Jen Lilley was able to take the soap world by storm, first as a temporary fill-in as General Hospital's Maxie and then as Days of our Lives' feisty flirt Theresa Donovan. But has she been able to take the film world by storm, as well? Anyone who's seen her latest movie, Turn Around Jake, would answer yes. So of course soapcentral.com caught up with the actress to get the details on her role as well as what it was like working with stars like Bounty's Jarrett Lemaster and DAYS' Mark Withers.
Lilley has a plethora of films under her belt, including The Back-Up Bride, One Small Hitch, and The Book of Esther, and they all show her range as a talented actress. However, Turn Around Jake, which tells the story of a young man bent on success who loses everything only to discover a family he never knew he had, showcases her talents in a way DAYS fans probably can't even imagine.
"Jessica and Theresa are so different," Lilley says of her Turn Around Jake alter ego. "I always look to play different character types, and I think just like people, each character is unique and wonderful. I think for most actors -- though I can only truly speak for myself -- there's a catharsis that happens when you become a character for any project. Through that process, I use my characters to learn about myself, and then I use that revelation to change what I can and embrace what's good."
In fact, the opportunity to play Jessica Henry is exactly what drew the actress to the film in the first place. "I was at Denver airport, flying back from a different film shoot... and my dear friend Mackenzie Marsh was casting the film and called me with the offer and sent me the script," she explains. "I think Turn Around Jake is a well-rounded script, and I think Jessica Henry is a firecracker. I like playing strong women with layered vulnerability."
Of course, the opportunity to work with talented actors like Kill Bill's Michael Madsen, Bleak's Jarrett Lemaster, and DAYS' Mark Withers (ex-Coach Locke; ex-Ted Dinard, Dynasty) is also something that drew her to the film. "Jarrett is amazing," Lilley enthuses of her co-star. "He's such a good man. He's honorable, he loves his wife and kids, he's easy-going and immensely talented. Watch out, Hollywood!"
However, she thinks Mark Withers stole the film. "I recently looked up comedic gold in the dictionary, and it said, '(Proper Noun) Mark Withers,'" she jokes.
All kidding aside, though, Turn Around Jake -- though humorous at times -- is actually quite a serious film that Lilley says will make you think. "[It's] family friendly, funny, and exquisitely cast. It will make you laugh, cry, question life, it's worth and purpose," she explains. "That's a film I want to see!"
Released in February, Turn Around Jake follows the story of Jacob Zaker (Lemaster), a rising business prodigy working under the tutelage of his corrupt boss, Russell O'Malley (Madsen). Life is sweet until the government starts investigating illegal practices at his firm, and Jacob is pinned with the crime. Overnight, Jake loses it all: his career, his downtown penthouse, and his high-class model fiancée. Left without options, Jake escapes from L.A. to the last place he wants to be: his childhood home in rural Texas. Now Jacob must face an estranged father, Leo Zaker (Withers), and the girl he left behind, Jessica Henry (Lilley). While Jake tries to figure out how to return to L.A., old flames are rekindled, and Jake is reminded of the man he used to be. But just as he starts to see that things have changed in the small town, Jake discovers a family secret that will force him to make the biggest decision of his life.
Turn Around Jake is available on DVD in select stores as well as on Pure Flix.
Will you be watching Lilley in Turn Around Jake? Have you lost anything in your own life only to discover that it was for the best? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.