Best known for his father-of-the-year role in MTV’s TEEN WOLF as Sheriff Stillinski, Linden Ashby appears next in the Lifetime movie “A Daughter’s Revenge,” in which a distraught daughter clashes with her father over her mother’s death. Having carefully cultivated his recent career with unique father roles, this new film is sure to add to the perception that Linden is the father that everyone wishes they had. In an exclusive interview Linden talks about his new father role in “A Daughter’s Revenge” and reflects on how he as a dad worries about his own daughters in our increasingly uncertain world.
How did you cast in “A Daughter’s Revenge”?
LINDEN: I was working with a guy that I had worked with for years named Pierre David, who is an old friend and someone that I really love working with. So when he asked if I wanted to do it I said, “Of course.” Seriously, our agreement was that I would do this one and then I’m going to direct one later in the year. So that was a real incentive for me as well.
How do you describe your character David?
LINDEN: He is a very successful businessman. A good father and a good husband, who is misunderstood. He actually is a really. good dad. He is a good husband. It was funny, because it was one of the easiest jobs I’ve ever done. I kind of came in and just said the lines and it all work. I was like, “Alright, that worked.” I loved, loved, loved the people I worked with on this. They were great.
Who did you get to work the most with on set of the movie?
LINDEN: Jessica [Sipos]. Loved it. She’s great.
She play’s your character David’s stepdaughter?
LINDEN: Yes, she did. On our days off, we’d go go-kart racing. She’s a good driver, but I was faster than her. We shot in Ottawa and every time I shoot in Ottawa I go to this indoor go-kart track. And Jessica was like, “I want to go. I race cars.” I went, “Hell yes! Let’s go.” So we did it a couple of times and it was fun.
Do you think that helped foster the father/daughter dynamic on the movie?
LINDEN: Yes, it’s always good to get to know the person you’re working with. Especially if you’re supposed to have a intimate relationship, like father/daughter, brother/sister, husband/wife. The better you know the person, the more realistic it’s going to be and the easier it is to do. We laughed a lot. [Jessica] is really funny. You know, you look at her and she’s this beautiful blonde haired girl and she’s tough as nails. I think she was raised with a bunch of brothers and she is like, I wouldn’t want to get into a fight with her. She’s tough. She’s cool. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about her.
How are between David and his daughter? Do they have an acrimonious relationship? Or are they kind of bonded together? What’s going on?
LINDEN: Well, I think that my character is misunderstood by her. I don’t know how much I can reveal about this, but she has pretty severe emotional issues, as did her mother and she really thinks he’s responsible for a lot of things that he’s not. She becomes convinced that he’s responsible, absolutely. But he doesn’t know about this. He’s completely unaware that this is happening.
It seems like they need to communicate a little bit more.
LINDEN: No, he communicates really well with her, but she’s got a whole different thing going on, that he has no idea is going on.
Lifetime loves to make these kind of men or women in jeopardy kind of films. What do you think is the appeal? What do you think people really want out of these kinds of films?
LINDEN: I think that it’s escapism. I think they’re fun. There is a really well, kind of established formula and it’s comfortable. It’s almost like comfort food, and it’s fun, and they are good story lines and good characters. Andrea Canning wrote this one. She sees this crazy stuff, so she’s just sort of going like, “Alright, I can write scripts of this.” She’s a huge Lifetime fan. So it’s not enough to be an on air investigative reporter, because she loves Lifetime, she actually looked up Pierre David, found him and said, “I want to make movies with you. I want to write these movies.” And he was a big fan of hers and the whole thing came together. She does her daytime job, which is being incredibly successful. She’s one of the most over-achieving people that I know. She’s got a great job, incredibly successful, and then she’s like, “Okay, I’m going to write these movies, too.” Then she just goes out and writes them.
It’s like she wants to peel back the curtain on motivation, so she reports on these stories so we can better understand what makes people tick. She probably wants to get into their heads and the psychology a little bit.
LINDEN: Yes, and she absolutely loves Lifetime and the movies. She realized the movies that she really liked were done by this guy named Pierre David. Then she tracked him down. He knew her, he was a fan of her and they got together and went, “This is great. Let’s make a couple movies.” So we did that and she’s a hoot and he’s a hoot. You know, I’ve done so many of these movies with him/them it’s like my extended family. I go back and I’m like, “Hey guys, how’s it going?” I’ve been gone for like three or four years and they’re like, “Hey, what’s going on, how’s life? How’s the family?” And I’m constantly — when I’m an in an airport or something — a lady will come up to me and she’ll be like, “I love you. I wasn’t feeling well this weekend and I watched three of your movies.” It’s just, they’re fun and they’re entertaining. The good guy is pretty well-defined and the bad guy is pretty well-defined, and it’s just fun, and it’s engaging, and it’s compelling. It’s just good wholesome entertainment, except it’s not actually that wholesome.
A few years back, you also appeared in the Lifetime movie “Marry Me.” How did that come about?
LINDEN: With Susan [Walters]? Yes. That was something where I’d worked with that director before, and he knew that I was in town and he knew that Susan was in town, and they called and were like, “Hey, will you guys do this?” And we went, “Sure.” And we did.
That was just a really cute Lifetime film. It was a little off brand for them, but it was a lot of fun. I was so surprised to re-watch it and I realized you and your wife had appeared together and it was like, “Hey, that’s kind of a family affair.”
LINDEN: I know. We worked with him on the pilot of DROP DEAD DIVA.
Is there a criteria for you and your wife before deciding upon when you appear on screen together, or is it just simply timing?
LINDEN: It’s just timing. I would work with her any time I could. Especially when I’m directing something. To have her there, it’s almost as though we co-direct because she’ll see things that I don’t see and I see things that she doesn’t see. We work very well together like that.
Is she going to be working with you later this year when you direct your film?
What can you share about that project?
LINDEN: [Laughs] I don’t know, I haven’t seen the script yet. I hope it’s one of Andrea’s. I don’t know what it will be. Whatever it is, I will be happy about it.
Are you carving out a chunk of your time, like not looking into pilots right now just so you can hold that time for working on your own projects?
LINDEN: No. Pilot season is a funny season this year. It was kind of all over the place. I don’t know. It was a funny pilot season this year. Nothing that really make me go, “Oh, my gosh, I have to do that.” Now I don’t know if that was just that I didn’t get to see those projects or the ones I saw didn’t kind of “wow” me all that much.
Well you just came off a very long term project working on TEEN WOLF. Are you looking to do something for another six or seven years? Or are you kind of just wanting to do some one-off projects?
LINDEN: Both. I know that Jeff [Davis] is working on a new project. He sort of said, “What kind of part do you want to play?” So I would work with him anytime, any place. I love him. I would absolutely like another six year, seven year run.
So you’re just kind of open to whatever the universe hands you right now.
LINDEN: I am open and available to whatever the universe hands me. Yes. That’s where I’m at. It is a really cool place to be, and it’s nice to not, sort of, need to work right now. It’s: do you want to work? Do you like the project? Where are you at? So it’s a really lucky place to be.
It’s a nice comfort zone and perhaps a nice little break, particularly right now, since things are kind of shaking up in the world and you might want to stay close to home.
LINDEN: [Laughs] I don’t know what I want to do. [My daughter’s] graduating this month from law school. [My other daughter] got married a couple of years, the kids are like grown and going out into the world and being these amazingly successful and smart capable young women. I look at Susan and I go, “We did alright.” I keep telling [my daughter] that she needs to have children now because I’m ready to be a granddad. She’s like, “Yeah, tap the breaks there, speedy.”
As a father, do you worry a little bit with the climate we live in politically that it could be a HANDMAID’S TALE kind of world soon? Are you encouraging your daughters to pursue things to protect themselves against those kind of difficulties in the world?
LINDEN: I worry about the world every day. I worry about so many things. I worry about the climate. I worry about the political climate. I don’t want this to turn to a political statement interview, but I am very disturbed by the undermining of the democratic pillars of democracy in our country. The attack on the press on a daily basis is absolutely unacceptable. It’s not what our country does and that’s just sort of tipped the iceberg, as I see it. But that’s me. You know what I tell my girls, particularly Savannah because she’s just so black-and-white, she’ll be like, “I should be able to do that. I should be able to do this.” And I’m like, “yes, you should. But the reality is, your head has to be on a swivel because the veneer of civilization is paper thin, and don’t ever think that it’s not. Shit can go sideways really quickly in ways that you can’t even imagine.” I’m not comforted by things in the world right now, truthfully. So, yes, I worry about them. Of course I worry about them. I worry about them 24/7. That’s all I do. On the flip-side, they’re so capable and they’re so smart and they are such good people. Maybe they will be the ones who keep the world going in the right direction.
That is our hope.
LINDEN: I meet a lot more good people in the world than I meet bad people. I have friends that have opposite political views than I do, and they’re amazing people. It does not define who you are. It’s just a very small segment of the population that is so polarizing and so polarized and so disturbing to me. The tail is wagging the dog.
So do you find yourself wanting to look at new projects that are maybe a little bit more escapist to kind of get away from the political problems of the world?
LINDEN: Yes. I find that artists — we are the canaries in the coal mine. We start chirping when things get weird. That’s why you get THE HANDMAID’S TALE. It’s timely and it’s poignant and it’s an alarm bell. It’s the canary chirping, and you have to listen to the canary. But I find myself drawn to — especially the older I get — good writing is good writing and it’s so rare. You know it when you see it. I mean I always say: “you can screw up a good script, but you can’t make a bad script great.” And when I say something is compelling, I mean, you are compelled to keep watching and maybe think about it afterwards and maybe ask questions. But there’s also a place for escapism and comedy. We need to laugh and we need need social interaction that is not on a computer. We need to engage people in life. As soon as you do, you realize that you have a whole lot more in common than you have different. And to get out there. We’re so connected now. You go, “yeah,” but you’re not. You’re sitting in front of a little screen, you’re not out in the world. You need to get out into the world and see people and work with people and laugh with people and eat with people. I’m talking in crowds, as well. The march against gun violence was one of the most profound things that I’ve seen in my lifetime. What I loved about it is: it was kids. And these are the people who are going to be the voice of tomorrow. They are coming of age. They’ve had enough. So I went from worrying about the future to being really optimistic about the future. I just think that kids are gonna get it right, you know? It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s profoundly beautiful.
What can you offer as encouragement to the younger performers coming behind you, as to what they should be looking for as they pursue their careers?
LINDEN: “Don’t look to be famous. Look to do good work. Look to do things that matter. Know that you’re enough. And stay true.”
To see Linden’s strong performance as a father doing everything he can to look out for his family, be sure to tune in for the premiere of “A Daughter’s Revenge” on Saturday, May 12th at 10:00 p.m. on Lifetime Movie Network. For more information about the film you can follow Lifetime Movies on Twitter @LifetimeTV and check out its website at: https://www.mylifetime.com
“A Daughter’s Revenge” preview:
TEEN WOLF scene featuring Stiles and Sheriff Stillinski: