Bethany Joy Lenz Explains How ‘Savoring Paris’ Role Reminded Her of Haley’s Early Years on ‘One Tree Hill’

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Bethany Joy Lenz relishes all that Paris has to offer in her newest Hallmark Channel movie, Savoring Paris. The actress plays Ella, a burned-out executive who takes a leap of faith and quits her job to move to the City of Love. Free from her all-consuming job and the pressure of societal norms, Ella gets to embrace life and learn what she really wants this next chapter to look like.

“When I got to read the script, I was really intrigued by playing a character who kind of reminded me of who Haley was from One Tree Hill, like all those years ago,” Lenz told TV Insider. “[Haley] evolved into a character who was much more confident and bold over the years. I just thought I haven’t done that since I was so young, in my early 20s. I usually get called to play more tough girl kind of roles, so I was excited by the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone of feeling like a natural leader and allow myself to sort of emotionally sit on the sidelines.”

Lenz noted that Ella is a woman who is “not used to taking up a lot of her own space. She is always making space for everyone else.” The singer was “really excited” to dive into the role, which allowed her to “be more quiet and more still and more observant and not have to take charge in any given situation. I took this opportunity not just as an actor, but as a human, to experience that. I’m a single mom. I have to step into a leadership role all the time and in so many rooms, so to be able to let myself just relax and let other people take charge for a while and see what it felt like to live in that skin, that was really cool.”

Bethany Joy Lenz as Haley in 'One Tree Hill'

Lenz in ‘One Tree Hill.'(Fred Norris / © Warner Bros. / Everett Collection)

Ella’s journey throughout Savoring Paris includes the realization that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to how someone’s life has to play out. “Ella really tried for a long time to do the thing that everybody says is what you’re supposed to do,” Lenz explained. “I can relate to that, too. I’ve done a lot of that in my life, and I loved being able to bring her to life and help her navigate and find something that actually does fit her.”

During her time in Paris filming the movie, Lenz realized that she could (and should) step back at times. “I had this kind of core belief that if I don’t do it, nobody else will. If I don’t get it done, it won’t get done right,” she said. “To really force and allow myself to sit back and allow other people to take charge, it hit me on a core level that I can relax. I can take a seat and it’s okay. It’s okay if something doesn’t get done the way I think it needs to be done. It’s okay if something doesn’t get done in the time that I think it should get done. It’s okay if it doesn’t get done at all. The world is not going to fall apart if I stop spinning things.”

She continued, “I want to implement that more in my relationships and things with my daughter, with my partner, with my parents, with my friends. I want to make space for other people and, in any ways that I haven’t done that in my life, this role really inspired me to want to intentionally do that more.”

Naturally, there’s plenty of romance in Savoring Paris, which is part of Hallmark’s Passport to Love lineup. Ella gets “swept up by a younger man” named Gaston (Ben Wiggins), who is “free-spirited and doesn’t want to be tied down.” Lenz teased relationship confusion because of Gaston’s mixed signals. However, another man catches her eye: Serge (Stanley Weber), a “grumpy cheese man” who owns a local fromagerie. “He also happens to be devastatingly handsome. What girl in her right mind can resist a devastatingly handsome Frenchman who is also a little grouchy?” Lenz quipped.

Savoring Paris, Movie Premiere, June 8, 8/7c, Hallmark Channel

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