How Hilary Farr Brought Her Theater Background To Love It Or List It

HGTV's often drama-filled renovation show, "Love It or List It," pitted Hilary Farr against David Visentin; the latter a real estate agent and the former an interior designer. The series premiered in 2008, and Farr stuck with it for over 250 episodes. With her no-nonsense British accent, she led homeowners through the process and budget they would need to make their renovation dreams come true, duking it out with Visentin, who was angling for a sale.

However, in late 2023, it was announced that fan-favorite Farr was departing the show. Initially, it was thought that the celeb was leaving due to her breast cancer diagnosis. But now, cancer-free, Farr is opening up about her real reasons for saying so long after filming 19 seasons of "Love It or List It." She divulged to Vulture, "It just felt too much like work. It felt very stale. It's a very formulaic show."

It's true; the episodes followed a predictable sequence of events. However, that's part of what made them so well-liked by fans. You sat down and knew what to expect, sort of like a television version of comfort food. However, we can see how the show's monotony may have gotten boring for Farr, whose background not only includes interior design but theater, too. She's peppy, quick-witted, and enjoys adding a little flourish to her performances, which isn't exactly the calling card of "Love It or List It."

Farr had to tone down her acting skills

During her Vulture interview, Hilary Farr admitted that she had gotten a bit bored with HGTV's streamlined process for "Love It or List It," especially since she was used to working in theater. Prior to auditioning for the show in 2008, she did have a design company but also experience acting. "I was a little too theatrical for a camera then, though, so I had to learn to really dial it back a bit," she divulged.

It's important to note that while HGTV may have a formula for Farr and her co-star David Visentin, they don't read word for word from a script. "We do not have a scripted show. It really pisses me off when people say, 'Oh, it's all scripted.' No, actually, it's off the cuff. Being an actress, I understand timing, though, so I think that's a skill set that made doing the show a degree easier for sure," she explained. In addition to her improv and timing know-how, Farr had to figure out creative fixes for numerous problems, ranging from space considerations to budget constraints.

The interior designer confessed that cancer was truly a wake-up call for her. Speaking to People, she admitted, "I'm now very aware of really wanting to take joy out of every day, and that's one of the reasons that it was time to leave 'Love It or List It' because it was becoming too easy ... I was in a rut."

She came from the LA film industry

To put it into perspective, Hilary Farr didn't just act in small community theater. The former Los Angeles resident with a musical past has appeared in movies like "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "City on Fire." Then known as Hilary Labow, she was taken with the stage from a young age. While growing up in London, she was enrolled in the Royal Ballet School before transitioning into drama classes. Farr picked up a few smaller film roles before landing "Love It or List It," which she then stayed on for 15 years.

In 2022, Farr was elated to be welcomed back to the movie set with "Designing Christmas." HGTV and Discovery+ scripted two reality-star-infused holiday films and invited the interior designer to star in one of them. According to Pat Mills, the film director, Farr hadn't lost her acting skills even though it had been nearly four decades since she had last been in a movie. "Hilary is so charming...She has so much charisma and is a really good actor. It was great to work with somebody who is up for anything, and she was," he noted, per Heavy.

Hopefully, the cheery Christmas feel-good won't be the last time the HGTV celeb graces our screens. As for her future, Farr confessed that she has a few projects up her sleeve, including a "Tiny House" in Italy. Still, we would love to see more of her demonstrating her acting chops outside of renovating homes.