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Once Upon a Prince

Wingman Wednesday

Jonathan Keltz

JonathanKeltzFeatured
Photo By: Brent Weber

Fresh starts and new beginnings. That’s what spring is all about. For Megan Park and Jonathan Keltz, stars of the new Hallmark Channel movie “Once Upon a Prince,” which caps off the network’s Spring Fever programming event this Saturday, that meant portraying characters in search of their own individual do-overs. Landscape architect Susanna (Park) has recently discovered she’s not in her boyfriend’s long term life plans while heir to the Cambria throne Nate (Keltz) must appease his mother and find a Cambrian bride. Serendipity brings their two lives together, but it’s love that will place them on the same path.

We recently sat down with Keltz to discuss the Hallmark Channel community, why his friends razzed his royal credit, and how producing changed his perspective.

TrunkSpace: This is your first time working with Hallmark Channel. What did you take away from the experience as a whole?
Keltz: I had a blast working on this. I was just so lucky we had such a great group that we were collaborating with. Megan Park, my co-star, is an old, old friend of mine, but we never had a chance to work together. Alex Wright, our director, and Maura (Dunbar), our producer, are really great as well. It’s just a really great energy on set. It’s such a fun little family community that they’ve got making these things, so I hope I get a chance to do more in the future.

TrunkSpace: The success of these movies hinges on the chemistry of the two leads. Do you think the fact that you and Megan knew each other allowed both of you to hit the ground running in that regard?
Keltz: Absolutely. I mean, I hope it all translates, but for us it was so nice getting to have a partner in crime that you can know and trust, and can dive in with, because these shoots are pretty quick, and pretty intense. So it’s nice to have somebody that you know you can trust, and sort of go with you through it all. It was great.

TrunkSpace: Aside from being a prince, your character is moonlighting as a public relations professional. Your mother worked in public relations, which is a kind of cool full circle scenario.
Keltz: Yeah, she did. So the character actually uses PR as a ruse. That’s sort of his cover job identity. Before she knows who he is, he says he works in PR, but then she finds out that he’s a prince, and his working title is a little bit different than the rest of us common folk. But yeah, my mom, her background, is in PR as well. She did all the publicity and PR and sort of helped in the early days of Ms. magazine, back in the day. Then she had her own PR company called Karin Lippert PR – KLPR – in New York. She did all the publicity for the “Donahue” show in its later years in New York. She’s done a lot of stuff. She’s always been involved in activism, and civil rights, and human rights as well. She works with the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in Toronto, and Democrats Abroad. She and my dad were just in Washington, marching for the March For Our Lives this past weekend.

TrunkSpace: Did you get razzed by any of your friends outside of the industry for playing a prince in “Once Upon a Prince?”
Keltz: Oh, definitely! Yeah, there was definitely a good bit of razzing and joking about it. Of course, I let them know that, “Well, maybe at some point in the movie, I become king, so they better watch what they say.” (Laughter) But no, it’s great. I’m lucky I got a nice support group both here in LA and Toronto, and some friends all over the place, that they keep you humble. They do a good job of letting you know what’s really up.

TrunkSpace: What’s great about “Once Upon a Prince” is that it’s a classic tale of love not meant to be. It’s got elements of that “Romeo and Juliet” perspective.
Keltz: Yeah, just two people who the world is trying to keep apart. The question is, whether or not they can overcome those odds. I think that since this is a Hallmark movie, the odds are in our favor, but I guess we’ll just have to see.

TrunkSpace: Why do you think Hallmark Channel continues to build its audience with movies like “Once Upon a Prince?”
Keltz: Well, I think something that is the trademark of who they are, sort of the energy with which they do all their films, and TV shows, and everything… that although there can be some dark times and dark things happening around us, people turn to entertainment to be lifted up in some way, and to escape a little bit. I think that Hallmark does a good job of bringing that warmth, and that love, and that light into people’s homes.

TrunkSpace: There’s something kind of nice about ending a story on a happy note and carrying that positive vibe with you.
Keltz: Totally. I mean, we’re all looking for our own happy ending, so I think it’s nice to get to see a few on TV.

Photo: Jonathan Keltz, Megan Park Credit: Copyright 2018 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Kailey Schwerman

TrunkSpace: You mentioned having known Megan previously. Did you two know that each other were going out for the movie or did it all just sort of happen by chance?
Keltz: No, it happened through serendipity. We hadn’t seen each other in probably seven years or so before we started shooting, so it was so nice to be able to reconnect through the film, and get a chance to catch up, and spend some time together, and reconnect.

TrunkSpace: We know that you’re also producing. When you’re working on something like “Once Upon a Prince,” which moves so quickly on the production side, do you sit back and view things with your producer’s hat on as well and apply things to your own productions and how to make them all run smoothly?
Keltz: Yeah, definitely. I think that since I’ve been doing a lot behind the camera, I can’t really not do that now. It’s something that I realized I was sort of more unconsciously doing before. Now it brings an all hands on deck mentality to the way I like to work. So if there’s anything I can help, or pitch in and do… I say the main goal whenever you’re on a production is, “How can we be the most efficient?” Because the most finite resource you’re ever dealing with is time, so how do we make use of the time and get as much as we possibly can, so that we can make this the most creative, and the most efficient project. Being able to produce and act simultaneously, I think it’s helped. They sort of helped each other out. I hope I was more help than in the way on this one. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You just wrapped your first feature film as producer, “Acquainted.” As far as experiences go, is that one that is a mix of both excitement and stress?
Keltz: Oh absolutely, yeah. I jovially say it was the single hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It was a labor of love, and I’m so fortunate just because making a movie is quite a feat, and I’m just so glad we were able to do it. We’re almost done with post-production now. It’s a group of us that are very close. It’s something that the director and I have been championing for the last three years, so I can’t wait to have it finally be done and to share it with the world.

TrunkSpace: Is it one of those things where it is both the single hardest thing you ever do, but at the same time, as soon as you’re wrapped you want to do it again?
Keltz: Absolutely. I think it’s very much the epitome of this industry, and so many of those that are in the creative arts. People ask me what I want to do with my time off, and basically by the Monday after I wrap shooting something, I’m already restless, so it doesn’t really stop. It feels like it’s a part of me.

Once Upon a Prince” airs tonight on Hallmark Channel.

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Wingman Wednesday

Megan Park

MeganParkFeatured
Photo: Megan Park Credit: Copyright 2018 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Kailey Schwerman

Fresh starts and new beginnings. That’s what spring is all about. For Megan Park and Jonathan Keltz, stars of the new Hallmark Channel movie “Once Upon a Prince,” which caps off the network’s Spring Fever programming event this Saturday, that meant portraying characters in search of their own individual do-overs. Landscape architect Susanna (Park) has recently discovered she’s not in her boyfriend’s long term life plans while heir to the Cambria throne Nate (Keltz) must appease his mother and find a Cambrian bride. Serendipity brings their two lives together, but it’s love that will place them on the same path.

We recently sat down with Park to discuss seasonal pitfalls, why she enjoys being a part of the Hallmark family, and what her pillars of happiness are.

TrunkSpace: Your new Hallmark Channel movie “Once Upon a Prince” is set to serve as the icing on the Spring Fever programming event cake. We’re located in the Boston area where spring hasn’t exactly decided to show up yet. What are some seasonal elements of this movie that will help us feel that we’re putting winter (and snow!) behind us?
Park: Brrr, I’m sorry it’s still cold in Boston! I’m in California where it feels like summer all the time so I especially appreciate the seasons and the fresh start they give people. I think springtime is super romantic and this movie perfectly captures that. The energy of new beginnings is such an exciting feeling and I think because it’s all about two people deciding to start anew, there’s so much gardening and beautiful florals in this movie, viewers will hopefully be inspired by that and forget about winter!

TrunkSpace: Hallmark Channel productions are great at putting the viewer in the spirit of a particular season, but as is the case with this movie, you shoot during a very different position on the calendar. Were there any logistical issues that the production had to overcome to help put the audience in that April showers/May flowers mindset?
Park: SO MANY! It was totally worth it but we shot the movie in Canada in the middle of the winter and this was supposed to be spring. We were dealing with rain, freezing temperatures, gale force winds all while wearing spring clothing and trying to look like we weren’t freezing. Production was great and they had heaters for us and I literally was wearing an electric heated vest with a battery pack underneath my wardrobe in half of this movie and they did wonders hiding it all!

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on numerous Hallmark Channel productions over the course of your career. What is it that keeps you coming back and working for this particular company on these particular types of productions?
Park: I always come back and work with Hallmark because it’s always such a wonderful experience. The scripts are feel-good, the stories are feel-good and that makes the viewers feel good, which I think it’s much needed in this world. Plus, the network and the executives are really amazing, smart, genuine people and I love being a part of the Hallmark family.

TrunkSpace: How did this experience differ from your previous Hallmark Channel experiences? Did the character/story put you in a position to take a different approach?
Park: I’m always playing someone different and the story is different so each experience feels totally different in a good way. This movie was really FUN. The story is such a common fantasy – you meet someone and you fall in love with who they are, their heart, and THEN you find out they are royalty. I got to just have a good time with this one and lean into the fantasy.

TrunkSpace: We recently chatted with your costar (and onscreen prince) Jonathan Keltz. He had mentioned that the two of you had known each other for years prior to reconnecting on the project. Did having that familiarity with your costar allow you to hit the ground running and find that in-story chemistry?
Park: YES! When I signed on to the movie, Jonathan was attached already and I was thrilled. It’s always fun to meet someone new but there’s something special about already having a history and built-in chemistry with someone. Jonathan and I have known each other since we were both teenagers in Canada but we hadn’t hung out in a few years so it was extra special to reconnect and there was a sense of familiarity that was really nice. He’s a wonderful person.

TrunkSpace: In the movie you play a landscape architect, which is not a profession you often see represented in film/TV. From an outside perspective, one of the things that would be fun as an actor is getting the opportunity to inhabit not only different characters but different professions as well. Did you pick up on any interesting landscape architect tidbits by playing Susanna and what are some other memorable on-screen trades that you’ve had a chance to temporarily take on?
Park: It IS fun to get to play so many “different” jobs as an actor. My mom is an amazing gardener and has a green thumb – my sister too actually! I did NOT get that gene. I have a hard time keeping a cactus alive and since we were filming in the winter in Canada all those flowers you see are FAKE everywhere (shhhhh), even tied into the trees, so I can’t say that I learned a LOT about gardening but I do appreciate it even more now.

Photo: Jonathan Keltz, Megan Park Credit: Copyright 2018 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Patrick Shaw

TrunkSpace: As far as your actual career is concerned, was acting a choice or the only choice? Was this the path you always anticipated taking?
Park: Acting chose me. I have NO idea why at six years old I was soooo determined to get the role of Gretl (von Trapp) in a local production of “Sound of Music,” but something about it all just made sense to me. I still remember that audition and then getting the role. I was totally hooked and honestly never looked back. It’s a really demanding and unique job. Lots of high highs and low lows, but it’s all I know and I really love it. I recently started writing and directing as well and it’s given me a whole new appreciation for the business and a fun different side of my brain to explore. I can see myself doing a lot more behind the scenes stuff in the future as well.

TrunkSpace: As mentioned, you’re also a writer and director, with a number of projects in the can and a number of others in development. Are you finding it increasingly more difficult to focus on your acting career as you expand upon your behind-the-scenes experience?
Park: I’m not finding it more difficult to focus on acting. I think it’s added to my knowledge and understanding as an actor. Since I started directing and writing, it’s given me a new skill set to approach a script, a scene, the way I communicate with other actors and directors. It’s more of a 360-degree understanding of the business and I think it’s helped me in front of the camera as well.

TrunkSpace: What is the ultimate dream for you, and, are you currently living it?
Park: Wow, what a question! I feel incredibly lucky to be healthy, have a partner who is my best friend and endlessly supportive family and friends I adore. I think those are the pillars of happiness for me so yes, I am living my dream. I have a LOT to be grateful for.

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you with a time machine and offered you a chance to have a glimpse at what your career will look like 10 years from now, would you take the futuristic peek?
Park: No, part of the fun is not knowing. Life unfolds as it’s supposed to and I think it’s most magical to live in the moment and not know what the future holds just yet.

Once Upon a Prince” premieres April 7 (9 pm ET/PT) on Hallmark Channel.

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