Holly Marie Combs
Holly Marie Combs, or better known as Charmed's "Piper Halliwell", has been popular with audiences since her role as teen-aged Kimberly Brock on the Emmy Award-winning series Picket Fences. Combs was born in San Diego, Calif., and moved with her family to New York when she was 8 years old. Following her mother's footsteps as an aspiring actress, she began her career working in television and print commercials at age 10. She won her first movie role by 13, playing the daughter of Don Johnson and Susan Sarandon in the feature film Sweet Hearts Dance. At 18, Combs got her big break starring for four seasons as the insightful daughter of parents played by Tom Skerritt and Kathy Baker in the critically acclaimed drama Picket Fences. In television movies, she has played an impressive range of starring roles, including the daughter of a murdered heiress in the fact-based Daughters, killer Diane Zamora in Love's Deadly Triangle: The Texas Cadet Murder and a rape victim in Sins of Silence. Most recently, Combs starred opposite Charisma Carpenter in the ABC Family Network comedy See Jane Date, in which she portrayed a smalltime actress who makes it big because of her affair with an A-list actor. In feature films, Combs appeared in Steven Soderbergh's remake of Ocean's Eleven opposite George Clooney and Brad Pitt, in which she played herself along with The WB's stars Barry Watson and Joshua Jackson. She also played a young girl propositioned by a wheelchair-bound Tom Cruise in the 1989 Vietnam War saga Born on the Fourth of July. Additional big-screen credits include Chain of Desire with Malcolm McDowell and Linda Fiorentino and Simple Men.
Offscreen, Combs lives in Los Angeles, where she enjoys gardening and horseback riding. Outside her acting career, Combs has become an active supporter of Thursday's Child, a charity for teenage runaways, and a spokesperson for breast cancer awareness. She lives in the three-bedroom Spanish-style house in the San Fernando Valley that she used to share with boyfriend David W. Donoho (a key grip on Charmed; they have since broken up), only now her roommates are limited to her 17 pets. She is an avid horseback rider and a gardening enthusiast, and she drives a pickup truck. So yes, she's pretty much your average gorgeous, animal-hoarding, heartbreaking, Hollywood-defying witch.
Holly Marie Combs: “Charming” New Mom
She’s one of the “Charmed Ones”, three good Wiccan sisters who battle demons while still trying to lead semi-normal lives.New mom Holly Marie Combs mirrors her character Piper Halliwell by creating a family although Holly doesn’t have a “White Lighter” for a hubby or two magical boys to raise. She has one boy Finley Arthur Donoho, born last April and a “normal” hubby David Donoho who was a crew member on her “Charmed” set.
When we visited Paramount Studios earlier this month to celebrate the 150th episode of the series as well as the release of the DVD of the first season’s episodes, we got to watch pretty Holly showing off Finley in “mom-mode” and as a sexy third of the successful sister trio when she helped fellow actors Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan cut a huge celebration cake.
After the cake munching, press members got to chat with the cast of “Charmed” on the attic set of their San Francisco manor house. We were warned not to get any cake crumbs in the Book of Shadows as we sat down with Holly, who walked in wearing jeans, black tank and brown jacket and carrying a big vanilla latte which she explained that she needed as the sleep-deprived mom of a 10 month old.
TeenTelevision: What has having a baby done to change you?
Holly: It’s changed just about everything about my life. It definitely puts everything in perspective. Things that were so important to you mean absolutely nothing and the status of his diaper means absolutely everything.
TeenTelevision: What is it like looking back on the season one shows that are on the DVD?
Holly:You know, in some respects, it seems just like yesterday and in other ways it seems like a lifetime ago. I remembered all my dialogue and now there have been so many shows, I look back and I go, “I have no idea what I’m going to do next. I have no idea what I’m going to say next.” I’m like wow, that was a long time ago. But it’s a testament to the show itself. It’s been fun and it’s flown by.
TeenTelevision: Is it a different dynamic today with Rose instead of Shannen?
Holly: I don't know. It kind of seems the same kind of dynamic. We were three women thrust into this atmosphere where we kind of have to band together and get through the day and I think we still do the same thing , although I have a few less wrinkles in that picture (on the DVD cover).
TeenTelevision: You said you got up at 4:00 AM? How do you do it, get up at 4 to take care of the baby?
Holly: Let’s see. Last night I went to bed about midnight, baby woke up at 2:30, my husband got home at 3:30, baby woke up again at 4:30 and I got up for good at five. So there’s no telling what I’m going to say today because I really don’t have all my faculties.
TeenTelevision: How do you work?
Holly:t’s weird. When you become a mom you just learn how to function sleep deprived and you do get used to it. I came back to work when he was three months old and the first few months were rough. And then somehow you learn to exist on no sleep. And now when he does upon occasion sleep through the night, which is like a full six hours, you’re pretty sure he’s suffocating. So you don’t sleep anyway.
TeenTelevision: Do the other girls feel like aunties?
Holly: They do. I’m sure you saw a little bit of them fighting over who’s going to hold him. And somehow he always comes back to me with lipstick all over him. So he’s either going to be very in love with women when he grows up or he’s going to be gay. He’s going to be a cross dresser.
TeenTelevision: So Alyssa and Rose play with him?
Holly: They take him in the makeup trailer and do bad things to his hair. The girls gave him a mohawk the other day. So I can’t let him out of my sight for very long.
TeenTelevision: Do you take him with you pretty much everywhere?
Holly: do because, thank God, he’s such a good traveler. He adapts so well. He can pretty much sleep anywhere. I was very, very worried about him having a normal kind of life and being comfortable and not carted around everywhere, but he’s so good. We went on location in Las Vegas with my husband and we’d go out to the casino and he thinks there’s just a lot of people in the living room. Like, wow, it’s kind of loud and there’s a lot of people here today.
TeenTelevision: Can you see yourself just being a full time mom?
Holly: My son is my number one job but I don't know if I could ever stop doing my day job. My husband and I have actually talked about me retiring. I’m like ‘whoa, I’m 31, let’s not say the R word’. But I don't think I could. If I wasn’t working here, I’d probably be working somewhere else.
TeenTelevision: Was is a help that your character Piper has kids on the show?
Holly: Well, I kind of got to experiment and learn how to do things with my TV babies. And thank God I could hand them off at the end of the day when they got cranky, you know, so I wasn’t terribly comfortable with kids before I had to work with our babies because I just had never been around them. I didn’t have any younger baby sisters or brothers. So they were my guinea pigs and they were very patient with me and they were very good to me and thankfully I’m very adept at mothering now. I’ve got my TV babies and my real baby and I’m just surrounded by babies all day long.
TeenTelevision: You also have pets at home. Who takes care of them?
Holly: Well, that was part of the problem last night. I actually got home at 10 but I didn’t get in bed ‘til 12 because I fed animals for about two hours last night.
TeenTelevision: How many?
Holly: Oh, my goodness. I have five dogs, two of them are my husband’s so I don’t take account of them. I only have three personally myself but we have joint custody of the other two. Let’s see, three cats, four rabbits, I had to get rid of the turtle when we had the baby, you know the salmonella thing, so he went to a nice big pond in my friend’s backyard. Four horses and two birds. I think that’s everything.
TeenTelevision: Any idea why the show has lasted so long?
Holly: You know, it surprises me every day but at the same time, I think if it ended tomorrow, I’d be just as surprised. It’s been part of my life for so long and I’ve kind of grown up on the show. It’s been an emotional roller coaster for me, it’s been a professional roller coaster. On the show I met my husband, I got married, I had a baby. And it was a major part of my 20s.
TeenTelevision: How long could you play the same character?
Holly: That’s not difficult for me to do. I think my character’s changed very much from the beginning and has kind of compressed into a whole new person, just like normal people on a day to day basis go through life changes. Characters do too. I don't think you should ever get in a rut because no person is the same every day.
TeenTelevision: You and husband Leo on the show have had a rocky relationship.
Holly: Yeah, I think she’s been dumped by Leo more times than any character on television. I’m really beginning to take it personally. That relationship has been so complicated and so up and down, I can’t say that I can relate to it myself, so I can’t really think of an outcome. But I know that the audience and our fan base very much wants Piper and Leo to be together, so depending on how long we have with the show, we will map out the course of that relationship accordingly and I think we have to give the audience what it wants.
TeenTelevision: Will the show still have name bands playing at your club P3?
Holly:es, but that’s another thing that got too expensive. We do. The bands are kind of something that happen if we have money left over, and we don’t always have money left over.
TeenTelevision: Have you learned anything from your character Piper?
Holly: I don't know. The character and I both went kind of through emotional up and downs together, and a lot of her dealing with Prue’s death was me dealing with Shannen’s departure and we’re very similar. It’s tough to keep the line between your character and yourself very clear and distinct sometimes, especially when you’ve been doing it for seven years. I’m very proud of my character, the way that she’s matured and where she came from and she was a very hyperactive, worrisome, very unsure of herself woman and she’s matured into this self confident mother that is very suddenly headstrong. And she’s evolved a little bit to be more like Prue which was kind of by design, when I became the oldest sister, and she’ll most likely end up some version of Prue.
TeenTelevision: What can we expect from the 150th episode?
Holly: Gosh, I have two words. Julian McMahon. I keep telling people he’s coming to give me hell. Which I appreciate very much and we’ll be very happy to see him. He adds an energy to the set that is just unlike anybody else. He’s so much fun to work with.
TeenTelevision: Did they ask you to do a commentary for the DVD?
Holly: You know, they didn’t ask us to do one. I think we would have gladly done one because it’s so far removed from our memory banks, if we sat down and actually watched it, we’d be like, “Oh my God.”
TeenTelevision: What has been your favorite episode?
Holly:What did we call my Camelot episode? “Sword in the City”, which I liked very much because I got to do a lot of the swordplay and stuff like that. I didn’t get to do as much as I liked because it was just about the time of that episode that I found out I was pregnant. So they had to be a little careful with me, although they did stab me. We had a great guest star, Edward Atterton. When we have guest stars like that, it just makes our jobs 1,000 percent easier because they’re so wonderful.
Art of being Holly Marie Combs
Spelling it out: "I don't believe in magic the way the show believes in magic. I believe in more mystical things and intuition. I believe in positive thinking, which is basically what spells are - repeated positive thinking."
Once upon a time... "When I was in high school, I wanted to be a marine biologist. Then I got a movie and that went out the window."
Veggin' out: "I was a vegetarian for seven years. I'm not any longer. I had these terrible cravings that never went away and finally I just broke down. I had to have a cheeseburger!"
Animal addict: "I have dogs, cats, lovebirds, horses and two hamsters. One hamster only has three legs and the other's really fat."
Relatively speaking: "My little cousins absolutely love Charmed. They go to school and say, 'That's my cousin,' but of course nobody believes them. But they'll say, 'No, Piper really is my cousin!'"
The Good Girl: "Growing up, I tried to rebel. I really did. But it's hard to do that when your parents are musicians in a rock band. When I came home with my first tattoo, they thought it was cool."
Put down that rattle and step away from the diapers: "For some reason everybody on the set - except for me - thinks I should get pregnant for real. It's like they all got together and I've been nominated! Honestly, the thought of having a baby scares me!"
Going Under: "The hardest stunt I've ever done on Charmed was the episode they tried to drown me. (Laughter.) At first, being underwater was fascinating. I used to scuba dive. But it's a lot different when they put chains on you and take your oxygen away. For a second there, I actually thought they were doing away with me."
In the Doghouse: "My weekends are usually all about my animals. I have far too many of them... I have six dogs, three cats, five rabbits, three birds, a turtle, koi fish and four horses. I think that's everybody, did I cover all of the animal kingdom?"
We Are Family: "I see Alyssa more than I see my boyfriend. We are like old-time, family friends. We know everything about each other, and we've become so close we don't even have to say anything out loud in order to communicate."
Charming Holly Marie Combs
Holly Marie Combs is among the most talented and successful television actresses of her generation. Her stint on Picket Fences from 1992-1996 was impressive enough, what with all the Emmys the quirky series garnered, not to mention her own particular magnetism for critical acclaim.
But who could have expected that "Kimberly Brock" would become "Piper Halliwell," the most rational of the three hot witch sisters on Charmed? Early on, insiders referred to Combs' role as the "Kate Jackson of Charmed," in reference to the character on Charlie's Angels who was smart and pretty, but slightly less sexy than the other two. We see the parallel, but we must point out that no one in their right mind would call Holly Marie anything less than a beauty. We'd also like to add that she has a penchant for spontaneity, as demonstrated by her eloping at age 20. Damn; a gorgeous actress who likes to do it up in Vegas? We're charmed, to say the least.
Holly Marie Combs treats stardom in a rather laid-back fashion. She avoids Hollywood, drives a pickup truck, enjoys gardening, and lives in a relatively modest home. We get the sense that she has a down-to-earth life outside the glitter of stardom, which is not something we can say about most other young actresses. She also devotes her time to causes like teenage runaways as an active member of Thursday's Child, and breast cancer research, as a spokesperson for awareness of the disease.
Her acting has pretty much spoken for itself. She stood out during her four-year stint on Picket Fences, and in the last five years on Charmed, she has more than proven that her role on a successful series was no one-shot deal. She hasn't challenged the movie stars on the big screen yet, but that's okay. We like her exactly where she is.
Holly Marie Combs has a big heart for art
I was the angriest little person imaginable. I woke up with a frown every morning. I barely talked, wore black all the time and had some serious teenage rebellion years," said Holly Marie Combs.
Holly Marie Combs was born December 3, 1973, in San Diego, California. At the time of her birth, her 15-year-old mother and 17-year-old father quit school to marry, only to divorce two years later. At the age of 8, Holly Marie moved to New York City with her mother, Lauralei, who had hopes of being an actress and a singer. Soon Holly Marie was appearing in print and television ads, so when her new stepfather moved into their cramped studio apartment when she was 12, he had two aspiring actresses on his hands.
Holly Marie became increasingly committed to her pursuits, and gained her Screen Actors Guild card for her minor role in 1985's Walls of Glass, which also featured her mother. Small roles gradually came along, most notably 1988's Sweet Hearts Dance, in which she played the on-screen daughter of Don Johnson and Susan Sarandon, and a part in Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July, starring Tom Cruise. Despite indications of great things to come, Holly Marie would not go on to find her greatest success on the silver screen. By all accounts, Combs' big breakthrough was her role as Kimberly Brock on CBS's Picket Fences, from 1992 to 1996. The story of her audition illustrates Holly Marie's gutsy attitude. Star producer David E. Kelley (the man behind shows like Ally McBeal and The Practice) told her that she did not have "a big enough heart" to play Kimberly. Having just come off the subway, Holly Marie replied, "if you're looking for someone with a big heart, what the hell are you doing in New York?" Two weeks later, she got the job.
Her Picket Fences character, Kimberly Brock, was admired for being an earnest teen; the role won Holly Marie a Young Actors Award for Best Young Actress in a New Television Series in 1993 and no doubt influenced her being cast in a string of films and TV movies during her Picket Fences tenure. Between 1992 and 1996, she appeared in small-budget films like Simple Men, Dr. Giggles, Chain of Desire, A Reason to Believe, and, on television in A Perfect Stranger and Sins of Silence. Coinciding with her uncommonly mature career management skills was a marriage that Holly Marie has since characterized as somewhat youthfully idealistic and naïve. In 1993, she met and dated actor Bryan Smith, and the two eloped in Las Vegas a short while later. The marriage lasted four years.
Despite the ups and downs of her love life (she was also engaged to Storm Lyndon, but they broke up before heading to the altar), her career was on the steady up-and-up. It was best friend Shannen Doherty who effectively brought Holly Marie to Charmed, a new series about three young witch sisters, in 1998. Many scoffed at the premise but the show has proven itself, now in its fifth very successful season. (In 2000, Doherty left and was replaced by Rose McGowan.)
The popularity of the WB's Charmed has cemented Combs' success and reputation. It has also brought her an impressive cash flow (she reportedly earns $60,000 an episode) and the inspiration to expand her talents beyond acting, as she signed on as producer in 2002. Please note that Holly Marie Combs is in the unenviable position (at least for women) of sharing her day job with two goddesses like Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan. In their company, she seems slightly less striking, but she by no means falls by the wayside. On the contrary, she has a more understated look; her subtle curves and frank appeal is more likely to raise eyebrows in admiration than make jaws drop.
In 1998, Combs was cast in the highly successful WB series, Charmed, and has also demonstrated her talent off camera as one of the show's producers, since 2002.
In 2001, she made a cameo appearance in the big-time film Ocean's Eleven (in the poker tutorial scene), along with other WB stars like 7th Heaven's Barry Watson and Dawson's Creek's Joshua Jackson.