Kavan Smith Talks The Perfect Bride: Wedding Bells, When Calls the Heart, and More [Exclusive]
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Kavan Smith has become a household name for the Hallmark set in recent years with his role on When Calls the Heart and his regular work in the network’s films. Longtime Hallmarkies will also remember him for one of my faves from almost a decade ago, Growing the Big One. His latest movie reunites him with his WCTH co-star, Pascale Hutton in The Perfect Bride: Wedding Bells, a sequel to last summer’s The Perfect Bride.
Around here, we’re also terribly fond of Smith for his sci-fi oeuvre, which includes my often-lauded The Outer Limits, Eureka, and Stargate: Atlantis, to name a few. I chatted with Smith earlier this week about his dual-track career and love of food, which he shares on his social media feeds.
Smith says Wedding Bells actually kicked into high gear this winter when he and Hutton took the initiative to fast track it by going to LA during the annual Television Critics Association event. “I guess nobody knows this, but we pitched the second one. We went to them. Hallmark had been looking for something for us or a while. They offered usÂ The Perfect Bride, and we had a great time and knew right away there was more story to tell, and we knew the numbers were pretty solid,” he shares.
“We went down to the TCA and basically cold called them. We had no idea if they were just humoring us but Michelle [Vicary] and Randy [Pope] showed up and we had a real pitch and had some good story ideas and had already talked to [Rick Garman], who wrote the first one.”
“They gave us some hard questions and we had answers for them and they said, ‘The fans like you together and the first one did really well, and so, yes.’ We were hard pressed to make the June deadline, but they got the writer on board and he started furiously writing.”
In the new film, Nick and Molly are altar-bound until professional complications and personal jitters kick in. We get to see a ton of that signature banter and warmth between the actors throughout. They’re matched by returning cast from the first movie–Agents of S.H.I.E.L.Dâ€˜s Mark Dacascos, iZombieâ€˜s Leanne Lapp, Casey Manderson (The Mistlestoe Inn), and Hayley Sales (Deadpool 2), and new cast member Lane Edwards.
Smith says there wasn’t any deja vu about marrying Hutton onscreen again after their When Calls the Heart nuptials. “[Pascale] and I roll so quickly with everything. None of that fazes us,” he says. “They put us in the clothes and show us where to go, and we say the lines and have as much fun as we want. It’s very rare in this business.”
“I’m not saying they wouldn’t have done another one without our insistence, but we went down there specifically to try to get this made. [While we were shooting it], we were proactive about [getting to make] a third. We’re going to cold call them again and see if they’ll take our meeting and listen to a pitch for a third one and then they’ll never take our calls again.”
“We loved doing it. Sometimes if that window is open, you can’t wait. You’ve got to go and ask for something. So often with acting, you have to sit and wait to work and it’s really empowering [to make the work happen].”
Smith agrees with Hutton’s story from our interview in April that he knew more than she did about his role when he started on When Calls the Heart. “[When it was offered], I was reluctant. I didn’t know anything about it or what their expectations were. When I got in there, I realized how rabid the fans are and how lucky I was to have said yes,” he recalls.
“The guy who directed my first episode was Neill Fearnley. I had worked with him before, and he took me aside and said the fans didn’t like Rosemary with [Jack] but [the producers] wanted to keep her so they were trying to find another niche for her. [They] wanted to have me come on board and see if there’s any chemistry. Their initial commitment was pretty lax.”
“I knew her from The 4400 [enough to say hi]. I wasn’t sure what the chemistry would be like, but we hit it off immediately. She has a great, non-precious sense of humor. I require that in somebody that’s around me because I’m not precious at all and I need people not to be too sensitive because I can be a bull in a china shop sometimes. She’s great with it. She has a wonderful sense of humor.”
“We kind of clicked right away. We come from the same background, both from the theater, we’re both very happily married, both with two boys. We have very similar stories to tell, so we connected and bonded quite quickly over that stuff and that allowed us to open up more than we might have to other actors.”
“We’ve done five years now and a couple of movies, and our families hang out from time to time and the cast hang out. It’s a really lucky and fortunate find at this point in my career to find a partner in crime. It’s very rare as an actor. We’ve kind of created that for ourselves.”
“I don’t know how long [this partnership] will last. I like the fact that we’re not children anymore. We’re not in our 20s and we’re not ingenues and maybe we’ll be allowed to go further along. I hope that’s the case. We’ve been compared to Desi and Lucy and we love that analogy, although, it really is sort of Lucy and Lucy. There’s not a lot of Ricky. It’s just us mugging for the camera. There’s a lot of laughter.”
His favorite moments synchs with Hutton’s too. “She was force-feeding me soup. She completely ignored my [request to keep the spoon away from my face] and I realized it was really funny. Completely disrespectful, but really funny,” he laughs. “That was the start of us having this irreverent sense of humor.”
“A lot of other fun scenes in between, but this past season when I had laryngitis and we had to play charades, that was a lot of fun. We really gravitate toward that kind of stuff. Somebody was saying we should do a sitcom and our eyes lit up. We would be all over that.”
When Calls the Heart resumes production later this year and Smith acknowledges that this will be a make or break season to win back the fans who are still reeling from the sudden death of the series co-lead, Jack Thornton, played by Daniel Lissing.
“The main philosophy of the show is still the same, about being good to your fellow man and human beings being good to one another and that still exists. There’s going to be love and laughter and heartache and there are all these things that happen and there’s still a lot of story to tell,” he explains.
“Erin [Krakow] has worked so hard on the show and she deserves a chance to continue and find a new storyline. Pascale and I didn’t know where our characters were going to go. Maybe now people will look to our [marriage] as the grounding force.”
“I don’t know. It will put some responsibility on us and we’ll try our best to be the best version of Lee and Rosemary and fill that gap until the rest of the story fills in. I think if the fans give the [show] a chance, there will be multiple seasons. It’s a big change, and its a lot to ask of a loyal fan base.”
“It was a difficult and tenuous situation for all involved. I think everyone learned something. This was the first really difficult obstacle they had to navigate. It was unwinnable, and people were going to be upset. These are wonderful people who are making this show and everybody did the best they could and I hope people can give us a shot.”
When he’s not acting, Smith is happily hanging out with his family and whipping up delicious meals, which he usually also brings to his WCTH family. His love of cooking came from his childhood, and over the years, it’s grown and is now dovetailing back to Hallmark.
“My folks divorced when I was very young. My Dad hired a nanny who had been a teacher at the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris so we had this classically trained, amazing chef as our nanny for a few years when we were kids and I developed this love of food. I’m not a new foodie, I’ve been doing this my whole life,” he says. “She gave me a really good life skill. if you ask my kids how I [won over] their Mom, they always tell people it was my pesto.”
“I have a script of my own that I wrote in development that we’re probably going to be shooting in spring of next year. I was shooting [Wedding Bells] with Danica McKellar a couple of years ago. I played a chef and Elizabeth Yost, one of the senior execs, asked me what I’d like to do, and I said, ‘I think I can sell this, that I could be a good chef in a script, so if I wrote something, would you read it,’ and she said, ‘yes.’ We’ve been pitching it [since]. I just got my first round of notes and now I start my rewrites and see where it goes.”
Smith has recurred on a range of sci-fi shows but the nearest to his heart is Eureka‘s Andy. “I’ve done a fair bit of sci-fi. I was never a sci-fi guy. When I got into it, it wasn’t really my genre, but [because of the fans] I really started having fun with it,” he points out.
“I loved my last real sci-fi gig [on Eureka]. He was perfect. He was so fun to play. A super keener sweet adorable robot who’s in love with a house. It was so much fun to do. I miss that character a lot. I had a great time on that. Andy stands out, by far, for being the most fun and most like me. I’m not as good as he is, but I like to think that earnestness is essentially me and he had it in spades.. When you get to smile like that at work, it kind of permeates your whole mood and you smile all day long.”
Smith loves the balance of work he gets to do, and especially that so much of it is now local to Vancouver, where he lives with his family. “I like to work. I feel very privileged to be working in this business,” he says. “I feel very, very fortunate that I have the option to both [movies and TV] and I hope it continues.”
The Perfect Bride: Wedding Bells premieres Saturday at 9 pm/8c on Hallmark Channel, following an encore of The Perfect Bride at 7 pm/6c. Smith and Hutton are both on Twitter if you’d like to live Tweet along with them. Here’s a sneak peek and a look behind the scenes.
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