The moment Cameron Mathison received the offer from Hallmark Channel to film A Summer to Remember his answer was a resounding “Yes!” After a slew of projects for both Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, which saw the popular actor working in chilly Vancouver or British Columbia, heading to the tropical location of Fiji was "a no-brainer." Adding Good Witch star Catherine Bell as his co-star sealed the deal. (Mathison is pictured at top and below right with Bell.) “I was given the dates, told we would be shooting in Fiji, and to let them know if I was interested,” Mathison recalled in an exclusive interview with MediaVillage. “I was like, ‘No, I'm not interested,’” he said with a laugh. “I knew Catherine, but we’d never worked together, so having her made it a slam-dunk!"
Mathison stars as Will, co-owner of a tranquil Fijian resort, who follows his dream of island life after a failed marriage. Enter Jessica (Bell), an emergency room doctor questioning her career path while vacationing with her daughter Ava (Samantha MacGillvray). Besides a break, Jessica desperately wants to re-experience the serenity of Fiji she once shared with her late husband. Upon arrival Jessica meets Trevor (Paul O’Brien), an Australian thoracic surgeon with whom she has much in common, and following an awkward first encounter with Will, it seems Trevor might get all her attention.
“One of the things I really appreciated about Will was his courage,” Mathison said of his character. “He packed up, moved out and really knew what he wanted. He managed to move on from a difficult time in his life and reestablish in Fiji. He followed through on his dream and turned out a happy, positive guy. I really liked the whole vibe about him.”
For Mathison, the film's theme of life crossroads and altering your course is something he fully understood. When his long-time portrayal (1998-2011) of nice guy Ryan Lavery on All My Children ended with the cancelation of the series, Mathison found himself in the same position. “We can all relate to certain challenges in life and accept there is a time you need to change,” he admitted. “It’s the theme of the film, but for me, with AMC I don't think I would've taken the risk [to leave].
“I left when the show was canceled, so my hand was kind of forced,” he continued. “I was very comfortable there and maybe even a little afraid to take a chance and close that chapter in my life. But I'm so grateful that it made me go off and try other things. As much as I loved AMC, I feel like this whole second phase of my career has been super-fulfilling. It would never have happened had that chapter not been closed for me. So unlike Catherine's character, [mine] was chosen for me.”
While still a part of AMC Mathison discovered his passion for hosting, doing so on I Wanna Be A Soap Star on SoapNet and Instant Beauty Pageant on Style Network. After appearing on Dancing with the Stars in 2007, he began reporting for Good Morning America and now does so for Entertainment Tonight. “I consider myself super fortunate,” he said. “I've worked hard to have a lot of things brewing and a main career objective was to nurture the hosting side of things along with the acting side. It feels really good to be able to see it all come to fruition. There’s a certain amount of fortune and good luck, but I'm so grateful for this phase of my career as it feels all that work is paying off.”
Another thing the actor is grateful for is his continued association with Hallmark. A Summer to Remember marks his 14th Hallmark movie, and with another set to begin filming soon, he was taken aback by the number. “It's a lot and it's pretty cool just to hear you say that,” he mused. “I really feel that Hallmark has been so good to me and I hope they keep giving me these opportunities. They know they are very much in line with who I am at this point in life -- my family and my values. It's a very smooth fit and I try to live my life in line with so many of the values that Hallmark Channel emphasizes.”
While Mathison finalizes the details of his next Hallmark movie, he shared it won’t be a sixth installment of the successful Movies & Mysteries franchise Murder She Baked with Allison Sweeney. “I believe the deal was to do nine, but it seems we've hit pause after five,” he explained. “I know Allison has another exciting project she's working on, so I wouldn't say never to another one; just not now.
“And you can't really blame me for jumping at this one,” he added. “I had some downtime and my wife joined me for the last week of filming. I kept posting to Instagram, but truthfully I stopped because it was getting obnoxious. I’d look at my page and think ‘this is too much, you have to stop.’ We had our own early summer to remember.”
Mathison’s summer continues to be memorable. Starting September 4, he will be the permanent co-host of Hallmark Channel’s daily lifestyle show Home & Family alongside Debbie Matenopoulos. “Working with these amazing people … the content, the energy, everything about it … I am so grateful,” he said of the new gig. “ET has been on board making it happen, so I hope to still be doing segments for them. I’m just so lucky it all came together. Hopefully I can do a movie here and there, too. That’s the plan.”
A Summer to Remember will be telecast Saturday, August 4 at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Channel.
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