Exclusive Interview: Kristy Swanson Revisits Flowers in the Attic

Flowers in the Attic

One evening of the twice yearly Television Critics Association press tour was hosted by Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel. Television reporters were seated with various Hallmark talent for dinner. I didn’t even realize Kristy Swanson was in attendance until she was introduced before dessert. The timing was perfect, with a new Flowers in the Attic airing on Lifetime this weekend. Swanson starred in the theatrical film version of V.C. Andrews’ story.

After dinner I approached Swanson to reflect on Flowers, with a fair amount of inquiry about the Hallmark movie she was there to represent. I did not ask about Buffy, the Vampire Slayer because I couldn’t think of anything I didn’t think would have been asked in the last 15 years since the TV version was on. I did throw in a question about one of my old favorites though. Spoiler warning for Lifetime’s Flowers in the Attic, but I think it’s been well publicized which, ahem, aspects of the book are more faithfully represented in this incarnation.


CraveOnline: What do you think of the new cast for Flowers in the Attic and how they’re approaching it?

Kristy Swanson: Goodness, goodness. I’ve heard about it because everyone’s tweeting about it, so I’m catching stuff. I don’t know anything about it honestly.


Their cast may be a little younger than you were when you made it.

I was 16. It was 1986 when we made the movie. V.C. Andrews was still alive. V.C. Andrews did a little cameo in the film but she never got to see the film. She died on my birthday actually a couple months before the movie was released. She never got to see the movie which was really, really sad. I was sad for her because she was so excited about the fact that her book was being made into a movie but I don’t know. Lifetime, I’m glad that they’re making the movie. I’m curious to see it. I don’t know what to think about it.


I’ve seen it. It’s pretty explicit for TV.

Is it?


Well, Christopher and Cathy make out.

Oh wow. That’s interesting because back in 1986, because there’s a lot of incest in the book, and in the script there was. We shot it and then when they tested it in the movie theaters, it didn’t test well and it made people very uncomfortable and so they pulled it out of the movie. It wasn’t in the movie. They pulled it out.


I’m surprised they haven’t come out with a director’s cut now to tie in with the new movie.

No, it didn’t work. It just didn’t work so they pulled it out.


So you agree with that decision?

Well, I think that there’s a difference. When people are reading a book, it’s a personal thing. They’re reading it, it’s in their own mind, it’s in their own personal space when they‘re reading it. When they’re sitting in a movie theater watching it on screen with other people around them, it’s just uncomfortable, back then. Today, it’s different but back in 1986 it was just a different time. It’s just something that you didn’t watch incest on a movie screen. It’s just kind of weird.


Lifetime is already doing a sequel. Would you have done Petals on the Wind if they’d made a movie of the sequel book?

I was offered that. I was offered Petals on the Wind, I don’t know, two years after we made Flowers in the Attic and the script was not… It just didn’t… Not that I didn’t like it…


Well, they never made the movie.

Yeah, we never made the movie but for me, I just didn’t take a liking to it I guess I could say. I just didn’t feel it in my gut I guess so I didn’t accept the job, but they ended up not making the movie anyway.


I think we should call the new one Flizzles in the Tizzles. What do you think?

[Laughs] You didn’t like it?


No, it’s good. I just think it’s funny to say Flizzles in the Tizzles.

Um, I don’t know.


It’s okay, my friend hates it too. So what was the latest Hallmark Channel movie you did?

It was called Mom and Dad Undergrad. I thought it was coming out in the fall but I just heard that it’s coming out next month and they changed the title to A Lesson in Love.


What do you get to play?

I play a mom. I have boy and girl twins and they’re going off to college. I’ve kind of been an absentee mom, workaholic and they’re going off to college. My husband decides he’s going to go separate himself from me too and I find myself alone. He’s going off to college as well so I go off to college and meet everybody up in college.


Had she never been to college?

Yeah, I go to college for the first time and I embarrass my children at college.


Does she make younger friends?

Yes, and my kids don’t like that.


Are there any fun college shenanigans?

Oh yeah, lots. So it’s fun.


Who plays the husband?

Scott Grimes. Oh my God, he’s awesome. I love him and I’ve known him since we were kids. He was at my 16th birthday party so we were shooting the movie and I had to kiss him at the end of the movie. I kissed him and he says, “I’ve been waiting to do that for 25 years.”


When you started out, you did a number of TV movies and then there was a whole period where they weren’t making TV movies. Is it nice to see them come back, and have a whole channel dedicated to them?

Yeah, I like that. It’s like MOW on steroids, right? It’s movies of the week all the time.


Another favorite Kristy Swanson movie of mine was The Chase.

Oh my God, that’s a throwback.


Was that ahead of its time? Didn’t it come true?

Yeah, kind of, in a way. It was kind of ahead of its time in a way, as far as all that reality show stuff and videotaping of car chases, it was kind of ahead of its time in a way. 

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Best Episode Ever and The Shelf Space Awards. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.