Williams-Paisley makes a strong case for ‘Darrow & Darrow’


Kimberly Williams-Paisley weighed all the evidence, talked to all the pertinent people and finally passed judgment. She ruled in favor of playing legal eagle and master mom Claire Darrow again in the Hallmark Movie and Mysteries movie “Darrow & Darrow: In the Key of Murder.”

The cable production, which also stars Wendie Malick and Tom Cavanagh, debuts at 7 p.m./6 p.m. Central Sunday on the cable channel. Darrow’s facing big challenges both in court and at home when she takes on her first murder case at the urging of DA Miles Strasberg (Cavanagh), whose half-sister stands accused of the crime. At the same time, her daughter, Lou (Lilah Fitzgerald), is challenging some sexually biased thinking at school.

Williams-Paisley was excited about returning to the role she had originated in the 2017 film “Darrow & Darrow.”

“Now that we have established who these characters are through the first film, you get to see us play a lot more in this one,” Williams-Paisley says. “I like this film even more than the first one.”

And Williams-Paisley liked the first film as soon as the idea was pitched to her. She was approached with the concept of taking on the role of Claire Darrow years ago and was immediately intrigued about not only getting to play a mom and daughter, but to take on the role of a lawyer. In her long career, the only time Williams-Paisley had stepped into legal briefs was for the series finale of “Boston Legal.”

“I loved the idea. The character was based on Clarence Darrow, who was a famous public defender,” Williams-Paisley says. “I loved the idea of a female Clarence Darrow who was really smart and really knew her way around a courtroom and could get the job done. Then I get to explore the dynamic of uncomfortable multi-generation relationships between the females in the family. I love both of those dynamics.”

An added bonus for Williams-Paisley is along with all the fun and frantic family factors and the courtroom commotion, there is time to make some very serious points. One plotline looks at the absurdity people go to in regards to litigation while another deals with sexual bias.

Whether events are unfolding at home, in the office or in court, the consistent factor is the way Williams-Paisley brings Claire to life. She plays her as a person with a great passion for life and her work, something that was both in the script and Williams-Paisley’s take on how she should be played.

“Claire is someone who lives for what she does. She’s fantastically good at it. It’s in her blood,” Williams-Paisley says. “I love the element of entertainment that even in the (tensest) moments we can find something that’s funny, humorous or light about it.”

Taking on the film series meant some real juggling for Williams-Paisley. Not only has she continued to act in films and on TV for 25 years, she’s also a New York Times best-selling author with “Where the Light Gets In.” The book started as an essay she wrote for Redbook magazine in 2014 called “Is My Mother Gone?” which chronicled the impact of her mother’s dementia.

Williams-Paisley has become a spokesperson for the Alzheimer’s Association, speaking at fundraisers and events over the last couple of years. She also started her own fundraising musical event — with some help from singer/her husband Brad Paisley — last year. The second annual Dance Party to End Alz will take place in Nashville on June 3.

“I like to stay busy,” Williams-Paisley says. “I had been doing a lot of work for the Alzheimer’s Association and I wanted to start a big fundraiser in Nashville because there really wasn’t one here. I am fortune to have the musical talent in my family — not me — who offered to help out. We thought it would be fun to dance party.”

The event will include performances of ’80s music plus clothing inspired by the decade. Williams-Paisley’s not certain if she will be more inspired by Madonna or the TV show “Dynasty” when making her clothing pick.

For more information on the Dance Party to End Alz, go to alz.org/galas/nashville.

Williams-Paisley’s a writer and advocate, but her main focus is acting. She laughs and says that even as a child growing up in Rye, N.Y., she was writing and putting on plays where she would charge the friends of her parents 35 cents to see.

“I wrote them. I directed them. I starred in them. I bullied my brother and sister to be in them,” Williams-Paisley says. “I have always just loved performing. As I got a little older, writing was something I also loved.

“Darrow & Darrow” is the latest onscreen work for her in a career that dates back to 1991, when she first garnered major attention as a radiant young bride in “Father of the Bride” and “Father of the Bride Part II.” That was followed by a long run on the ABC comedy series “According to Jim,” plus roles in “How to Eat Fried Worms,” We are Marshall” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip.” This is not her first work with Hallmark, as she starred in “The Christmas Train,” a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation that premiered on Hallmark Channel in November.

Work has already started on a third installment in the “Darrow & Darrow” franchise, but don’t look for it to become a weekly series. Because all of the actors have hectic schedules, the plan is to keep making movies that Williams-Paisley would like to see become part of a wheel of similar themed films to air on the cable channel.



7 p.m./6 p.m. Central Sunday, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries