In the new Hallmark Channel film SUMMER LOVE, Lucas Bryant (Syfy’s HAVEN) co-stars with Rachel Leigh Cook (TNT’s PERCEPTION) and Travis Milne (ABC’s ROOKIE BLUE), in which a delightful love triangle develops between two corporate executives a newly-hired summer intern. Co-written by Sandra Berg and Judith Berg (who previously worked with executive producer Beth Grossbard and Harvey Kahn on Hallmark Channel’s LOVE ON THE SIDELINES), their latest film SUMMER LOVE promises to be another joyous look at the magical intersection of work place romance. In an exclusive interview, Lucas Bryant previews the SUMMER LOVE shenanigans as well as his upcoming Canadian television series SHOOT THE MESSENGER.
You are starring in a new summer movie on Hallmark Channel called SUMMER LOVE. What can share about who your character is and how he relates to the other characters, played by Rachel Leigh Cook and Travis Milne?
LUCAS: I play this guy Colin who is the CFO of a very hot tech company called Talker. Colin is the sort of is the button down half of the duo. Travis is Will who’s this sort of wild and creative founder of the company. So he gets to have a lot more fun. I’m a little less of a weirdo, and my counterpart is played by Rachael Leigh Cook, becomes an intern at the company for the summer and she has a lasting effect on Colin, shall we say.
This your third Hallmark movie, isn’t it? What draws you to all the Hallmark films?
LUCAS: [Laughs] Technically, yes. What drew me to it? Well, I worked with Lynne Stopkewich, who’s the director before. She directed some of HAVEN and the two of us really got on, and I liked her a lot and knowing that she was doing this, I knew it was going to be something a little weird. It’s definitely a Hallmark piece and in their world and wheelhouse, so we all know sort of what to expect from that, but I knew that this especially was going to put her stamp on it and the script was really beautiful, funny and I was excited to do a little bit of that. I’m sort of a straight guy, but there is a bunch of innate comedy in this piece. I’ve only seen little bits of it though. What I’ve seen so far I thought was hilarious. I really enjoyed it.
Was this your first project working with Rachel Leigh Cook and Travis Milne?
LUCAS: It was, yeah, and I got along totally amazingly with both of them. They were fun, funny, easy and wanted to do something really kind of cool. And I think we did.
Travis posted a bunch of pictures of you and him on his Instagram. It looked totally fun.
LUCAS: [Laughs] Travis is a monster. The guy is hilarious. Ridiculously hilarious. We got along really well. I was so, so happy that I met those two. I got a couple new friends now to add to my collection.
In addition to your work with Hallmark, you’ve been awfully busy working on your new series SHOOT THE MESSENGER.
LUCAS: Yeah, that’s coming out in October. Hopefully it’ll make its way down [to the U.S.] somehow.
Can you talk a little about that experience? I don’t know how you even find time to do three Hallmark movies, let alone work on a TV series right now.
LUCAS: Well, it all seems like they’re coming out together, but SHOOT THE MESSENGER we shot a while ago. I’ve been waiting to see that. I guess it’s about a year ago now that we started shooting that. I started shooting that series right after my son was born. Actually the start date for SHOOT THE MESSENGER was supposed to be my son’s due date. So that was a little nerve-wracking when I found out that those two things were coinciding. But Sudz [Sutherland] and Jen [Holness], who are the creative team behind SHOOT THE MESSENGER, are not only super talented people, but they’re lovely human beings. They are married and they have a family and they were totally understanding and supportive in that situation. So they pushed production for a week to give me a chance to be there for the birth. And they blocked my stuff out so nicely to allow me to travel back and forth and spend as much time with my newborn son as possible. That’s not a common thing. So I was hugely appreciative and it was a crazy three months. There was a lot happening in my life suddenly all at the same time. But it worked out beautifully. It was a really, really cool shoot, a really cool show and I hope it lands well with the viewers because I’d love to do more of it.
From the previews I’ve seen, SHOOT THE MESSENGER looks pretty gripping. It’s a very timely topic and with such a rich cast. It’s a perfect cocktail of everything you could want in a prestige drama right now.
LUCAS: Absolutely. Really, really cool people. Great performers. That was something that attracted me to it — how topical it was. It’s not based on [anything specific], but it definitely is inspired by all sorts of true events that people in and around Toronto will probably recognize. And is something that you don’t see on television that often. We spent a lot of time with a storyline that involves a Somali community in Toronto and that is some powerful stuff. The lead character Daisy, played by Elyse Levesque, is just a fantastic, strong, unbroken and ambitious and lovely, headstrong and totally problematic character. I thought Elyse did an incredible job. I think people are going to know her name, if they don’t already.
Elyse is known for her work on THE ORIGINALS and STARGATE UNIVERSE, and she appeared in Hallmark’s series CEDAR COVE, as well. Then Alex Kingston — gosh, that’s like working with like a genre god.
LUCAS: [Laughs] Oh my god, I know! And she is just incredible. The sweetest, lovely person. Hilarious and just everything you would want someone of her caliber to be. She was just amazing.
Since it’s coming out this Fall, what can you share about SHOOT THE MESSENGER?
LUCAS: It’s part of the CBC’s more recent push to do really sort of edgy programming. Something that Sudz and Jen did were to use the U.K. or European model of writing a number of scripts in advance and having the whole series ready to go before we started shooting,. So, in that way, they enabled themselves to have a really specific vision and tone and voice for the show and to not get — you know, so often you start a show you shoot the pilot and then you get someone to buy it and you’re getting network notes and input from all sorts of places all along the way — and that’s not to say that people didn’t have input to give to them, but they knew the show they were getting into. They knew the show that they were getting when they ordered it. So it didn’t change along the way. It didn’t become something different. It didn’t have to search around to find itself, like a lot of new shows do.
Is SHOOT THE MESSENGER supposed to be a limited event series, with like a bookended beginning and end, or is it a show that can go multiple seasons?
LUCAS: At this point it’s an 8-episode story that can live on its own. But, ideally yes, it would have more seasons and there will be more new stories. I mean the show starts off with Daisy stumbling into a case of intrigue and corruption and conspiracy that every episode sort of gets deeper and more twisted. And by the end, it is the story is told but the background where it all takes place is ripe for all sorts of beer possibilities.
You don’t always like to play a straight guy in the sense that “what you see is what you get” and you want to play something where there’s an extra layer to the character. Is there a surprise or the twist with your character?
LUCAS: [Laughs] So what are you saying? You’re saying I’m a weirdo?
No, but I say you’re attracted to “unusual” roles.
LUCAS: Yeah. Thank you for that. What’s the twist with my SHOOT THE MESSENGER character? You know, it’s interesting. He is a bit of a straight guy, this guy, but he is sort of inspired by and attracted to Daisy. And that makes him question all sorts of things that he is and that he thought he knew.
So he’s kind of willing to be seduced by the darker side of things because he wants to believe in her.
LUCAS: [Laughs] Absolutely, yes.
Are you able to work on anything else right now or are you all tied up waiting on SHOOT THE MESSENGER?
LUCAS: No, I’m not tied up. I mean I’m tied up in some sense but, if you’ve got a good job for me, I’ll strongly consider it.
And don’t I wish I had one! No, seriously, you so to be keeping busy with the birth of your son and all these Hallmark roles.
LUCAS: Sure. I want to work as much as possible, but I guess that’s always the challenge now — balancing work with the more important role of having a family, being a dad, being a husband.
Is that a challenge?
LUCAS: Yeah, it is. It is. And the older I get, the older my kids get and the more tricky it becomes.
As you’re becoming a more seasoned actor, what is a kind of the perk that you found in reaching this point in your career?
LUCAS: That’s a good question. I guess, just now, it is about challenging myself. I don’t question so much whether I’m able or deserving of being a working actor — although I do have those questions all the time — but now it’s about really finding varied characters that I can really explore and have fun doing a wide variety of things.
Would you want to do more comedy or are you just drawn to drama roles?
LUCAS: I’m drawn to all of them. I want to do the whole thing. I want to do like dark, awful, weird, dramatic stuff and I want to do big, crazy, physical comedy stuff. I want to do anything and everything. I think that’s what excites me is: to always do something new.
You must miss a bit of HAVEN then because it allowed you kind of to balance a bit of the drama with the comedy on a fairly regular basis.
LUCAS: Totally. I do miss HAVEN. I miss those people, although I am still in touch with them and get to see them. But I don’t get to see all the Nova Scotian crew and I do miss them all the time. They’re amazing people.
And playing Nathan Wuornos was a really rich role for you.
LUCAS: It was. I got to play different characters. I got to exist in different times. I got to be put through different all sorts of insane supernatural experiences. The love story, comedy stuff, drama, weird sci-fi stuff. Yeah, it was everything.
HAVEN was just honored at the Saturn Awards this year. That was a fairly big achievement for the show, which is pretty cool.
LUCAS: Yeah, that was very cool. It was really nice to be recognized by that and to get together with those people again and toast ourselves.
For having achieved five seasons, that is pretty extraordinary for a sci-fi series.
LUCAS: It was indeed. It was a long run and that is something that is not common at all, as you know.
Television shows run a lot shorter these days. So the life expectancy of any show is much shorter. Just kind of revisiting SUMMER LOVE , how would you like to tease that for people that are going to be tuning in to watch the hopefully a romance that might be developing for your character Colin?
LUCAS: Yeah, like I said, I’ve seen about ten minutes of it when I did ADR the other day and I thought it looked fantastic. I was beyond pleased with what I saw. So I’m definitely going to be watching when it comes out. It’s a really fun little script. With Hallmark films you can sometimes know what you’re going to get. You know what you can expect and I think that this one is has done a really nice heartfelt comedic twist to it. Lynne [Stopkewich] really put her stamp on it and I think Rachael [Leigh Cook] gives a great performance. Then Travis is hilarious. And I’m just standing there.
It’s cool that you’re entering this Hallmark Channel world because there is a really devoted fan base for all their films and their TV series. Plus, it is always great to have that kind of warmth on television. We do not always get to see that very much on screen.
LUCAS: It’s absolutely true and that’s one of the things that I really enjoyed about it. These are troubled times. Well, I guess it’s always troubled times in this big old world of ours, but the older I get the more I’m appreciating and understanding people who say things like, “I want my entertainment to be entertaining.” To know that my kids can be in the living room while I’m watching it and I’m not going to have to quickly turn it off or explain some awful thing to them — I mean this is really good, kindhearted fun for everyone and you can’t argue with the need for that these days.
Definitely. We all need something that kind of makes us feel better about the world we live in, because it’s not all bad. It just feels that way at times.
LUCAS: Exactly. It certainly is not all bad.
And Hallmark’s done that. They’ve created a world that feels a little bit warmer and welcoming and safer, which is kind of what we all look for. It’s great you’re able to explore that a little bit more — and we get to see you more frequently. That’s always fun!
LUCAS: [Laughs] True. I love how they have embraced me in that world and I am fully willing to continue being embraced.
Colin Ferguson who you worked with on HAVEN has, of course, played a little bit in the Hallmark Channel world as well, and that’s been a lot of fun.
LUCAS: See, my character’s name is Colin Fitzgerald. So he was sort of my spirit animal. I tried to get them to change the name to Colin Ferguson, and they considered it for a minute, but then they decided they didn’t think that I should be making any of the decisions regarding the film.
Any chance you channeled a little bit of Colin Ferguson on screen for your Colin Fitzgerald character? If so, that’s going to be really hilarious.
LUCAS: [Laughs] Yeah, sure. That’s what we do. He’s out there channeling me and I’m just out there trying to represent him in the best light possible.
Oh my gosh, you guys could start a comedy skit with that! That would be hysterical!
LUCAS: I would love to.
To see just what kinds of mischievous fun Lucas gets into in his new film SUMMER LOVE, be sure to tune in for the premiere on the Hallmark Channel on Saturday, August 20th at 9:00 p.m. (Then for Canadian viewers, look for Lucas’ new drama series SHOOT THE MESSENGER coming later this Fall.)