[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
It’s no secret that around here we were ALL IN and then some on 12 Monkeys. And we will therefore forever and always stan Amanda Schull. When it wrapped, she parlayed her former guest starring role on Suits into a series regular gig for the final two seasons, playing Katrina until she had her name on the wall as a partner in the finale. How’s that for a mic drop?
We loved seeing her pop up again this Christmas season, starring in her second Hallmark film following 2018’s Love, Once and Always. This time, she’s playing Lucy in Project Christmas Wish, the final Hallmark Movies and Mysteries film of the year, which premieres Sunday night at 10 pm/9c.
Lucy is a beacon of light for her small town, shepherding the annual Christmas festivities–and the signature event that grants wishes to the townspeople. When Max (Averie Peters), the young daughter of widowed single father Lucas (Travis Van Winkle) wanders into her store after hearing about the promotion, and subsequently asks for her wish on air during a radio appearance, Lucy is drawn to help the family heal from their loss, and perhaps finally make peace with her own. Jeff Beesley directs a script by Joie Botkin and Anne Abramowitz Junget.
The movie filmed this fall in Winnipeg and marked Schull’s first project after the birth of her son last February–a hiatus extended by the pandemic, which made for a silver lining opportunity to spend time at home with her family. She was excited to get back to work, and after sussing out all the details of quarantining for two weeks once she crossed into Canada, she jumped right in.
This was Schull’s first time working with Van Winkle, but you wouldn’t know it. Their characters’ fractious meet-cute that turns friendly and then romantic is super fun to watch unfold. “I think Travis could probably have chemistry with a stone, like a complete enough inanimate object. He is just one of the most vibrant, kind, and generous people I’ve worked with,” she shares.
“I knew who he was. And I had friends who know him well and have worked with him, whose opinions I trust and who I knew would give me the straight scoop and no one could find a single negative thing to say about him.”
Schull loved her whole cast, and the critters. “Little Averie…I mean, how good is she? Travis and I would have to fight [to keep] her because he also was completely endeared by her. Not only is she adorable, but she also was one of the most professional actors to work with. And I think this is her first job. So that was a lot of fun as well.”
“Amy [Groening, who plays Lucy’s BFF, Joan] was adorable in person and a lot of fun to work with. I don’t want to leave her out. There were so many different dimensions to this movie. Every single day on set was totally different because we have the fun, the fun, little quirky moments [and the more serious ones. I didn’t have a lot of scenes with Lucas’s parents, so I’m excited to see those scenes, because it was really fun reading them. Those were some of my favorite scenes to read.”
“I’d never worked with a cat before. [In the scene where she’s supposed to walk away from me], she did not want to leave my side. I can’t tell you how many takes of that particular scene we did. I did my best not to distract the working cat. I do the same when I’m working with dogs. I maintain my distance. I greet them, I say hello, but I try because they get exhausted, interacting and playing. I did not do that with the horse, however. I was all over that horse. I massaged that horse. I kissed the horse. I gave that horse more affection than that horse knew what to do with.”
As the film unfolds, we discover there’s a method to Lucy’s Christmas madness, and Schull appreciated that complexity in creating her character. “It [makes her] much more human and I think there’s always a reason why people do things they do and are the way they are. And a lot of it is a completely opposite reason for that thing,” she explains.
“A lot of her pain is a reason why she gives so much, and is trying to run away from that pain. So, those things are very interwoven for her in her history and in her ambitions. And that’s probably the case for a lot of people in life.”
“I think that’s just a much more believable reason than just this person just genuinely loves Christmas. It’s not just that, there’s a reason why she does. And there’s a reason why she wants to grant people their wishes. It’s because of where she was as a child and how her community came through for her.”
When Suits wrapped its nine-season run last year, and Schull was thrilled to return. “I finished monkeys in August, and all of the ADR and everything took me a couple months more and I started Suits in the spring of the following year, so I had a little bit of time for a brain reset, but in a very different character, of course. I cried when I read that final script. I’m sure a lot of people cried because of the full circle moment for Donna and Harvey. And I was crying just selfishly for Katrina. I was her number one fan. When I read that. I started to tear up and I turned to my husband. I was like, ‘She gets her name on the wall,’ and he was [not as enthusiastic],” she laughs.
“I immediately texted [showrunner] Aaron Korsh. When we shot that scene, it was his episode. There’s a very sweet gentleman, we affectionately called ‘Stretch,’ who works on the crew, and I think has since the beginning and he had a shirt made for me and Aaron, maybe three shirts total made, with the final wall names on it. And so I had that waiting in my trailer that day when I went in to shoot that scene.”
“I did an entire series of photo shoots in front of that wall. I was like a child who ate too much candy that day. I came in the day. I started dancing around the offices. I started singing. I was literally bouncing off the walls and Aaron loved it. And then his favorite joke is he always tells people they’re fired. So he would text me throughout the entire day and then as well as months later, even still now he tells me he’s going to cut that scene.”
“I obviously loved the vulnerable side of her when she gets to reveal why she put up these walls. I loved working with Dule [Hill]. We had some fun scenes and I really loved working with Katie, Katherine Heigl. Those were a lot of fun, too. Working with Katie is really, really enjoyable.”
Schull also found time to shoot an episode of MacGuyver while 12 Monkeys creator Terry Matalas was showrunning it. “The second I read the script, I [knew] Terry’s hands were all over this character. He asked me if I would do it a week prior. And then of course, as soon as I read even her entrance, the way that it was written, [I thought], ‘Oh, Terry wrote this for me,’ and I hope that’s true and that I’m not just making that up,” she says.
“My very first day of work, I wore no makeup and was covered in blood. I was four months pregnant also, which nobody knew on set. And I took a picture of myself covered in blood. They made me look ashen and white, like I’ve just been through the ringer and Terry wrote back something like, ‘That’s my favorite way to see you.’ It was like [reverting back to] 12 Monkeys. This is exactly how we [spent] four seasons, so that makes perfect sense.”
Project Christmas Wish is the final 2020 Miracles of Christmas movie, and it premieres Sunday night at 10 pm/9c on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries and next Saturday at 9 pm /8c on W Network in Canada. Here’s a sneak peek.
Photos and Videos Courtesy of Crown Media.
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