By Rick Bentley The Fresno Bee
Because of career and family, Lacey Chabert estimates she’s been on 5,000 to 7,000 plane flights. That’s a lot of security checks, lost luggage, bags of peanuts, delays and layovers.
Even with all of the new security measures, where she’s had to disrobe more times than she likes to admit, none of those flights provided as much drama as the two-hour trip she makes in “Non-Stop,” a Lifetime Movie Channel production that airs at 8 p.m. Friday.
In this “strangers on a plane” story, Chabert — best known for her work on the TV series “Party of Five” — plays a writing assistant who becomes the target of a terrorist group when she has to take an intercontinental flight to deliver a copy of a manuscript that will expose the group.
In a Hitchcockian series of events, her character begins to doubt her own sanity because of the bizarre happenings on the nearly empty flight.
It was the mystery angle of the story that appealed to Chabert.
“When I was young, I read all of the ‘Nancy Drew’ mysteries,” Chabert said. “And, when I had finished them, I read all of the ‘Hardy Boys’ books. I love a good mystery.”
Her current film and choice of reading material may be full of intrigue, but there’s no mystery about Chabert’s career. Since playing Claudia Salinger in six seasons of “Party of Five,” Chabert has worked in feature films — such as “Lost In Space” and “Mean Girls” — plus been a voice talent in an assortment of animated shows from “The Wild Thornberrys” to “The Spectacular Spider-Man.”
Chabert loves the diversity of her career. She’s just spent the morning looking her best to be on an episode of the cable series “Fashion Police.” Later in the day, she’ll slip into some sweat pants and put her hair in a ponytail for a recording session.
She’s busy as a voice talent, but she’s equally active in front of the camera. “Non-Stop” is one of five movies featuring Chabert released this year.
Working on the movie was an interesting experience because the majority of it was shot on an airplane set. The setting was so real that during breaks, Chabert would act as an in-flight attendant for the crew.
There was one big drawback to being on the same set for so many days: “Whenever you shoot in one location and you are wearing the same clothes for such a long time, it begins to feel like you are living the same day over and over,” Chabert said.
What helped her keep her sanity was the insanity of the script. There are so many twists and turns that she had to read it several times to figure out all of the whodunits.
The part she liked best was that her character didn’t turn into a super sleuth, but began to question her own reality.
The character may have doubts, but Chabert’s very confident about the realities of her career. While she would jump at the chance to return to series TV, Chabert loves being able to do such a diversity of projects. She’s so secure and confident that she didn’t hesitate when Maxim magazine asked her to be on the cover of its November issue.
Her revealing — yet within the strict boundaries of modesty Chabert has set — photo display isn’t a calculated move to get people to move past associating her with the teen role on “Party of Five.”
“I’m a 31-year-old woman. I just thought it would be fun to do. I really wanted the photo shoot to represent me, how I am more comfortable in my skin today than I ever have been. I didn’t want it to be gratuitous but be classy,” Chabert said.
Some may think appearing in the men’s magazine was a mistake, a sentiment Chabert doesn’t share. She looks at every decision she’s made in her life as pieces of life’s puzzle that have come together to make her who she is. And Chabert’s very happy with who she is.
“Non-Stop” premieres at 8 p.m. Friday on Lifetime Movie Network.