[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Jessy Schram has become a Hallmark staple, appearing in one-off romcoms and holiday movies and she’s back Monday night with Amazing Winter Romance, a new entry in Hallmark Channel’s annual Winterfest. I chatted with her last week about the movie, her other Hallmark faves, including one of ours, Birthday Wish, and her upcoming arc on NBC’s Chicago Med.
Amazing Winter Romance follows two childhood friends, Julia (Schram) and Nate (Marshall Williams), who reconnect as friends and maybe more when she comes home looking for a way to reboot her usually inspirational and aspirational column. The centerpiece of the story also involves a massive maze built from walls off snow. Take that, corn maze.
Schram loved filming last March in Winnipeg, although the deep winter timing that created some fun activities also required a little bit of on-the-fly adaptability. “I fell in love with the playfulness of their relationship. We all had that one best childhood friend. I love the banter and growing romance out of the friendship that already exists, and [them] not having seen it before. And then, having that, ‘aha!’ moment.”
“I loved the maze aspect and I thought that’d be so much fun to film. Basically 90% of the movie takes place in and around the maze. And then I realized so much of the time, things that are so grand are [actually done in] CGI, so when I landed there and talked to our director, Jason Bourque, I asked how we were going to [shoot] around this maze. And he said, ‘No, it’s, it’s real.’ The actual maze is in the Guinness Book of World Records,” she shares.
The maze even has a bit of a mascot in a gorgeous dog, who appears in the film. “They have a maze dog and he made it into a movie. That dog actually likes lives at the maze. He would say hi to everybody. He’d lead us where we needed to go, and drop us off. He owns that maze,” she laughs.
“It was really neat to work in an actual maze and [see that] the people who built it have so much love and respect and care for it. It was a really neat setting to be able to film it and [work] in something that’s real instead of pretending that it’s real. That was a treat. All of these [snack] stations exist in this maze, too. It was that big. I thought [that was something] we were doing for the movie [but it was real]. That was really sweet.”
In the movie, Julia also reconnects with her parents, played by real-life couple Nancy Sorel and Paul Magel, who’ve supported her move to the city to pursue her career but have also missed their little girl. “The parents are relevant in this. They’re both kind of there to be a soundboard for her and let her do [her own thing],” Schram shares.
“It’s such a relatable kind of story. I fell in love with the people playing my parents. Nancy Sorel plays my mom and she brought so much heart to everything and really gave that [authentic] mother-daughter feel of very respectful but at the same time just wanting to see Julia happy.”
“One of the major appeals for me when I read [Barbara Kymlicka‘s script, aside from] that playfulness was being active in the activities that we were doing. I got to ride this snowmobile, which I was so excited about and then realized that those are so dangerous.”
“I get scared of things but I do it anyway. We got to do the tobogganing. Marshall, who plays Nate, got to do it in the scene. Afterward [before] we moved to the next scene, I jumped on there real quick [and did it, too].”
“For a lot of the scenes that you saw, it was negative degrees outside while we were doing those things. We would do it really quick and then leave. This was during the polar vortex. It was winter to the 10th degree.”
“We had to move a lot of things inside the barn that were scripted to be out by the maze just because a blizzard was coming through Winnipeg. You’ll start seeing in some of the scenes, like when it got 20 degrees, all of our clothes shrink cause it felt like tropical. You get your [layered clothing] routine down and learn how to do it.”
Country at Heart was set to air last fall but has been postponed, TBD. Schram reiterates what Lucas Bryant shared last month about it being a very special project. “It sounds so corny, but that, to me, was a heart-based project. We had such a great time filming that,” she explains.
“I think the challenge of getting to sing original material [added to that]. Niall [Matter] didn’t even know the guitar before we started. So learning these songs together and recording and having the element that wasn’t just the acting…bonded us in a different kind of way.”
“I loved that project so much. It’s really special so I do hope that it gets to be in the world soon. We became such a family on that in such a short time and it was a really special experience. I’m really excited for it to be in the world.” [Update: Country at Heart premieres Saturday, October 3rd, at 9 pm/8c on Hallmark Channel and W Network in Canada. My interviews with Niall Matter and Lucas Bryant are here.]
With so many Hallmark films in her repertoire, Schram says each experiences has been memorable. “They are all completely, uniquely special because every time that I’ve [done] one of these, I have always loved who I’m working with. How quickly we film these can be really hard, but I’ve always found so much fun in each different project,” she points out.
“I love Harvest Moon because that was the first one that I ever did and had so much physical comedy to it. It was so much fun. Had Country at Heart not happened recently. I would have picked something else, but [that one] is my favorite so far. Birthday Wish is one that I [get recognized for]. Everybody loves Hallmark and the recognition that I’ve gotten from Hallmark surpasses so many different things [that I’ve worked on].”
Later this month, Schram makes her debut in a multi-episode arc on the 5th season of Chicago Med and she’s excited to step into the role and the show. “I play a gynecological surgeon who is battling with a form of addiction. So [from] when you first see my character to where she grows in this series is definitely a story,” she says.
“There’s nothing surface about this. There’s a lot to get through with my character. She comes in and kind of shakes things up, but in a way that feels like very relevant to what’s going on now in the world.”
“It is always daunting to go into a new cast, especially when you’re playing a guest star or you’re only there for one [episode] because everybody’s always established. People can’t help it, but they’re not really going to invest too much energy in getting to know you. It’s always terrifying.”
“But I have to say going on to Chicago Med, this cast and crew [have] been so lovely and friendly. They’re so professional and really just want you to do a great job and they’re happy to be there. They might feel differently, but [for me], it’s been kind of flawless. It’s been a really awesome experience. I’ve definitely been welcomed with open arms there. That’s been a sigh of relief.”
Amazing Winter Romance premieres Monday night at 9 pm/8c on Hallmark Channel. Chicago Med airs Wednesdays at 9 pm/8c on NBC. Here’s a sneak peek of Monday’s premiere.
Photos and Videos Courtesy of Crown Media.
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