UltimateDisney.com > Interviews > Priscilla Weems, "Five Mile Creek"

Hannah Revisits Five Mile Creek: UltimateDisney.com Interviews Priscilla Weems


By Aaron Wallace

Priscilla Weems began acting at an early age when she was cast as Hannah Scott on "Five Mile Creek,"
an Australian family drama that provided the Disney Channel some of its earliest programming. After two seasons on the fondly remembered show, she returned to America to pursue other acting opportunities.

In 1986, she landed a recurring role on the ultra-popular "Designing Women" as Claudia Shively, daughter to Mary Jo (Annie Potts). She frequented the sitcom for five years while also making guest appearances on other popular television series (her credits include "St. Elsewhere" and "Quantum Leap").

In the early Nineties, she left the television industry to turn her focus onto her family life. Today, with the support of the fans she has amassed over the years, she has established herself as a vocalist and is gearing up for a return to the world of entertainment.

Priscilla recently took the time to chat with UltimateDisney.com about her family, her fans, and her career.


UltimateDisney.com: I just discovered "Five Mile Creek" this past year. How did you get that part?

Priscilla Weems: I went out on an audition for it. It was kind of a last minute type of a thing. They had already had somebody cast for it but they still weren't a hundred percent. So I got a request to go out there and audition and I did and ended up getting it and finding out that I needed to fly out in like five days. [That] made a lot of young ladies unhappy in L.A., especially the person that already had the part.

You were an American working with a predominantly Australian cast over in Australia. Did you feel any separation because of that?

Not from the cast or the crew. Actually from some of the locals.

"My first Hollywood headshot, taken at age 6. This started my career." - Priscilla Weems Priscilla Weems played Hannah Scott in the first two seasons of "Five Mile Creek."

Was there sort of a resentment?

I think they felt that... I never got the impression that they really cared for Americans. It was fine if you came and visited and were nice tourists. But coming over there and living -- they felt [the] taking money out of their pocket type thing was not very nice.

You were around 11 years old at the time and the show was picked up on the Disney Channel here in America. Did you feel the impact of fame at that time?

Yes, I did.

Was it so much over in Australia as well or was it when you came back to America?

Both.

That was of course the mid-'80s and you were a child then. As an adult now, do people ever recognize you from the show?

(Laughs) Yeah, they recognize me from all the shows I've done. "Five Mile Creek" and "Designing Women" are the two that are commented on quite frequently, even still today.

Martin Lewis, who played Sam on the show, is pretty close in age to you. Did that make it easier for you, being a child on a show with mostly adults?

Yeah, it did. It did. I had somebody to kind of hang out with and play with. It made it a lot easier.

"I learned to ride a camel for Episode 3 ("Love Before a Fall"). What an experience!" Priscilla Weems appears with Martin Lewis (who played Sam Sawyer) in a Season 1 episode of "Five Mile Creek."

And was there ever an off-screen romance between you and Martin?

(Laughs) No, no, not at all.

Okay. I just had to put an end to the rumors.

Oh, are there rumors? I didn't hear about those. (Laughs).

Oh, there may be. I think people are hopeful. (Laughs). Do you keep in touch with any of the cast today?

No, I don't. I have run into Jay [Kerr, who played Con] -- of all the places -- in the middle of a casino. I was walking through where I was singing and I literally ran right into his stomach and I looked up and went, "Holy cow."

Nicole Kidman made her acting debut on "Five Mile Creek" starting in Season Three, but you left after Season Two. Did the two of you ever meet or work together?

Yeah, I met her on the set.

"It's a little-known fact that there were 'Five Mile Creek' t-shirts." Priscilla Weems as Hannah Scott, a young American girl living in the Australian Outback in "Five Mile Creek."

Was there a sense then that she would go on to become one of Hollywood's highest-paid actresses?

She was always a very nice woman. There was just a presence about her -- that she would go on to do, you know, great things. I don't think it ever dawned on anybody that she would become as big as she did, which I think is wonderful.

Now you'll have to forgive me because I've only seen Season One at this point, but why did you leave the show at the end of Season Two?

Things were changing and I was very, very homesick. I mean, I was living there for about a year -- give or take -- and God, I missed being at home. I missed my family; I missed America a lot.

You went on from that to have a pretty major recurring role in "Designing Women." That was a very popular and influential show and it remains so today. I know I see it in reruns all the time. What's it like to have been a part of something so big?

Yeah, that was incredible.

Before I got on "Designing Women", there were quite a few shows in between "Five Mile Creek" and "Designing Women."

"Annie Potts and I appear in this "Designing Women" publicity photo." "I guest starred on 'St. Elsewhere' with the great Jackie Cooper."

Do you get more response today from the "Five Mile Creek" fanbase or the "Designing Women" fanbase? Because I know they are both pretty loyal.

Actually, both. I'd say they're both pretty even.

And what about the "Designing Women" cast, do you ever keep in touch with any of them?

Yes, I do. I was talking to Annie [Potts] until a few years ago. They were kind of like extended family for me. They were absolutely fantastic.

Shortly after your time on "Designing Women", you left the acting scene and you haven't returned since. Was that a conscious decision on your part, to go pursue something else?

Yes, I decided to go and get married and have a baby. And like with all great marriages, there has come a divorce. He had conflicts with my acting -- major conflicts.

And so that's why you decided to give it up?

Yeah, that's why I stepped back.

What are you doing these days?

I just moved back home about two years ago. I'm actually getting back into the singing more-so than the acting. I'm just kind of concentrating on my new album that I'm working on.

When does that come out?

Well I just started it within the last couple months so we're not quite sure yet.

What kind of music is it?

Kind of a country cross-over. I've always been more of a singer than I have been an actress.

"I did a show with Buck Owens in Bakersfield, California." "I finally headlined the Famous Palamino in North Hollywood at age 12 1/2, after I returned from 'Five Mile Creek' in Australia."



Do you have a title yet?

No, not yet. I wish; I wish I had more to give you on that.

Around the same time that I stepped out of the limelight, I had also walked away from a seven year contract with a major record label and my record was just about to be released within a couple of weeks. So I had a few fences I needed to mend when I came back home. (Laughs).

Do you ever think about returning, though, to television or perhaps even going on to movies?

Yes, I've actually been seriously talking about doing it again.

Fantastic. What about a "Five Mile Creek" reunion or movie or anything like that?

Oh, I would in a heartbeat. Definitely.

And "Designing Women"?

Yes, definitely. Those were both great shows to work on.

You mentioned that you have a child -- boy or girl?

Boy.

Do you show him "Five Mile Creek" and "Designing Women"?

Yeah -- actually, I didn't voluntarily do it. One of his friends from his school had shown him and he came home with the cassette tape and I went, "Oh, okay. Great."
 
 
 

Priscilla, with Mickey Mouse, spreads holiday cheer at the 1984 Bakersfield Christmas Parade. On the set of '80s drama "The Wizard", David Rappaport and Priscilla appear after two hours in the shower removing wolf make-up.

Well that's got to be neat for him to see his mom back -- especially for "Five Mile Creek" -- whenever you were a child, acting.

Yeah, he gets a big ole' kick out of it.

"Five Mile Creek" was recently introduced to a whole new generation, myself included, when Disney released the Complete First Season on DVD last fall. It unfortunately came without any bonus features and the video quality was pretty shaky. Were you disappointed by that or are you just happy to finally have it on DVD?

Well, I had heard a rumor that it was coming out on DVD. I think I even have one or two sitting around here unopened. I haven't even had a chance to pop them open and take a peek, but I'm kind of surprised and a little disappointed that it's not as good of quality as I was expecting. That's a bummer.

Now if Disney approached you, would you be willing to participate in interviews or commentaries or something like that for future releases?

Oh, definitely.

I know that fans are anxious for the Season Two release. So far nothing's been announced. Have you heard anything regarding any plans for that possibly coming?

No, not yet.

Well hopefully that gets released in the near future. I know I can't wait to see what happens in Season Two. It's been a lot of fun talking to you today. Thanks for giving me your time.

Well thank you, it's been a pleasure.


Related DVD:
Five Mile Creek: The Complete 1st Season - click to buy from Amazon.com
Five Mile Creek: The Complete First Season
UltimateDisney.com's DVD Review
Buy from Amazon.com

Hear Priscilla Weems' responses:
On getting cast for "Five Mile Creek"
On a "Five Mile Creek" cast member named Nicole Kidman

Past Interviews:
Don Hahn, veteran Disney producer (October 2006) Leonard Maltin, film critic/historian and author (December 2005)
Michael Angarano, star of Sky High (November 2005) Angela Robinson, director of Herbie: Fully Loaded (October 2005)
Jim Brickman, The Disney Songbook (October 2005) Don Grady, former Mouseketeer and current Disney musician (November 2005)
Ilene Woods, the voice of Cinderella, and Disney producer Don Hahn (September 2005)
Irene Bedard, the voice of Pocahontas (May 2005) Don Dunagan, the voice of Bambi (February 2005)
Taylor Lautner, Sharkboy of The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D (September 2005)

Interview conducted July 31, 2006. Published October 16, 2006.
"Five Mile Creek" screencaps copyright Disney. The rest courtesy of Priscilla Weems.
Thanks to Priscilla Weems for her time and pictures.

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