After last year’s successful debut of “Summer of Dreams,”follows the romantic journey of Noah ( ) and Debbie Taylor (Debbie Gibson) in the film “ .” In an exclusive interview, talks about reprising the role of Noah opposite pop star Debbie Gibson and how he has fallen under the Hallmark spell with its heart-warming films — which seems to have infused a bit of “magic” into his own life.
How did you get connected with this particular role as Noah and co-starring with Debbie Gibson in both “Summer Of Dreams” and “
ROBERT: Actually, I’m not exactly sure of the specifics, but I’m thinking it started when, many years ago, I met Debbie on a red carpet. We were both performing at a show that was a fundraiser. We had a mutual act instructor from way back and I was taking the pictures on the press side. And all of a sudden, there’s Debbie and she just throws herself in my arms and into a dip.
That was my first time meeting Debbie and I have this picture of me dipping her. We just sort of connected and clicked right off the bat. I would sort of just run into her randomly every number of years or whatever, and then I just got this call one day from my agent saying, “So would you be interested in playing the love interest to Debbie Gibson?” I went, “Oh my gosh, I love Debbie! Wonderful!” I mean, I’m like, “I rarely talk to her, we don’t even like know each other all that well, but we had that connection on the red carpet all those years ago.”
So I think it had to do with conversations they were having and when my name came up, she thought, “Oh yes, it’s Robert.” So we knew of each other and blinded each other, sort of, from afar. And so we got to dig right in and become friends and have this wonderful journey creating these characters together.
It is very special and it does feel like there is a connection. That’s probably what we’re seeing — some of that natural warmth between the two of you.
ROBERT: It really is. It’s funny. A big part is casting. Like the script can be amazing or terrible or it can be all the best components. But really what can make or break it is what kind of connection do the people have who are bringing those characters to life. That really can make the difference, in one way or another. We just always click. People always say, “You guys have such great chemistry!” But it’s just such a fun thing. We have a blast together. We really do. We definitely have great conversations and I think it does kind of just shine through.
It made for a sweet film and it was exciting to see when Hallmark announced the second film. How did it feel for you to hear about the second film with Debbie?
ROBERT: I was so excited. We had talked about it. Debbie’s always got such wonderful ideas. Not that it was ever planned really, it was just more envisioning and having the idea. She would occasionally mention, “Well, there is talk about this sequel,” to keep me in the loop that there were conversations going on because I think the first film had done really well and had great turnout for the network and her fans really loved it.
I think Hallmark’s wonderful. They do so many fantastic movies and series. And one of the things that added another little layer in was it did have that sort of true life factor mixed in, which I thought was a cool combination, to what they already do so well. I think it just kind of gave it another air.
You’re right. It is smart that Hallmark creates these projects specifically for certain people and then they weave in pieces of what their lives are like. It makes it so much more interesting.
ROBERT: Yeah, because you’re dealing with real circumstances that are interwoven into the fiction. I think it just makes it that much more grounded and that much more intricate and, yeah, it’s exciting. Exciting for fans.
It certainly gives a like a sense of warmth, like Debbie is kind of welcoming her fans into just a little glimpse into her world.
ROBERT: Yep. And it works in all the Hallmark “magic.” My family couldn’t be more thrilled. They love Hallmark, and they adore Debbie. It’s been really fun to share our adventures making this picture.
What do you like about your character Noah in the films?
ROBERT: I really appreciate that one of the ongoing dynamics of this film is that they are sort of coming form opposite sides of the fence, in a way. Debbie’s coming sort of from the big city and being onstage and living this more expansive life. And Noah, while he had kind of a city experience, has really chosen the simpler, more down home — not on the stage — kind of experience. And they meet and connect and then this journey becomes a lot about: how do they get to keep all the love and all the wonderful things that they share? And then meet somewhere in the middle of these two different worlds that they come from. These two different places — they are both important to each of them.
As for Noah, I love that he’s just a grounded, a real good guy. I was particularly happy with the way that they devised the proposal scene. When I walked in and saw all those candles and rose petals, I thought, “Well done, guys, very well done!”
It was so romantic!
ROBERT: It was. Noah did a good job in this one. I appreciate that he pays attention to the details. I think he’s a little more nuanced a character in that it’s a bit of a journey to find that balance — to find that middle place in love and romance — when things can feel like they’re such opposing forces. And I like that he’s, as a guidance counselor, he had a sort of a depth too. He had some deeper levels and layers of understanding.
I think in the first film, he even kind of played counselor to Debbie a little bit as she was walking through some challenges. This time, Noah is a the one who encourages her, “I know you’re used to being the one who’s just being right, but you need to actually speak up and say what you need here.” So I just appreciated how he stays grounded and a good guy. Yet he’s clearly having some of his own struggles here. He feels human and real and I love that they share that they both want to help kids.
I think that’s a really cool place they meet and have common ground. And I love that while she has to really thread wanting that stage and wanting that part of her life, yet also really wanting this other experience, and I think that Noah like a “rock.” He can represent that foundation for her.
They both communicate really well and they tell each other things. I think that’s important.
ROBERT: Definitely. Communication is, without a doubt, the key in relationships and in any relationship.
It turned out to be such a lovely film, and it felt like the writers had worked with you guys intimately to kind of figure out what would work for you in these characters. So, it feels very natural, like we’re looking through a window into these people’s lives, which is very special.
ROBERT: Yep. And then I love that it just feels like there are lot of layers. It feels like there’s a lot that Hallmark “magic.” I feel like it really has a nice depth to it. One of the nice things that I think with Hallmark has been the nature of the conflict is a lot different than in a lot of other programming out there and I think that’s one of the reasons that people love it so much. You do want to express that conflict in a way that still is in keeping with the world of Hallmark. Because viewers come to expect a really essential product when they tune in— so we really work to make the conflict as real and as grounded as possible so that people would be more drawn to it.
It certainly grabs your attention and makes you feel invested with and you’re rooting for the characters.
ROBERT: Yeah. One of the things I love also in Hallmark films is so many of the sets are just idyllic. Whether it’s being in this cake shop, it was just picturesque — with these neighborhoods that are picturesque and all the ways they decorate. Like the way they did the proposal scene, for example, or the wedding scene. It was all just so beautifully done. They really handled it very well. It’s always makes it really a treat to bein that world.
Do you feel that “magic” when you’re filming?
ROBERT: I do. I think that the ambience of the set, the coordination, and the settings that are very specifically chosen to express that Hallmark “magic,” and you can definitely feel it. It’s so much fun. I really love it. And getting to work with such great folks — Pascale [Hutton] and all the rest of the cast have been just wonderful.
There are some very talented younger performers as well that it was nice to see return from the first film
ROBERT: They really are. I was glad to get to have some of the ones come back, although a couple of them technically are a year older now.
It is also great to see Debbie sing in “Wedding of Dreams” as well.
ROBERT: I certainly appreciated Debbie’s music when I was younger. So I had this really surreal experience when we shot that reception scene and she calls [Noah] up on stage and is serenading [him/me] with love in her eyes. It was totally like, “Is this really happening?” So surreal.
And what’s great is I have this little video that I did when the cameras were facing the other direction. I took a little video of her performing, and she is such a pro. Over and over and over again, you can tell she has done so much stage work and it’s just a treat to get to watch a real pro-performer work like that — particularly, when you’re just with your friend. You’re like, “Oh right!” I completely forgot that I was working with somebody who plays the piano so beautifully and sings so beautifully. It completely goes out of my mind when we’re just like hanging out, having fun making this movie. So that was a really surreal moment.
And you were being serenaded by a world superstar.
ROBERT: Exactly. So it was a real treat and I am very grateful to be a part of it. Hopefully, if it goes well, maybe we’ll get to do our “honeymoon in Paris.” Debbie’s already started joking about it, so you never know. It could happen. For years, my mom would say, “All that stuff is great, but can you do a Hallmark movie?” I’m saying that for years I’ve heard this, and no matter how high profile or whoever I get to work with, all I hear is, “Do you think you can try to get into a Hallmark movie?” Because my mom really wants me to do a Hallmark Christmas movie.
That’s really the dream. But when I told her that I was gonna be in a Hallmark movie, she was like, “What? Are you kidding?” So it just brings infinite joy to my family that I’m on their favorite network. So I’m really grateful to get to be a part of it and, hopefully, I’ll get to play on it some more.
To watch the continuation of the romantic journey of Noah and Debbieas they plan their “Wedding of Dreams,” be sure to tune in for the premiere on Saturday, September 8th at 9:00 p.m. on Hallmark Channel. Fans can also join in with the live-tweet of the show during both the East Coast and West Coast airings by following @HallmarkChannel on Twitter. Then to find out what is next in Robert’s professional journey, you can follow him on Twitter @RobertGant.
“Wedding of Dreams” preview: