We have already talked with Andrew Walker about Christmas Tree Lane, and now we’re joyful to share our dialog with government producer and star, Alicia Witt.
In our interview, Alicia talks about how she bought within the story that she took to Hallmark, why she enjoys filming vacation motion pictures, and what impressed her to put in writing an unique music for Christmas Tree Lane.
You should definitely tune into Hallmark Motion pictures & Mysteries tonight at 9/8c to catch this pleasant movie.
I’ve to let you know that A Very Merry Combine-Up is one among my favourite Hallmark Christmas motion pictures. And you are the second individual I’ve talked to as we speak whose motion pictures I actually get pleasure from. So I am questioning for those who might inform me just a little bit about why you get pleasure from being part of the Hallmark Christmas celebration.
I stay up for making my annual Hallmark Christmas film all yr lengthy. A Very Merry Combine-Up, I do not know if you realize or not, however it was truly the primary Christmas film that I had made. And after I first filmed it, I did not even know that it was going to air on Hallmark.
It was a type of movies that was this lovable, unique, simply form of quirky script that I fell totally in love with, and particularly as a result of it has that meant to be, destiny type of factor to it, which is one thing very expensive to my very own coronary heart.
Once I was requested to make that film, it was a simple factor to say sure to. And the truth that it ended up changing into a film that is performed so many, many instances over time and has meant a lot to so many individuals is greater than I ever might have wished for, and it implies that a lot to me too. The filming of it was magical, like there was some type of-
Oh, it was. It felt that technique to all of us on set too. It was pure pleasure in a means that almost all motion pictures simply do not feel, simply because as a lot enjoyable as making motion pictures is, it’s also, how do you say, numerous exhausting work. You already know? This film felt like magic.
The entire solid bonded with one another in a means that I believe was uncommon, and there was a levity and I do not know what else to name it, aside from Christmas magic.
That is the way it felt as we had been making it. We even had snow flurries on the very first day of capturing, and it was in April. In order that’s felt form of uncommon. We filmed it exterior of Toronto. So even for April, you do not usually have snow that point of yr.
Yeah, I can bear in mind watching it for the primary time when it aired and considering, “Wow.” That is an instance of a film, the place it was an exquisite script, it was a joyous expertise to movie it. And hey, the film itself turned out higher than I might have even imagined on high of all that. So only a win, win, win.
After which as if that wasn’t sufficient, I’d say that of all the films I’ve made since, that’s nonetheless the film that individuals point out probably the most ceaselessly. And it is positively nonetheless my favourite, simply because it was the primary.
And I did not know but on the time what it meant or what it could imply to be a part of the Hallmark Christmas household and to exit into the world all yr spherical at this level and have folks come as much as me on the airport or wherever I’m and share with me what these motion pictures have meant to them at such a sacred time of the yr.
Quite a lot of the remainder of the stuff I do, for no matter cause, I are inclined to play numerous villains or people who find themselves just a little loopy, on the market. And I like doing that. I like these roles as a result of it actually stretches my chops as an actor.
And it is why I grew to become an actor within the first place, to get to play a lot of completely different sorts of characters, however it’s heavier materials.
And it is such a pleasure and such a factor to stay up for, realizing that every year, no less than, I get to inform these tales that hopefully assist us restore our religion within the goodness of humanity and what’s most essential.
And to have a contented ending that you simply’re working in the direction of in these movies, it provides you numerous levity as an actor to not need to go to a heavy place when you’re making them.
And I perceive you took the story of Christmas Tree Lane to Hallmark.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Sure, I did.
What’s it about that story specifically spoke to you?
So a couple of years again, I used to be working exterior of St. Louis, and I stumbled throughout this superb avenue referred to as Cherokee Avenue, which is similar to what Christmas Tree Lane is within the film. It is full of mom-and-pop classic shops and eating places and music shops.
And it is not the bustling hotspot, or no less than it wasn’t then, that you would inform it had been in years passed by, and among the companies had been vacant. And it began me listening to comparable streets and comparable tales.
And we have had various conditions, together with RCA Studio A, right here in Nashville, that was practically torn down as a result of the studio was housed in a really ordinary-looking constructing, a two-story constructing that was owned by another person.
They usually selected to promote, and the customer was going to tear it down and construct condominiums. So there was a complete uproar, and it is historic. It is the place Dolly Parton recorded Jolene, amongst many others historic tracks. And it did get saved, however it’s such a dangerous factor.
And so true of many, many shops which have been handed down from generations, is that the brick-and-mortar is owned by another person. And the proprietor of the enterprise has been renting for actually 100 years, as a result of they by no means had the funds to purchase that construction.
It is true in New York even. There are lots of companies which might be continually paying their hire, and they’re prone to shutting if the proprietor of that constructing decides to promote.
So I believed it would be good to inform a narrative a couple of group like that and to set it in a music retailer, as a result of as we all know, bodily music shops, like Grimey’s, right here in Nashville, they’re actual treasurers, however they’re additionally not as busy as they was.
And it simply made sense to set this story at Christmas, and the love story between Meg and Nate, coming at it from completely different sides, however realizing that they’ve such a parallel between one another, by way of each of them residing lives which might be some model of what their households deliberate for them.
And I needed to see that by way of assembly one another and changing into impressed by each other, they may each escape of that mildew just a bit bit.
I’ve to say, I believe it is one of the crucial constructive Christmas motion pictures. I imply, so many instances there’s like a relative villain, however even Nate’s father did not fairly cross into that territory as a result of he nonetheless had a lot love for every little thing. It was a novel really feel, I believed.
Thanks. I recognize that. I needed all of the characters in it to actually really feel such as you’d wish to get to know them higher for those who had the time.
And as a viewer of not solely Christmas motion pictures, however any form of film, particularly like a industrial rom-com, I all the time form of bristle on the characters in it which might be clearly there simply so that you can dislike them. I believe it is far more attention-grabbing to see folks which may have completely different viewpoints, however who appeared like first rate folks regardless of that.
No, it labored. It labored effectively.
And what about your music, Christmas Will By no means Finish? Did you write that particularly for the film, and what was your course of for that?
Sure, I wrote it particularly for this film. The truth is, it was accomplished, being written solely truly two days earlier than I traveled out to Utah to movie. And so, the scenes within the film the place Meg is within the means of writing the music had been filmed solely a few weeks after I had completed writing the music myself.
I needed it to be a music that was clearly not solely a love music, reflecting how she’s coming to really feel for Nate and the miracle that he’s in her life, but additionally through the course of the movie, as Meg is coming to phrases with the truth that they might very effectively lose Christmas Tree Lane, she’s additionally coming round to the understanding that even when they do, the recollections that they share and the group that they’ve constructed over generations might be eternal regardless of that.
It was pretty to have the precise script at that time, the ultimate model of the script, as a result of there have been truly a couple of different concepts that I had that had been knocking round and some different songs, even, that I’ve written over the previous yr that I questioned if, maybe, these had been the appropriate songs for Meg to be writing within the film.
However as soon as we had our ultimate draft of the script, it allowed me to actually hone in on what had occurred and what was going to occur within the story and making the music hopefully particular sufficient in order that it utilized to Meg’s expertise, but additionally a music that hopefully folks can take heed to. And it is only a love music for Christmas, no matter whether or not you have seen the film or not.
I all the time affiliate you with music. Even way back to on Cybill your character was a musician.
How shut did you come to being a musician versus an actor?
That is an important query. Once I first moved to L.A., I needed greater than something to be an actor. And I needed to have the ability to make sufficient cash at appearing in order that I might help myself at it.
However at first, in fact, that wasn’t the case. And I performed the piano for a few years in restaurant and resort lobbies to help myself. So that truly was my day job.
And it allowed me to not have to do different issues like working as a clerk at a drug retailer or server, which I am certain I’d have been actually horrible at. I used to be in a position to create music, no less than as background music, and be capable of pay my hire and my payments as a youngster. So I truly was knowledgeable musician, technically, earlier than I used to be knowledgeable actor.
After which over time, there was this nagging feeling within me that one thing was completely lacking, which is what I needed to convey with Meg, though she does not have any aspirations to document her songs and put them out into the world.
I bought to the purpose the place I felt like if I did not begin making songs and singing them and being courageous sufficient to share them, that I’d be lacking out on expressing myself in a means that I might solely do by way of music.
And I felt like an enormous a part of my goal in being right here is to precise myself by way of songs. So with that, I suppose it is taken me considerably of a very long time to come back to the understanding that I am presupposed to be doing each.
However now I actually really feel like I am in a spot the place I’m each knowledgeable actor and knowledgeable musician. It is actually one thing that I spend no less than half of my time on. So by that measure, I’m doing each.
Did not you additionally write and carry out a music for Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane?
Sure, that’s my music, Christmas Miracle, and that was launched alongside the film a few years in the past. And there’s additionally a music referred to as I am Not Prepared For Christmas, which was used because the theme music to a film that was then named after the music itself. It is the one the place my character cannot cease mendacity, mainly.
She’s all the time telling these little white lies, and her niece makes a want that she won’t be able to lie anymore. After which she swings the opposite route and may’t cease telling the reality.
Oh, I keep in mind that.
In order that film was named after my music. And it is used all through the movie. It is form of an ironic Christmas music.
It is one thing I am very pleased with. It is like, “You already know what? I am not prepared for Christmas. I am not making nog. I am not dressing up the canine.” It is like folks tend to ask you colloquially round this time of yr, the top of October, “So, are you prepared for Christmas?”
And actually, the yr I wrote that music the identical yr I filmed A Very Merry Combine-Up. I made two different Christmas motion pictures, one for Lifetime and one for Tyler Perry, A Madea Christmas.
And it was October, and other people begin asking me, “Are you prepared for Christmas?” And I used to be like, “My goodness. I really feel like I have been celebrating Christmas all yr lengthy. No, I am not prepared for Christmas.”
So I wrote this type of bah humbug, humorous music. And the president of Hallmark had heard it, and he truly contacted me and requested if they may use it within the film and named the film after it, and I used to be very proud.
Do you’ve gotten any plans to do different motion pictures that additionally marry either side of you, exterior of Christmas perhaps?
Sure, I do. I do. Yeah. I imply, gosh, there’s lots.
I’ve written a pilot presentation that’s impressed by my journey, by way of recognizing at very a lot an grownup age that I should be a songwriter, although that wasn’t what I used to be making a residing at, and that would come with my music. And there are another issues within the works as effectively, however I do not know in the event that they embrace music but.
I’ve another motion pictures popping out that would not have my music in them, however I’ve additionally spent numerous time this previous yr, as studios began to open up after COVID initially shut us all down. And I’ve bought 10 songs recorded for my new album, which might be out sooner or later subsequent yr. And I’ve co-produced that as effectively.
So it has been very empowering to be within the studio in that means as a producer this time round, and I am deeply pleased with the work that is been accomplished in these songs.
There’s truly a brand new model of White Christmas that I’ve simply launched. White Christmas is the opposite music of mine that seems in Christmas Tree Lane. And I co-produced that together with Invoice Reynolds, from Band of Horses.
That is simply come out, and it is accessible now on Spotify and all over the place. It is bought strings and a full band. And I believed I would put that out into the world too, in order that’s on the market now.
It sounds such as you’re residing your greatest life proper now. Would not it?
I’m. I am actually making an attempt. A part of that’s residing in Nashville and simply making an attempt my greatest to be current and genuine and productive at this extremely unusual time.
Get to the guts of the matter tonight on Hallmark Motion pictures & Mysteries once you tune into Christmas Tree Lane at 9/8c.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a workers author 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 tv and movie. Observe her on Twitter and e-mail her right here at TV Fanatic.