TV Movie Goodness Interview: When Sparks Fly’s Meghan Markle [Exclusive]
Hallmark Channel starts the 4th of July early with a new original romantic comedy, When Sparks Fly, which premieres tomorrow night at 9/8c. We chatted exclusively with the film’s star, Meghan Markle, about the movie, her role on Suits, and her new lifestyle website, The Tig.
When we caught up with Markle this week, she was busy with her series and the site, and said she’s happily running on adrenaline and excitement at this point, but she was eager to talk about When Sparks Fly, which she filmed during last summer’s Suits hiatus.
“I wanted to do a romantic comedy. When the script came in, it was exactly the kind of project I wanted to be part of,” she says. “It was light and easy and it was a departure from Rachel [on Suits], who is so refined and polished. Amy Peterson is very opposite and closer to my true personality It was fun to eat ribs and get barbecue sauce all over my face and run around in jeans all day.” She gets to trade in Rachel’s signature stilettos for sneakers, and she laughed that her character is rocking her personal Converses. “I brought them with me to Vancouver, ” she says, “and I told them I thought it was really, really important as a character choice, and also to preserve my feet, that Amy wear these shoes.”
The film has several sweet and funny moments, and Markle says the thing that was most resonant for her during filming was a little different than what moved her most on the page. “I’m a sucker for a romantic comedy. What was most compelling was the stuff that was just hysterical to us,” she recalls. “Lochlyn Munro and I [have a scene] where we’re on a date in a hoity toity restaurant and watching one of our guest stars trying to light a flambe, and I think you get my real laughter in that scene because I thought we were all going to be set on fire.”
“In most productions, it’s those moments in between [filming] that stay with you and make the film feel real and connected. It’s what’s off the page as much as what’s on it,” she says. “When I was reading it, I was concerned and I wanted to make sure, that the relationship between Amy and Sammie came across as so genuine [and real]. In that reconciliation scene, you see that Amy never wanted to hurt her best friend, but it’s complicated when you love someone. I loved seeing how forgiving Sammie could be and how touching that whole moment could be, and that translated into the finished product.”
Markle adds that it was important for her as an actress that Amy was a kind character, especially when “two friends vs. a love interest” can often go a very different way on film. “In the development of the script, [we see that] Sammie is marrying Hank for the wrong reasons and she knows it, too. I’m not interested in playing characters that are just malicious,” she says. “Finding the flaws in what we all do as human beings, and forgiveness, and the layers of that, keep it interesting. Amy has a heart and that’s what I was drawn to. She doesn’t want to hurt her friend, but she wants to follow her heart when she realizes she still loves this man. It was cool to be able to play with all that.”
One neat moment during filming was that Amy’s parents live in the yellow Kent farm house from Smallville. “When we pulled up, I thought this is awfully familiar,” Markle remembers. “A lot of the crew had worked on Smallville, so it was a nice slice of pop culture.”
Markle hopes Suits fans enjoy the film. “This is such a nice departure. [It’s similar to] all the lighthearted, fun moments [in Suits] that fans take to, like the scenes with Rachel and Donna. This has a lot more of that energy to it,” she says. “And this gives me a chance to play a lot more. Rachel is serious by necessity, and Amy gives me an opportunity to have fun and have a bit more range and to be silly, which I love to do, so I hope they enjoy seeing me in that light.”
While Markle is mega busy offscreen, so is Rachel this season on Suits. Markle says that while school is part of Rachel’s storyline, we likely won’t see her onscreen at Columbia until later in the season, but for now she’s having a ball with the new Rachel and Harvey dynamic.
“I have to say, first and foremost, I am so tickled and happy to be working more with Gabriel [Macht] this season. It is so much fun,” she says. “For me, I hope they continue to develop that friendship/relationship in work because she does really become his Mike Ross. Season four picks up seven months after season three. In that amount of time, Rachel is going to become more of Harvey’s right-hand man. Inherently, when you have someone with you all the time like that, she will become his ear and his sound board similar to Donna–not that she could ever compete with Donna–but I think she’ll get closer to him in that way, and I can’t wait to see how they develop it because it’s really cool to play.”
She’s loving the new season, and says they just started on episode eight. “In the first three pages, my jaw hit the floor. Our writers constantly impress me and I think our fans are just going to be shocked,” she teases. This season, Nora and Lilla Zuckerman jumped from Haven over to Suits, and it’s been a reunion of sorts for Markle because they were writing for Fringe when she guest starred several years ago. “They’re fantastic. I love having female energy on set. The last two episodes, we’ve had female directors, too. And the girl power that Sarah [Rafferty], Gina [Torres], and I have as a trio, we embrace that so much,” she says. “To be reunited with the Zuckermans and to feel what they bring as a dynamic duo of writing is really great. They’ve been welcomed with open arms. I met them a few weeks ago when they were here for their episode.”
Markle’s website, The Tig, launched seven weeks ago and was born out of her childhood loves. “My mom was a flight attendant. I’ve always loved travel and I’ve always loved being involved the world of food. Growing up in California, putting together farm to table cooking, and growing up with a garden…I’ve had so many passions across the board that I wanted to share with people,” she says.
“And now, having access to beauty and fashion in a very different way, by virtue of Suits, I wanted to have a breeding ground to share all of that. We had 10,000 followers the first day We are in Elle. It’s been such an awesome thing to see that something that you’re passionate about, that you’re creating personally, can have that sort of impact. I can’t wait to see where it goes. I love being able to share the things that I find inspiring with people and I’m grateful that they’re responding to it.”
Social media is a big part of Markle’s life–you can find her on Twitter and Instagram, where she sometimes shares photos of her beautiful rescue mutt, whose adoption was prompted by a chance meeting with Ellen Degeneres at a Los Angeles shelter. “I’m really fortunate that people like Rachel, and girls run up and hug me and they’re inspired to dress up for work,” she says. “I try to engage as much as I can, but for everybody who’s wonderful, there are a few [who aren’t]. I think sometimes people forget that we’re real people. I would just encourage everyone to just be nice.”
We couldn’t agree more.Â When Sparks Fly airs Saturday night on Hallmark Channel at 9/8c. Markle hopes to live Tweet the East Coast feed, and she’ll also be sharing some behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot.
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