When Lori Loughlin talks about growing up on Long Island, it may as well be an episode of "Full House," the well-remembered family sitcom in which she played Aunt Becky to the daughters of single dad Danny Tanner (Bob Saget). "Honestly," she says, of her Hauppauge youth, "when I was a kid you went out in the morning, found some friends, ran around all day and you went home when the streetlights came on. That was summer."
After "Full House" ended its eight-year run in 1995, Loughlin, 50, went on to star in ABC's "Hudson Street" with Tony Danza; the WB series "Summerland," which she co-created; and The CW's "90210," as well as in a raft of TV-movies including the "Garage Sale Mystery" films. She currently plays cafe owner Abigail Stanton in Hallmark Channel series "When Calls the Heart," set in a small Western Canada coal-mining town circa 1910. Season two begins April 25 at 8 p.m.
Loughlin, who lives in Los Angeles with her husband fashion-designer Mossimo Giannulli, their two daughters and Giannulli's son, Gianni, spoke by phone with frequent Newsday contributor Frank Lovece.
It's not a "Garage Sale Mystery," but it's a mystery just the same: Different sources say you were born either in Hauppauge -- that's on your official bio -- or in New York City. Please, solve the mystery.
I grew up in Hauppauge, but I was born in Queens.
How old were you when moved to Hauppauge?
I was a year old.
Your mom still lives on Long Island. Do you have other family here?
I have a younger brother -- his name is Roy. The whole family's still on Long Island.
And you have your own family in Los Angeles. "When Calls the Heart" shoots in Vancouver, so how do you make that work?
I go up for a week, shoot [my part in] two episodes and then I go home for a week or two. It's not a bad schedule at all -- I'm really lucky. I made a deal with the producer early on: I said I couldn't do the show unless they could block-shoot my stuff and get me out. He said he would and he has remained true to that since we started. That's really the only way I can make it work for my family.
On the show, you play a widow. Is it tough relating to that?
I think that's just part of her character, that loss, and you always draw on your life experiences -- losses you've experienced. I lost my father, and it's not like my mother losing my father, but it was a loss. So you draw on things like that, the void that it leaves. And I think in 1910 people experienced that same sense of loss but, as you said, it was a lot more prevalent and it was just part of the larger picture, which is, "What are you going to do to survive?"
Coal Valley doesn't seem like the easiest place to survive.
Yeah, and we started the show focusing on the hardships of that time. And then Hallmark wanted to move away from that this year. We're still dealing with it, but not with the same level of intensity. Now there are some lighter story lines, some romance . . . because they didn't want to keep dwelling on the tragedy everyone had suffered . So now everyone is on their feet again and moving forward. I think the tone this year is a little bit lighter and a little bit happier.
Just like growing up in Hauppauge!
[Chuckles] I grew up in a great neighborhood and I remember that you just walked out the front door and you had a ton of friends to hang out and play with. It was so different from how my kids are raised, with scheduled play dates and destinations. . . . It was great. I really have nothing but really good memories of growing up in Hauppauge.
Your first movie was "Amityville 3-D" in 1983. Did you ever go by the real-life Amityville house, either as research or when you were a kid?
Just growing up, yeah, we did, long before I got that role.
Did it help you in your audition: "Hey, I know that house!"
I don't think it did [laughs], but I definitely knew the story. And we all knew where the house was -- you had to go drive by the Amityville house.