Lombard native Rachel Melvin co-stars in 'Dumb and Dumber To'

  • Lombard native Rachel Melvin plays Penny, the object of Lloyd's (Jim Carrey) affections in "Dumb and Dumber To," opening Nov. 14.

    Lombard native Rachel Melvin plays Penny, the object of Lloyd's (Jim Carrey) affections in "Dumb and Dumber To," opening Nov. 14.

  • Lombard native Rachel Melvin has a soft spot in her heart for the horror comedy "Zombeavers," but she hits the big leagues with "Dumb and Dumber To."

    Lombard native Rachel Melvin has a soft spot in her heart for the horror comedy "Zombeavers," but she hits the big leagues with "Dumb and Dumber To."

  • Lombard native Rachel Melvin plays Jeff Daniels' daughter in the new comedy "Dumb and Dumber To."

    Lombard native Rachel Melvin plays Jeff Daniels' daughter in the new comedy "Dumb and Dumber To."

 
 
Posted11/11/2014 5:30 AM

Until now, actress Rachel Melvin has been best known for her four-year stint on the NBC soap opera "Days of Our Lives."

The Lombard native's career takes a quantum-leap into big-budget Hollywood movies Friday, Nov. 14, when she plays Jeff Daniels' daughter in "Dumb and Dumber To," the long-awaited (20 years) sequel to "Dumb and Dumber."

 

"I got this part in a really crazy way," Melvin told us. "It started with me going to a commercial audition for Dodge."

The casting director, Rick Montgomery, really liked her. He turned out to be the casting director for the Farrelly brothers' movie, too.

So Melvin auditioned for "Dumb and Dumber To," coming in for reading after reading.

"It felt like the longest yes of my life," she admitted. The casting process took so long that "I actually had to take a job in a restaurant for the first time in 10 years."

In "Dumb and Dumber To," Melvin plays Penny, the daughter whom Harry Dunne (Daniels) never knew he had. Good thing she popped up on his radar because Harry badly needs a kidney transplant. She's got what he needs.

The plot has a romantic twist as well.

"Harry's pal Lloyd (Jim Carrey) develops a crush on Penny," Melvin said. "Then they get involved in their usual shenanigans and make everybody laugh. It's awesome."

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Melvin lived in Lombard until she was 4 and her family moved west. For a short time during eighth grade, Melvin lived in Houston, where the education system emphasized the arts.

"Every weekend we had Dramafest where students competed in things like improv and mime," she said. "That's pretty much where I caught the bug."

After graduating high school in Phoenix in 2003, Melvin moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of an acting career.

"A lot of it was because I was young, ignorant and naive," she confessed. "But my parents really supported and encouraged me, not in a pushy sort of way. They wanted me to go out and see if my dream would actually come true.

"So, I am giving it a reasonable amount of time. If it doesn't work out, college is always an option."

Her first professional role came in the 2005 low-budget supernatural horror movie "Boo."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It was awkward because I'd never done a movie before," Melvin said. "And it was low-budget. But the director (Anthony C. Ferrante) went on to make the cult hit 'Sharknado,' so things worked out."

Melvin did a few episodes of TV's "Heroes" and appeared on "Good Luck Charlie," but her biggest role was playing Chelsea Brady on "Days of Our Lives." The character became a pivotal role in the actress's budding career.

"There's a very specific style for performing a soap part," she said. "When I got hired on that show, I fit that role perfectly. But the longer I worked there, the more I became invested in my overall career, outside of the soap world.

"I think I started fighting the style a lot because when I came off the show, I didn't want people to think that's all I could do. I didn't want to be pigeonholed into that style."

Wait. That style?

"I think you have to be bigger for network TV. But my style is not to be bigger. That's just not who I am. I think you can cater to that sort of thing if you wish. But I don't think you should have to compromise your artistic integrity."

And that's apparently what happened during Melvin's fourth and final season on "Days of Our Lives."

"It was a fight," Melvin said. "Some people wanted me to go bigger, be more 'soapy,' but I didn't want to do that. I had a great first year. I had a lot of fun through the third year.

"The fourth year was a little bit harder because I knew I was leaving, and the writers strike was going on, so we had different producers coming in and out. I got frustrated by the lack of consistency and, finally, the lack of work."

After the release of "Dumb and Dumber To," Melvin may not have that employment problem anymore.

"Actually, the real work is between the jobs, all the work you do to get the next job," she said. "Once you get the next job, that's when the dream kicks in."

-- Dann Gire

• Jamie Sotonoff and Dann Gire are looking for Northwest suburbanites who have accomplished big things in showbiz. If you someone like this, contact them at jsotonoff@dailyherald.com and dgire@dailyherald.com.

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