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Taylor Cole Talks One Winter Weekend and Working for Hallmark [Exclusive]

Photo Credit: Steven Ackerman/Crown Media United States LLC

[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]

We’re pretty open around here about our favorites, and Taylor Cole is readily on that list. Tina even dedicated a holiday post to her. Cole is back on Hallmark Channel Saturday night in One Winter Weekend, starring opposite her My Summer Prince co-star, Jack Turner. I chatted with Cole about the new film, and rebranding her career with her Hallmark projects.

One Winter Weekend casts Cole as Cara, a magazine journalist covering the relationship beat who decides to take a personal breather on the dating front after a disastrous New Year’s Eve. As luck has it, her BFF and colleague, Megan (Rukiya Bernard), has an out-of-town snowboarding weekend on tap that her cousin just bailed from, so Cara decides to go in her stead.

That change of scenery gives the ladies time to reflect on where their careers are going, as each is presented with new opportunities, and they get an unexpected boost in the romance department when a booking snafu finds them sharing a chalet with Ben (Turner) and Shawn (Dewshayne Williams). Shawn is a surgeon, but Ben’s profession is revealed over the course of the film.

Photo Credit: Steven Ackerman/Crown Media United States LLC

Cole’s foray into family-friendly films followed an established film and TV career that includes recurring roles in shows like CSI: Miami, The Glades, and The Originals where she could be a seductress or villain or badass–or all three–and it was a conscious choice.

“I actually signed on to do Ballers, and didn’t end up doing it. I agreed to do nudity, which I’ve never done before. It ended up not going, and I just had the biggest sigh of relief. I didn’t want to do it but I said yes because it was a big network. I didn’t end up shooting any nudity. I’m not knocking anyone who does it. I had just gotten so far in my career without doing it and was happy with that,” she recalls.

Photo Credit: Steven Ackerman/Crown Media United States LLC

“I took a deep breath and [looked at] what I really wanted and said exactly what I wanted out into the universe, ‘I just want family-friendly content [so that] when I have kids one day, they’ll be able to see it and they won’t get flack for it from kids at school. I want something that’s good, wholesome entertainment.'”

“Literally two weeks later, I got an offer from Hallmark and I didn’t even know this brand existed. I was in shock and awe that I got to be a part of it and ever since, I’ve been saying yes to anything that they throw my way.  [Every time], I know my grandma will be super ecstatic for her fan club.”

“It’s good programming. You know what you’re getting. There’s no gore, there’s no violence, there’s no nudity. It’s just good family fun and brings a smile to everybody’s faces and you get to really enjoy making people’s day. Everybody at all ages just lights up when they talk about Hallmark, and it’s so refreshing to be a part of.”

Photo Credit: Steven Ackerman/Crown Media United States LLC

Cole has done six films in the last two years, and she relies on Hallmark’s expertise for her terrific assortment of co-stars. “I’m usually the first one attached, but I haven’t had any say. I let them do what they’re best at,” she says. “Hallmark figures it out.”

“The cast is always so happy to be there and grateful and it’s so easy. The [films are done] so fast. By the time you want to go home, you get to go home. It’s quite different from other movies. They’ve got a system down and it works for everybody.”

Reuniting with Turner again was a fantastic bonus and she embraced it as a sequel of sorts to 2016’s My Summer Prince. “We always wanted to have a sequel, and that didn’t happen, not that it still couldn’t, and we thought maybe this would something that fans would enjoy. It was really good and really fun. We already knew we had the chemistry and banter between us. It was fun to play different characters in a totally different world,” she explains.

“The roles couldn’t have been more different [but] the familiarity was already there. It made it easy. We didn’t have to spend time getting to know each other and find out likes and dislikes. I love that about Hallmark, that they can mix and match and bring back couples and pairs that fans really connected with.”

Photo Credit: Crown Media United States LLC

My Summer Prince still stands as Cole’s favorite project for Hallmark Channel. “I liked the script and it really played up the comedy. I’m usually toting guns and playing the boss lady and on Hallmark, I get to do the wholesome romantic comedy role, and that one I felt like had the most of that,” she shares.

“It was fun and lighthearted She was in situations that made her uncomfortable–the chicken pox, the boss, and the lying. It felt like a very full script with a lot to play with. We shot in Utah and it was of the season, so we could shoot everything. In some of the Christmas movies, it’s still green out and you have to flock things and you’re in a coat and you’re sweating.”

“There was no stress. You could set up a scene and shoot it. It was a breeze. It was really, really fun. The whole cast and crew…the crew had done five before that together and they all knew each other. It was a great meld; that was a really a special one for me. I’m glad I got to work with Jack again.”

Photo Credit: Crown Media United States LLC

Cole’s favorite moment in One Winter Weekend is the scene where Cara and Ben first meet. “We’re fighting over the same snowboard. It felt like a cute moment,” she says. “She still has her guard up and she’s trying to be boss and get what she wanted without knowing this was going to be her potential flatmate. It was a fun setup.”

Cole and Bernard also hit it off right away, and Cole enjoyed their characters’ arcs in the movie. “We hung out off set right before we started shooting. We were BFFs right away,” she says. “I loved that [Cara and Megan] both had each other’s backs and were always looking out for each other and helping each other when they couldn’t see what was up ahead.”

In tandem with her recent Hallmark films, Cole also recurred as vampire Sofya Voronova on The Originals. That role has wrapped, but she enjoyed playing the character, and it timed out in her favor back in 2016 when she was shooting Season 4 in Atlanta and filming Christmas in Homestead in Georgia at the same time.

“I love playing any kind of fantasy. That whole world is so fun to dive into. [The Originals] had to write me out for a few episodes [so I could] drive an hour north to shoot Christmas in Homestead,” she recalls. “That was surreal going back and forth playing completely opposite characters. And I had to do ADR in the middle of it.  I was also switching back and forth from brunette to blonde hair.”

Photo Credit: Steven Ackerman/Crown Media United States LLC

Cole feels like she’s hit her sweet spot making movies with Hallmark and she loves the flexibility it affords her to work on other projects, too. “[They] provide me the opportunity to make those choices. I’m ultimately so lucky to have the schedule that allows me to pick and choose the projects I want to do,” she shares.

“I’ve gotten a tour of Canada, which I never would have done. I’ve been to four different provinces. It’s been an awesome opportunity and job. I’ll be doing these for as long as they hire me.”

One Winter Weekend premieres Saturday at 9/8c on Hallmark Channel, and Cole will be live Tweeting the East Coast feed. Here’s a sneak peek, and ICYMI, check out my exclusive interview with Rukiya Bernard.

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