I sat staring at my screen, hoping that I wasn’t making a fool of myself. I was living a pinch me moment, one that I wasn’t about to take for granted.
Hallmark has been an important part of many peoples lives for years; especially through the pandemic. For me, it’s been one of the staples of my life in the past few years. I’ve seen several people say the same thing – that Hallmark got them through the pandemic, that Hallmark was there when no one else was, that Hallmark helped them find their friends, and that list goes on and on.
But one important thing to note is that part of that is because of the actors that Hallmark has in their movies and television shows. They reach people and make them feel seen. Their kindness at conventions stay with them. The way they interact inspires.
And so when I had said to some people in the Facebook groups and in DM’s that I was interviewing these two actors – Brendan Penny and Erin Krakow – I wasn’t inundated with questions, but rather compliments and things that they wanted to say.
Please tell them that I love their movies. Please tell them they got me through some rough times. Please tell them I love their movies. Please tell them they were so nice to me when I met them and it meant the world to me.
Here I was, staring at these two gems on my computer screen and I was terrified that I was going to say the wrong thing. I am terrified but it takes seconds before I can breathe and I embrace my pinch me moment.
From the moment Brendan hops on, he’s laughing and at ease, making jokes and I am laughing. Erin enters a few seconds after him and you can’t help but be instantly put at ease with the sound of her voice. She’s calm and asking questions, trying to get to know a little about me and the angle I am taking.
I had an idea, but when you talk to these two, everything took a mind of its own. Because these two have a way of guiding you. They are like Target, you don’t go with a list, it tells you what you need.
The two are starring the The Wedding Cottage which airs tonight (4/15) on The Hallmark Channel. They star as Evan and Vanessa, and in it, “a wedding guide creator must convince an uninspired artist and owner of a special wedding cottage to renovate the run down cottage to host a contest winning couple for their dream wedding.”
Because The Wedding Cottage is different than the movies that they’ve done before. Then again, all of The Hallmark Channel‘s Spring Into Love lineup are different for the channel. They’ve taken a more modern approach to their films is what I would normally say, but I like how Brendan put it when I asked them both about the changes that Hallmark is taking and how it affects the story.
“I agree. I do feel that it was a lot more contemporary, I think just in the character’s opinions and just the different characters and how they’re represented in the movie feels [laughs] just a bit more tangible of what people are these days,” he said.
He continued, “I do think that it is an important move for Hallmark, which they have been doing very gracefully and a lot over the past couple of years is to, as humans and as viewers, we always evolve and you can only have a certain amount of the same so to try to take a step in that right direction, I think they’ve done that very well to include a lot of the same actors they’re using, but in a new light and as all the fans get to see that, so I think that’s really good.”
Erin added, “I can say for my character, Vanessa, I know that she was quite literally going through the experience of, she wrote the book on wedding planning, and then she was finding a way to move into the more digital world, building this website, making it accessible to people all over the place and really expanding her brand. That feels the most obvious to me in terms of modernization, but I also thought it was just a very contemporary, accessible love story and there was a lot of respect for these two people following their dreams, going after their careers. It wasn’t necessarily the story of a woman giving up a career in order to follow love, it was a situation where she really got to have both of those loves in her life so that felt modern to me.”
They both were saying what I didn’t know how to say and putting it so beautifully. The two were laughing and smiling with each other. Honestly, I could sit and watch their banter for hours. To be honest, I have seen many people in life fake that they get along, but with these two, I don’t doubt that there is a genuine friendship.
When I asked about why they wanted to do the movie Brendan said, “Two main things. First off, a good friend of mine who is the director, Terry Ingram, who I’ve worked with a lot, I was talking to him recently before Christmas, and he said he was gearing up to do one and I said, ‘Oh, well, see if you can put me forward. I’d love to work with you again.’ Then I called my agent and then she talked to Hallmark, and we all arranged that. Number one, anything that Terry shoots is going to be good.”
Erin couldn’t have agreed more with Brendan about Terry. You could tell just how much that Brendan respected Terry, it was endearing. The two of them couldn’t sing enough praises, which I couldn’t help but appreciate.
Brendan continued, “It’s a fact. He’s so smart and he’s easy to work with. When you’re doing these quick three-week movies, you’re in a pressure cooker and you don’t have time. As Erin knows, you don’t have time to make mistakes or to goof around. Erin was always super prepared and behind the scenes. If you mess up a take, you have another, you don’t have that luxury of having 5, 6, 7 takes and the directors don’t have that luxury of not knowing exactly what they want to do or being able to work on the fly.”
And then the started, “Terry was the number one reason I was super excited, and then I’ve been trying to work with Erin for a long time and she’s been dodging me and dodging me.”
All three of us started to laugh, and I found myself acting shocked and saying, “Erin!”
She smiled and laughed at us both. Brendan continued, “I have wanted to work with Erin for a long time, so Terry and Erin, I didn’t really– to be honest, I didn’t really care what the script was to have an opportunity to work with them. I knew it was going to be absolutely great and it was, but the script was also awesome so it was just an all-around win.”
“Dodging him, Erin? Shame. Shame,” I said obviously joking.
“I can assure you I was not dodging Brendan Penny. The Brendan Penny who would dodge?” she laughed. She turns to speaking to Brendan and says, “You’re very funny, but you’re also just the most generous human being, that was so kind of you to say thank you.”
The banter and just the genuine appreciation between Erin and Brendan is sending me so much joy. It’s the kind of friendship that you’d want to have with anyone. The two are filled with humor, sarcasm, and wit.
I sat staring at them both, watching their body language and facial expressions, lost for a second on what to ask next. You know how when you’re people watching, you make up those stories in your head about who they could be? Or maybe it’s just a game that my friends and I play while sitting in The Meadow at Central Park.
I didn’t need to make up any stories about who they were, because I had a feeling that they were just being themselves. They were just being genuine and themselves, which were the types of people that anyone wants to be friends with.
I thought back to the first movie or television show of each of theirs that I watched. For Brendan, I remembered seeing him back in 2010 in The Assistants. For Erin, I remembered watching her every week on Army Wives. I was trying to keep my cool as I wanted to be like, I used to watch you on such and such.
I remembered watching The Assistants and saying I would never want to be an assistant and now that’s exactly what I do for an author/producer. I remembered watching Army Wives and thinking I would never be able to join the military but I had such respect for the career.
I wanted to tell them both that the roles that they have chosen in their lives make a difference to people. The roles that they chose make an impression. The roles that they have chosen have been art that have given people hope, laughter, and joy.
The Wedding Cottage included.
In the movie, Erin’s character, Vanessa, plays a wedding guide creator who has launched a contest to give a deserving couple the wedding of their dreams. Watching the movie all I could think of when it came to her was that line in The Wedding Planner where Jennifer Lopez’s character says, “Those who can’t do, teach, and those who can’t wed, plan.”
I wondered if that was a snap judgement of Vanessa, if she was really that closed off to love and Erin had the most eloquent answer. She began, “No. There’s a scene– I think it’s a scene where we’re picking wildflowers together, where Vanessa opens up a little bit about her previous relationships and how she was just super focused on work and she had very high expectations for these men that she dated and they just couldn’t meet those expectations. I don’t know, I think at the end of the day, she was passionate about her career and that’s where her focus was. Also she probably just didn’t meet the right guy yet.”
She continued, “Then she meets Evan and it’s like, “Oh, the cloud’s open.” She’s able to let her guard down and be– it’s not like they get married in this movie, but a relationship forms.”
We’re interrupted, in the best way by Brendan’s dog climbing up next to him and Erin and I both are staring at the dog. Who doesn’t love a dog in an interview moment? I sure as hell do.
After learning a little about Vanessa, I wanted to know more about Evan. In the movie, Evan seems so guarded and really cranky. Uninspired artist doesn’t really just capture all of his, well closed off-ness. What was it about Vanessa that made Evan open to the possibilities?
“I believe that Evan is guarded because he has that tortured artist feeling. All of his early art was rebelling against society, against the government, against being a voice for those who don’t have a voice through his art, and as much as I do, I think that that’s important in life,” Brendan said, “I think that we do need that, but it can wear you out. I think that if you’re just always being cynical or always fighting, then eventually you just become that. I think that’s what he became. He got pigeonholed into that vision. Then when this very lovely yet slightly annoying woman comes into his life, the character take it easy trait-” Brendan answered.
Erin chimed in, “Sure.”
He continued, “-comes into his life at first. It’s not something that he is open to, and yet he is in Vermont at the wedding cottage to take a bigger breath, to take time, and to really see the beauty. I think that the beauty that shines through Erin and the way that she played Vanessa, is a very easy way to knock anyone’s walls down. I think that’s exactly what happened.”
I couldn’t help but stop to think and I found myself spitting out, “You two are each other’s best hype men. I swear.”
“That was so nice. Thank you. There’s a lot of mutual care and admiration here. This is going to be a very mushy interview for you,” Erin says in reply.
I was okay with that. I was okay with whatever came my way. That’s the thing about interviews, you have to always be open to the possibilities. After all, I lived my whole life being told that I would never have moments where I would be able to have moments like this – where I would be interviewing celebrities.
Possibilities and pinch me moments are everything.
The Wedding Cottage airs tonight on The Hallmark Channel. Part two of this interview will come out tomorrow.