In Ghost Whisperer, Jennifer Love-Hewitt helps restless spirits cross over to the other side. Time Out met her on set in Los Angeles to talk about ghosts, mediums and why real life scares her. Interview: Matt Pomroy
This current series is a lot darker isn’t it?
It is. It’s sort of gone into a more intense place, a little darker, a little scarier. In some ways it almost feels like a different show. It’s gotten more intense all round.
And your character seems more serious too.
She’s losing her innocence a little bit. I think she’s starting to realise that the dark side isn’t just something you can face and say, “But I’m light, and I have this good cause, and I want to do these great things, and I’ll win out.” I think she’s finding that argument isn’t necessarily working so easily these days, that maybe the dark side, for a while, really is this very powerful thing that she’s going to really watch out for.
Do you sometimes wish that you had this gift in real life?
Yeah, I do. I think it would be really neat. There are some days when Melinda’s gift is a gift and other times that it’s a curse, but it would be cool to one day be able to see ghosts and to know that you can help them.
Why do you think these supernatural shows have been so popular?
There’s an entire group of very quiet people who are really interested in this subject matter and want to know what it is. Death is normally a very negative, scary, awful thing to think about. And on our show, it’s not necessarily a celebration, but it’s definitely seen as more hopeful and beautiful and not lonely and scary at all.
In a strange way, do you think the series is providing a service comforting viewers, just as your character comforts the bereaved?
Sure, absolutely. It’s like Halloween. Why do people want to get terrified by people with her eyeballs hanging out or stuff like that? It’s because it takes something that’s normally terrifying, and it makes it silly and fun. That’s what entertainment is.
Have you personally had a paranormal experience?
We’ve experienced a lot of different things in the show. The crew’s felt [something] – I don’t know what – tugs on their shirts. We’ve had lights explode. We’ve had different things like that. But outside of work, they seem to leave me alone.
Although you once said the storylines stay with you. Has it become easier as the seasons have gone on?
Yeah, it’s gotten easier. Some of the storylines have either been close to events that have happened to me or they’ve been emotions that I can connect into from other things that have happened to me in my life. And so those days, it’s a little tougher to go away from.
The show was developed by real-life medium and psychic James Van Praagh. What did he try to instill in you when approaching this role and becoming Melinda?
He was pretty good about saying, ‘Go and make it your own.’ But he gave me the guidelines of what it’s like for a medium, to have this ability, day in and day out, just the intensity of that doctor always being on call for whenever a spirit or a ghost might need you. One of the things that he talked about is how important it is, which we do illustrate sometimes on the show
So have you had a reading?
I have. I’ve had a couple. I was able to talk to my friend Alan, who passed away a long time ago, who was sort of a mentor for me. And I know that it was him because there were very specific things. And I was able to talk to my grandmother.And that was really cool. It’s just amazing to watch him.
Do you get a bit freaked out by it, though?
No, I think it’s really interesting. I mean, I’m sure if I went home tonight and there was a ghost in my living room, my answer would probably change. I’d probably be like, ‘Yeah, I never want to see a ghost again. Really freaky. Thanks for asking.’ But for now, I think it’s kind of neat.
So what does scare you?
I’m afraid of everything. There’s pretty much nothing I’m not afraid of. I’m afraid of bugs. I’m afraid chicken fat – hate it. I’m afraid of birds. I’m slightly claustrophobic. I’m afraid of heights. I don’t like sage, but that’s because I’m allergic. I’m afraid of falling in love and being crushed to pieces. Ghosts don’t bother me. But I’m afraid of everything in real life.
For Time Out, September 2008
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