Aurora Teagarden Mysteries is now up 13 films, and in the last five of them, starting with The Disappearing Game, Niall Matter has played Ro’s boyfriend (now fiance), Nick. I spoke with Matter earlier this month for Country at Heart, which has been postponed until later this summer, and we also chatted about working on the very successful mystery franchise.
Matter stepped into the series in 2018, playing a local professor who gets drawn into the Real Murders Club and strikes up a friendship and eventual romance with Candace Cameron Bure‘s Roe. When he joined the franchise, he recognized he would be testing the fans’ loyalty to Yannick Bisson, who played Roe’s love interest, Martin, in five installments. [Bisson talked with me earlier this year about leaving the series here.]
“When you first come in, you’re just hoping that the fan reaction is positive and that they like the character because it’s hard when you come in and your character is essentially replacing somebody that the fans loved,” he says. “The fans loved Yannick and his character, Martin, and that was really tough as an actor coming in and trying to fill those shoes.”
“In the beginning, there were two sides, people that really liked me and the work I had done in other films at Hallmark and then the other people who really loved what they already had and were resistant to change. Luckily for me, I’ve seen the fans really warm up to to Nick and Aurora, and for the most part, now I see nothing but people loving the two of them together.”
“That’s what I was hoping to do. That’s what Candace and I were hoping to create. And I love playing Nick, the psychology professor. He fits in so well with the group.”
Matter particularly loves the partnership Roe and Nick have, and that he’s game to dive into her investigations alongside her. “He lets her do her thing and he doesn’t hold her back. He supports her through everything,” he explains.
“And quite often, he’s joining her and kind of racing to the finish line to solve this right along with her, because at the end of the day, the most important thing to him is her safety. And he realizes that in order for him to feel confident in everything, he needs to be helping her out all along the way. And he doesn’t run from it. He runs right into it with her.”
As the series has evolved, the Real Murders Club has expanded with recurring characters who are introduced and then keep coming back, so there are now almost ten featured players per movie. Matter enjoys the full ensemble approach to each story. “The world was already created and my character was able to just step into it, because all of these characters have already been solidified and everyone involved with Aurora does such a great job of their individual roles,” he says.
“It’s such a colorful town. Everyone plays their characters so well. Marilu Henner does such an awesome job with Aida, and Lexis Doig, who I’ve worked with plenty of times, I love what she does. I love the different flavors and the different spices everyone sprinkles throughout the franchise. It’s just a perfect blend of ingredients. And I can see this going for a very long time because of that.”
Matter gives credit to Bure for being the heart of the franchise. “It feels to me more like [an episodic] series because when you’re on a series, you have very defined characters who are very clear and each character brings a different thing. And that is exactly what they have found with Aurora, and Candace at the helm of it,” he points out.
“She’s just a fearless leader and so smart and that’s what I love about working opposite her. Candace really wants to be telling smart stories, stories that have people guessing up until the end. She loves that. That’s everything to her.”
“She wants the audience to just be fully submerged in the story and totally thinking it’s one person and then have the rug pulled out and it’s somebody else. That’s really important to her and she loves the action just as much as I do. So it’s great to work with somebody who really wants to get in there and do everything they can to make it fantastic.”
Before the world shut down this spring for the coronavirus pandemic, there were plans for four Aurora Teagarden installments to film and air this year, similar to previous years where we get a batch at a time. Matter says they had just started filming the follow up to last month’s Heist and Seek when they had to press pause on production.
“We were on day five when we got shut down. When everything gets up and going again, at some point, we’ll be getting back to those movies and whether or not we are able to turn out more than the one we were filming. I’m not sure,” he shares.
“That’s all yet to be determined at this point. I know that the plan is to carry on, which is, amazing because I love that family and I love working with Candace and I love everyone involved. It’s a family I want to remain with and keep that going. The intention is to do many more, maybe many, many more of these.”
Aurora Teagarden Mysteries recurs on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries.
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