Best friends Lisa Ann Walter and Elaine Hendrix, who met filming the beloved 1998 movie, just learned that their great-grandparents lived just blocks apart in N.Y.C. in the early 1900s
There's an ease that comes with 25 years of friendship and, despite some new physical distance, a comfort, for two of Hollywood's favorites.
"People always talk about, 'Oh, you make time for your friends and you have to make it important.' It was never a chore. It was never something that I had to schedule," Lisa Ann Walter tells PEOPLE of her relationship with fellow actress Elaine Hendrix, a duo most-often recognized as their respective onscreen counterparts from The Parent Trap: Chessy and Meredith. (In compliance with the SAG-AFTRA strike, Walter and Hendrix did not discuss any of their current or former projects.)
Since meeting while filming the beloved 1998 movie, the pair has navigated career highs and lows, the additions of new family members (both human and animal) and busy schedules to prioritize each other. And now, they've discovered their friendship may have sprung from more than just luck — it might have been fated.
Walter, 60, is the star of the premiere episode of Ancestry's new YouTube series, unFamiliar, in which she revisits the streets and buildings her relatives inhabited on Manhattan's Lower East Side alongside her sons, Jordan, Spencer and Simon. She embarked on the journey to learn more about her roots beyond the "family lore," she says.
"I think that the interest for me was around who they were, what their life was," Walter explains. "I'm a big history fan. So I wanted to know how it was that they lived day-to-day, what jobs did they have, and that sort of stuff. And I learned a lot about that. And there was stuff that I learned about my other great-grandmother that I never knew."
She also discovered something else new in the course of filming the episode: Her forever friend had roots on the same street. Hendrix's great-grandparents lived just blocks away from Walter's great-grandparents on N.Y.C.'s Elizabeth Street during the early 1900s. Hendrix, 52, surprises Walter with the revelation during the unFamiliar installment.
"Of course they knew each other," Hendrix speculates in the episode. She adds, "It was fate."
"I knew that my mom's side of the family was Italian and had came in through New York, and several of my family members were later born in New York and grew up there. And at that time, it was a very small community, a very tight-knit community. The Italians all lived in one area," Hendrix tells PEOPLE. "So when Ancestry came back to me and said, 'You're never going to believe this' . . . I was like, 'Of course they did.' And we're speculating, but the chances are extraordinarily high that they knew each other."
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During their trip to the past, which Walter admitted was an emotional experience for her, the Abbott Elementary star and Hendrix got up to just a little bit of no good — sneaking into one of the buildings tied to their ancestry exploration. That, Walter says, is just Hendrix's way: "Elaine is very bold . . . she'll just do stuff."
"You wouldn't think it by the cuteness," she says, laughing. "But she's crazy, and I'm like [Joe] Pesci next to her. I'm like a henchman going, 'Wait, am I lookout? What's happening?' And then all of a sudden she's in the building."
But Walter loves that about her friend. While Hendrix cherishes Walter's "warmth."
"Meeting Lisa is like walking into a great big hug, and she's that way. Although I will say — and this is also one of the things I love about her — is that she's that way, unless you've crossed or done some s--- to her or one of her friends, and then watch out because then mama bear comes out and back off," the Dynasty alum tells PEOPLE.
And while they remember their first meeting at The Parent Trap callbacks "like it was yesterday," time has flown by since. Now, no matter what, "I have to call my life partner, Elaine, and tell her that this thing happened or I've got this audition coming or I'm sobbing because some jabroni broke my heart," says Walter. "She just was the person that I called. Everybody has a person they check in with about everything in their life. And Elaine is it for me."
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