[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Saturday night on Hallmark Channel and W Network, Andrea Brooks and Marcus Rosner reunite for Romance to the Rescue. The romcom written by Barbara Kymlycka and directed by Heather Hawthorn-Doyle is set against a dog rescue story about a woman who adopts a dog for all the wrong reasons and comes to appreciate the commitment involved, and the rescuer who showed her the way.
Kyra (Brooks) is the buyer for an organic grocer who lives her life by a series of lists and when the seemingly perfect match for her wish list for Mr. Right (Nathan Witte) arrives at work and expresses an interest in a colleague and her dog, she tells a spur-of-the-moment lie about her own agility wonderdog, who doesn’t exist.
Committed to her list and afraid to walk it back, she makes the case to rescuer Kevin (Rosner) for adopting a surrendered Border Collie named Sam (Nova). Pretty soon her priorities and her lists change but there’s still the OG lie in play that has to be resolved. Lessons are learned and love is found in the process. This week I chatted with Rosner about the project.
“This is the third time [Andrea and I] worked together. The first thing was the second season of When Calls the Heart, where we were both playing characters from the very controversial Hamilton arc, and obviously Andrea stuck around,” he recalls.
“We were trying to remember if we had ever actually had a scene together. And I think we determined that we didn’t, but a few years later on a Hallmark movie called A Harvest Wedding, we got married in supporting roles. There’s this picture circulating everywhere on the Internet that we took on one of those days and I think it has led people to believe that we may be married in real life.”
“[For this project], I assume that she was cast first and then I was brought on after. I don’t know if any consideration was taken into the fact that we knew each other and had been paired up before. As soon as I found out it was with Andrea, I was excited because I love Andrea. She’s an incredibly intelligent person and fabulously hardworking actress and it was as fun as I expected it to be. We had a great time.”
Rosner has shared his fitness journey on social media but he gives props to Nova for the athleticism involved in the agility work in the film. “I wish I had the agility of one of those Border Collies. They’re true athletes. They were unbelievably impressive animals. I grew up around a bunch of Border Collies. I was familiar with how intelligent they were but I’d seen them doing agility or anything like that,” he shares.
“And not just agility, but just acting in the film. The trainer would be there on set and she’d be standing just off camera and we’d go through our blocking and movement for whatever the scene entailed and then the trainer would just pay attention, watch to see what the dog would need to do and then Nova would be walked through like a 60-second teaching process for where she needed to land and where she needed to go, what she needed to do. And then she’d be rewarded with the treat and then be able to replicate that for the next hour as we shot the scene. And it was incredible.”
Although much wasn’t physically required of Rosner in the agility scenes, he did enjoy filming them. “The most fun stuff to shoot for me was the agility stuff. There are so many different sequences throughout the film when we’re doing agility-type things, whether it’s just a few cones or an extended miniature setup of the agility course in my backyard,” he says.
“And then, of course, culminating at the end with the actual show and just getting to run in the grass and have this awesome dog with you. You get so used to hitting your mark and saying your line. So just being able to have that free range of space as an athlete was something I really enjoyed.”
Alongside his acting career, Rosner has also started producing films. “I essentially got to a point doing these movies of the week after so many years where I felt like I knew how they were made. I knew the formula. I knew the shooting schedule. I knew all those kinds of things,” he shares.
“And I was in a fortunate position after so many years to just be a career actor. And the life of an actor is one is filled with with large gaps of time where you would normally insert hobbies and interests and in lieu of those, I felt like I was twiddling my thumbs waiting for the phone to ring, not in as much control of my career as I wanted to be, and also underutilizing the potential that I had.”
“I long wanted to follow a dream to bring film and television back to my hometown, where I had never seen anything filming growing up. I didn’t even know access to this industry was an option. Everybody from where I’m from either works on an oil field or they get into some sort of trade or they become a hockey player. Now I go back to my hometown, I speak to the drama students, and I try to tell them that this can happen because I did it. I came from here.”
“But what I really want to do is bring projects to the city that they can possibly work on, that they can just see a bunch of movie trailers down the street and just spark that flame, spark that interest that this might be something that a creative kid from Sherwood Park, Alberta can have access to.”
“And so that was my goal. And over the last couple years, I’ve partnered with my producing partner, Dylan Pierce, who was with Northern Gateway films and I’ve fallen in with them and we’ve been bringing movies to the city and we made our first one together, Christmas with a Crown early in the pandemic. And then we just finished final post-production on From Italy with Amore [network TBD to air later this year]. And we’re looking at filming another two films this summer in Edmonton in July and August.”
Rosner was recently invited to share his multi-hyphenate expertise as a guest lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin. “That was a real treat. Professor Amanda Russell, who’s a marketing professor at UT Austin, reached out to me last fall. She had seen that I had done both acting and transitioned into producing and she was interested in having me come speak to her class,” he explains.
“She was bringing a bunch of industry professionals in various industries to describe how they’ve used whatever influence that they have in one field to transition into another and expand their career in that way.”
Next month, you can catch a totally different side of Rosner in Prime Video’s My Fake Boyfriend, which premieres June 15th. “It was produced by the brand new Buzzfeed Studio in a partnership with Lionsgate Films. It’s an LGBTQ romantic comedy that stars Keiynan Lonsdale in the lead role and Sarah Hyland from Modern Family and Dylan Sprouse,” he points out.
“It’s about a stuntman who is in a toxic relationship with the star of the hit TV series that he works on and I play the star of the show and Keenan plays the stuntman. And his two best friends played by Sarah and Dylan want to get him to break up with me and create this fake online persona and say that he is dating this new person.”
“Overnight, that person becomes the most famous person in the world, but he only exists on social media. I play just the worst person alive. And he’s hopefully a delightfully awful character. It was completely just insane and crazy and over the top and I loved it.”
If you take a stroll through Rosner’s social media, you’ll get a fun travelogue of photography from his New Year’s Eve destination wedding in Guatemala. “My wife and I have long been huge fans of adventure travel. We loved the feeling of going to a place for the first time and just the moment to moment. When you go to a brand new land and you’re in a completely new culture, you just absorb everything in such a heightened way. And you remember everything so distinctly,” he says.
“We wanted to go to a place to get married that we had never been. And we wanted to utilize the opportunity to take all of our loved ones, all of our friends and family, to experience the exact same sort of thing with us. We knew we wanted to do it in a tropical location. And we didn’t want to do it in Canada, the States or Mexico, but we also wanted to make it manageably close enough for friends and family to fly there. Guatemala is directly south of Mexico and then we just found these incredible ruins online where other people had been married and they were built in the 1600s.”
“They collapsed in a series of earthquakes and now they sort of lay in these rustic jungle ruins. So we rented out one of those, hired a local wedding planner and local vendors and honestly had just an unbelievable wedding. I look at the pictures now and I’m like, ‘Whose crazy wedding was that?’ The people that were managing us and doing the photo videos outnumbered the people in the photos.”
Romance to the Rescue premieres Saturday at 8 pm/7c on Hallmark Channel in the US and W Network in Canada. Here’s a sneak peek. Rosner will be live Tweeting the East Coast feed alongside Brooks and Hawthorn-Doyle.
Photos and videos courtesy of Crown Media.
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