Cindy Busby Talks Marrying Mr. Darcy, Royal Hearts, and Date My Dad
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Cindy Busby cemented her status as a fan favorite with 2016’s much-loved Unleashing Mr. Darcy, a Hallmark Channel romance set among the tony world of East Coast dog shows. At the conclusion of that film, her character, Elizabeth Scott, and her fractious would-be suitor, Donovan Darcy (Ryan Paevey), confess their feelings. Fast forward two years later, and Elizabeth and Donovan are back Saturday night in the sequel, Marrying Mr. Darcy. I spoke with Busby this morning about the film, February’s Royal Hearts, and UP TV’s Date My Dad.
Busby began her Hallmark career recurring on Cedar Cove and appearing in supporting roles for a handful of films like Lucky in Love and Hailey Dean Mysteries. She wanted to move into lead roles and credits the original Darcy film with nudging her career where it needed to go. She was thrilled to revisit the characters and the cast when the stars aligned to put them all back together.
The film shuffles some of the character pairings of the first film, with almost all of the extended cast (Lini Evans as Elizabeth’s Mom, Linda, Tammy Gillis as Elizabeth’s sister, Jenna, Elizabeth McLaughlin as her de facto aunt, Gabrielle, Frances Fisher as Donovan’s Aunt Violet, and Ryan Kennedy as Donovan’s BFF and Jenna’s BF, Henry) returning. Yasmeene Ball steps into the role of Donovan’s sister, Zara, who was played by Sarah Desjardins the first time. Busby explains that since the plotting of this one is a bit different, it made sense to move some of the characters in and out of the action.
“You’re trying to involve all the aspects from the original film that people loved, and the storyline of the second movie and integrate the previous cast [while] making it have the same tone but with different subject matter. I think we did a good job,” she says.
“Maintaining the integral aspects of Elizabeth’s character, that was the challenge, I found. She’s a strong woman, and a little bit stubborn, and headstrong. Some of the subject matter didn’t really show that. Finding the characteristics within the storlyline were good for me.”
“We haven’t seen this side of her in this kind of circumstance. She’s in a real relationship and she loves this man and she hasn’t been in this kind of relationship before, which is what we saw in the first film. To be in this lavish world [with] a lot of money and fame and this New York City life, which she’s not used to…those were the fundamentals of the Darcy movies and books.”
“I thought it was really cool to find my way through it. They have a great relationship when the doors are closed. When other people come into play and she’s in the public eye, that’s the part that gets to her and the part that she struggles with and that allowed me to go deeper in this movie.”
When the opportunity to do Unleashing Mr. Darcy came around, Busby said it was a fortuitous alignment with where she was in her own life. “I was going through a lot of changes and growth personally. I felt a lot of characteristics in common with Elizabeth and I didn’t really know [it yet]. Looking back on it, there were so many things I could relate to, which is why I think I could relate to her energy–constantly battling the yin and yang of life [felt so familiar],” she recalls.
“I feel like it happened to me at a time I was ready to play somebody like her. It came around to me a second time. I think it felt in place because it was meant to. That’s kind of how I see life. I needed that movie to come into my life to propel me to what I needed next that I wasn’t listening to at the time, and that happened for everything else to fall into place. I’m forever grateful.”
The idea for the sequel had been floating around since the first movie aired, and Busby said she finally got confirmation earlier this winter that it was a go. It was a fantastic return to colleagues who have become friends. “When Ryan and I got together, he said, ‘It’s been two and a half years since we did the first movie and it feels like last week.’ We’ve all lived so much life and done so many other great things and it’s [wonderful] coming back together and feeling like family,” she shares.
“I think that’s a huge sign of a success story when people come together and get along really well. We started talking about what the next one might be [like a baby, or Jenna’s wedding or a Christmas movie]. When I heard [author] Teri [Wilson] was doing a Christmas story, I thought [that would be great]. It’s such a cool world. It’s got a Romeo and Juliet aspect–two worlds coming together and ebbing and flowing and I think a lot of people can relate to that. It’s constantly challenging, and [asking], ‘What is right for me, and what’s not?’ and [this one has the added wrinkle of merging families].”
Now that the film has wrapped and is about to air, Busby says the second parting with her cast was sweeter. “It takes a bit of time to mourn. That’s one of the hardest things about being an actor–falling in love and saying goodbye,” she explains. “We were all able to do something and fall in love and say goodbye and that was so special and we wanted to embrace it even more the second time.”
Royal Hearts, which aired earlier this year and got a recent boost by being included in the Royal Wedding-themed DVD release last month, was a twist on the usual Hallmark Channel fare, instead focusing on repairing the relationship between a father (James Brolin) and his daughter (Busby). Brolin directed the film, too, and Busby said he had a guiding hand on the whole project, which filmed in Romania.
“I loved him so much. He’s such a genuine, funny, great human being. He’s so down to earth. He’s a cowboy. From what I know, they came to him and he came up with the story and they hired a writer. He was very involved. A lot of the one-liners, he and the writer came up with. He adapted it so it would work for him,” she says.
“It feels so different than a lot of other Hallmark movies. It had a different energy. James is really strong-minded about staying true to how people interact with each other. It was about finding a way to do it in a Hallmark way but still showing that there’s tension between two people who fight and love each other and are trying to make it work. If you don’t love each other, you don’t fight for it.”
“Getting to shoot in Romania was a dream come true. It’s such a beautiful place. We shot outside of Bucharest and in the mountains of Sinaia, which is on the border of Transylvania, which I loved. Having that stand in for Montana was cool. That’s another cast that fit right in. We were together [all the time] and it was just easy.”
Some audiences may recognize Busby from Date My Dad, which ran in 2017, and she said it was a fantastic experience, but as far as she’s aware, there will not be another season. “From Darcy on, I feel like I’ve only had incredible experiences. I’ve had the greatest time and made great friends,” she says. “Doing comedy is huge on my bucket list and something I want to pursue more of. The cast and crew were great. It was a three-month shoot, and like going to a regular job every day.”
Marrying Mr. Darcy premieres Saturday at 9 pm/8c on Hallmark Channel, after a repeat ofÂ Unleashing Mr. Darcy at 7 pm/6c. Royal Hearts also airs Saturday at 11 am/10c. Check out Tina’s interview with Ryan Paevey here.
Here’s a recap of where the Darcy story began, and a look at the full slate of four new movies for Hallmark Channel’s June weddings event
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