Victor Webster Previews Five Star Christmas [Exclusive Interview]
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Hallmark Channel is rolling out more incentives to stay on the couch this weekend with three more days of premieres. First up to start the weekend is the very fun and light Five Star Christmas starring Victor Webster, and Bethany Joy Lenz in their first pairing. It’s also Lenz’s second film in a row for director Christie Will Wolf, who directed A Valentine’s Match earlier this year. Webster is one of our longtime faves and we jumped on the phone last week to chat about the movie.
Webster was calling from Vancouver, where he’s in production on the second season of Freeform’s Motherland: Fort Salem.The film, written by Alfonso H. Moreno and based on a story by Stephen Witkin and Michael C. Elliot, is heavily comedic and follows the Ralston family–eldest daughter Lucy (Lenz) and her adult siblings, Will (Blair Penner) and Amber (Grace Beedie), and their grandparents Walter (Jay Brazeau) and Margo (Paula Shaw), who get an unexpected surprise when they arrive at their family home for Christmas and discover that family patriarch Ted (the fantastic Robert Wisden in his first film in almost a decade), has turned it into a B&B.
Initially hurt and horrified, the trio of siblings and their grandparents are thrown into role-playing guests and staff when they get wind that a make-or-break travel writer is in the area–and, they think–has just checked in, incognito. That guest, Beth (Laura Soltis), strikes up a friendship with Ted, while a second guest, geologist Jake (Webster) shows up at the B&B after a meet-cute with Lucy in town. Lucy and Jake are the second pair to warm up to each other against the backdrop of everyone not completely telling the truth.
Things get a little madcap (think Frasier’s flair for mistaken identities and people leaving and entering rooms with perfect timing) before the truth is revealed. We also spend a little time developing the arcs for Will, who’s about to travel the world with his wife, Suzanne (Barbara Patrick), and Amber, who’s just abandoned her latest college major and finds the Christmas weekend sparking her in a new direction.
Webster enjoyed working on the movie and was glad to get back to work on his first film this year. He and Lenz were acquainted but hadn’t co-starred yet. “She was great to work with and has a great sense of comedic timing and lots of great ideas. It was a very collaborative effort between [us] and Christie,” he says.
“[Christie] was so open to hearing everybody’s input. I think that was one of the things that made the movie come alive. She’s so easy. She’s unflustered. Whatever you throw at her, she just goes with it. She’s been an actor, too, [which helps]. I would love to do anything with her.”
There’s one scene that found Lenz and Webster improvising as Lucy and Jake get to know each other, and another with the whole cast at the dinner table that Webster recalls as special moments during filming. “The scene [with Joy] completely changed on the day. We reworked the whole scene. It was pretty long. It was just us sitting there and making up stuff and vibing off each other,” he shares.
“I think it turned out really well. In the dinner scene, where Jay is sipping the soup, we did so many different versions of it. He kept trying to get it and then they kept interrupting him. I don’t know what ended up in the film, but it was so good.”
The film is very much an ensemble effort, and Webster loved his colleagues. “[Hallmark] always gets really talented people. Every person individually brought so much to their roles that it flourished and became this great ensemble. Paula was so spunky and a spitfire in the best way. Jay had me rolling the whole time. He had a ball. He’d improvise these great lines and facial expressions,” he points out.
“While the pandemic protocols served the story well in being almost entirely a set piece inside the B&B, Webster says that was always the plan. “[The house itself] was another character. I think it was important to everybody to be in that house,” he shares. “It’s a story about the emotion of the house, everybody being in those rooms.”
Webster also has a career-first in the movie–serenading Lenz’s character in the middle of the town square. “That was the first time that I sang in public in my entire life, and it was in front of about a hundred people,” he laughs. “And so that was interesting and intimidating, and it was a good thing that Jake wasn’t supposed to be a fantastic singer because I’m not a good singer but we had fun with it.”
The pandemic has switched up the shooting protocols, and Webster shared that there were a few tricks and photography magic to help keep the spirit of the communal scenes that are Hallmark holiday staples. “We had masks on the entire time and as soon as they said action, we took them off. [The cast] weren’t allowed to sing; if anybody was singing or caroling, their voices were added in later on,” he explains.
“[In the crowd scenes], they were quite a distance away. I think the closest person was 15 feet. You can make people look a lot closer depending on what lenses you use and stuff like that. We had about 20 minutes to shoot the entire [finale] scene at the end of the night. Christie had to come up with a creative, really cool way of shooting it. I think we got three takes of it and she got the steady cam up and just, you know, positioned everybody and turned the cameras on and we did it.”
Webster’s gotten used to the pandemic protocols, living in LA during its lockdown, driving cross country, and now back at work. “I don’t think anything will be a hundred percent back the way that it was before. I’m fine for this to be close to what our normal is, because if it keeps everybody safe, I can live with it,” he says. “If I can pop on a mask, support the economy and keep myself safe, keep businesses open, help out in any way that I can help people pay their mortgages, I’ll do it.”
Photos and video courtesy of Crown Media.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
George R. Olson, Tim Rozon, and Sarah Levy Talk the SurrealEstate S2 Finale
[Spoilers for the SurrealEstate Season 2 finale.] How’s everyone doing after the finale? As we close out the second season of SurrealEstate, some of our merry band of misfits are scattering to the winds–Zooey to law school, Phil to the Vatican, and Augie back to his think tank with Rochelle,…
Previewing SurrealEstate Season 2 Finale + Revisiting the Season with George R. Olson
[Warning; General spoilers ahead.] Strap in, SurrealEstate fam, because we’ve arrived at the Season 2 finale, and it’s a doozy. As we saw in the closing moments of last week’s episode, Susan is back. But because we have one more episode left, it’s not as simple as all that, as…
Tyler Hynes Talks Through His Eight-Film Hallmark Holiday Library
Things you realize when you have to re-record your shows on a new DVR – just how many Hallmark movies your people have done. Fan favorite – and one of ours – Tyler Hynes has done eight Christmas movies for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries since 2018. Alongside…
Spencer Creaghan Talks About Creating SurrealEstate’s Signature Sound
SurrealEstate is winding down its second season, with two episodes left, and just as in Season 1, Spencer Creaghan’s music continues to be a character unto itself. And every week, he shares tidbits with the fans via his s social media channels, something he started to help give them an…
Andrew Walker Talks Christmas Island and the Magical Hallmark Community
[Warning: Spoilers for Christmas Island.] Now that the Screen Actors Guild strike has been resolved, we’re able to resume regularly scheduled programming and interview our favorites and yours. Up first, earlier today, I spoke with Andrew Walker about Christmas Island, which premiered last weekend and encores tonight and through the…
George Olson and Danishka Esterhazy Talk SurrealEstate “I Put a Spell on You”
[Warning: Spoilers for the episode.] Tonight’s fun new SurrealEstate found Luke caught up in an especially bewitching woman, Kay, played by Tara Yelland, Susan trapped in her house, and Zooey learning the ropes. In the next part of my conversation with showrunner George R. Olson and producing director Danishka Esterhazy,…
Danishka Esterhazy Talks SurrealEstate: “The Butler Didn’t”
[Warning: General spoilers for the episode]. Tonight’s new SurrealEstate, “The Butler Didn’t,” follows the team as they investigate the years-earlier mysterious death of a woman whose ghost now reenacts her hanging by dropping over the banister from the second floor to terrify anyone on the landing or at the bottom…
Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders Talk the From Season 2 finale
[Warning: Spoilers for the season finale.] How’s everyone doing after that finale? While we wait and wonder and hope for a third season announcement, soon, here’s what Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders had to say about their parts of the finale, and where they hope they get to go next….
Scott McCord and Elizabeth Saunders Talk From Season 2 + A Season Finale Preview
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] It all comes down this, #FROMily. As Sunday’s episode wraps up Season 2, we begin with the aftermath of the terrifying onset of seemingly simultaneous attacks on Julie, Marielle, and Randall, which accelerate the “We gotta get out of this place” of it all. Sara comes…
Alison Sweeney Talks About What’s Next for Hannah and Mike After Carrot Cake Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery
[Warning: Spoilers for Carrot Cake Murder.] Everybody OK after that Hannah Swensen Mystery twist? Thankfully, our favorite crime-solving couple is still on speaking term, even if they’re on a break (hopefully not that kind of break). Most importantly, we already know this isn’t the last film in the series. No…
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…