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TV Movie Goodness Interview: The Christmas Shepherd’s Martin Cummins [Exclusive]

Photo Credit:  Bettina Strauss/Crown Media United States, LLC

Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss/Crown Media United States, LLC

Martin Cummins has been a favorite of mine back to Poltergeist the Legacy. He’s had a long career in TV and film as an actor, writer, and director, and for the last several years, he’s played a handful of characters you couldn’t, or shouldn’t, trust. Most recently, some new fans have found him via Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart. This weekend, he’s going to surprise them as the romantic lead in Hallmark Channel’s terrific new family film, The Christmas Shepherd, about a woman whose lost dog finds a home with a widower and his daughter and how they work together to do what’s best for everybody involved. I nerded out when he was cast this summer, so I was thrilled to chat with him about his career, the movie and what’s next.

Cummins got involved in the film through the executive producer, Gerald W. Adams. “I’ve done a couple of features for him—one for Lifetime and one for Hallmark,” he says. “I love him, he’s a great guy. If he asks me to do something, I’m thrilled to do it.”

Another driving force to do the film was Cummins’ family. “I’ve had very little opportunity to play the good guy. I’ve got four kids and a dog and a cat,” he explains. “I’ve always said to my kids that my ultimate job would be doing Air Bud 14. I was happy to do something my kids could see and relate to.”

The film has several heartfelt moments, and the one that spoke to Cummins most is a scene in the middle of the film where Mark’s daughter, Emma, makes a decision driven by the loss of her mother. “I loved working with Jordyn Ashley Olson, who played my daughter. There’s a scene where [we’re talking about the fact] that her mother has passed and I connected to that,” he says. “My mother passed when I was 18, and Christmas is her favorite time often year. It caught me when we were doing it. I didn’t see it coming when I read the script. In the moment with [Olson], it all came rushing back, and she was so wonderful.”

Photo Credit: Eike Schroter/Crown Media United States, LLC

Photo Credit: Eike Schroter/Crown Media United States, LLC

Cummins is a busy man. He’s shot seven episodes of Lifetime’s upcoming series, Un-Real, and he’s back at work on season two of When Calls the Heart, where he plays another untrustworthy fellow, Henry Gowen. He’s not sure yet what the season will hold for him. “I just picked up the hard copy of the script,” he explains. “We pushed a few times and we’re ready to get started [now].” He’s also doing some work on another series which he couldn’t discuss yet (those pesky NDAs!).

Last year, he wrote, directed, and starred in the feature Hell in a Handbag, a seedy yarn with a supernatural bent co-starring several of his Canadian friends–Callum Keith Rennie, Continuum’s Ian Tracey and Brian Markinson, and Sanctuary’s Amanda Tapping.

“We finished color correction, and we’ll go in and bang out our sound and have a chitchat with some distributors and go from there,” he says. “We have a bunch of friends here. It’s a small community in Vancouver and we’ve known each other for a really long time. It’s nice. Everybody got an opportunity to do something a little left of center and do something fun and absurd.”

The Christmas Shepherd airs Sunday night at 8/7c on Hallmark Channel.

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