(Editor's note: The following interview was conducted before the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike.)
After a decade of collaboration with Hallmark, Andrea Brooks has a lot to celebrate. The 10th season of her hit series When Calls the Heart is about to premiere, and this Friday night she celebrates the release of A Lifelong Love, her latest movie for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. "That's amazing; I did not know it was my 10th year, so thanks for telling me," she said during an exclusive interview with MediaVillage. "I think last time I spoke with my manager about this, we kind of rounded up, if you include When Calls, that we've done 15 projects?
"I feel like I've reaped the benefits of being a Vancouver actor," she added. "This has been a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and just working with the most fantastic people over and over again. I love the way Hallmark operates as there are so many familiar faces they gravitate towards. So, I do feel fortunate to still be a part of this family and it's grown as the years have gone on. It's just an absolute pleasure!"
When choosing A Lifelong Love as her next project, Brook's decision to do it all came down to the aforementioned familiarity. In fact, it was whom she'd be working with that pulled her out of a well-deserved break. "I got the phone call for this, and it was tough because I had a three-month-old baby," she recalled. "I'd kind of given myself permission to take a bit of time for myself. It was winter. I wasn't thinking about projects and was focused on family life. At first, I didn't know if the time was right, then they mentioned the team behind it, who are all friends and I was like, 'Oh yes, yes!' That was the sales pitch.
"Soon after saying 'yes' they revealed it was filming in Winnipeg," she continued. "I was like, 'Okay, I'll bring my snow boots.' Then I found out that Patch May, who I'd worked with before on a romantic comedy, was the co-lead. At that point, it was an absolute no-brainer, perfect situation. As we'd all worked together, we picked up where we left off. There was none of that awkward initiation process when you usually start making a movie, like figuring out how you like to work. [We] just jumped in and we were all systems go! It was such a brilliant, fabulous time in the end. So, finding out who the director, executive producers, and my co-star were, [made it] an instant yes."
A Lifelong Love explores the story of aspiring poet Annika (Brooks), who is desperate to have her online works published in a book. When her pitch meeting goes disastrously wrong, her would-be publisher offers her another project -- document her widowed grandfather Abe's (Tom Young) search to re-connect with his first love Ruth Barlowe (Brenda Gorlick) via a book of poems based on love stories she gathers on a road-trip during the search. Documenting the people she meets along the way is Ryan (May) a photographer (and Annika's ex-boyfriend), who agrees to the project after having his book idea rejected. As the couple reluctantly team for the expedition, will they see the great love story they're searching for is possibly their own?
"I thought Annika being a poet was super interesting," Brooks said of her character. "I studied English literature at university. That was one of my majors for my undergrad. So, I actually did spend several years reading absolutely everything. I think this character is [modeled] more after some of the Instagram poets who have kind of risen in the ranks in recent years, and that was interesting. Her being a poet is something you would not typically expect; maybe a newspaper editor, or someone who writes magazine articles. An online poet was definitely different. I probably share the same degree that this character would have, having studied English lit, which was exciting. Fun fact, there were a lot of writing discussions going on behind the scenes in this movie.
"One of the refreshing things about this movie is it shows, in a sense, that you can restart your life," she added. "Things don't have to end. The second chance aspect (at love) is pivotal and a cohesive piece of the plot that ties everything. Obviously, Annika and Ryan are taking a second chance as we're pursuing this second chance for my grandfather. I think it's an important element, and one I hope resonates with lots of people because there are a lot of people out there who take a second chance, start again, restart their life, find new love, and move on. It's really genuine, and really sweet to tell a story about that."
Having the story take place on a road trip also appealed to Brooks, who believes it harkened back to a simpler time. "Having our characters physicalize the search for Ruth was so much fun" she said. "That's something that kind of died with the Internet. Now we'd just go on Google and do a search to find the town or look for the person on Facebook. We do that, but it kind of crushes the mystique. I loved that this story deals with the reality that there are hundreds of Ruth Barlowes. What are we going to do to find [the right one]?
"I would love to do something like that because so many connections can be formed along the way," she offered in closing. "What this story chronicles is the fun that can be had! So yes, 100% I would jump in a car and try to find somebody's long-lost love if I could."
A Lifelong Love will be telecast Friday, July 21 at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
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