In A Dog’s Journey, Marg Helgenberger plays Hannah, a compassionate and supportive wife who has come back into the life of Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and grandmother to CJ (Kathryn Prescott) and their dog Bailey. It’s the type of role that we have come to know her for: strong, nurturing and steadfast. Her work has been noted on stage, film and television for decades and she has a penchant for being cast in television and film roles that showcase women who possess inner strength. Whether playing layered and nuanced roles in Erin Brockovich as a chemical exposure victim or an intense Crime Scene investigator on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Helgenberger does not shy away from playing roles that teeter on the dichotomy of being strong, yet very feminine.
Moms.com recently had the opportunity to speak with Helgenberger about: balancing motherhood and success, playing strong female characters and lessons learned watching her mother overcome breast cancer.
In your opinion, what about your persona attributes to you getting cast in roles depicting a strong woman?
I'm a pretty strong woman. I'm pretty opinionated. I think that I try to be open minded, but I've always been very strong and independent ever since I was a child. I've always been curious and adventurous and I think that's why these kind of roles are drawn to me.
Recently, there have been several films with a strong moral compass coming forth such as: ‘A Dog’s Journey’, ‘The Art of Racing In The Rain’ and more. In your opinion, is the collective consciousness or humanity crying out for more social and emotional empathy?Of course. I mean, this is the worst time in America that I can remember in my lifetime in terms of the divisiveness in this country. I think what’s happening in this country is a crime against humanity. Honestly. So, when you have films such as A Dog's Journey, people need and want to feel connected. They need to feel that in their heart and in their soul. It’s about family and redemption. And it’s necessary, because every day we're just inundated with negative images, negative talk, and cruelty in the media.
You’ve been candid about your mom’s battle with breast cancer. In what way has her journey shaped you as a person?She is definitely inspirational for sure. I was in college when she was diagnosed. I was probably 20, I guess. It really kind of rocked my world. I just never expected my mother to get ill. So, just like that it was a double mastectomy. The treatment was pretty radical. I mean it was pretty severe for a while, chemotherapy, radiation and, it’s just really beautiful and awe-inspiring how at times people thought that she wasn't going to survive, but she did.My mother, she's so feisty. She’s going to be 84 soon, and she's a survivor, you know. She’s a great parent. She's a devout Catholic. So I know that she should attribute a lot of her strength to her belief in her faith. She’s a mother hen. She was the school nurse when I was in high school. So, I see her as a nurturer, but also a very strong woman. She’s an inspiration.
While your son is an adult now, what was the best piece of advice that you remember receiving as a new mom?It's challenging. You know, I'm not going to lie. Especially if you're working long hours. However, I especially tell actresses especially in their late twenties and thirties and they’re considering having a family, to go ahead and start having a family. I understand if your career is hot right now, but just don’t let that stop you from having a family, because the family will always be there for you. A job, and another job will always come. Even if it means that you will lose out on a role or an opportunity, because a job does not compare to the importance of family.
A Dog's Journey -- Exclusive Deleted Scene
A Dog's Journey, starring Dennis Quaid, Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Kathryn Prescott, and Henry Lau is available tomorrow, August 6th, on digital. Moms.com has an EXCLUSIVE scene on the adorable bond between a girl and her loved puppy.Posted by Hot Moms Club Buzz on Monday, August 5, 2019
If you could do anything over in your life and career, what would it be?
I would have definitely have had more children. I waited until I was around 39 and my career was in motion, and when I started trying again-it was too late. If I could do it all over again, I would definitely have more children. Nothing replaces family.
If you could offer any advice to your younger self or new moms, what would it be?
Being a parent is a tough thing. It’s challenging making all the right decisions, and sometimes making the wrong decisions and not beating yourself up about it. I would say not to be too hard on yourself, and to listen to your gut. But most importantly, I would say to trust your instincts. We have those instincts for a reason. Listen to your instincts.
What was unique about working on a project like ‘A Dog’s Journey’?It resonated with people, especially in a time when our country is so divided and there's so much cruelty and so much hatred towards one another. It's a family movie with a loving, protective dog at the core of the movie. It creates a sense of family and belonging. It is important to have something that everybody can feel good about. It’s something about the simple honesty and genuineness of a dog and their unconditional love, and everyone can relate to that. Everyone wants that.
Your forthcoming project All Rise looks amazing! What’s has the experience been like working with such a diverse, female-centric cast?
I hope you're right. It's good. It’s a terrific experience. I'm thrilled to be a part of a cast that includes an African American woman as the lead. Simone Missick. She's very talented. She's dynamic and beautiful. She has incredible grace and she's funny. She's fun to work with. She's just special. I learn so much from the time spent being around interesting, talented, and driven people. It’s going to be a game-changer.
A Dog’s Journey is now available on Digital and will be released on Blu-ray August 20th.
Helgenberger’s forthcoming project All Rise premieres this fall on CBS.