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Love Once and Always

Wingman Wednesday

Peter Porte

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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 Schull

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Times change, and in certain fictional circumstances, Amanda Schull has had a hand in it. As Dr. Cassandra Railly in the SYFY series “12 Monkeys,” the Honolulu native has been traveling through time for three season (the fourth and final kicks off later this year), doing her very best to save humanity from its own premature swan song. It’s dramatic, mind-bending television, often dark and emotional, so it’s exciting to see Schull taking a break  from the future to live in the present with Hallmark Channel’s latest movie, “Love, Once and Always,” which premieres this Saturday.

Eager to take on a playful role and banter on screen with her costar Peter Porte, the actress stars as Lucy, a London transplant who must return home to Rhode Island after learning that her beloved great aunt has passed away. With half of the family estate left to her and the other half to Duncan (Porte), son of the estate’s caretakers, a forgotten romance springs anew and takes both of them by surprise.

We recently sat down with Schull to discuss if she’s living out her dream, the beautiful experience she had working with Hallmark Channel for the first time, and why her costars think she’s having too much fun on set.

TrunkSpace: Looking at the projects that you’ve been working on over the last year or so – “12 Monkeys,” “Suits” and “Love, Once and Always” – they’re all so different. Is getting to play with that kind of project diversity a component of living out the “dream” of being a professional actor?
Schull: It is. It is a dream. I think it’s really uncommon to have a character that you can play for years and years and years and love. I think it is sort of ideal to be able to slip into somebody else’s clothes and skin, and show a whole other part of life and humanity and existence that maybe you’ve never had the opportunity to try on before. And with those three productions that you just mentioned, I couldn’t ask for three different women to get to portray, so I am very, very lucky.

TrunkSpace: It definitely feels unique to the times, too, because even just 10 or 15 years ago, it didn’t seem like performers had the opportunity to juggle a handful of characters at the same time and show so many different sides of themselves.
Schull: That’s interesting. I never really thought about that. I do know that sometimes it is challenging if you’ve been a particular character; that sometimes people feel like that’s the only character you can be and that’s the only person they can see you as. And I’ve been really, really lucky to not have run up against that, knock on wood, because I do think there are a few common threads with those three particular women you just mentioned. I think they’re all smart and strong, and I’m okay with being that. But as far as being pigeonholed into any one particular thing, I think that is frustrating for an actor as I would assume it’s frustrating maybe for any profession to only be seen as one particular thing.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, this is your first Hallmark Channel production, correct?
Schull: It is, yes.

TrunkSpace: What did you take from the experience? We’ve been told that they move pretty quickly, in an efficient way, but can still be a bit of a whirlwind.
Schull: It is a whirlwind, but it’s a very lovely whirlwind. I had a really, really beautiful experience with them. From the very beginning, from even just meeting the producers and director for dinner before we even started, it was a very open, communicative process from start to finish where everyone respected and admired everybody else’s work and ideas and concerns brought up so that it helped with the efficiency. It helped to make sure that things run smoothly and efficiently, like you said, because there isn’t a lot of time. You have three weeks to do a movie, and that can be really daunting and it can be really stressful unless everyone is really well prepared in advance. And I think that that’s something that they do well, is they prepare and then they also have people who know what they’re doing so there isn’t a lot of confusion on the day.

TrunkSpace: You probably have to be on the same page just to make it work successfully within that time frame?
Schull: Absolutely, and what was really striking to me was the script. Scripts obviously go through a lot of revisions and modifications, and my character just had a lot to say. So with each revision, I had a lot of new dialogue and it was really exciting in a daunting way. I love being presented with challenges, trying to work on all that. Just to give you an example, often men don’t always, necessarily… I don’t mean to bash men after all this. (Laughter) It sounds horrible. (Laughter) But sometimes men don’t always show up as prepared as women, and Peter Porte showed up more prepared and organized, with more ideas even with the revisions with my character, with the new notes and the new things she had to say that I had only gotten the night before. Things that would help me. If I were to say, “I’m unclear about how I’m supposed to feel about this. If you wouldn’t mind, I don’t know how she’d say this or do that.” And he had all kinds of wonderful ideas and thoughts. It was just so amazing. Talk about people showing up and being prepared and being on top of it… he was on top of it times 10, and that was just really nice to get that kind of partnership with somebody.

I’m looking at it from my own selfish perspective that he really helped me in my role because he was so amazingly prepared. (Laughter)

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

TrunkSpace: In terms of Lucy as a character, when you first took on the role, what was it that most excited you about getting to inhabit her?
Schull: I really liked being able to have the fun banter. I liked being able to play somebody who was smart and kind of quirky and playful, but also dug in her heels with things that she believed to be true and just. I hadn’t played somebody like that in awhile where it was just sort of playful, and that was really fun. And then the fact that I got to work with somebody who I had such admiration and such fun chemistry with off camera made it even more fun than I had envisioned it because getting something that’s supposed to be playful and fun could be a challenge if you don’t have that dynamic and it needs to be forced. And I can’t speak for Peter, but I loved every single second of getting to work with him. What I was excited about on the page ended up only being realized times 10 when I met and got to start working with him.

TrunkSpace: And that chemistry is such a huge factor in Hallmark Channel movies. If it’s not there, the audience can sense it.
Schull: Right. And I guess sometimes you don’t feel it. I guess there are probably ways to sneak that in. Maybe you could add music or something, but I was really lucky that I didn’t have to fake any of that with Peter, from my perspective. I can’t speak for him. (Laughter) Maybe Peter dreaded going to work every single day. (Laughter) I don’t know, but for me, I loved it.

TrunkSpace: A lot of times these types of movies focus on first loves, but in “Love, Once and Always,” the two characters already had a relationship, so that banter dynamic was probably able to thrive within the story itself because of that.
Schull: Yes, exactly. And that can be concerning that you need to establish the background in your own imagination and what their lives were like before getting on camera, and hopefully the other person has established something similar and that it’ll read similarly. From the first time I met Peter – we had dinner together before we started working and we walked back to our hotel together – and I thought, “Oh yeah, this will work! This will be great!” I was already having a ball with him.

TrunkSpace: Which kind of circles back to our first question about living out your dream. If you’re having a ball doing what you do in your career, then you’ve chosen wisely.
Schull: Yeah, that’s absolutely true. Most of the time what I do doesn’t feel like work. I do a lot of homework and I do a lot of preparation off camera and on my own time, and even that is sort of fun. It’s kind of detective work, where you’re sort of piecing things together to create a person and a human that seemed real and tangible on camera. And then you step on set so that you don’t have to work, or it doesn’t feel like work. Everything is kind of already built within you, and so it is true that it is a dream to be able to spend 12-plus hours on a set and go home and think, that didn’t feel like any time passed at all, and I enjoyed every single moment of it. And sometimes, I’ve even been told… for instance with “12 Monkeys,” Aaron Stanford, my co-star on the show, used to sometimes say to me, “Get a hold of yourself; you’re having too much fun.” And I’d love it. I really, really do enjoy what I get to do, and being surrounded by people who feel that way also is just, my God, it’s icing on the cake.

TrunkSpace: If something starts out as a love and then starts to feel like work, then it’s time to reassess things, but it sounds like you’re still enjoying yourself as much today as you were when you first started your career.
Schull: I guess there’s that really overused, lame-o expression where you find what you love and it will never feel like work, or whatever that horrible thing is. I’ve found it, I think.

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

12 Monkeys” returns to SYFY later this year.

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Wingman Wednesday

Brendan Taylor

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Photo By: Kristine Cofsky

It’s no surprise that we’re a bit obsessed with all things “Supernatural” here. Given that we have an entire section dedicated to the long-running series, it’s kind of obvious. The beauty of the show is that so many wonderful actors have passed in and out of the lives of the Winchester brothers after 13 seasons, introducing us to talents we may not have otherwise discovered. One of our recent favorites is Brendan Taylor, who as Officer Doug Stover, injected a smile-worthy dose of “aw shucks” into any given scene he was dropped into. That is until, SPOILER ALERT, he became a vampire and learned that monsters exist.

Taylor can also be seen returning to his role as Isaac in E!’s drama series “The Arrangement,” which kicks off Season 2 on March 11, as well as the Hallmark Channel movie “Love, Once and Always,” premiering this Saturday.

We recently sat down with Taylor to discuss what’s in store for Isaac this season, why there’s no fandom quite like the SPN Family, and how he transitioned from working in the art department to becoming an actor.

TrunkSpace: Season 2 of “The Arrangement” is set to kick off on March 11. What can we expect from your character Isaac this season and where will his impact be felt on the overall story arc of the season?
Taylor: Yes! So excited for season 2! Well, as we left off last season, Terence was starting to struggle with keeping Kyle and Megan under control and trying to be the face of the Institute, while still pushing forward his agenda and growing and expanding the organization. Last season Isaac helped Terence with both the Kygan situation, as well as with Terence’s personal struggles. And being a scientist, and trusting science over faith, he has some new ideas to help the Institute.

TrunkSpace: Issac is a scientist at The Institute of the Higher Mind. The series is a work of fiction, but it certainly plays up elements of Scientology that have been reported or rumored. Is Issac based on any of those “ripped from the headlines” tidbits that we may have read about?
Taylor: The Institute of the Higher Mind is a self-help organization that encourages introspection and constant self-evaluation in their members, and their variety of teachings and classes involve many different approaches to achieve this. Isaac who works for IHM goes about his job from a rational, tangible, scientific approach. His results are produced through research and testing. As opposed to Terence who approaches his teachings through belief and mindset, which is effective, but less quantifiable. So Isaac is a good balance to Terence.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, what was your approach with Isaac when you first read for him and how have those early choices impacted what you’re doing now in Season 2?
Taylor: I always played Isaac as someone who is fully aware of how smart he is, and of how much smarter he is than others. He’s often written as taking jabs at Terence, who he’s known for a long time, so I like keeping that element when playing Isaac. Friendly competition is always entertaining!

TrunkSpace: We live in a NO SPOILER ALERTS world, so it must be getting increasingly more difficult to promote a project prior to its premiere date. Is it a bit nerve-racking discussing a project and accidentally revealing details or plot points that the powers that be would not approve of?
Taylor: (Laughter) Yes, indeed it is! Finding a balance of what to say and keeping people engaged, but not saying too much can be tough! Believe me, it’s very tempting to tell you more. You’ll just have to tune in and watch.

TrunkSpace: Looking back 20 years ago, it would have been unfathomable to think that nearly every network would be seriously invested in the scripted series space. As an actor working in what many people are calling the new Golden Age of Television, is it exciting to see not only the quality of the projects being produced but the quantity?
Taylor: It’s crazy to think back 20 years ago about what we saw on TV. There is just so much to watch out there these days, and such great stuff. It’s definitely an exciting time to work as an actor. Getting on a good series is just as desirable for an actor as getting on a great film. And with all the networks and online streaming sites that produce their own content, combined with more demand for good stuff, there’s so much out there. And so much shooting in Vancouver. I’m crossing fingers for a busy year.

TrunkSpace: You’re also set to appear in the Hallmark Channel movie “Love, Once and Always.” The Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries are two of only a handful of networks that are still growing its audience. What do you think the draw is for audiences who continue to tune in week after week?
Taylor: That’s right! Such a fun shoot. Hallmark produces a consistent style of shows which are designed to appeal to a broad audience. I think there will always be a demand for wholesome, family-friendly entertainment. Sometimes we just want to watch two people fall in love, solve a crime, or share in Christmas spirit. They are always relatable, human stories that everyone can connect to.

TrunkSpace: One of the things that was a big surprise to us was that Hallmark Channel content has a rabid fandom much like genre shows. Calling themselves Hallmarkies, these loyal viewers are just as passionate as Trekkies. We know this is not your first Hallmark Channel production, so have you felt the reach of the Hallmarkies having been a part of this world before?
Taylor: (Laughter) It’s true! With social media, fans can connect and stay in touch so much easier with the content they love. I haven’t had many Hallmarkies reach out yet, but I’m ready for it!

TrunkSpace: Speaking of rabid fandoms, you’ve surely felt the reach and passion of the SPN Family. How much hell did they give you when your character Officer Doug Stover recently broke Donna’s heart?
Taylor: (Laughter) Well it’s funny you see it that way. I love the SPN Family. Such a great honor to be a part of. To be honest, I was worried about the reaction to that final scene before it aired, but it was largely hopeful, and understanding by the fans. Doug is not used to the world of monsters that Donna kept from him, and just knows a simpler life as a cop. And keep in mind, he just woke up from being a vampire for like four minutes prior. It’s pretty clear that Doug loves Donna, but it’s all pretty overwhelming. Maybe he needs to get back to a simpler life, or maybe he just needs time to process it all.

TrunkSpace: “Supernatural” seems like a rarity in the business in that an actor can guest star on the series and instantly leave their mark on the universe while also being accepted by the fan base. Was that your experience?
Taylor: Absolutely! There’s nothing else quite like the “Supernatural” fandom. It’s different from say, Trekkies or “Star Wars” fans, in the sense that it’s a frequent, linear, ongoing storyline that people can tune in to. I think it’s any actor’s dream to leave a legacy of sorts in the business, and to originate and create a character that is not just noticed, but appreciated.

TrunkSpace: You started your career in Hollywood by working in the art department on such shows as “Falling Skies” and “Supernatural.” Was acting always in the cards or did life put you on a path that you didn’t originally intend?
Taylor: My first job after college was in the art department, on the cult classic “The Wicker Man” with Nicolas Cage. From then on I made connections and kept working on other films and shows in different capacities. I found acting in high school, and was naturally gifted at it and encouraged to pursue it, but I didn’t really have the confidence or believe that it was an actual thing I could do. It was always my first love, and deep down it’s what I wanted to do. I think that’s why I kept electives in college in acting and theater, and when I was done I continued with scene study classes at smaller acting schools. And when I was working on set, I would watch the actors and talk with them. It was a great gift meeting some big stars and watching them do their thing in front of my eyes. It inspired me to pursue my dream, and I would prioritize acting class, auditions, and plays. And very slowly, NOT overnight like we often hear, it became what I do all the time. It’s just taken perseverance and unwavering dedication to get there.

TrunkSpace: Finally, we read that you are a self-taught mechanic. We always felt one of the greatest real-world skill sets a person can have is being able to change his/her own oil or swap out a set of bad brake pads. Sadly, however, we can do neither. What advice can you give us on pulling on our big boy pants and making this valuable real-world knowledge a reality?
Taylor: It’s a great skill to have. I did my first oil change on my first car when I was 16, literally by following directions in a copy of “Cars for Dummies.” I was beaming with pride, after six hours or however long it took me. You got to start somewhere, right? Nowadays, we have a glorious thing called, “The school of YouTube.” There are countless great videos and tutorials online, ranging from beginner’s jobs like oil changes and brakes to swapping engines and custom fabrication. I would suggest starting there, and if you have questions about your specific vehicle, join web forums and Facebook groups to get more info. I’ve only been able to learn what I have through those means. And I’m still learning. On that note, if you’re interested, you can check out my car’s Instagram. You heard that right, @stageathegame!

“Love, Once and Always” premieres March 10 on Hallmark Channel.

“The Arrangement” returns March 11 on E!

Featured image by: Kristine Cofsky

 

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