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Catherine Bell Talks Good Witch: Tale of Two Hearts

Photo Credit: Shane Mahood/Crown Media United States LLC

Sunday night on Hallmark Channel, Good Witch returns with its annual Halloween installment ahead of its upcoming fifth season next spring. In August, I visited the set and sat down with Catherine Bell to talk about the show, and last summer’s A Summer to Remember.

Bell has a soft spot for Halloween, especially since that’s how Cassie’s story began back in 2008. “Halloween is one of [Cassie’s] favorite times of year. It’s so much fun. My 15-year-old officially started trick-or-treating without me last year. She goes early with us because she’s the big sister of the family, so she’ll still come and go with us and then go out with her friends later. My little guy is eight. They love Halloween,” she shares.

A Tale of Two Hearts is a romantic affair, with magic sprinkled throughout. “There’s a big theme of love, of course, and there’s a ruby that’s been in Cassie’s family for hundreds of years,” Bell explains. “[I’m] not giving too much away [to say] it’s sort of like the heart of Middleton, and something happens to it, and things with love start going wrong. So Cassie has to use her magic to make things right again.”

Photo Credit: Shane Mahood/Crown Media United States LLC

Bell echoes what we spoke about last year, and what executive producer Jon Eskenas had to say about evolving the franchise from movies to an episodic series. “When we started the series, [we had to] try to figure out a way to make it watchable every week, because when you’re doing a movie it’s just a one-off thing. [It’s] two hours beginning to end,” she says.

“In the movie[s], Cassie tends to kind of always know everything. And everything’s fine and things always work out. She’s just got this great attitude. I thought, ‘If we’re going to do this every week, she can’t be that because that’s going to get annoying.’ [We] need[ed] something a little bit more interesting.”

“[So we added] the teenage daughter [and] the new handsome neighbor, new love. All of those things are elements that are going to throw off Cassie’s magic just a little bit. She’s not quite as good at figuring out how to treat her teenage daughter or her new love.”

“And also sometimes she gets worried about them, where [with] other people, she just [assumes] everything’s going to be fine. But if her daughter is missing, or something happens to Sam, [she doesn’t] know that it’s going to be fine. And I love that. I think it makes her more human, because she’s not only that mystical, magical creature.”

Another piece of building the series was to extend it into an ensemble that Cassie moves in and out of in addition to her own storyline. “It’s great to see Grace has her own storylines. [We’re] adding more and more of that I think with Abigail…she’s got her love interest,” Bell says. “[It’s] nice to see that people have their own [arcs and] Cassie does get involved somehow, always.”

Photo: Shane Mahood/Crown Media United States LLC

Bell also appreciates that the series has taken the time to develop Sam and Cassie’s love story and imbue it with a deep, genuine care and affection. “I had a scene the other day [that] was so sweet to film [because] he’s just saying something really beautiful about me, how much he loves me, and [we] kiss,” she says.

“[We] have that admiration [and] I was thinking [it’s] amazing [and] so important in a relationship to keep that going. Because usually once you’re in a relationship you’re like, ‘[You didn’t put the] cap on the toothpaste and [you’re caught up in] the stupid things.”

“In any relationship [you have] compromises and you have to give up on something you really want. I always ask myself this with my kids, this similar concept of, ‘How important is it?’ You want your kid to do something and they don’t want to. And I go, ‘Well how important is it? Can we let this one go?’”

“Because you can’t fight people on every single thing [just to be] right. [It’s easy to forget to] actually just remember that someone’s amazing. It’s a really sweet relationship. I watch with my kids because we watch the show together, we love it.”

Photo Credit: Shane Mahood/Crown Media United States LLC

Another big piece of their relationship is that they’ll soon be blending their families. “We finally, toward, the end of last season started to touch on that, where Sam was taking Grace out and doing more with [her as a parental] figure,” she says. And I had this one episode where [Nick and I] sort of bonded in that way. [It’s] challenging to maneuver and not try to be their parent, but [instead] be their friend.”

“With Sam and Cassie getting married, it’s going to be interesting because they’re moving into Grey House and then what happens after that. [Nick] and Grace were already having a lot of conflicts, so is that going to get better or is it going to get worse when they have [to be] in the same room? There [are] a lot of elements there.”

Bell says we’ll see Sam becoming more aware of Cassie’s gift, and she loves that part of her character and credits Cassie’s outlook with sometimes helping her put a positive spin on things. “Sam is finally starting to pick up on [Cassie’s gift]. We’re hoping you’ll see more of it [like when] Cassie [says], ‘Oh, that’s Martha calling,’ and reached for her phone [before it rang],” she points out.

“And Sam [didn’t hear the phone]. There was one scene last season where he confronts me on it, and I’m [evasive]. I look at it [as she has a] really, really fine-tuned intuition.”

Photo Credit: Crown Media United States LLC

“I’ve always had a little bit of that. I’ve always..,believed that we’re spiritual beings and [when] we trust ourselves, that does kind of work. Like I’ve always found I have this ability [when I’m] going someplace really crowded and I know it’s going to be hard to find parking.”

“If, before I get there, I just decide, ‘This is a simple thing. There’s going to be a parking spot right in front.’ And I just know it. [I’ll] pull up and it’s crowded, and there’s that person leaving. And I’m like, ‘Yes!’”

“Is it magic? I don’t know. It’s just a decision or something that I know. Cassie often inspires me. [There] are some days where I’m here and everyone’s back in LA and I’m missing them. I know I’m grumpy because of that.”

“[I’ll say] some line that’s just perfect and I will often listen to Cassie and go, ‘Oh, okay I need to apply that right now, right here. Listen to what she’s saying.’ And sometimes…it brightens my mood or just enraptures me.”

Photo Credit: Shane Mahood/Crown Media United States LLC

Bell isn’t alone in finding solace in Cassie right now. “The number of people who come up to me, from my own friends to strangers on the street…it really makes me feel good,” she says. “There aren’t many things that can say that.”

“[There are] other shows…great shows and great acting, but sometimes you don’t feel so good after watching them. They’re so intense or they’re scary or whatever. Where this is really just…like I’ve had a rough week and I’m going to go just watch a Good Witch marathon, make popcorn, and…everything’s okay in the world. It’s really sweet.”

Bell doesn’t yet know what the longevity of Good Witch will be, but she  considers a very long run a possibility. “Sometimes we joke [about] The Good Witch‘s grandchildren, and I’ll be like Angela Lansbury still working,” she laughs.

Photo Credit: Masada Vuikadavu/Crown Media United States LLC

A Summer to Remember reteamed Bell with director Martin Wood, and paired her for the first time with Cameron Mathison. She had a fantastic time with the project, which filmed in Fiji, and loved the storyline. “Michelle Vicary from Hallmark got me a script and said, ‘I have something for you that might be Hawaii.’ And I was like, ‘Yes. I’m in, whatever the script. I’m doing it.’ And then it evolved and turned into Fiji,” she recalls.

“I got the script and then they said [they had cast] Cameron Mathison. I didn’t know Martin was directing until after everything was done. [It was] all was happening quick because…we were leaving in two or three weeks. [We] found out on the same day [and] it was just icing on the cake.”

“It was amazing. Cameron’s a sweetheart. I do have a career and family and life and love and all those things. To see a woman at that stage of her career…in control and working so hard. To be able to let go of that and follow her heart. It was a really sweet story.”

“The waterfall scene was pretty great. The discovery of realizing this guy is something special and then falling in the water with him. It was an amazing day; it was actually our first day of filming. It was a trek, like a 15-minute hike on slippery rocks to this waterfall.”

Photo Credit: Masada Vuikadavu/Crown Media United States LLC

“At one point we looked down…and it looked like sand cascading on these rocks beside us as we’re walking. We have water shoes on and we’re looking over and someone noticed that it wasn’t sand, they looked a little closer, they were these little spider crabs and [there] were tens of thousands of them and they would just be crawling and they’d cascade into the water.”

Bell was also impressed with Samantha MacGillvray, who played her daughter. “[It] was one of her first movies. She’s Australian. She was great. She was so good and having not had a lot of experience, she was just a total pro.”

Good Witch: Tale of Two Hearts premieres Sunday night at 8 pm/7c on Hallmark Channel. Check back tomorrow for my exclusive interview with Steve Byers, who guest stars in the movie. Here’s a sneak peek behind the scenes. Click the title link above for the full preview.

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