As an actor always looking for new challenges, three years ago Brett Dalton accepted a role in the Hallmark project Cooking with Love -- and he enjoyed everything about it. Three Hallmark movies later, he finds himself a #Hallmarkie favorite and is looking forward to this weekend’s premiere of his latest, Just My Type, a part of Hallmark’s Spring Fling programming event. (Editor’s note: Spring Fling will be interrupted beginning Friday night at 6 p.m. for another We Need a Little Christmas marathon, but Just My Type will still premiere on Saturday at 9 p.m. as originally scheduled.)
“I was doing Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which was a remarkable experience, and playing a villain who was still likable,” Dalton (pictured at top) explained when MediaVillage recently spoke with him. “For people to connect [with the character], you can’t just twirl your mustache the entire time. I was looking for something different and Cooking with Love came along. The script had two people coming together who you wouldn’t necessarily think were meant to be with each other. I found their paths so interesting. That’s why I got involved. It’s pretty hard not to fall in love with the Hallmark family because they take such good care of everyone and make you feel super welcome.
“I’ve been shooting one of these movies per year and this is the one I’m most excited about, and probably the proudest of,” he continued. “There were a couple of things I enjoyed about it. The characters were fleshed out and had a lot of depth. I also got to keep my facial hair, which was cool. Stubble is nice because I’m really not a particular fan of shaving in real life, so that was a huge plus!”
In Just My Type, Dalton stars as Martin Clayborne, a J.D. Salinger-type reclusive mystery writer who is done with the spotlight. Along with his faithful canine companion Ernie, he retreats to rural Thompson Lake, where life is good until his idyllic existence is interrupted by a newcomer in town, pop-culture writer and aspiring novelist Vanessa Sills (Bethany Joy Lenz, pictured below with Dalton). After recognizing him, Vanessa is very persuasive in trying to land an interview with the elusive Clayborne (one that could land her a big promotion), if she can only get him to agree.
“It’s a great story,” Dalton said of the film. “They’re very different characters, but both share a passion for writing. As jaded as my character might be about his career, he sees a spark in her. It’s that passion that connects people. Martin was a lonely kid and started writing as a great source of self-expression. For me as a kid, it was art and drawing. That never went away, and now I get the same passion from acting. It’s something that never goes away. While you could have a bad experience career-wise, the passion’s still there somewhere.”
One of the most likable things about Dalton’s portrayal of curmudgeonly writer Clayborne is that while he puts up a nonchalant veneer, the character never alienates the viewer. It’s a fine line that as an actor Dalton likes treading. “Maybe I’ve started to specialize in these characters because I played a curmudgeonly cook in Cooking with Love,” he laughed. “I think you have to understand that nobody wakes up wanting to be a curmudgeon, it all comes from dashed hopes along the way or unmet expectations. Underneath it, there’s someone who cares more than your average person; they’ve just been burned along the way and developed a mask.”
For Dalton, being able to provide a little escape for people as a part of Hallmark’s Spring Fling gives him great joy. As we all practice social distancing, he’s happy to in some way bring people together. “I’m always happy to be able to provide a distraction and some enjoyment,” he shared. “But particularly in these crazy times it’s even more important. I’m not sure if the world will ever be the same, but at least for two hours we can enjoy a world where love wins, and I’d like to think it will continue to after this. In some ways last December, when we shot this, was a simpler time. But it’s nice to know that human connection, love, care, and generosity will get us through.
“I think our sense of community has, in some ways, gotten stronger,” he added. “We’re realizing connection is important. Social isolation doesn’t mean you just have to sit and watch [TV] all day. Thankfully we all have technology connecting us. So, call a loved one, talk or text a friend to make sure they’re okay. Reminding people that you love them is what’s going to get us through something as crazy as the pandemic we’re all going through.”
With the majority of Hollywood productions halted due to the pandemic, Dalton considers himself fortunate. “I have some voiceover campaigns and projects I’m still able to do and I’m thankful for those,” he shared. “There was a pause where everything seemed to shut down, but now it seems it’s slowly starting up again.” Currently, he can also be seen in Apple TV+’s Ghostwriter.
“If Hallmark knocks on my door around Christmas I’m not saying no,” he smiled in closing. “I can’t think of a single household that doesn’t have Hallmark Channel playing from Thanksgiving through Christmas, so even if I’m not in one of the new movies, I’m in one of the replays and they’re always enjoyable.”
Just My Typewill be telecast Saturday, March 28 at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Channel as part of its Spring Fling programming event.
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