[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Looking for a little non-Christmas programming this weekend? May I direct you to Lifetime Movies Saturday night for the premiere of the decidedly, definitely, NOT a holiday movie, Amish Abduction, starring TVD‘s Sara Canning and Hallmarkie Steve Byers (also of Slasher/Reign)?
Fellow Hallmarkie Ali Liebert makes her directorial debut with the story of Annie (Canning), an Amish woman whose world is turned upside down when her husband, Jacob (Byers), breaks with their faith and enters the world of the English, taking their son, Caleb (Liam Hughes), with him.
Byers is one of our favorites, so I jumped on the phone with him last week to chat about it, and changing gears to play Jacob. Filmed last year in and around Vancouver, the movie gave Byers an opportunity to reconnect with Canning.
“She’s so lovely and we had a great time working together. Sara was offered her role by Ali. And when they were talking, my name came up and along with my agent they said that we’d be a good match,” he recalls.
“Sara and I had worked together before on Remedy and knew each other through other channels, and as the circles get smaller as we get older. It was a no-brainer for me. I welcomed the challenge and it was an opportunity to go back out to Vancouver for a little bit.”
“The people were fantastic to work with. Gabrielle Rose is a lovely lady. Although she didn’t have a ton to do in it, everything she does I think is fantastic. And Andrew McIlroy and Ryan Bruce who played the brother, such a sweet guy.
The movie also made use of the When Calls the Heart set after the series wrapped its season last fall, albeit with a very different look and purpose. “Obviously it’s beautiful. I think the fact that it was November, and the leaves had fallen off the trees and the grass is all browned out…once all of those elements change, it becomes actually a very haunting kind of place,” he explains.
“It played a character in the script all on its own. There were no heaters in the houses and it was cold. We were out on a bunch of nights shoots and you could hear the coy wolves training the pups to howl. They’d all start up and it would be a huge chorus of them. We were shooting in this tall grass and in the woods and they sounded close.”
As with most Lifetime women-in-peril flicks, there’s a very specific villain who’s the source of that peril, and here, that’s absolutely Jacob. Byers layers his performance to play the character as someone who’s deeply unhappy but doesn’t set out to be overtly malicious in his actions. And of course, because, Lifetime, we get an obligatory scene of him in a towel, much to his chagrin.
“[That] was my first day of shooting. I gave [Ali] the gears on that. I’m like, ‘Really? What about a robe?’ ‘Nope. Network wants a towel.’ It was my first day coming into Vancouver [but] when have you been half-naked with everybody, you get pretty close,” he laughs.
Byers embraced the challenge of playing Jacob’s darker emotions “There was no way around it, really. I think that because of his issues and what he [does] in terms of taking Caleb, if you don’t go along for the ride [in your performance], then nobody else will,” he explains.
When we spoke, Byers had just wrapped Hero Dog: The Journey Home, a family film where he plays blind for the first time. “The premise is that my character is going back home, which is way up North. The ferry boat runs aground and he has his sister’s dog on board with them. [Once they’re shipwrecked], they take it upon themselves to get through the wilderness and back home,” he says.
“Whenever you’re in a wilderness type situation, the weather obviously does what it wants to do. It’s never predictable. It was amazing to work with [the dog] Iikona and his handler, who are lovely, and we really got to bond. That was a lot of fun. People say don’t work with kids and dogs, but in this case, both were great.”
When he was initially approached about the project, the concept was that his character would wear glasses, but Byers made the case to not do that. “[My character] had his vision taken from him by an IED in Afghanistan. He’s not lived his life without sight. And I did a lot of research about sighted people who had lost their sight since birth versus injury,” he shares.
“I think [now] you get to see the performance rather than it being hidden by the glasses. [To portray blindness], you purposely unfocus your eyes. You can’t really track, because as soon as you start to track things, it takes people out [of what you’re doing.]”
“There were so many little moments where the other actors forget you’re playing blind and they’ll hand something out to you or put their hand out to shake your hand. And I [had to say], ‘I don’t see that.’ So they had to be reminded of it. At the end of the day I was, I was really grateful for the challenge.”
[Update 1/11/20: The Babysitter’s Revenge airs Saturday, January 11th, at 8 pm/7c and Midnight/11 pm c on Lifetime Movies and is available to stream now on Lifetime’s website. I caught the first airing Thursday night and it’s a deliciously trashy drama about a war of wills between a seemingly perfect suburban stay-at-home mom (Bree Turner) and the teenage girl next door (Aviva Mongillo) who blames her for upending her mother (Zoie Palmer)’s career. And this girl Does. Not. Play. Even if it means blowing up the life of her target’s husband (Byers, who, again, gets to play a surprisingly emotional arc). Below is what he had to say about the project.]
In the film, his character’s wife is having an affair that’s discovered by the babysitter. It’ll be another high drama outing, and this time around, the heat was a factor instead of the cold. “Everybody was lovely [but] it was the hottest Montreal I’ve ever experienced,” he points out. “My lovely costume designer decided that to show that I had wealth, I was going to [always] be wearing sweaters.”
“I have a scene where I’m barbecuing in like a sweater and a blazer. I had a lovely a onset wardrobe person who would constantly be having to blow a hairdryer across my back.”
Amish Abduction premieres Saturday at 8 pm/7c on Lifetime Movies and repeats at midnight/11c. Here’s a sneak peek:
Photos and Videos Courtesy of Lifetime and Journey Home Films.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Catching Up with Ted Lasso and Previewing Season 2
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] The not so dirty little secret about how I approach a new series is that I sometimes make a call based on the headspace I’m in at the time. It’s been a minute since I’ve picked up a show after the first season and then binge…
Interview: Henri Esteve on Grown-ish Season 3
An interview with Henri Esteve, who plays Javi on Freeform’s Grown-ish. He talks about his season three experience.
For All Mankind Season 2: Talking with Wrenn Schmidt, Krys Marshall, Jodi Balfour, and Sonya Walger [Exclusive]
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] One of the hooks of For All Mankind is that it’s very much a story about the women of NASA. In Season 2, we explore the journeys of the women in the program, either through their own service or through their family affiliations. Four of those…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Season Finale [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the season finale episodes.] How’s everyone after that finale? I will freely admit I got a little misty in episode eight as John told Sara why he loved her, and later that he wanted her despite what he might forfeit, and then at the end when he…
Rosy McEwen Talks The Alienist: Angel of Darkness [Exclusive]
Hands down, one of the best surprises of The Alienist: Angel of Darkness is that the serial killer this season has been front and center alongside the cast as a fully-formed character. We’ve watched Libby Hatch devolve from a prim, mild-mannered nurse to a woman in a rage hell-bent on…
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness Relationship Recap: John and Sara
[Warning: Spoilers for “Belly of the Beast” and “Memento Mori”] If you’ve read me for a while (thank you!), you know two things — I lean way, way in on the characters I adore and I loathe love geometry arcs. So, I’m torn about where we are and where we…
Louriza Tronco Talks The Order Season 2 [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers ahead for Season 2.] The Order’s second season is dark yet delightful entertainment on many levels, and one of its biggest sources of joy and snark is the sassy Gabrielle Dupres. Last season, she was assertive and deadly and fairly annoyed with the world. This season, she’s been…
Previewing Netflix’s Virgin River
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] Full disclosure: I have a Netflix account for my Mom, but I’m not a regular viewer. If I get a heads up on something, I’ll go look for it, but I don’t have a wander across its offerings, which, as I understand it, is how most…
Final Thoughts From the Killjoys Team [Exclusive]
This is the day of the week I’d normally hit you up with a Killjoys preview, but now that we’ve put the series to bed and released Team Awesome Force into the wild, I have one more treat for you–some final thoughts excerpted from my conversations with the Killjoys folks….
Michelle Lovretta Talks Wrapping Up Killjoys [Exclusive]
[Warning: Spoilers for the series finale.] To quote Miss Jackson, “That’s the end?” Yes, friends, it is. And like I promised you, everything would be, was, and is alright. I went to the Killjoys source, series creator Michelle Lovretta, who wrote the last episode, to break down that delicious finale….
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…