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Interviews

Kimberley Sustad Previews To All a Good Night 

Kimberley Sustad Previews To All a Good Night

[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]

Thursday night on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Kimberley Sustad is back for a more heartfelt Christmas drama than last year’s tandem comedies, Lights, Camera, Christmas and Three Wise Men and a Baby (which she co-wrote with Paul Campbell — and they received a Leo Award for, and in which she cameos). This time around, she’s starring opposite Virgin River‘s Mark Ghanimé in To All a Good Night, brought to you by producer Antonio Cupo, writer Betsy Morris, and director Andy Mikita, who collaborated on Guiding Emily in September. 

In the film, Sustad is Ceci, a photographer who runs her own studio, teaches photography to the local kids, and strings for the local paper. She and her stepmother, Vivian (Karen Kruper), own a pristine section of coastal woodland that’s been the annual centerpiece to the town’s Christmas festivities, inviting residents to light live trees and donate o the community. This year, the celebration has gone dark as the women mourn the passing of Ceci’s dad. 

Ceci’s plan to have a low-key Christmas gets derailed when Ghanimé’s character, Sam, a real estate developer, rides into town after receiving a mysterious letter and promptly crashes his motorcycle in the woods. Ceci witnesses it and comes to his aid but doesn’t identify herself. Thus begins a ruse as they circle each other in plain sight and spend time together as he tries to figure out who saved him and she tries to figure out why he’d be scouting her family’s land. 

To All A Good Night

Alongside that, the quaint town is populated with a wonderful who’s who of familiar Hallmark faces, including Luisa d’Oliveira as Ceci’s BFF and local reporter Penny, Alison Araya as Abigail, the owner of a B and B and a kleptomaniac dog, Barbara Pollard as Mrs Rogers, whose shed is said dog’s hideout, Leanne Lapp as Sam’s cousin, Ella, Greg Rogers as his dad, Otto, and Barbara Wallace and John Innes as the Bensons, who are among the benefactors for the now-cancelled festival. I would 100 percent watch a weekly show with these actors joining Sustad and Ghanimé as the characters in this town.

Yesterday, I had the chance to catch up with Sustad on the film, the just-released extended version of Three Wise Men and a Baby, and her first foray to a Christmas Con this past summer in Kansas City. Sustad intentionally chose a more serious holiday project this year to balance out the pair of 2022 comedies. “This year, it sort of felt good to [do a film that was] a lot more sentimental and more of a romance than I would say a rom-com, dealing with loss and all of that kind of stuff. I thought it would be great to try a little Hallmark Movies & Mysteries this time,” she says.

The film was not just a change of pace; it was also a change of place, shooting in Victoria, BC, and taking advantage of the area’s natural beauty and picturesque towns. “[While] it was set at Christmas time, we weren’t doing a lot of Christmas activities. We were outside a lot. And that was a first for me with these movies. I feel like I wore a jacket through the entire movie. We were outside, or she was just constantly coming and going. So there was no cookie making or anything like that. It really just focused on the story,” she explains.

In the film, there are two pivotal, literal watershed moments as Ceci learns more about both Vivian and about the letter that brought Sam to town. “[Karen] is a really great actress, and human. She is really lovely. I’ve had the chance to work with her a couple of times. I think the last one was Wedding Every Weekend. She brought so much to that scene and addressed that she’s not great at vulnerability,” Sustad recalls.

To All A Good Night

“[Vivian] was in the Navy and it’s [about] keeping your head up and doing things systematically and not letting yourself get bogged down in the emotion. She played that really well, and I thought  getting that information from her [was cathartic for both of them].”

“I thought Mark did such an incredible job reciting the letter. That scene was so hard to sit through because it was just so emotionally charged and it was really authentic for both of us. And I think when you find yourself in a moment like that, you’re not working at all. You are really just sitting in the moment and feeling it.”

“I was trying so hard not to cry. I was trying to push it down. But it was so really well written and Mark just brought such a great performance to that, and these moments where the two of them dropped everything, dropped all the facades and were just themselves [were so special].”

Sustad enjoyed the ensemble aspect of the film, as well. “I love that the town was her family. And I loved how they all knew each other and looked out for one another and let her play this out, this keeping her identity from this strange man. But I also pictured them having conversations with each other like, ‘Just let them fall in love in their own time. It is gonna be really great for her,’” she laughs.

To All A Good Night

“This cute, really precious community and how they all come together. I think what we all want in our life is that sense of belonging and community. All these unique people in the town were such a big part of this movie and their own love stories and how they got together [could populate a series].”

“And to go and have this bonfire with Christmas lights and everybody decorating Christmas trees on Christmas Eve with all of your community. I wish that was a reality for me. And all the kids playing. What an incredible thing that you can sometimes find in small towns.”

Sustad is keeping busy between acting and writing for the Hallmark networks, and she’s careful to maintain that distinction when she’s hired to act. “I really try to put that aside when I am an actor, and tell the story as best I can and respect what is there. I’m really trying to have that delicate balance because I really enjoy writing and I don’t wanna let that step on other writers, so I just try to kind of compartmentalize a little bit,” she says.

“I love starring in these movies, and I love writing them, and I’m in a really fortunate place right now where they’re allowing me to do all of that. And so it’s keeping that relationship healthy and doing my job as an actor, but not [veering into writing] unless I’m asked. When I first read this script, I thought it was really well done.”

To All A Good Night

“I just thought it was a lovely way to play out that romance. And I don’t think we’ve ever had a meet cute like that before, with a motorcycle accident. We’re not bumping into each other with coffee or spilling something.”

“There were a lot of really unique things about this script that I think were really well done. Even the elephant theme, at Christmas time, I [wondered], How’s that gonna go?’ But it’s going. It’s [similar] to A Godwink Christmas. It has that sort of slowness, but also really fun humor as well. It has that same kind of feeling.”

Sustad joins Andrew Walker, Tyler Hynes, and Paul Campbell in appreciating the new release of Three Wise Men and a Baby, which restored some of the scenes she and Campbell had written and that were filmed but were cut for time. “It’s always sad to see parts of your script, and parts of the story go. They did an incredible job with the first version and the way that they put that together. But to be able to have people see the full version of it feels very satisfying,” she explains.

“I forgot about some of those scenes and watching them recently, [I remembered] cute moments. Or, the scene where Tyler comes into Stefan’s place. And he obviously hadn’t been there for a long time, or they hadn’t sat down in a moment for a long time as brothers. We wrote that [to show that] they need each other.”

Three Wise Men and a Baby

“And it’s hard to say that, it’s hard to be vulnerable. And we did it with humor, which we like to do with most things. I loved that scene, even though there’s not a lot said, it’s subtle. To speak to the distance between them and where they travel through this experience with the baby is really profound. A situation in your life can bring you closer together or rip you apart for a time. And for these boys, I think it did a little bit of both. It was really great to remember that, and for it to be in there now.”

Last weekend Sustad attended the Martini Studios Hallmark fan event in Vancouver, and this weekend she’ll be in New Jersey for Christmas Con. Last June, she was part of the contingent that made the trip to Hallmark’s mothership in Kansas City for that city’s inaugural Christmas Con, and she says it was extremely impactful to visit and experience the seat of the network. 

“I can’t believe it’s taken us this long to get out to the Kansas City headquarters. And it was really incredible to be toured around by Don Hall himself, who gave a history of what they’ve been doing for a hundred years, and their values and the things that are important to them at Hallmark Cards, and how these movies are an extension of that,” she shares.

“It was really incredible to [realize] ‘Wow, I’m a part of that,’ but also, this company, this network comes from them, and they really do know what they’re all about. They have a very strong sense of identity, and they’re really good at it. And it’s really important to them, and it matters all the way to the top.”

“If I wasn’t bought in on what these movies do for people, I sure was after Kansas City. [At the convention], it was the first time for me to meet everybody face to face and hear what these movies mean to the fans and hear a lot of their own personal stories. You make these movies and sometimes you don’t understand or realize the impact that they have.”

“It’s just a very beautiful human experience and connection at these conferences, which I hadn’t realized. So it’s not just about taking pictures; it’s really just hearing about what people are going through and how particular movies helped them through a certain circumstance or a season in their life. It was really special.”

To All A Good Night

“[This weekend], I’m looking forward to being with my Hallmark family and just connecting with the fans. I hear it’s really super charged at the New Jersey Christmas Con, that there are a lot of people, but it’s mostly, one person at a time. So it’ll be really great to have that experience and hear from people on how these movies have impacted them and what’s going on in their lives. And I’ve not been to New York at Christmas time, so I’m looking forward to that as well.”

To All a Good Night premieres Thursday, December 7th, at 8 pm/7c on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries and streaming on multiple outlets in the U.S. and W Network in Canada, and will repeat throughout the holidays. Here are a couple of sneak peeks.

Photos courtesy of Bettina Strauss/Hallmark Media; video courtesy of Hallmark Media.

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4 Comments

  1. Karen Kruper

    Heather! What a beautifully written and heartfelt piece. Thank you! And thanks for being such an avid follower. I’m glad to have found you!

  2. Heather M

    Thank you for reading, Karen! You’re so good in all the things, and so good as Vivian!

  3. Barb

    I agree,
    Your an awesome reporter!🙂
    You told us who played Ella,
    The cousin!🙂🙂🙂👍👍👍
    All the others left her out of the credits!☹
    Even Imbd!☹
    Your review was the best i ever saw on any series or movie!🙂🙂
    Merry Christmas🎄
    & Happy New Year!🎆

    1. Heather M

      Thank you! Thank you for reading!

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