What Only True Fans Know About Hallmark's Nancy Travis

Nancy Travis is having a moment. Whether or not you recognize her name, Travis is a familiar face due to an acting career that spans more than three decades. Her credits include roles in movies such as "Three Men and a Baby," "Married to the Mob," "Chaplin," and "So I Married an Axe Murderer," as well as TV series such as "Almost Perfect," "Last Man Standing," and "The Kominsky Method." These days, she can be seen playing the formidable matriarch in "Ride," a family ensemble drama broadcast on the Hallmark Channel Sundays at 9 pm ET.

Travis' character in "Ride," Isabel McMurray, raised three sons singlehandedly after her husband died while maintaining the family ranch business. For Travis, this role is the stuff of fantasy. "I almost feel like I manifested this whole job because right before the project came to me, I was just sort of thinking about, 'Wouldn't it be nice to own a ranch and have chickens and cows and horses?'" she told People. She entertained her persistent daydream by sending her husband property listings from Zillow — which he promptly deleted. When she received the script for Season 1 of "Ride," it felt like magic. "I thought, 'I can't believe that this is happening, and I get to live out this fantasy without any of the responsibility,' which is fantastic," Travis said.

Still, she found she was both prepared and unprepared for her new job.

Ride has given Travis greater understanding and fresh skills

Nancy Travis draws on what's most personal to her to breathe life into her latest character. While Isabel has three sons, she herself has two. "The constant desire to bring [them] all together is very much what Isabel is about — trying to hold onto that family and keep everyone together," she told United Press International. Travis relates to Isabel's sense of family as soulful, extending beyond bloodlines. "My grandfather ... was an Italian immigrant, and he had five daughters, and all he ever wanted was a son. He would say, 'I have five girls, but I have five great sons-in-law," said Travis. Similar to her grandfather, Travis' character Isabel embraces a ranch hand and her son's wife as spiritual daughters. "Family comes to you in many different ways," She stated. "In 'Ride,' these two women come into Isabel's life ... in a very surprising way. She feels an affinity for them. It's the estrogen connection."

"Ride" also revealed to Travis why some ranchers participate in dangerous rodeo competitions. "It's how they sustain their ranches and income, and it's a way of life that starts with children," she said. Along with her co-stars, Travis underwent training for her role in "Ride." She explained to People that, previously, she'd only ever done easy riding with older horses, saying, "I had no prowess when it comes to horseback riding." 

Despite all the fanfare surrounding her new series, it hasn't taken away from a recurring experience that only longtime Travis fans would understand.

Travis has an indelible fanbase

Nancy Travis entered show business immediately after completing her drama study at New York University. She quickly took a role in the national touring company of "Brighton Beach Memoirs," following that up with work on Broadway in Herb Gardner's "I'm Not Rappaport," and Athol Fugard's "My Children, My Africa" at the La Jolla Playhouse. Travis then parlayed her acting talent into a long career in movies and TV.

Despite her many incarnations on screens small and large, she seems to have cast a lasting spell on some fans due to one role in particular. Fans of "So I Married an Axe Murderer" still approach her and ask for an autograph, despite the fact the movie is 30 years old. "Those kinds of numbers always make me just sort of break out into a sweat," she told People. "It is a long time because it does feel like yesterday ... There was a big anniversary in San Francisco where we filmed it, and there was a screening. It is extraordinary that to this day, people come up to me and recite lines."