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.
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…