Lisa Durupt Talks Reunited at Christmas and Christmas Lost and Found [Exclusive]
Hallmark regular and fan favorite Lisa Durupt has two holiday movies this season–Reunited at Christmas, airing Wednesday night on Hallmark Channel and Christmas Lost and Found, which airs on Lifetime on December 7th. Earlier this week, I chatted with Durupt about them and her upcoming reunion with Murder She Baked‘s Alison Sweeney in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ The Chronicle Mysteries film series coming in March.
Reunited at Christmas was an idea developed by Nikki DeLoach, who also executive produces, and when it came time to cast her character’s sister, she turned to Durupt, a close friend who’s previously done two films with her–A Dream of Christmas and The Perfect Catch. Durupt says it was a no-brainer to jump on board, and she loved the ensemble cast of Mike Faiola, Andrew Airlie, Eileen Pedde, and Noel Johansen.
“You’re really lucky when you come across people you want to keep in touch with. We joke that it was love at first sight. We bonded right away and are close like sisters. I had been staying with her in LA and she had talked about this project that she was working on but she never said that it had a part for me,” she recalls.
“Then she called and randomly offered it to me. It was a really welcome surprise. It was her story and her concept and she [picked me]. [Hallmark doesn’t] normally do ensembles but I have to give Nikki credit for that. She pitched it and they went for it. I felt spoiled on Murder She Baked that everyone got along and then to walk onto another set and have that feeling again was really, really nice.”
Durupt admits that her and DeLoach’s infectious rapport sometimes required director Steven R. Monroe, who directed them in The Perfect Catch, to rein them in. “There were definitely moments where he had to tell us to calm down. We thought we were funny,” she laughs.
“We had worked with hm before so he knew what he was in for. In the most loving of ways, he had to throw down to get us to behave. The day we shot all the stuff with the gingerbread cookies, we spent the entire day. Eve though we’re all artsy in our own way, it got sillier and sillier as the day went on and [some of us] had to keep the icing off each other.”
She also enjoyed getting to skate in the movie. “They put figure skating skates out for me to wear and I went and got my hockey skates from the truck,” she says.
This Friday, Durupt will be lacing up her skates for a good cause, hosting Vancouver’s annual Hockey Helps the Homeless. “It’s a one-day tournament in various cities across Canada and all the money goes back into the community to provide shelter, food, and resources for the homeless,” she explains.
“It’s an epidemic here. Three years ago, they were looking for a host and it turned out to be one of the best events I’ve been a part of. It’s all the Canada NHL alumni hockey players and Olympians. The first game is at 8 am. They raise about $500K a year in each city. That’s a big one I’m proud to be a part of.”
In December, Durupt’s second holiday movie this season, Christmas Lost and Found, will air on Lifetime. stars Tiya Sircar as a woman who misplaces a box of cherished Christmas ornaments. “She goes on a mass hunt to find them again. In doing that she stumbles across this woman named Gloria, who’s my character, who owns a big department store [and take a job with her]. It’s this really beautiful story about bringing to life what’s important at Christmas. The value of love and family and all that stuff vs. material things.,” she says.
Durupt loved working with Diane Ladd. “She is the coolest lady ever. She knows every single word verbatim of the script. She can probably even tell you your lines. That’s not always the case, especially with someone who’s so experienced. She’s such a team player,” she shares. “She is on book 100% before she even walks in the door in the morning. It’s really refreshing. It also makes you [be on your game]. When you listen to her talk [about her career], you realize she is legendary.”
Durupt has wrapped on Alison Sweeney‘s follow-up to Murder She Baked, The Chronicle Mysteries, a new film franchise that has already banked four movies and is set to premiere in March on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. “People want a series but it makes more sense to do as a film series. Alison created it with herself. She’s obsessed with true crime,” she shares.
“Whenever we were working together, we’d talk about [shows like] Dateline and Making a Murderer. She plays a true crime podcaster. Her dad gives her The Chronicle paper and she does that and starts solving local crimes. The whole first film is trying to solve a mystery from high school. She asked me to come in for it. I’m spoiled with my friendships. I get along great with them and I get to work with them.”
Durupt also guest starred on the long-running Canadian drama Heartland and was delighted by the fan response during filming and re-teaming with her Murder She Baked nemesis Gabriel Hogan as her love interest. “In real life we got along so well [so we’d laugh about my character throwing shade at his],” she explains.
“It’s a little bit intimidating at first to work on a show where everyone has been together so long. To find out Gabe was there was really refreshing. It was like going to camp with your buddies,” she says. “The first day [of shooting], there were people lined up from all over the world to see the diner.”
This fall, Durupt opened the Tricities Film Studio, a new film studio in the suburban area outside of Vancouver, to give actors a home base without trekking all the way into the city. It was a labor of love that she was thrilled to get off the ground.
“It came about naturally. I didn’t know what to expect but we just went for it and it’s going great. I live about 25 minutes out from Vancouver. There are a lot of studios in the city [because] the film industry is booming, and there are also a lot of people who live further out [in the suburbs],” she points out.
“My husband said, ‘You’ve been talking about it a long time and there’s nothing out here, so let’s just got for it.’ And I did and it’s taking off. Other actors who are interested in the city have been coming, which is sweet. It provides access for people who [can’t] get into the city [and] want to audition or take classes. This is an alternative for them.”
All of the Murder She Baked films are now available in a DVD set just in time for Christmas. Heartland airs on CBC in Canada and UP TV in the U.S. Season 11 is also available on DVD. Here’s a sneak peek of Reunited at Christmas and the Home & Family segment with Nikki DeLoach and Mike Fiaola.
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