Love at the Shore

Wingman Wednesday

Peter Porte

Photo: Peter Porte Credit: Copyright 2018 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: David Dolsen

As far as leading men go, Peter Porte is checking all of the boxes. He’s handsome, he’s charismatic on screen, and according to his costar Amanda Schull, he comes to set as prepared as any actor she has ever worked with. Oh, and based on our chat with him to discuss his new Hallmark Channel movie “Love, Once and Always,” which premieres tonight, he’s also ridiculously charming. He’s basically everything our wives wish we could be, and you know what, we’re okay with that because he happens to be about as down to earth of a guy as you could find.

Like we said, checking all of the boxes.

We recently sat down with Porte to find out what keeps him excited to be working with Hallmark Channel, how he’s always contending with dogs and sheep, and why a movie like “Love, Once and Always” is exactly what the country needs right now.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on a number of Hallmark Channel projects, including two last year. What is it about these particular jobs for this particular company that keeps you coming back?
Porte: It’s a wonderful company to work for, first of all. They really take care of us all. I also think that it’s quality entertainment that you can watch with your entire family, and that’s something that I definitely stand behind. And everyone I’ve worked with has always been a pleasure and they’re always shooting at amazing locations. We shot the first one out in Savannah and the last two out in Vancouver and I got to experience that city in both the summer and winter. I got to do some hiking over the summer and some skiing over the winter. The people I’ve met on those are still friends with me to this day. It’s always a pleasure to be working with Hallmark.

TrunkSpace: So how did your character on “Love, Once and Always” differ from those you played in your previous Hallmark Channel projects?
Porte: So, in this one, rather than having a dog, I had a sheep. We had a resident sheep that stole the scenes in basically the same way that all the dogs did, so I had a counterpart to contend with, per usual. (Laughter)

But as far as character goes, it was different from the last two because both of my last two characters were fairly earnest. The challenges were more situational than with my co-star. In this one, because we were ex-lovers, there was a lot more history and a lot more tension between the two of us. This character, I think, is really funny and a bit snarky, and fun. That’s a bit of departure for Hallmark. There’s a quippy banter between the two of them, and that was really fun for me.

TrunkSpace: Did the history between the two characters help to establish that banter?
Porte: I think that was it too. It’s because of that history, there was that comfort. The writers were allowing us to be a little bit more comfortable with each other – real, in a sense.

TrunkSpace: Hallmark Channel productions tend to move very quickly. When you spend so much time, in such a short period of time, on a character, does it feel like you’re abruptly pulled out of his skin when the project wraps, just because of the nature of how fast everything goes?
Porte: Yeah, in a way. This character was a lot like myself so it wasn’t as if it was a dramatic departure that I had suddenly completed and left behind. It wasn’t too much of a challenge, but I’ve been in those positions before. I’m trying to think of one right now that was jarring to get out of after spending so much time in it, but that wasn’t the case so much with this one.

TrunkSpace: What about seasonally? Often you’re working out-of-season on what is essentially seasonal movies, so you could be filming a Christmas movie at the tail end of summer. Is it odd to jump out of calendar time like that?
Porte: Oh, yeah. That is interesting. You know, when I was up there, we didn’t see sun for three weeks straight. Vancouver gets so cloudy. I’d never spent a winter there, but they had warned me that it was very similar to Seattle or Portland. When I got there, I understood exactly what they were talking about. I love Vancouver, but I was very happy at that point to… also, I had a low-key cold the entire time we were shooting, so I was very pleased to be back in sunshine after we wrapped. Although, it didn’t take much time before I was like, “Man, I miss mountains. I miss skiing.”

TrunkSpace: The air is so different up there too.
Porte: So different! Yeah, you can almost taste the air in Vancouver, it’s so rich. It’s so clean.

TrunkSpace: We spoke about what keeps you coming back to the Hallmark Channel fold, but in your opinion what keeps viewers tuning in week after week? What is the draw for all of those Hallmarkies out there?
Porte: I think no matter what your political affiliations or viewpoints on current topics are… I mean, they’re very polarized right now and I think it’s a lot on us as a nation, individually, as families, to cope with and to deal with… and I think that Hallmark offers a wonderful escape from that. It’s super important right now. I think that we are craving that kind of, not simplicity, but… I don’t know how to describe it…

TrunkSpace: It just feels wholesome.
Porte: Yes, that’s it! It’s wholesome. It is something you watch with your entire family. It’s something that will make you feel good, time and time and time again. I think that we’re, as a nation, craving that. It’s no surprise to me that it’s doing as well as it is, and I hope it continues to because I think that’s exactly what we need right now, when it comes to entertainment. It’s the same as all these incredible action, hero movies and why they are doing so well right now. We are craving heroes. We’re craving love stories. We’re craving that the good guy wins out in the end and they get married. It makes perfect sense to me.

Photo: Amanda Schull, Peter Porte Credit: Copyright 2018 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Bettina Strauss

TrunkSpace: There is incredible television out there, but a lot of it is heavy and you carry that with you.
Porte: You take it on! You take that stuff on. I was lying in bed yesterday and I had a long, hard day. I was about to start “Mudbound” on Netflix, and I’m like, “I don’t know if I can do this.” (Laughter) And so I put on some Bill Hader and I watched “Documentary Now!”

TrunkSpace: You’ve guested on some great shows over the years and we’re curious, which one would you have liked to have stuck around longer on? What was the show and character that you wished you had more time to spend with?
Porte: That’s a good question. I reoccurred on a show called “Baby Daddy” for quite a few years. It’s a sitcom, and I love the sitcom format because it’s the closest thing that we have, I think, in film and TV, to theater, which is a big love of mine. I think that there was a lot more to be had with my character having married Bonnie Wheeler, played by Melissa Peterman. I played the grandfather on the show because I married the mother of the baby daddy. In the years I worked on that show, I made such a strong bond with so many of the cast and crew, that that could have just gone on for the next 10 years and I would have been so happy. I love that show.

I also did a guest star last year, just one day, on “New Girl.” I think that entire cast is so brilliant and funny, I would love to just hang out and watch them do their shtick.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned your love for theater. Is that still a big part of your life today?
Porte: Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s very important to me. It’s probably my first love and why I got into this business. I don’t get as much of an opportunity to do it as I’d like, but last Christmas I got to do a show at the Annenberg in Beverly Hills, with the company that I’ve been working with for the last, I think, six years now, called For The Record. We did “Love Actually” live in concert. We performed the entire movie of “Love Actually,” but then all of the amazing songs that are within the movie, we also sang.

TrunkSpace: It’s a great soundtrack.
Porte: Oh, such a good soundtrack. We had 25 people in the cast, and I played Hugh Grant’s role, the prime minister. We had Steve Kazee, who won the Tony for “Once,” in it. It was amazing. It was six performances, and we’re hoping that it comes back next year in a larger capacity. But as long as I get in at least one or two of those in a year, I’m pretty satiated, I’m pretty happy. I love it, and I do miss it. I wish I could be doing more of it.

Love, Once and Always” airs tonight (9 p.m. ET/PT) on Hallmark Channel.

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Wingman Wednesday

Amanda Righetti

AmandaRighetti_WingWomen_wednesday (1)

As we melt into the dog days of summer and the dread of a winter to come chills us to our sun-loving core, the Hallmark Channel is here to help us embrace what we all wish could be an evergreen season filled with the accumulation of beachfront memories. “Love at the Shore” is the network’s latest foray into seasonal programming and stars Amanda Righetti, an actress who has impressed in everything she has appeared in, including memorable roles in “Colony” and “The Mentalist.”

In slipping into the shoes of her character Jenna, Righetti was excited to step away from the heaviness of her previous roles and spend time with the lighthearted, emotionally-driven storytelling of “Love at the Shore.” Working in television over the years prepared her for the ambitious 15-day shoot, much of which became reliant on the cooperation of Mother Nature. (Thankfully the weather was mostly agreeable!)

We recently sat down with Righetti to discuss cinematic escapism, transitioning from modeling to acting, and if Jason Voorhees is as scary as a broken heart.

TrunkSpace: Hallmark is probably best known for their holiday movies, but they’re actually really great at painting the feelings and emotions of all seasons. With that in mind, what makes “Love at the Shore” a summer movie in terms of painting those feelings and those emotions?
Righetti: Well, Jenna is a novelist. She rents this summer home for her kids to go to. She’s still licking her wounds from a divorce and hasn’t really figured out quite how to move on. It hits her in a very unexpected way. There’s something very juvenile about the way she falls for Lucas (Peter Porte). It’s met with a very adamant, “No, I don’t like him. I don’t have time for relationships.” Sometimes, love doesn’t have bounds. It finds us sometimes in really unexpected places. That’s kind of part of her journey, just relaxing and letting go of control. She trying not to be as neurotic about things and allowing somebody to care for her. Especially considering the tumultuous relationship she has come from.

Nobody expects any marriage to end when they go into it, so there was a certain aspect of sheltering herself and trying to protect herself. That all gets kind of cracked open. It opens her eyes to a new avenue. There’s something really lovely about that journey, and I think everybody can kind of relate to it.

TrunkSpace: Most Hallmark movies end on a happily ever after note, a theme that is actually not common in a lot of other film and television projects these days. Is part of the allure of Hallmark films a sort of a welcomed escapism for people who feel like they’re tapping into a simpler, less chaotic time?
Righetti: Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s so much heaviness on TV that just the idea of escapism, that you don’t have to worry about death and upheaval at the end, there’s something kind of refreshing about it. I think sometimes we need that. We need to be able to tune everything out and not fret about what’s going to happen tomorrow or what’s even happening today.

I think there’s some merit to that. I think we need that sometimes as an audience. Hallmark seems to have that genre pegged.

TrunkSpace: You started your career as a model. Was acting always a part of the plan?
Righetti: Yeah, it’s funny because I actually fell into modeling by way of trying to get into acting, and I guess in some ways I got derailed for a few years by doing the modeling thing, but eventually came back to it. At the age that I started, there was a lot of legal things that would have had to happen, emancipation and things like that. Modeling bought me time until I was 18 and I just could start pursuing it full time.

I wasn’t quite sure even when I did start getting into acting if that was the avenue I was going to go and then I saw myself really falling in love with it. I started to not see myself doing anything else. It clicked for me in a way that I went, “This is it. There’s nothing else I want to do.”

TrunkSpace: Once you had established yourself as a model, did you have to work your way out of the perception of being a model who wanted to act?
Righetti: Yeah, I think that’s what even happens now. I think sometimes it can be tricky. It sounds so cliché, but it’s the “pretty girl syndrome.” You feel like you have to prove that you’re not just a pretty face. That there’s more behind it. I was lucky in the sense that the modeling stuff for me happened all overseas. I haven’t done any domestic modeling, so I wasn’t really fighting against being in some Tommy Hilfiger campaign or something like that, going in, and they’d be like, “Oh wait, aren’t you the face of…?”

Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Marc Lemoine

It wasn’t like that for me. It was a little bit different. I was doing the Japanese markets and things like that. They were sort of once removed. They kind of never coincided and crossed over with each other in that way. It wasn’t so much about fighting against the modeling as much as it was just fighting against, “Look, I’m more than a pretty face.” I never really brought the modeling into the acting that way, in terms of trying to sell myself.

TrunkSpace: You mention fighting against the pretty face syndrome. Does that also apply to the types of roles you would get offered and read for?
Righetti: Yes, absolutely.

TrunkSpace: Has that changed at all in recent years? Are there more interesting roles for women now than there were when you started your career?
Righetti: Yeah. I think even as I’ve sort of grown up in the business a little bit and because I’ve been doing it for more than a decade, the rules change, too. As you get older, you enter your mid-20s, roles are different than they are when you’re in your late teens. And even into your late 20s or early 30s the roles are a lot different. It seems like things are sort of shifting in the direction of more female-driven characters and female-driven shows. That’s exciting, and really, it’s an exciting time to be part of the business in that way. To be able to explore stuff that usually, many years ago, would have been a male playing certain roles… they’ve started to see things differently and I think audiences want to see something different too. It really lends itself to great opportunity.

TrunkSpace: It feels like the time of “desired demographics” is going to fall to the wayside and good content will just be good content.
Righetti: Well, I think people are open to that. It doesn’t matter what the role is, as long as it’s interesting and you can get behind it and you can find an audience for it. Sometimes people don’t know what they want, they just know what they don’t want. If we can present interesting characters, even if they’re female, it still is worth watching. It’s all opportunity. I think it’s exciting. It’s a great shift and I’m really pleased to see that it’s finally starting to swing in that direction.

TrunkSpace: Looking back, is there any advice you would give to your teenaged self in terms of lessons you’ve learned and wish you could have avoided?
Righetti: (Laughter) That’s a loaded question.

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) It’s a heavy question.
Righetti: Wow, you know… the list could go on and on, or it couldn’t, because I don’t know that I would change anything.

I would say to my younger self to believe and don’t doubt. “Just go for it.” I struggled with a lot of self doubt as a teenager and trying to figure out what I was going to do with my career. I think that would have been a good piece of advice to have known in my heart at that time.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular project that you learned the most from, not only in terms of the industry but in terms of yourself and your abilities as an actress?
Righetti: Each one I’ve learned something from that unexpectedly, I didn’t really know I would have learned. But, I think that the one I take the most pride in is “Colony.” It was really wonderful to be part of such a collaborative, creative team. And to also be surrounded with such generous and talented actors. The character that they wrote gave me an ability to see so many different colors in a character. I really appreciated that. It exceeded my expectations.

Every project sort of exceeded my expectations in some regard. We didn’t think “The Mentalist” was ever going to do seven seasons. That really exceeded expectations. I never thought that I would learn how to fire a gun or do tactical takedowns and things like that, but there I was and I did. Even going back, “The O.C.” was a huge learning experience for me. I got to work with people that I grew up watching. It was a wonderful experience and those actors were all very generous as well, and very warm and loving. I was a kid. I didn’t know what I was doing and they were all just really lovely to me.

Every project has had its moments of unexpected pleasant surprises. I think most recently “Colony” was really the one that I learned the most from and I think I grew the most through. It could be just the time of my life too, I don’t know.

Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Marc Lemoine

TrunkSpace: You mentioned “The Mentalist.” You did seven seasons and 132 episodes of that show. It must be interesting to watch a character grow and learn over a long period of time as you yourself are also growing and learning?
Righetti: Yes, absolutely. That’s a really neat thing, looking back. I think I was 24 or 25 when I started that show. I really came into my own as a woman in that show. I had a child when I was doing that show. My life changed a lot. The character was so naive and she kind of came into her own. She went through a lot of things. It’s neat just to see. It’s like the old adage, does art imitate life or life imitate art? “The Mentalist” definitely had certain aspects of that.

TrunkSpace: Finally, we have to ask… who is a better on-screen antagonist. A broken heart, which you deal with in “Love at the Shore,” or Jason Voorhees, who you dealt with in the “Friday the 13th remake? It seems like both can be pretty hard on a person.
Righetti: (Laughter) Yeah, both can be hard on a person. I think you can be chased by Jason Voorhees and have a broken heart at the same time. (Laughter)

“Love at the Shore” premieres Saturday on the Hallmark Channel.

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