The real reason Hollywood won't cast Lacey Chabert anymore

Actress Lacey Chabert, best known for her roles on Party of Five (1994-2000) and Mean Girls (2004), isn't so fetch anymore. At the height of her Mean Girls fame, it seemed like she would continue to shine, but co-star Rachel McAdams became the film's Hollywood darling, going on to star in The Notebook (2004), Wedding Crashers (2005), and Spotlight (2015). Even fellow Mean Girls stars Amanda Seyfried and Lindsay Lohan stayed in the spotlight, with Seyfriend landing critically-acclaimed roles and Lohan being, well, Lindsay Lohan.

But Chabert found her niche elsewhere, namely the Hallmark Channel. As of this writing, she's already in the double digits for starring roles on the feel-good network, a move that afforded her with an almost unheard of commodity in Hollywood: stability. Travelling the well-worn path of many Hollywood actresses before her, Chabert found a way to balance motherhood, an intentionally down-scaled career, and a pivot to other aspects of the entertainment business. So, maybe the question isn't why won't Hollywood cast Chabert anymore, but rather, how has Lacey Chabert been quietly making it work all these years? 

A shift in priorities

Lacey Chabert gave birth to her first child, a girl named Julia Mimi Bella in September 2016. According to E! News, the actress went into full-on nesting mode, preparing for her daughter's arrival by getting the nursery in tip-top shape and even sitting down her fur child, a chihuahua named Kitty, for a preparatory talk. While Chabert was obviously over the moon at the arrival of little Julia, perhaps her transition into parenthood shifted her priorities. 

This was apparent when Chabert did the press rounds for her 16th — yes, you read that right — Hallmark film in the fall and winter of 2018 when she discussed the challenge of balancing life as a working mom in the entertainment business, as well as the new path her career had taken. "If you had told me two years ago that this is what my career would look like today, I think I would've been surprised," Chabert told the Clarion Ledger in November 2018. "But it's such a great fit for who I am and where I am in my life right now." 

She's forever typecast as Gretchen Wieners

Chabert will always be known for coining the phrase, "that's so fetch" as the iconic Gretchen Wieners in Mean Girls. Perhaps Hollywood still sees her as the dimwitted teen whose father invented Toaster Strudel? After all, getting typecast is really easy in Hollywood — just look at the always eccentric Helena Bonham Carter or the go-to romantic star Jennifer Aniston

In Chabert's case, her entire professional identity — at least in terms of her more mainstream work — is still wrapped up in a single film. In 2014, ten years after the Mean Girls debut, Chabert told Entertainment Weekly, "People tweet me every day hundreds of times, if not thousands of times [with] lines from the movie." But to be fair, it's not an association that bothers her. In fact, as of December 2018, Chabert told Star that she "would love to be a part of it" if a sequel ever got off the ground. Someone call Tina Fey, now

Speaking of those Hallmark movies…

Like we previously mentioned, Chabert has starred in 16 Hallmark Channel productions, as of this writing. That's a lot of productions for any channel, let alone the one that specializes in the campy, syrupy sweet fare no mother on earth can resist. However, Hallmark isn't exactly the place to go if you're looking for the next juicy blockbuster smash or an Oscar nod.

Other celebrities who've starred in Hallmark movies include Dean Cain, Danica McKellar and Jennifer Love Hewitt. When was the last time you saw them in an A-list film? That said, Chabert seems plenty proud of her new network home and the feel-good gigs it produces, which she described to Entertainment Weekly as "like comfort food."

Also, a lot of her work for Hallmark is holiday-themed, which isn't a coincidence. "I love Christmas. Anyone who knows me will tell you how obsessed I am about it," Chabert told the Clarion Ledger. "I wish it was longer than just a month out of the year. So it's natural that I would enjoy making Christmas movies."

Her faith may have blocked her from bigger roles

There's a school of thought among Tinseltown circles that being an outspoken Christian in Hollywood doesn't get you very far (We're looking at you Mel Gibson and Candace Cameron Bure). Actor Kevin Sorbo of the Hercules (1995-99) TV series told CNS News in 2014, "I think being a conservative in Hollywood and being a Christian in Hollywood, you get attacked." That same year, Chabert starred in Christian Mingle, which only managed to get three total reviews — all "rotten" — from critcs on Rotten Tomatoes. Is it possible that one of the reasons Chabert luck dried up in Hollywood because she's been outspoken about her religious beliefs? 

"My faith has always been, you know, the center of my life, and I have no shame about saying that," Chabert said in a behind-the-scenes interview for Christian Mingle. She also explained why she was drawn to her character in the film, saying, "I think it's beautiful that she comes to a point where her faith is something that's very personal and alive for her, and I think it's a nice message." Chabert even hinted that she won't consider certain movie roles due to the way a character's faith is portrayed in the film. 

Her films haven't made much money

According to Forbes, Hollywood's A-listers Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett Johansson earned $46 million and $25 million in 2016, respectively. They make money because their movies make money. Unfortunately for Chabert, her films don't measure up (minus Mean Girls and a few other hits, of course). Perhaps casting agents don't want to take a risk on someone who hasn't been in a blockbuster in more than a dozen years. 

Granted, Chabert has an estimated net worth of $4 million, which for us normal people is nothing to scoff at, but compared to some of her peers, it's considerably less impressive. Chabert's biggest project was actually Daddy Day Care, the dismally reviewed Eddie Murphy slapstick parenting comedy from 2003. According to The Numbers, that film grossed over $104 million domestically, but does anyone associate Chabert with it? Probably not. Mean Girls hit a year later, grossing over $86 million domestically in 2004, but since then, Chabert's hot streak has gone cold. Comparably, Lawrence's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 grossed some $281 million in 2015.

What happened at Family Guy?

Chabert may not be the easiest actress to work with. According to The Huffington Post, she was the original pick to voice Meg Griffin in the widely successful Family Guy TV series, but due to contract issues, she was replaced by Mila Kunis. Rumor has it Chabert had a falling out with the show, though both the actress and creator Seth MacFarlane have offered up more civil explanations. 

Chabert told GameSpy (via The Huffington Post): "I actually left the show of my own accord. And only because I was in school and doing Party of Five at the time. But I think the show is hilarious, and don't have a grudge against [Kunis] at all. I think she's a great actress." MacFarlane told IGN he couldn't "even remember" why Chabert left. "It was nothing–-there was no tension or anything." He added, "[Kunis] was in a lot of ways, I thought, almost more right for the character." 

That all sounds on the up and up, but how does one explain this not so subtle clip from a Family Guy episode? We'll let you be the judge.

She's a small town girl at heart

Lacey Chabert may have enjoyed smash hits with Party of Five and Mean Girls, but, as her uncle, a preacher from Purvis, Miss. told the Clarion Ledger, "None of this movie stuff has gone to her head." Chabert echoed the sentiment to the newspaper, saying that she tries to return to Purvis, where she lived until age seven, to visit her "extended family" who still lives there, as often as she can.

"Purvis is a place I'm extremely proud to be from. I appreciate the values that were instilled in me there," she said, adding. "I love the people and appreciate the support they've shown me throughout the years."

It's no stretch think that Chabert would shy away from roles that require extensive travel, so that she can stay close to family. As far as those small town values that she spoke of? That could have factored into her career choices as well…

She wants to branch out into other aspects of the biz

While it's clear that Lacey Chabert has no problem jumping in front of the camera, she's also developed career ambitions that will keep her out of the spotlight more and more as she pursues them. Speaking with the Clarion Ledger, Chabert said that she's not just becoming the the de facto face of the Hallmark Channel, she's working there behind-the-scenes, too.

"I'm more motivated than ever," Chabert told the newspaper of her new role as an executive producer. "There are so many stories I want to tell, and I'd like to get into different aspects of the business. My thing is, I love telling a story … And I remember being on the set of Party of Five and watching and absorbing everything that goes into making a show. And that's what I'd like to focus on professionally at some point."

While Chabert doesn't have any producing credits on the horizon on her IMDb page as of this writing, the four TV movies she produced from 2016 to 2018 are a healthy indication that she has no intention of slowing down on this career front, either.

Making it work on her own terms

Though she's flown under the mainstream radar for years, Chabert seems to have charted her own course pretty well. She's landed plenty of voice work for gigs like The Wild Thornberrys (1998-2004) and Scooby Doo! Mecha Mutt Menace (2013). That avenue alone could pave the way back to the A-List, a la Anna Kendrick in Trolls (2016) or Reese Witherspoon in Sing (2016), or even just keep her relevant with a whole new fanbase of younger viewers.

However, Chabert could be taking a cue from Jessica Alba by starting to transform herself into a mompreneur. During her press tour in late 2018, Chabert constantly plugged Tyson Meal Kits — like here, here, and here — which she represents. She also told Good Housekeeping that the brand and Hallmark's shooting style (Hint: Fast) mesh perfectly with her life right now.

"This movie — and most Hallmark movies, in fact — was shot in 15 days," Chabert told Good Housekeeping of the 2018 release, Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe. "Working and being a very hands-on mom is a challenge but I'm thankful to work at a place that makes it easier for me," she added, before plugging — you guessed it — Tyson Meal Kits again, which she described as "quicker and stress free." Oh yeah, someone knows where her bread is buttered now, and it's not the major Hollywood studio system.