Roma Downey Says New Faith-Based Series The Baxters Is a ‘Hope Opera’


Family ties and deep religious faith play an emotional tug of war with issues of infidelity and self-confidence in The Baxters. Touched by an Angel star Roma Downey feels the new faith-based series, in which she stars and is executive producer, couldn’t arrive at a better time.




“At the center [of the story] is this marriage that is loving and committed, and you know, we don’t always get to see that on family dramas,” Downey told MovieWeb. “Just to see marriage modeled that way — they’re the glue that holds the messiness of the family together.”

Things do get messy, in fact, and early on. The first season tracks the aftermath of Baxter daughter Kari’s (Ali Cobrin) startling discovery — her professor husband, Tim (Brandon Hirsch), has been having an affair with one of his students. Based on the No.1 New York Times best-selling book series by Karen Kingsbury, a prolific author who has sold more than 25 million books, the series is already generating buzz, especially from fans of other inspiring long-running family dramas that faded away, particularly 7th Heaven and Touched by an Angel.


Roma Downey opened up to MovieWeb in this exclusive interview that touches on some of the series’ daring reveals, what fans can take away from it, and how she’d envision a Touched by an Angel reboot. Read on or watch the video above.


A Kind of Soapy Hope Opera

The Baxters

Release Date
March 28, 2024

Seasons
1

Characters By
Karen Kingsbury

Roma Downey rose to fame playing Monica on the network show, Touched by an Angel, which ran from 1994-2003. Through the decades, her books (A Message in the Moon, Box of Butterflies, Unexpected Blessings, Be an Angel) hit bestseller status, and as the founder and creative head of LightWorkers Media, her commitment to creating faith-based works has captured interest. By her side is husband/producer Mark Burnett (Survivor, Shark Tank).


Related: Best Christian Movies Set in Modern Times

With The Baxters, the Emmy-nominated actress/producer, now 63, returns to television after a 20-year absence in front of the screen. She’s also taking a huge leap of faith (literally), playing family matriarch Elizabeth. Huge because this may be one of the few series around to showcase characters leaning into and sometimes struggling with their faith, and who are often shown praying. Downey expressed her gratitude for collaborating with the author, Karen Kingsbury, who arrived on set occasionally to see her book series come to life.

“I think fans that know the books… won’t be disappointed in this adaptation. You don’t need to know the books to enjoy the series. But listen, as a producer, if I only got people who read the books to watch the series, it would be a huge hit because there are so many of them. Easter is a holiday of hope.
The Baxters
is a hope opera.”


In addition to Downey, Cobrin, and Hirsch, the series stars Ted McGinley (of Shrinking as patriarch John Baxter), and Masey McLain (On Fire), Josh Plasse (iCarly), Cassidy Gifford (God’s Not Dead), Reilly Anspaugh (Chauncey), and Emily Peterson (Sirens, Chicago P.D.). Guest stars include Kathie Lee Gifford (The Today Show) and Damien Leake (Tyler Perry’s Assisted Living).

Unpacking The Baxters’ Binge Factor

Throughout the 10-episode first season, which was actually shot back in 2018, in fact, the story tracks Kari, as her marriage is tested. Seeking comfort in her faith and family, she ultimately must come to terms with whether her marriage can be redeemed. Downey admitted that the Baxter family is not “perfect.” She said:


You live long enough, and you know that nobody’s going to escape heartache or challenges. And with five adult children, then their spouses, this family circle is going to deal with its fair share of heartbreak and challenges and being thrown to their knees. There’s no guarantee of a happy ending in any of these storylines.

Audiences can also expect “bingeable” content and a show that has been, as Downey notes, “produced in such a way that each episode ends in a little bit of a cliffhanger, and you want to watch the next episode because you’re thinking, ‘I want to know what happens next.’ We don’t shy away from issues that people have to deal with, but I think the way that they’re handled is new, and particularly for audiences of faith, to see family values that they believe in reflected on the screen, we haven’t gotten to see that for a long time.”


How Roma Downey Came on Board

Downey revealed to us that she didn’t always plan on playing the role of Elizabeth Baxter. “Since Touched by an Angel, I’ve primarily been producing… and I’ve authored a few books along the way. But because I am a mom myself, my mother’s heart really resonated with this role. [Elizabeth is] a prayer warrior, she’s compassionate, she’s a little bit feisty. And I thought, ‘You know, I could give that a go.’

“Karen [Kingsbury] was really the one that said, ‘Roma, you would be a great Elizabeth Baxter.’” she added. “I ended up casting my own daughter, Reilly [Anspaugh], to play one of my daughters in the show too, so that was very special for she and I to get to work together.” Downey continued:


“I did remember when I was doing it, what hard work it is. There were early morning calls in particular, you know, you have to be in hair and makeup at six in the morning or something. A few mornings I was like, ‘What am I doing, getting back into this again?’ But I do love it. I feel the show is very meaningful… and I think it’s needed now more than ever.’”

We’re Praying For a New Touched by an Angel

Roma Downey in church in The Baxters
Prime Video

With all this talk about faith and inspiration, MovieWeb probed deeper. As a devoted woman of faith, we had to ask Roma Downey about some of the best advice she’s received about life, to which she responded:


“I’m a little bit of a perfectionist, and I think the best advice I’ve taken is… sometimes, particularly in my business, you want to get something made. With my personality type, you might want to wait for everything to be just right before you have the boldness to step out.

“And I think I’ve learned that you have to step out first. You have to trust and step out, and it can be created as you move forward. If you wait for everything to be just right, if you wait for all the ducks to be in a line, you would never get anything done. So be brave, take risks. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is having fear but having the boldness to step up and do it anyway.”

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We live in an era of reboots. So, what about a potential Touched by an Angel reboot? The popular CBS show about a trio of angels inspiring people at a crossroads in their lives, also starred the late Della Reese and John Dye. “I’ve been asked this a lot, as you can imagine,” Downey said, adding:

“It’s really why I ended up doing
The Baxters
, because I think there is a void in this kind of programming. People want to see shows that reflect their values on the screen. I’ve been asked about
Touched by an Angel.
Of course, my former co-stars,
the wonderful Della Reese
and the wonderful John Dye have both passed on, so it would be a reunion of one, which maybe wouldn’t be that exciting. The show is owned by CBS, it wasn’t mine to pick up and redo.”


“But, you know, if we’re fantasizing about it, maybe [the character Monica] would finally become the wiser, older angel,” she continued. “I could almost step into the Tess role [played by Reese]. And then we would have some newbie. If you remember the dynamic with Monica, she was constantly learning. She was making mistakes. She was a very human angel, if you will, and I think that could work. I think the messaging was beautiful on the show because it was a message of hope. I think The Baxters fulfills many of the needs… if you’re longing for it, if you have nostalgia for it, The Baxters will feed that spirit. That’s the intention, anyway.”

The Baxters hits Prime Video on March 28. You can watch it through the link below:

Watch The Baxters



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