Erica Durance Embraces the Importance of Different Relationships in "We Need a Little Christmas"

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Cover image for  article: Erica Durance Embraces the Importance of Different Relationships in "We Need a Little Christmas"

Erica Durance spreads some early Christmas cheer this weekend in We Need a Little Christmas, part of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries' Miracles of Christmas programming event. When we last spoke with Durance for Color My World with Love, she was excited to have just wrapped this Christmas movie, and her enthusiasm remains high. "I just enjoyed doing this so much," she said in an exclusive MediaVillage interview. "I'm a pretty excitable person and do remember doing a fist pump after reading the script. It felt so ensemble-based, and we got to explore different relationships that we don't always see represented. I wanted to be a part of something that talked about different types of love.

"Sometimes we'll focus purely on the romantic space of love and that kind of intimate relationship," she continued. "There's a place for that, and that's awesome, but there are a lot of us at different places in our lives, and we have different types of relationships. We don't often see stories about struggling to connect with your child or somebody that is grieving the loss of [someone]. I found it all relatable, with so many different relationships and interactions that were all so different and so sweet. I just felt this had a little piece of something for everyone who watches."

Durance portrays Julie, a recently widowed mother juggling a business and a grieving son, Gavin (Azriel Dalman, pictured above) as they enter their first holiday season alone. Having recently moved, Julie is trying to hold onto as many family Christmas traditions as she can to make things easier for Gavin, but soon realizes she can't do it all by herself. Enter her kindly new neighbor Irene (Lynn Whitfield, pictured below), also a widow, who volunteers at the Christmas day camp Gavin is attending. As Irene and Gavin form a special bond, Julie creates her own unique bond with Irene. But when Gavin begins confiding in his new friend, Julie realizes the traditions she's clinging to might not be in her son's best interest.

"It was interesting to play the relationship with Lynn's character, the relationship with my son, and with the character of Peter (Patrick Sabongu), whom Julie works with," Durance said. "Julie is trying to find who she is and has this surprise experience of finding this wonderful neighbor who has a shared experience she can get advice from."

Despite its heavy subject matter, We Need a Little Christmas highlights the sweetness than can come from forming new relationships and making changes. "I think sometimes we do get stuck in this older space," she shared. "Things like, 'Well this is the tradition and what we always do.' Change is a big theme that's coming up for me in my life, and for people I know. Often, we don't make room for changes in our lives, and the fact that [we] have to build new relationships and the joy that comes from finding them. The film also questions things like, who is our family? Is it the people we're born with, or the people we choose as we go along? What I hope we created is that as we may grieve the loss of a specific relationship like my character is, there's the idea that there's hope in finding new relationships and new family. It doesn't always have to be the same. You just have to be open to it."

In doing the film, Durance added two new relationships to her life that she's thrilled to have. "Lynn Whitfield!" she exclaimed. "I've watched her work over the years and was over the moon to work with her. In my first scene with her, I was pretty starstruck. It was challenging as I lost my lines a few times and just got lost in her eyes. She is the loveliest person on the planet. When you're that starstruck, you give a person their space, but she reached out with wonderful conversation and so much advice. It was such a special experience for me, selfishly, because of that.

"And Azi, who plays my son," she added. "What a gem of a human! He's so talented and like this little 100-year-old man in a young body. He had to put up working with me a lot. He was so patient and chill. I have a big monologue in one scene, and he asked if I wanted to run lines with him. We did, and he says, 'Erica, can I give you some advice?' He goes, 'If you could just simplify things, you're trying to complicate the lines, and they're actually a lot simpler than you're making it.' I replied, 'That's the story of my life. I complicate everything.' He just goes, 'Yeah.' He's amazing!"

As a self-confessed Christmas devotee, Durance is happy to be back in the fold and spreading some joy. "I'm at a stage in life where I want a lot of hope, and positivity, and to tell stories that bring that," she reflected in closing. "I pick my [projects] in an isolated way depending on what it feeds me at that moment, and this one felt authentic."

We Need a Little Christmas will be telecast Saturday, October 22 at 10 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries as part of their Miracles of Christmas programming event.

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