When Joey Lawrence looks back at making his new movie, Tubi romantic comedy Frankie Meets Jack, he thinks of the fact that he and his wife of nine months, Samantha Cope, co-wrote the script together and that his brother Andrew Lawrence, one of his co-stars on the '90s TV series Brotherly Love, was at the helm.
But he also remembers the late Anne Heche, the Emmy-nominated actress who not only agreed to do what he describes as "our little movie," but treated her work in it like, well, it was more than that.
"She was such an amazing light," Lawrence tells Yahoo Entertainment. "I was just blown away that she came on the set of this little film and treated it like, you know, she was working with Johnny Depp or Harrison Ford. Her level of dedication to it and her commitment to the part and what she brought to the screen was so great. It just infused the movie with so much energy."
Heche died in August, after crashing her car into a home in Los Angeles. Although she was found to have narcotics in her system, the cause of the death was determined to be inhalation and thermal injuries sustained before she was extracted from the vehicle. She was 53.
Lawrence notes that she was a delight to work with.
"She was in such a good spot, in between takes [she was] talking about her children, tennis camp for her son," he says of Heche, the mother of sons Homer, 20, and 13-year-old Atlas. "And, you know, she actually worked the last three days of [shooting] the film, and she came to our wrap party and stayed, like, the entire time. I was really blown away by the way that she committed herself."
The final Instagram post that Heche shared before she died was a photo of the Lawrences and Cope from the set.
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Lawrence's movie, which debuts Feb. 3, is one of several posthumous projects Heche has scheduled.
"We would never have thought about recasting," he says, because they really enjoyed her performance as the laid-back mom of the leading lady's sidekick.
And he notes that the warm, funny character that Heche plays captures who she was during filming.
"She really said, ‘I'm just gonna bring myself to this thing,’ and I was like, ‘man, please do that,’” Lawrence says. "So that really is her. Like, that energy … that bubbly personality. And it ended up being a great send-off, so people could see her in this wonderful, positive light."
The Blossom alum's new movie is notable, too, because of its several nods to the beloved Nora Ephron-penned hit When Harry Met Sally…. There are even scenes in which couples are telling their stories.
Separately, there's the fact that dogs are integral to the story. beginning with Lawrence's character being a vet. That was all his wife, who's a huge animal lover.
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"The idea for the movie was for Lawrence and Cope, who welcomed a daughter just last month, to work together again. They enjoyed doing it the first time, when they met on a 2021 holiday romance for Lifetime.
"When we wrote it, we wrote it for each other, " Lawrence says, "and we just wanted to do something fun and just, you know, a little cute, romantic comedy that we could put out there for people, coming off the last three years, who love romance and love dogs and want to tune in and just escape for an hour and 30 minutes."
Frankie Meets Jack is available Friday, Feb. 3 on Tubi.
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