Entertainment

Lauren Holly Says She and Her 3 Sons 'Were Supposed to Meet' Because 'They Were My Family'

Lauren Holly looks back fondly on her 35 years in Hollywood — including her time with Dumb and Dumber costar Jim Carrey, whom she dated for years before their nine-month marriage in 1996.

“I’m still in touch with Jim,” Lauren reveals to Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, out now. “I only have the best memories of working with him because we were boyfriend and girlfriend. We just laughed and laughed — he’s constant entertainment.”

And now Lauren, 55, is entertaining audiences with the third season of Designated Survivor (premiering June 7 on Netflix) and new Hailey Dean Mysteries films on Hallmark. It’s part of a busy new chapter for Lauren, who’s the single mom of three adopted sons — Henry, 16, George, 17, and Alex, 18 — since divorcing her third husband, investment banker Francis Greco, in 2014.

Lauren Holly Says She and Her 3 Sons 'Were Supposed to Meet' Because 'They Were My Family'
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“It’s a tough job, I’ll tell you, trying to teach them to be gentlemen without having that sort of example in the house,” she admits. “I think it’s been my biggest hurdle, but I’m thankful to say they’re all super-responsible, good kids.” And, Lauren tells Closer, she has a secret weapon: “If you can just have a laugh sometimes, it makes everything easier.”

It’s great to see you back on a hit show like Designated Survivor.

I’m really excited about it. Season 3 sort of focuses on the election campaign of President Kirkman [Kiefer Sutherland]. I play the wife of the new chief of staff [Anthony Edwards] and the daughter of a very important senator, who hurt her back and became addicted to opioids. It shines a light on this crisis that’s gripping our nation.

Sounds interesting. What else do you have coming up?

The Cuban is a fantastic independent movie starring Louis Gossett Jr. as a man suffering from dementia whose nurse realizes how music sort of wakes him up. Tammy’s Always Dying is a dark comedy directed by Amy Jo Johnson, who played the original Pink Power Ranger! [Laughs] I’m really excited to see it.

What was Picket Fences like?

It’s probably the greatest television experience I’ve had, because of David E. Kelley, an amazing writer. I loved the cast, my part and how it straddled comedy and drama. The producers allowed me to go back and forth to do movies, which was great.

Lauren Holly Says She and Her 3 Sons 'Were Supposed to Meet' Because 'They Were My Family'
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How about Dumb and Dumber?

That was one of those perfect things. We had as much fun working together as the movie is [to watch]. We moved to several locations, rented house boats and cruised around. It was a great bonding experience.

Which costars do you stay in touch with?

I did a [2013-’16 ABC] show called Motive, and my costar Louis Ferreira and I stayed very good friends. Kellie Martin and I did three Hailey Dean movies, and we’re like peas in a pod. On Designated Survivor, I love texting Kal Penn about political things, and I’m in touch with Anthony Edwards. And I met my best friend to date, Rosalind Allen, on All My Children 32 years ago.

Any fun stories from What Women Want?

When Mel Gibson did The Patriot, the horse wrangler knew that I owned a fantastic horse named Pablo. So he took him, and the next thing I know Mel wanted to buy him, but the wrangler kept saying, “The owner’s not going to sell.” Cut to What Women Want, and the first thing I say to Mel is, “I own Pablo.” He couldn’t believe it! Pablo’s on the movie poster, so he sent it to me and signed it!

Ha! Tell us, where did you grow up?

I was born in Bristol, Pennsylvania, but spent most of my time growing up in Geneva, New York. My dad is still a professor there, which is a good thing about living in Toronto. I’m a two-hour drive from home, so I get to see family a lot.

How did you get into acting?

We moved to London for a year when I was 13. I played the flute and got into the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art for music, but ended up getting involved in the drama department. I thought I was going to law school, so when I went to Sarah Lawrence [College] I didn’t study acting, but I got the lead role in a play there. [Producer] Fred Roos saw me and hired me for a film, Seven Minutes in Heaven with Jennifer Connelly, when I was a senior, and they convinced me that I should give it a try.

Lauren Holly Says She and Her 3 Sons 'Were Supposed to Meet' Because 'They Were My Family'
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Why did you take a break from acting when you adopted your sons?

I’m a hands-on mom, and it was important for me to be with them. I went back to it because it’s what I love to do, I have to support them and I think it’s important for them to see me working. Now it’s so much easier because they’d probably go crazy if I was around all the time. They’ve accused me of being a helicopter parent. I’m even worse because I’m a remote-control helicopter parent, I’ve been told. [Laughs]

What made you want to adopt?

My whole life I knew I was going to, because I saw an after-school special on adoption and it impacted me so much! I intended to have my own children, too, but I found myself with three so close in age, and that was it. They were my family. I felt like we were supposed to meet, like we chose each other.

Have they taught you anything?

Probably to let go a bit, because I’m a Type A personality, and if there’s one thing the kids have been their whole lives, it’s plan-busters. Every time I think I have something worked out, something changes, so they taught me to go with the flow a little bit.

You’ve been married three times. What have those experiences taught you?

Probably the most important thing — and what I would tell my sons — is to make sure that you share a sense of humor.

Lauren Holly Says She and Her 3 Sons 'Were Supposed to Meet' Because 'They Were My Family'
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Do you ever think about marrying again?

Not really. To be honest, I don’t need it. Not to say I wouldn’t have a companion, because that would be a good thing.

Any regrets?

I came to Toronto for work and stayed because I didn’t want to interrupt the kids’ lives. I miss my friends in L.A. — that’s the only thing I have a mark on my heart about. Every time I go and visit, I just feel so happy.

The biggest life lesson you’ve learned?

Keep your friends and family close, because that’s all that matters…and don’t hold on to a lot of junk!