Erin Cahill steps out of the familiar Hallmark Media holiday space this weekend with the premiere of Hearts in the Game (alongside Marco Grazzini). The network favorite has called Hallmark home since 2016, beginning with the movie Sleigh Bells Ring, and after seven years, Hallmark remains a welcome place to be. "I was just saying to a friend that I am so lucky to have found my home with Hallmark," she said during a recent exclusive interview with MediaVillage. "I've been in the business and have been so fortunate that it’s been my job for 20-something years. To have Hallmark find me has been the biggest blessing. I'm pretty sure everybody there is like, 'Erin, we get it, you're so happy to be here,' because every time there's a party, or I'm on a set, I e-mail everybody [saying], 'This is a dream. I'm so thankful!"
Beyond her love for the work, Cahill (pictured with Grazzini) is also appreciative of the good friends she's made along the way. "Okay, I'm kind of not even kidding right now because that's been a part of a huge conversation lately," she laughed. "Nikki (DeLoach) posted a gathering we had on her Instagram, I reposted it, and it got reported on. We actually do hang out, and not just with our guy co-stars, many of whom I still talk to, and even some guys I haven't worked with yet. We literally are like family. It's the most magical thing. If I have something going on, I'll call the girls. I've even got projects in development with Nikki because she's started writing, and she is an incredible writer! She and her writing partner are incredible women and just make everything better. The biggest problem is she's always so darn busy."
In recent years Cahill has also moved behind the scenes, developing and executive producing projects in addition to starring in them. But for Hearts in the Game, she was happy to leave that EP cap at home. "I've been fortunate to produce two [movies] so far," she said. "One for Hallmark, and an indie. I'm very grateful for those opportunities, and there are more to come as I've pitched a bunch of stuff to Hallmark that I'm excited about. But there's something kind of beautiful about [just] coming and telling a story like this one. It's almost like a vacation. I do [still] gently give my opinion and try to help shape things to make them the best I can. I like producing some, then just acting in some. I loved this one as I'd recently worked with our director Stacy [Harding] on something that hasn't been announced yet and is coming later this year.
"I feel she should have more words in her name," she continued. "Stacy Harding -- The Magnificent! I will do anything with that woman and go anywhere she is. Getting the offer for Hearts, I didn't even read the script. I read this synopsis and it sounded great. When I saw she was attached, I texted Stacy saying, 'Stace, I'm going to do this because you're doing it. Did you like the script?' She said 'yes,' so I knew I'd like it, too."
For the film, Cahill delved into her extensive behind-the-scenes experiences to portray Hazel Miller, a high-powered publicist and image consultant who finds herself rehabilitating the career of former Major League baseball champ Diego Vasquez (Grazzini). Following a devastating personal life event, Vasquez froze during Game 7 of The World Series, virtually ending his career. With her story spin-cycle set on high, Hazel must convince Vasquez to reveal what was behind his career-ending mishap. However, given the two have a history of high-school romance, hitting a home run on this job could be harder than it seems.
"I have to say being able to play a power suit-wearing, always-put-together publicist who works from her heart was both a gift and a cool challenge," she beamed. "Hazel's so different from me, and I couldn’t wait to explore that. I definitely see pieces of myself in her, and if I'm being honest, there wasn't anyone in particular that I based her on. Maybe somewhere in my subconscious she's an amalgamation of a few different people I've worked with. And Marco … he's so talented, kind and down to earth. We have different energies, yet it was such a nice balance.
"Hazel was tricky though," she added. "There were some lines and scenes that were written a little more harshly. I just played them using her big old heart and made them heart driven. Yes, she's spinning stories, but she's doing it out of the right place. Stacey and I both had our eye on that. Grief and mental health play a big part in this story, too. It's something I think a lot of people can relate to given what we have all experienced lately. It's done so beautifully, and I applaud Hallmark for that. I'm proud, and honored, to be part of a network telling these in-depth stories that can be helpful to others."
With its sports-centered storyline, one takeaway Cahill didn’t expect when filming the movie was interest in a possible new career -- but only if the acting thing dries up. "You will see my baseball skills," she laughed in closing. "I only got one practice before we filmed those scenes and hadn't held a bat since [maybe] middle school? So, I'm tooting my own horn because people were like, 'You've got a really good swing.' I just kept hitting them!"
Hearts in the Game will be telecast Saturday, April 29 at 8 p.m. on Hallmark Channel.
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