately, I mean, Joan Collins has come out and said, “You know, soap opera stars are about the hardest working people in the business.” Because the thing is, there is no other workload like it. Like it’s the only thing that you see five days a week, every week that [unintelligible] training, and so it’s less of a series in the way that when people watch series, they watch ten, twelve episodes of something, and then they have to wait for another season to come out. Whereas it develops a totally different relationship with your fan base. Because it’s no longer like, “Oh my god!” It’s not that; it’s legitimately like they’ll come up to you and give you a piece of their mind and tell you, you know, “You need to stop giving this person a hard time,” and blah, blah, blah, bla, blah and are totally 100% in it, but like there is no like, “Hi, nice to meet you.” It’s like,”Why don’t you leave your your stepmother alone and give her a break.” And because it creates such a real family type relationship, that people forget that they don’t actually know you as a person, and also that you’re portraying a character. So, the separation is a little off, but there’s never a dull moment, I can tell you that.
Suzanne: So did you get more people coming up to you when you were playing Lizzie or when you’re playing Stacy?
Crystal: Oh, that’s a good question. I think just as much but just different, because I was so young when I was playing Lizzy. I had a lot of people like concerned, like there are a lot people waiting outside the studio tracks, like trying to introduce me to Christianity, even though if they ever looked up anything that I had said set about myself – I grew up Pentecostal Church of God and went to a bad Baptist school. So like, there’s really not much you can tell me that I haven’t heard ad nauseum, because I had to learn absolutely every single subject every kid learns in school, only the subject and how it relates to the Bible. But like they truly are concerned that I came from like a very sweet sort of nurturing side, whereas with Stacey, I think they are like, “She’s old enough to know better!” And they would give me an earful. It’s funny; it’s just different fans, because the fans – I feel like it sounds crazy, but the fans for CBS, it’s like they’re just 100% away from ABC fans. They’re just totally different types of people and demographics. It’s so weird. You would never ever think that a network would change, you know, what your fan base is going to be. Like, for instance, like “Guiding Light,” I would say, it’s definitely more of a legacy show. Like there was a lot one people that watched it, because it was like passed down to them like it was like an heirloom or something. Whereas I’d say ABC, it was the first time I actually had a lot of young fans.
Suzanne: That makes sense.
Crystal: Because there was such a broad demographic for ABC shows. ,So it was just it was it was crazy to see, because you don’t really know it until you experience it.
Suzanne: Right. Well, I watched you a little bit on “Guiding Light” and when you were on “One Life to Live,” and I liked you. You did a good job on both, but I didn’t like Stacy, because I liked Gigi and Rex together
Crystal: Yeah, nobody likes breaking up of the couples.
Suzanne: No, no, exactly…Do you still do you still know Ron? Didn’t Ron Carlivati write your character?
Crystal: My character, yes he did. He wrote my character for “GH.” No, not “GH,” for “One Life to Live.” He is at “GH” now. Yeah, he wrote my character for “One Life.” He’s such a sweetheart.
Suzanne: Yeah I thought I had read that he wrote all that, because I was like, well okay hope he does better now….Like I said you did a great job, you know, I just didn’t like Stacy. You know, it’s hard to like somebody who was so awful all the time.
Crystal: I hear you.
Suzanne: So I was wondering why – I’m sure you get a lot of flack from fans for that.
Crystal: Oh, for sure, but yeah, but that’s the one thing is I think that it probably helps that I already had covered some ground in daytime, because then there are at least enough people out there that knew that Crystal isn’t like that.
Crystal: So, I think that it saved me a little bit. I think a lot of people are trying to figure out how much of Lizzie was really me and how much of it was just the character. And because they didn’t know me from anything, because I was in the middle of my senior year of high school when I got cast. So, I think that since it established that I was not alone and doing all these crazy things, that I must not be so bad. There wasn’t like terrible hate mail. I like that. There has been, but not really as much for Stacey anymore, just because they like them together, you know, and they get used to that. And I completely understand it, but every show has to have that person.
Suzanne: Well, it probably helped you too, if you weren’t just thrown in as that being your first first character. You might have had a lot of trouble with how people treated you.
Crystal: I’m not gonna lie. I have pretty thick skin. I have a huge family that all think that they are like practical jokers and standup comics. I think there’s 99.99% sarcasm in our family. And they’re always pulling pranks on you and all that stuff. So, I feel like they’re so full of crap anyway, all the time that I just have gotten such thick skin to everything that I’m always ready to have a great response, to where I feel like I was already seasoned to handle anything at that point.
Suzanne: They prepared you for life.
Crystal: Oh, yes. No, it’s a good thing. I recommend it. Huge families are fabulous.
Suzanne: What else can you tell us about the series? It comes out in October, right?
Crystal: it came out the end of last October.
Crystal: You know, like right before the whole world went on pause.
Crystal: Back when you could go to the movie theater.
Suzanne: Well, it’s a good thing it’s not a movie then.
Crystal: It’s funny though. It’s funny, because I there were so many films I did want to see. And I’m like, what’s gonna happen? Like they gotta put it on streaming somehow, but I guess they have to make a deal. And next thing you know, all these deals are being made with the shows and films that I wanted to see at the theater. They’re now streaming on streaming services. It’s so weird. It’s so weird.
Suzanne: It is weird, because all of a sudden, the definition of a movie has completely changed, hasn’t it?
Crystal: Yeah, I mean, it’s strange though. I mean, I know this has been going on for a long time now, but it still feels like if I were to wake up tomorrow, and this is all just some wacky dream, I wouldn’t be surprised. Like, it just feels so surreal. You know what I mean?
Suzanne: Yeah, I know exactly what you mean.
Crystal: it’s just too many things and too much negativity all at once. It’s just you hate seeing like, you know, this is all because of COVID and it’s messing with people brain chemicals, keeping them like the you know, sheltered up in their homes all the time and all that stuff. I mean, it’s not healthy, and then all the stuff that’s been happening in the media, the police forces and different things. It’s just like, really? Like right now? Like come on.
Suzanne: And then you’ve got what was it? Murder hornets. I don’t know what else, so many things. And then we’ve got an election coming up, so everything’s all amped up anyway in the news.
Crystal: Yeah, it’s true. It’s too much, and I refuse to watch the news. I’m not that person. If I flip on the news, it’s really hard to give me any kind of like, remote anxiety about something, but I just don’t understand. Like, it just puts you in a bad mood.
Suzanne: Yeah, it’s depressing.
Crystal: It takes you from a good mood to just being like, “blah,” so quick.
Suzanne: I know, even on a good year, it’s depressing. And this is not a good year.
Crystal: I feel like you watch it for five minutes and know what they’re gonna talk about for the next few hours. It’s like it’s cyclical. Everybody kind of rehashes certain things.
Crystal: But like, my mother loves my watching the news, and she was actually quarantined with me in LA, because she just had spine surgery. And I’m like, “Listen, Lady, I’m making some hard rules here. You can watch ten minutes a day, and if there’s something big happening, that there is some special thing that night, that there’s like some sort of thing that you feel like you need to get updated on, then we’ll see.” But it already is awful that we were in the hospital for as long as we were and then now we’re going to be trapped in this condo for as long as we are going to be and we don’t know when we are going to be let out, but then to actually have some depressing material to watch. No, thank you.
Suzanne: Yeah, that’s an older person thing, I think, watching the new over and over and over.
Crystal: It is; it really is. I’m like, if it’s important I’m sure I’ll get some sort of like, alert on my phone or something.
Suzanne: Yeah, my mother-in-law lived with us for five years, and all she watched was the news and reruns of “Law & Order.” That was is.
Crystal: Oh my God. That was my mother’s favorite. She loves that. What’s the one that Mariska Hargitay’s on?
Suzanne: Oh, “SVU.” Yeah.
Crystal: She loves that. [imitating] “Oh, I just love her, and she looks just like her mother.”
Suzanne: Yes, that’s true. She does.
Suzanne: “Just like her mother.”
Suzanne: And it’s funny, because there seems to be like, no matter what time of day you turn on the TV, there’s a “Law & Order” playing somewhere.
Crystal: It’s so true. There’re so many of them. I don’t know how they keep up with all those. Same with “CSI.” It’s like, what time is in?
Suzanne: The original “CSI” was in Vegas, and then they had one New York and one in Miami.
Crystal: Hold on “CSI” in Vegas was before New York?
Suzanne: Oh, yeah.
Crystal: See, I never knew that.
Suzanne: If you have any TV questions, you can always ask me. I know these things.
Crystal: I love it. I knew nothing about current television until the pandemic, because I then binged watched the first time every bit of content I think that’s probably out there.
Suzanne: There’s a lot.
Crystal: I’m a huge documentary fan, so I definitely hit those pretty hard.
Suzanne: Oh, that’s good. Yeah, there’s a lot of those. They have a lot more of those I think now too. It seems like it anyway.
Crystal: They do, and I feel like I’m seeing a lot more of those still like being made too, because I think they might fall under, well, non-union I imagine, so they probably don’t have as many laws that they have to abide by.
Suzanne: Yeah. Is that your phone?
Crystal: No, that was just the car let me know that I’m close to the curb.
Suzanne: Okay, so –
Crystal: It’s nice when the car talks to you, you know?
Suzanne: Well, you know, we’re not too far off from the whole talking car thing.
Crystal: I know right? There’re actually cars out there there, or are going to be cars out there, I think there already are, that drive themselves. That scares the crap out of me. Like there’re already enough bad drivers on the road. We don’t need any driverless cars.
Suzanne: Well, I like the idea, actually. I don’t I don’t like to drive, so it’s great for me.
Crystal: I love the idea, if it was like “The Jetsons.” I always say, that’s like the ultimate car-
Suzanne: Wait, wait, wait, wait. You want a car that drives itself, but in the air?
Crystal: Yeah! See, that’s just it. I love the concept. The problem is that I just feel like nothing ever works the way it’s projected to, so that’s my only fear, is that as a realist, it sounds fabulous, but let’s be honest, what’s the safety rating on this?
Suzanne: I think most people probably wait until they’ve been out for a while, and we all know exactly how safe they are, hopefully.
Crystal: Yes, I hope so. I do hope so.
Suzanne: I’m just giving you a hard time, I hope you know,
Crystal: Yeah. I will wait until I see how they fare, because I know there were a lot of different little things kind of like that that they were testing out, like Uber Eats and Postmates and things like that, like robotic things, and they didn’t work out so hot. So, it’s a great idea, but if it works seamlessly, if it’s flawless and great.
Suzanne: Right. Well, probably most accidents are caused by people, so, you know, if the cars are working okay and the people are not getting in the way then –
Crystal: That’s true, and as long as there is that then they’re won’t be any people falling asleep at the wheel, so that’s good.
Suzanne: Yeah, exactly, or are getting drunk or whatever.
Crystal: Very true. Uber will go out of business.
Suzanne: Yeah. So anything else you can tell us about the series for people who haven’t watched it yet?
Crystal: It is my personal modern take/twist on “The Golden Girls,” me coming from a huge, huge family of diverse ranges of ages, because all of the people in our family have kids in their early 20s and do it again their 40s, so there’re a lot of big age gaps. So, the one thing I wanted to do differently with my spin, because I know how interesting it makes things, is have someone from each decade. Because there is something that you don’t even need to write when you have women of every decade dealing with all different levels of estrogen and lack thereof, having to cohabitate and dealing with their randomly different issues. You know, it’s already fun. There’s already gonna be something entertaining there.
Suzanne: And you said you’re working on the second season now?
Crystal: No, I’m actually waiting for anybody to get back to the office to even hear anything. I know our ratings are the top show, so that’s good. But nobody’s at the office. So, it’s kind of hard.
Suzanne: Okay, but you you wrote the second season already?
Crystal: I have a list, yeah. Bob and I [unintelligible] started sorry, actually making notes of stuff as we were shooting of stuff that we want for episodes for the second season. So yes, we have a rough outline of it.
Suzanne: Cool. And do you think that the first season will be out on DVD?
Crystal: That’s a good question. I haven’t really given it much thought, because, I mean, we can sell it as a DVD, we just haven’t really gone into that, because the people who buy, it’s a different type of distribution. So, the people who would buy to do that aren’t in their offices to even have those calls yet. So, it kind of makes it hard in that way. But it is definitely a possibility. It’s just a bridge that hasn’t been crossed yet, because it is a different kind of distribution all together.
Suzanne: Yeah, I think it would work. I mean, I haven’t seen it, but I think it sounds like it would work for DVD, because you have people of all ages, and those of us who watch DVDs are older, so it would work.
Crystal: Yeah, absolutely, of course. If Netflix works, then a DVD would work. Yeah, exactly. Ultimately, it’s handy, so you have them all there readily available.
Suzanne: Right, and not everybody – there’re so many streaming services and you know, you can’t you can’t buy them all.
Crystal: You are not kidding. That is so true.
Suzanne: Well, anyway, I appreciate you calling me, and I enjoyed it. Like I said, I used to watch you all the time on the soap, so I do feel like I know you. See, like those other fans.
Crystal: Thank you, I appreciate it.
Suzanne: But you’re nicer than, you know, either of your other characters.
Crystal: Thank you. I hope so. Otherwise, I think I’d be creating some crazy publicity if I was. If I was anything like them, I can assure you, I’d probably be emulating it.
Suzanne: That’s right. All right. Well, thanks very much, and I look forward to check it out the show.
Crystal: Me too. Same here. I’d love to hear what you think.
Suzanne: Thank you.
Crystal: Thank you.
Suzanne: Bye bye.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Emmy-nominated actress Crystal Hunt, who first captured America’s attention at age 17 when she was cast as the troubled teenager ‘Lizzie Spaulding’ on the iconic CBS daytime series “Guiding Light.” Now Crystal is the writer, creator, producer and star of the new TV series “Mood Swings” that gives a modern spin on “Golden Girls.” The comedy airs on streaming service Pure Flix and follows four generations of women thrown together by circumstance to live under one roof and survive in Los Angeles. It is directed by Emmy nominated comedy director Sean Lambert (“The Larry Sanders Show,” “Freaks and Greeks”) and features Crystal’s fellow soap stars Donna Mills (“General Hospital”) and Robin Riker (“The Bold and the Beautiful”), and Oscar-nominated actress Dyan Cannon.
Disillusioned with the pace of Hollywood and feeling there was a need for a great female ensemble comedy such as “Golden Girls,” “I Love Lucy,” and “Designing Women” which she grew up watching, Crystal took her career into her own hands to embrace the legacy of these female driven shows, while adding her own modern twist. Crystal Hunt is the creative and comedic force behind the series which follows ‘Farrah’ (Crystal Hunt) who after being recently divorced deals with an enormous mortgage on a Malibu mansion and so takes on roommates to earn money to support herself and her eight-year-old son ‘Ryder.’
Crystal’s new roommates include ‘Coco’ (Robin Riker), a disgruntled working woman, ‘Dani’ (BAD MOMS’ Christina DeRosa), a Canadian-Italian “culinary wizard” and aspiring actress, and ‘Emilia’ (“Ballers'” Sophia Gasca), a Dominican entrepreneur trying to secure U.S. citizenship. Jason Earles (Disney’s “Hannah Montana”) stars as ‘Farah’s’ live-in, slacker handyman.
After being spotted by an agent at the Actors Workshop in New York as a teenager, Crystal was quickly offered a role on “Guiding Light” that would last four years and earn the teenage actress an Emmy nomination. Coinciding with her rigorous television schedule, Hunt got her break into motion pictures, appearing opposite Zac Efron in the feel-good family movie THE DERBY STALLION.
Crystal returned to her television roots in 2009 when she was cast as the devious stripper ‘Stacy Morasco’ on the ABC daytime series “One Life To Live”, where she would stay for three years. She also starred on the docuseries “Queens of Drama” that followed a powerful cast of former daytime and primetime stars as they work in front of and behind the cameras to create, develop, pitch and produce a new steamy, serialized, primetime drama.
Enjoy Crystal’s remarkable behind the scenes Hollywood journey from developing the concept, writing the scripts, selling the series, casting and so much more.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda