Kellie Martin knows there isn’t much she hasn’t played.
From her initial television stardom as teenager Becca on ABC’s “Life Goes On,” through a long string of TV movies and onto later series roles as the Appalachian teacher on CBS’ “Christy,” medical student Lucy on NBC’s “ER” and an amateur sleuth in Hallmark Channel’s “Mystery Woman” franchise, the actress has covered a lot of turf.
Any type of part Martin hasn’t done already holds special appeal for her now. That’s a big reason she has joined Lifetime’s Sunday-night drama “Army Wives” as Capt. Nicole Galassini, whose expertise on African geopolitics proves useful.
“When they called me and I listened to the pitch about the character, I was so excited,” Martin tells Zap2it. “I’ve never played military, after 30 years of being an actress, and the thing I love so much about Nicole is that she’s so smart and so driven. At first, you really see her at her best, then you see her with her guard down … a completely softer side. It’s nice to be able to play both sides of the coin.”
Still, Martin allows that she “knew nothing about the Army. I have to tell you, the hardest thing I have to do on the show is salute. I have to make it look like I do it 500 times a day, so it’s important that it looks right. Sometimes it distracts me, and I can’t say my line and salute at the same time.
“I have two cousins who are Marines,” Martin adds, “and my husband’s uncle was a general in the Air Force. It brings a new layer to the work for me. It may sound cliched, but I feel honored to be playing this character, because I have so much admiration for what these people do. And I couldn’t do what they do. I don’t have it. I wish I did.”
Martin feels that emotionally, she’s bringing more to Season 6 of “Army Wives” than she might have earlier, given developments in her off-screen life. “I used to be a lot more ambitious. After having my daughter, who’s now five, I find I’m a lot more content in my own world. Before, I was always on to the next [professional] thing and asking, ‘What’s next?’
“Maybe it’s just me getting older, but I find I take my time with things a little bit more. I don’t have that insane desire to be No. 1 on the call sheet, working 16 hours a day.”
The ensemble nature of “Army Wives” ensures that won’t happen. Martin barely has worked with the show’s female stars who include Kim Delaney, Catherine Bell and fellow newcomer Kelli Williams (“They might be in the scene, but we never cross paths”), but she’s getting her share of screen time: In Sunday’s (April 22) story, Galassini goes to Africa on a mission that involves considerable danger for her, and the hour ends with a significant personal moment for her.
“Everybody on ‘Army Wives’ shows up prepared and ready to work,” Martin reports, “but they also have a great sense of humor and don’t take themselves too seriously. If it’s a serious scene, you do it, then it’s all light and fun again. That’s what you get when you’re working with pros.”
Another will provide a “Life Goes On” reunion for Martin in the course of her “Army Wives” stint, since two-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone — who played her mother in the earlier series — will fill the same role for her “Army Wives” alter ego in a future episode. “There’s so much history between us,” Martin reflects, “it’s all right there to be accessed.”
Also the star of July’s romantic comedy “Always a Bride” on Hallmark Movie Channel, Martin believes she’s balancing acting and parenthood well. In the case of “Army Wives,” she says, “I love going to Charleston [S.C.], shooting my stuff and flying home the second I’m done. I’m grateful to be playing this interesting character, then be on my merry way. I have my priorities straight: I have to get home and take care of my kid.”