Dreams can come true for Katharine McPhee, on screen as well as in life.
The “Smash” alum and Season 5 “American Idol” finalist sees thoughts become reality as the heroine of ABC’s “In My Dreams,” Sunday’s (April 20) new “Hallmark Hall of Fame” movie.
After restaurant owner Natalie (McPhee) and architect Nick (Mike Vogel, “Under the Dome”) make wishes and toss coins into a fountain from opposite sides at the same time, they start getting mental pictures of each other. If they don’t actually meet within a week, though, their chance to connect will be lost.
“It’s very sweet,” McPhee tells Zap2it of the film, which also stars JoBeth Williams (“The Big Chill”) as Nick’s matchmaking mother. “I’m a fan of hopeless-romantic projects, and I’m also a fan of Mike Vogel. We’d met before at a couple of events, so it was kind of nice for us to get an opportunity to work together.”
McPhee also admires “In My Dreams” director Kenny Leon, who has a current Broadway hit with the Denzel Washington-starring revival of “A Raisin in the Sun.” “There are always pieces of the puzzle that come together,” McPhee reflects, “but I just loved the script. It gave me a chance to do something non-music-related.”
Additionally, McPhee was able to get someone very close to her “cast” in the film, if briefly: “My mom flew to Vancouver to visit me while we were filming, and they needed a picture of someone who could look like my [movie] mother. Kenny said, ‘Do you have a picture of your mom from when she was younger?’ I said, ‘Actually, I have one on my phone.’ And she was right there, and she was all excited.”
Over the course of “In My Dreams,” Natalie and Nick pass by each other numerous times en route to possibly meeting. McPhee reports the tale largely was filmed in chronological order, so it took a while before she and Vogel actually shared the same space while the cameras rolled.
“There was a week or two where we never really saw each other,” she confirms. “We’d be working the same days, but we didn’t really interact. We did get a sufficient amount of time together, though, so it was nice. We got to become buddies.”
While McPhee admits “In My Dreams” largely is “pure fantasy,” she notes, “That’s where a lot of people like to live. They like to imagine their lives a certain way, and to be hopeful about that. Meeting somebody in your dreams who looks exactly like a person you later meet in real life doesn’t necessarily happen.”
“I’m a big daydreamer,” McPhee adds, “but I’m very thankful for being a very good sleeper. While I was making this, I was talking a lot to a friend who was alone during the holidays, and she told me how she has such vivid dreams. While I understand it, I don’t personally experience it. I kind of wish I did, since I think some dreams can explain certain things in your life, or anxieties you may have.”
Also putting finishing touches on an album she hopes to have out this year, McPhee comes at fantasy a different way in a CBS pilot. “Scorpion” casts her as a waitress connected to a network of specially skilled geniuses. That’s a far cry from NBC’s “Smash,” which let her steadily use her talents as both singer and actress in playing Broadway hopeful Karen Cartwright.
“I’ll always look back at it fondly,” McPhee reflects of the series. “It was the most lovely experience, with such lovely people, and I got to grow a lot. Of course, there are things that you wish had been a little bit different, but I really don’t spend much time thinking about those. It was two great years, and you’re lucky if you even get half a season.
“To have a sufficient amount of people who were interested in it and liked it or loved it — or even loved to hate it — it’s all good. You hope that’s what a show like ‘American Idol’ will do for you, give you opportunities.”
McPhee has had other opportunities as an actress, including such movies as “The House Bunny” and “Shark Night,” but she allows “Smash” was “the first thing people really got to see on a big platform, so I’m very grateful for it. It’s one of those things that will always be a special project to me.”