Mark Deklin stars with Catherine Bell in Meet Me at Christmas, airing tonight on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
Mark has made a nice side gig for himself with Hallmark, starring in some of it's most memorable movies.
You know him best from GCB, Lone Star, Devious Maids, and Designated Survivor, but he has a lot of very fun roles under his belt.
Mark has always seemed like a kind and adventurous guy, and that works very well on his behalf with his character in Meet Me at Christmas, Beau.
Mark said, "From my perspective as Beau, Beau is a very cool guy. He lives this very adventurous life. He's a world renowned travel and nature photographer. One of those National Geographic type guys who... Like a Jimmy Chin, one of those guys you'll see on the side of Mount Everest, or Machu Picchu or one of those cool exotic places.
"And I don't want to deal in any spoilers, but in the movie we find out there's something that's been driving him to do this. To live his life in this sort of adventurous, make every day count, make no two days the same, see the world. He's really driven to do this. And it's cool, but it hasn't given him a lot of time to settle down and find love."
Visiting Colorado for his niece's wedding, he uses that adventurous nature to spring into action when the wedding planner skips out for another event. That's when he gets to know Joan, mother of the groom, Liam. Together, they decide to give the bride, Katie, and groom a wedding to remember.
If Beau is adventurous and worldly, Joan is the opposite, putting her life on hold to care for her family.
Joan and Liam lost one of the most important people in their lives when her husband died, and having the wedding in Colorado is an ode to him and the love he shared with Joan, at a very special location signifying the great love of their lives.
Mark said, "And then Katie's parents, my little brother and his wife, are also going to help. But they get stuck in a snow storm, so they can't get there in time.
So it's really just Joan and Beau putting on this wedding. Which leads to some moments of levity, because Beau has no idea what he's doing. And because Beau really doesn't have Christmas spirit.
It's a common theme in Christmas movies to lose the spirit of the holiday, but Beau's reason isn't attributed to his successful career, although it is part of a throughline leading back to his youth and his own relationship with the location of the wedding.
Mark often plays men with a healthy wit and a heart of gold, and Beau is no different. Joan and Beau begin to form a friendship. "And it's interesting, they sort of irritate each other, but they also amuse one another. And a lot of relationships start out that way. Or continue that way, where you butt heads, but you also like each other.
And they have a very different view of life but they both begin to realize that they can learn a little something from the other's view of life. And then they discover that they share a common event from their childhood.
And Beau begins to feel like he really begins to believe in fate. And he begins to feel like, 'I was meant to be here. And I was meant to meet this woman.' And he starts opening up his heart and being sort of willing to see what might happen."
Joan's loyalty to her deceased husband and her desire not to tarnish Liam's memories of his father put a little kink into their budding friendship, but, Beau understands all this and he's respectful of all this, but they still, in spite of themselves, they begin to fall for one another.
And so, it's a story of second chances. And it's a bit of a sliding doors thing, what might've been. And then what we get a second chance to re-examine. And I think it's a beautiful story. I think it's really beautifully rendered. I think there were some wonderful performances all around from the large roles to the small roles."
Mark was absolutely thrilled with the environment on set. It reunited him with a former co-star, and he found working with Catherine Bell to be very delightful, as well.
"We really worked in a similar way. We were very much in the same page from day one. Which really made me happy.
"And also we had in common our producer, Jennifer Aspen. She and Catherine are old friends. They've known each other for years and years and years. They're very dear friends. And Jen and I were castmates on GCB.
"So when I got the call I was really flattered. Honestly with the pandemic and everything, I I had sort of resigned to the fact that I wasn't going to be doing a lot of acting this year. And I was fine with that.
"I have a side business installing gardens, and we were very busy. And I just sort of wrapped my head around the idea that, 'I'm not going to be an actor this year and that's okay. Things will pick up again next year.'
So I got this call and Jen said, it was so lovely. She said, 'There was never anybody else that I had in mind for this. You were always my first choice for this role.' And so that was really lovely. And she had a sense that Catherine and I would really hit it off. And she was right."
Mark is impressed with the speed at which Hallmark movies are filmed, especially given the quality of the productions. He just finished final loop last week, and I've already seen a locked cut.
"I'm very pleased with what I saw, and I'm very proud of this movie. I think it's really lovely. And it was just a nice feeling on set all around. Shooting now with all the COVID protocols is a little strange. And so I think we all had the sense of like, 'Wow, we're in this strange, new normal together. So let's all be in this together.' And that felt really good."
When I complimented him on a particular scene from the movie that hit beautifully, Mark said, "That's great. Because it did feel good when we shot it, but sometimes you just don't know. Sometimes there are scenes you shoot and you don't think much of it.
"You're like, 'Yeah, whatever I did my job.' And then it renders really beautifully on film. And then other times you feel like, 'Oh, I acted my butt off. We were so good.' And then you see the scene and you're like, 'Yeah. It's okay.' So I'm glad that translated."
While the film took three weeks to shoot, there was a much bigger investment when it comes to the talent and production staff because of the new normal we're seeing as a result of COVID-19.
That meant a long time apart from loved ones, and as a family man, that did sting a little for Mark.
"That was the hardest part about it. I had a great time up there. And homesickness aside, it was a lovely experience. But the homesickness is real. It's three weeks, but I had to quarantine for two weeks when I arrived."
That's something he takes seriously, and Mark usually caps his filming schedule at three weeks so he doesn't miss time with his family. But even with the three weeks away, he often gets to visit family midway through the production. With stricter protocols, those days are gone.
"So I was away for five weeks, which was really hard. Just as a husband, as a dad, that's hard. I just don't like it. They were fine by the way, my family was perfectly fine without me," Mark laughed.
"In a way that's part of what's hard. When you're away and you realize like, 'Oh, life goes on without me.' That hurts. But it should. It's right. I mean, I'm glad their life wasn't disrupted. I'm glad they were still having fun.
"And during quarantine, I didn't feel as disconnected. Usually when you're shooting and you're putting in long hours, you feel very disconnected because you're not in the same time zone. Your schedule's crazy. But during the quarantine, my time was my own.
"So I was really productive. I was doing yoga every day and working out and meditating. And I was cooking, and I was writing, and reading and watching movies. So that was all delightful. But I also was able to connect with my kids anytime I wanted to.
"So my son could FaceTime me, and we could play a video game. We could play Roblox together online for half an hour. So that was fun. Or my father-in-law would FaceTime when my daughter had a softball game.
"I'm one of the assistant coaches, so I was really sad to be missing chunks of her little league. But my father-in-law would FaceTime me, and I would watch her whole game in real time. So it was hard to be away, but it was doable."
And don't mistake anything that Mark said as a complaint. He realizes the good fortune he has to be considered an essential worker, to be given the opportunity to work while others do not have the same luxury.
He almost felt guilty about being labeled as such, but I reminded him how much we need entertainment more than ever, as their work brings happiness to so many who are struggling to find it these days.
"People want some holiday cheer, they want some escape. And they also just, at a very practical level, they want new content. Production was shut down for what eight months or whatever. So the fact that there there's new stuff being made, people are excited about that."
While he's delivering holiday cheer to us via Meet Me at Christmas, his own holiday plans are a little more up in the air. With older family members and the kids back in school part time, they're being mindful of the current situation and playing it by ear.
"One of the things we've learned during this whole lockdown thing is that we're really grateful to be together. That's the main thing. And the other thing we've been so impressed and proud of is our kids resilience.
"I'm happy to say both of my kids have handled this new reality really gracefully. Not all the time, obviously. But for the most part, I've been really impressed with them. And that's a nice feeling. So this year, the holiday is going to be different obviously, but it will be cool. We'll make the most of it."
And if you follow Mark on social media, you know he actively engages on Twitter, but he's on an even keel. His feed is upbeat and thoughtful.
"I curate very carefully. I'm very thoughtful about what I post. I post about my kids, but I don't post my kids. Our personal life is our personal life. And I like to keep it that way."
But Mark also cherishes some of the friendships he's made online. "But I have some really, really nice people who follow me. Really respectful people who make nice comments, but don't cross boundaries. And who are just sweet kind people. And it's nice to connect with them."
So keep connecting with Mark, and get on board with a moving new holiday movie, Meet Me at Christmas.
It's' airing tonight, Saturday, November 14, at 10/9c only on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.