[Warning: General spoilers for the 8/23 episode of Cedar Cove.]
The second season of Cedar Cove has expanded its scope a bit and one of the new plot threads involves the arrival of Luke, a recently discharged Navy SEAL and new acquaintance of Justine, who’s coping with PTSD. In tomorrow night’s episode, Luke finally puts a name on his angry outbursts, helped by Bob, Justine, and Olivia. We spoke with Jesse Hutch about the role and his upcoming Hallmark film, My Boyfriends’ Dogs, which will air in October.
Hutch is a familiar face on TV lately. Last season, he had a recurring role on Arrow as one of Sebastian Blood’s disciples, and last Christmas he starred opposite Candace Cameron Bure in Hallmark Channel’s Let it Snow, which aired last month as part of the network’s Christmas in July programming. He’s previously appeared in two other Hallmark films–2012’s How to Fall in Love and 2011’s Three Weeks, Three Kids, which I’ve mentioned before, is a locked-on-my-DVR gem. He was also in the second season of Reelz Channel’s guilty pleasure True Justice, which sadly, is out of rotation in the US and not on DVD in the US yet or online.
Hutch is grateful to have played such wide range of characters lately, telling us, “I’m extremely happy to be able to jump around. I’d like to be the guy you see in action and then a comedy…there’s so many genres,” and he was excited to read for the role of Luke when it came around. “It’s not every day that you read the character sides and realize, ‘this is something out of the ordinary,'” he says. “It’s encouraging and a bit nerve-wracking to play a character who is dealing with this. Immediately it’s ‘wow’–it’s a character of depth and reality. He’s experienced a lot for someone his age.”
He reached out to military friends and was put in touch with a recently retired SEAL who helped him hone in on the character. “I’m trying to make choices [in my performance] that make sense to a SEAL. You have to work within TV borders and you bring what you can to the table, plus the writing, which has been awesome,” he points out. “And you get a character who honors Navy SEALS and anybody who’s dealt with PTSD. [You want to] bring the character to life so they can watch and get lost in him. You don’t want them pulled out because the acting sucks or you’re not dressed right. You try to eliminate any reason for anyone to complain.”
Hutch was touched by his real-life conversations with someone who had lived through the things Luke is supposed to have survived. “It was cool to ask him these things and hear in his voice how real this things are,” he recalls. “I haven’t experienced what they have, although I have my own experiences. I could talk to him about that character and [finding the right] balance. We’re trying to make sure everyone enjoys the story.”
He adds, “I think almost the journey of this entire character has been very involved. I’ve [played] the stereotypical cop or character, so for this guy, who is deep below the surface…every scene was a challenge in some way, ‘How do I make it make sense and not give too much away?’ Audiences are smart–I don’t ever want to treat people like they’re dumb. You don’t always hear what Luke is thinking…he doesn’t straight up say everything, but a look can tell you what’s he thinking or feeling.”
This week’s episode has a watershed moment for Luke, and Hutch shares that it was a challenging and rewarding episode to shoot. “It’s one of the more emotional heavy scenes I’ve had to do. I have my own little judgmental pad where I watch myself and then also try to watch it as a fan of the show and characters. I’ve been really enjoying everybody,” he says.
“[Before this scene], I knew it was coming and I’d wake up [worried about it] and be glad when I had extra time. I wanted to really represent the character the best I could. I wanted to let him let his emotions come out. They’re tough people and can withstand so much, that’s why there are so few of them. I believe that they probably do come to a point [when they’re] with their loved ones where they’re able to look at what’s going on. It’s not often you get to see what’s going on in someone’s heart–you do that work at home. I didn’t want to screw that up.”
Hutch was tight-lipped on where exactly Luke’s story will go, or whether we would see him again in a third season (if there is one). “You’re going to have to watch and see,” he teases. “When you sign up for a role, you’re going along for a ride. I know where the season ends, but after that, I don’t know. I do feel like the story and the plot line goes on a cool journey–not just for Luke but Justine, too.”
“And Luke affects a lot of other people, too And the town affects him. It’s a place where he finally stops and is willing to sit down. A lot of people keep running away, and with this week’s episode, he’s challenged–is he going to keep running or is he going to sit and think? Sometime you need people’s help with that. Everybody needs somebody who’s willing to just sit and listen and be genuine…just be there and not try to fix it.”
In October, Hutch will switch gears for the romantic comedy, My Boyfriends’ Dogs, which stars Erika Christensen as a runaway bride who flees with her dogs and has a tale to tell. Hutch plays the first titular boyfriend, Wade, a player who maybe doesn’t know he’s a player, and he says it was a fun part.
“The director [Terry Ingram] was the Second Assistant Director on Let it Snow. We have known each other for a couple of years and they were willing to let me have fun with it and explore. Even on set, they’d let the camera roll and let me get away with stuff.,” he says. “Like jumping a desk or a fence. I came up with weird sound effects. I was able to make the character fun. When I auditioned, I asked if they wanted the run-of-the mill player but I also prepared a version of him people would like as well.
“Erika plays a smart character, so he’s got to be a guy girls want to hang out with. I wanted him to be fun and easygoing. He doesn’t realize [he’s a player]. He just tries to get along with girls all the time. He doesn’t always know. There’s a hint of ‘did he plan it?’ but it made it fun. He’d be fun for a while [in real life], but I wouldn’t be able to put up with for too long.” The dogs in the cast added to the sense of fun on set as they’d shoot takes that were almost perfect. Hutch says the outtakes of dogs running through the scenes would make for a good blooper reel.
Next up, Hutch is teaching an acting class in Vancouver. “People have been requested it. I like passing things on,” he says. “If someone had passed things on to me, it would’ve been helpful…things to expect politically. The rules aren’t always black and white. Sometimes you make a stand on things, or maybe you’ll be challenged and figure out what the business is. Some stories are amazing and they need to be told and you have to decide if you’re the one to tell it. It’s fun. It really is a lot of fun.”
My Boyfriends’ Dogs premieres October 18th on Hallmark Channel. Cedar Cove airs Saturday night at 8/7c and repeats at 11/10c on Hallmark Channel. Here is a sneak peek of “Trials and Tribulations.”
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