Jill Wagner On Going From Teen Wolf To Christmas Movies - Exclusive

Actors who are good at their craft are often mistaken for their characters — so much so that those who portray villains sometimes get hate mail and those who portray comic characters are assumed to be just as funny in real life. And because actors bring a lot of their own personalities and life experience into their roles, many tend to focus on a certain character type — say, the action hero or the goofy sidekick.

So when a well-known actor suddenly switches lanes and takes on a radically different on-screen persona, fans notice — and may be puzzled. Take "Teen Wolf" star Jill Wagner: In just a few years, she went from portraying an undead, revenge-driven were-jaguar to becoming a Hallmark Channel holiday movie icon. In this exclusive interview, she shares the details of her unexpected journey.

For Jill Wagner, playing the bad girl is big fun

Jill Wagner didn't start out with the goal of playing wholesome heroines — just the opposite. "It's funny because when I first started out in my career, I was really cast as the villain, as the bad girl," she said. This meant having to explain her roles to puzzled family members, who couldn't understand why she wanted to portray such unsavory characters.

"I remember my grandmother, one day we were sitting in her living room and we were talking about my career, different things that I've done," Wagner said. "And she made a comment. She said, 'I just don't understand it, Jill. I don't understand why you always have to play the bad one because people don't understand you're good.' And I laughed at that because I always told my grandmother, I said, 'Grandma, it's actually fun to play the villain.' It's fun sometimes to play the bad girl." 

Her role in "Teen Wolf" allowed her to fully immerse herself in bad girl mode. "I would sit in the chair for about an hour and a half each day, just so they could get my, I guess it's called a were-jaguar face on," she recalled. "And that was a lot of fun. It's just fun to play a character like that, because it gets you into the role."

Here's how Jill Wagner went from naughty to nice

Underneath all of Jill Wagner's were-jaguar prosthetics, however, was a sentimental mom who loved Christmas and helping people around her celebrate the holidays. "I think the people that really know me know that there are two sides to me. There is the good and the bad," she said. "But I certainly do love playing the good girl in the Christmas movies and things like that. Because I think that's closer, obviously, to who I am, and it's not a far stretch."

And for Wagner, starring in Christmas movies is also fun and rewarding, albeit an entirely different kind of fun than her darker roles. "I think it's really kind of special to know that you're just in someone's house when they're experiencing Christmas, and you're a part of the ritual, and your face is there, and you make people happy," she said. "And I think that's always been a goal of mine, and whatever project that I do, is just to entertain people and to put a smile on their face and make them happy."

"A Christmas Miracle for Daisy," starring Jill Wagner and Nick Bateman, is airing on GAC Family.