John Wesley Shipp on Playing the Dad (Again) in Hallmark's "Ruby Herring Mysteries"

By Behind the Scenes in Hollywood Archives
Cover image for  article: John Wesley Shipp on Playing the Dad (Again) in Hallmark's "Ruby Herring Mysteries"

Ruby Herring Mysteries, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries newest franchise, returns this weekend for a third installment entitled Prediction Murder.  Taylor Cole (as Ruby, a tough journalist) and Stephen Huszar (Det. Jake Killian) reprise their roles from the first two films, and joining them for a second time is John Wesley Shipp (Dawson's Creek, The Flash) in the role of Ruby’s father, legendary crime reporter John Herring.  The role is one Shipp (pictured at top) stepped into for the franchise’s second installment (Her Last Breath), replacing (Cole’s real-life stepfather) Shawn Christian, and while he knew he had some big shoes to fill, it wasn't the first time he’s “stepped-in” to play a dad.  "It happened to me on Dawson’s Creek, as I wasn’t the original dad in the pilot," he laughed during a recent interview with MediaVillage.  "I was filming The Lost Treasure of Dos Santos, with David Carradine, Kathy Lee Crosby and Lee Majors, which is something you will hopefully never see, when I got the call to say [Dawson's Creek] had decided to go a different way with the dad.  I came in for the second episode and re-shot all the scenes from the first.  But I don’t feel too bad for [the original actor] because I was watching an Al Pacino much movie later in which he starred.

"The situation with Ruby did give me a moment’s pause," he continued.  "I think they knew it was a bit of an awkward situation and that I didn’t know what I was walking into.  It all happened really fast.  Production wanted to go in a different direction with the John Herring character, so they called to talk me about how he was a legendary crime reporter whose daughter was following in his footsteps.  It really sounded like a fun thing to do.  The entire cast could not have been more welcoming."

That was especially true of Cole, whom he met prior to filming.  "With some people, you just immediately form a bond," he revealed.  "From our first meeting I knew it would be like that.  I told her she was so beautiful in person, and she replied, ‘Well I am daddy’s girl.’  She didn’t give me any tips on how to play her dad, and we were playful from the get-go!  It was like no one had played that character before and I was allowed to be creative."

In Prediction Murder, an old cold case concerning the unsolved murder of a local psychic is reopened, and when Ruby starts receiving anonymous tips about it, John becomes her go-to guy.  "I love that it’s an old case from John’s days as a crime reporter,” Shipp said.  “When it comes back to haunt Ruby I have to go through my old files, and I’m in the field with her trying to solve this murder.  They're including me more, which is very exciting.”

The franchise has also provided the beloved television dad with an opportunity he’s never been afforded in his 41-year career.  “It's one of the things I love about it," he explained.  "I’ve never played the father of an adult daughter.  I’ve always had sons!  The father/daughter dynamic, particularly with Taylor Cole, is great fun."

Shipp said he wasn’t sure when his television status changed to "go-to dad," but it's something he was delighted to see pointed out during a recent interview on Australian TV.  "The banner across the bottom of the screen read America’s Favorite TV Dad, he laughed.  "I don’t know how it happened, because I’ve played some real stinkers.  My dad in Teen Wolf was a psycho!  But I totally embrace it."

Asked about his recurring role on The CW superhero series The Flash, Shipp replied, "It was so meaningful to me with The Flash (2014), on the 34th anniversary of my 1990-91 CBS series The Flash, to come back and play the new Flash's dad.  The scenes were so beautifully written, and it wasn’t a token appearance.  I’m so fond of Grant Gustin, who’s doing an amazing job [as the current Flash].  That was an incredible full-circle moment and a great experience.”

The CBS version of The Flash was short-lived, but thanks to The CW's current hit version and his continued involvement with it, plus the 2006 DVD release of the CBS show, Shipp will be forever synonymous with the franchise.  "I never thought this would happen," he admitted.  “I was once told, ‘This was the role you were born to play,’ and not even thinking, being the sarcastic young actor that I was, I replied, ‘God, I hope not!’  But it is woven through my career.  I’ve done everything from Broadway to independent films, to Dawson’s Creek.  There’s a lot of my resume, and it’s been a great 41 years.  I’ve been incredibly lucky to keep working solidly.”

It's these recurring roles, along with his stage work (which he hopes to return to via a production of 12 Angry Men at the Greenwich Theatre in Connecticut this September, should the current Coronavirus pandemic ease) that keep Shipp happy.  "Jay Garrick, my character on The CW’s Flash, is still around on Earth Prime and will be seen during the next season, he revealed.  "And I’m signed to do 12 Ruby Herring Mysteries, should they be made.

"I also love working with Hallmark, as it feels like the old studio system with a stable of actors they like and the audience enjoys seeing in different roles,” he added in closing.  “Mary-Margaret Humes, who played my wife on Dawson's Creek, and I are announcing now, 'We want to do a Hallmark Christmas movie together!'  Keep those cards and letters coming if you want to see that, folks.  Tweet and ask @HallmarkChannel!"

Ruby Herring Mysteries: Prediction Murder will be telecast Sunday, April 5 at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

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