On The Client List, she plays a massage therapist who pleasures men—she talked to Ramin Setoodeh about her love of Carrie Bradshaw and being more than a “vagina-crazed person.”
When Jennifer Love Hewitt heard that Lifetime had renewed her TV series about happy endings for a second season, she was so happy—she cried.
“You never know what people are going to think,” she says, “particularly with our subject matter.”
The Client List was a gamble for a TV star such as Love Hewitt, who has a true record of success on long-running shows such as Party of Five and The Ghost Whisperer. She plays Riley, a Southern mom who is struggling to keep her family together after her husband is laid off and abruptly leaves them. She’s so desperate, she goes to work at The Rub, a spa that gives erotic massages, which are shown in a montage of dim scenes, with candles and ice, abs, and thighs juxtaposed against lingerie-clad breasts.
Love Hewitt says she pitched the series to Lifetime herself after starring in a made-for-TV movie about the character. She liked the premise not because of the sex, but because it felt relevant in our economically difficult times.“There are lots of women out there doing this kind of work,” Love Hewitt says, citing reports of moms who have to work as phone sex operators. “I thought it was really interesting to find empowerment in a woman giving happy ending massages!”
With the first season finale of The Client List coming Sunday, she spoke to Ramin Setoodeh.
You give a lot of massages on this show. Have you had to take any lessons?
I do actually give the massages! One of my best friends is the most unbelievable massage therapist. She helped me out with a couple of little things, how to give a good hand massage and shoulder stuff and moves that I could do that would look good on camera.
Do all the men have to have six-pack abs to be on your table?
Apparently, it’s a prerequisite. It dawned on us late in the game, we’re on a women’s network. We need to give them eye candy.
Where do you find these actors?
I have no idea, but thank god. I mean, really.
You put ice on their calves.
I thought ice would be sexy.
It was your idea?
Yeah, it was. And actually, that actor was a friend of mine, whose boyfriend was like, “I can’t believe you’re making him come to work today and lay half naked on a table so you could rub ice on him.”
You used your friend’s boyfriend as an actor?
He’s a very hot and saucy guy. He thought it was funny. The scene went on much longer than what they used. It was one of the scenes where I had to have my cleavage down in the person’s face and all that stuff, so I wanted to use somebody I felt comfortable with.
Are you not comfortable wearing lingerie?
I think the show taught me how to be more comfortable in it. People think women love to wear lingerie. No, we love to wear lingerie for the reaction, but we don’t love to wear lingerie. Some of it is very complicated to get into and there’s that five minutes of insecurity. This doesn’t fit me the right way. Is this showing off the good stuff and hiding the bad stuff? As women, we have those things in the back of our minds. Eventually, episode after episode, scene after scene, I had to stop worrying about. I look how I look in it. I’m comfortable and it’s fine.
Why are you worrying? You look like Jennifer Love Hewitt!
Everything is shot in HD. I’m an actress and a person and a human being and I’ve been talked about. That all comes into play.
I can’t believe your character is falling in love with her husband’s brother. That seems so wrong—and yet so right.
I agree, and I’ll tell you I feel completely conflicted off camera as Riley does on camera. I really don’t know what to do! I feel there are so many reasons why she should be falling for him. And there are so many reasons not to. And in the finale, the husband comes back and there are so many reasons to feel complicated about what’s happening there. At the end of the day, they’re not divorced and he is her husband. Does she try to stay loyal? I don’t know! It’s all very confusing.
What other TV shows do you watch?
Even all these years later?
Yeah. I just watched two today. I’ve seen them all a thousand times and I still love them.
Are you like Samantha?
I wish I was more like Samantha.
Don’t we all. Who do you relate to the most?
I think I’m a combination between Carrie and Charlotte. When I was writing my book, I loved thinking about the different columns Carrie wrote and her trying to figure out who she is, figuring out relationships. I feel like she’s very question oriented. She asks the universe and the world a lot of questions, and I’m very much that way. I love her fashion. I love how one minute she’s red carpet and the next minute she’s funky and eccentric and the next minute she’s casual. I feel like I like to play around with that stuff, too. I don’t know. I just love her.
Is this the same book in which you coined the term vajazzle [the now popular trend of decorating one’s vagina with jewels]?
It’s called The Day I Shot Cupid, but vajazzle is in it.
Are you sick of people asking you about vajazzling?
Omigosh. It’s one of the things that, at the time, it seemed like such a great idea, I thought it’s totally going to be such a funny thing for people to read. But I honestly never thought it would become what it did. Sometimes I just sit there in interviews and think I really hope people know I’m that I’m also a smart person, not just a weird, vagina-crazed person. There is more to me than just vajazzling! But nobody would know because I never get to talk about it.
You’re single now. Would you ever consider online dating?
I would start at a disadvantage. I would probably get a lot of winks and smiles and all those weird things that people do on those online dating sites, but it wouldn’t be because they want to date me. I also feel like it’s scary. I’m not really in a dating mode right now anyway in general.
What do you mean?
My brain is not in the dating place. You know how sometimes in life, you are in the dating place of I’m going to go out and meet people. I’m not in that phase. I’m in the do-my-own-thing phase.
You’re so active on Twitter.
I never thought I would be a Twitter person to be totally honest. But it’s so nice to be able to just say things when you want to say them. And Twitter is so great, because there’s so much support out there for you that you don’t know about until these people start tweeting you. You’re suddenly filled with this massive feeling of love and affection from people that you didn’t even know existed, who are there to support you, in a business where it sometimes feel like you’re alone.
You recently tweeted about how you were having a really tough time with all the rumors that the tabloids were writing about your love life.
That’s the downside of Twitter. It happened to be a day where I had time to sit and read a bunch of mentions. People had connected articles to things. I kept reading all this stuff about myself; I was, like, omigosh. What is this? It’s 15 articles about my chest, or my love life, or how I have a sucky love life because I’m not a good person. It was a day where it was very overwhelming. But on the positive, it was great to be able to reach out and say this hurts my feelings. I’m a human being. It was very cathartic. Before Twitter, you couldn’t do that. You were a prisoner to whatever people wanted to say or write about you. You didn’t have a voice.
Note: Although she seemed cheerful when she talked to us, Love Hewitt’s mom, Patricia Hewitt, passed away from cancer just a few days after our interview. “I’ve grown up around really strong Texas women,” Love Hewitt said. “My mom was a single mom with two young kids. My mom was also a beauty pageant queen. And Riley was. The relationship between her and her mother is very similar to the relationship between me and my mother. That’s who Riley is to me, a single mom.”