Friday, January 30, 2009

Interview: Genie Francis Takes a Chance on Love

In December 2007, the Hallmark Channel debuted an original movie called The Note, which starred Genie Francis and Ted McGinley, and ended up being the channel’s highest-rated movie of the year. Well, Genie and Ted are back in The Note II: Taking a Chance on Love.

Having been reunited with Christine, the daughter she gave up for adoption 18 years earlier, Peyton MacGruder (Genie) is still learning the ropes of parenting. She’s also busy writing her Heart Healer column, as well as managing a relationship with co-worker and boyfriend King Danville (Ted). But when King asks Peyton to marry him, she’s too afraid to take a chance at a life she deserves.

When Genie was first approached about making the sequel, she reveals: “I was happy, because that meant we had a success on our hands, but I was worried if it would be able to live up to the first movie. The first one was really good. My initial feeling was, ‘Oh, that’s really great,’ and then it turned into, ‘But gee, can we do that again?’”

When Genie read the script and stepped back into Peyton’s shoes, any doubt and nervousness vanished. “It was easy to step back into the role,” she explains. “There was a comfort level that kicked in, because we were working with all the same people. When you start a new situation, there’s all that getting-to-know-you nervousness that we didn’t have to go through the second time around. It was easier.”

She was also eager to work with Ted again. “Ted is a good guy and a wonderful actor, and that’s always a pleasure.”

There’s another reason it was easy to jump back into the role, as Genie explains: “It’s only nine months later from the first movie to the second one, and their relationship (Peyton and King’s) has evolved. She is in love. And she has created a nice friendship with her daughter (Christine); they’ve gotten pretty close. She’s in a good place in the beginning of the movie, a happy place.”

However, motherhood has not come easy for Peyton. “She really has nothing in her own life to emulate in trying to figure out how to be a mom to Christine. Her own mother died when she was very young, and her child’s adoptive mother also died when she was young.

“Motherhood is not instant potatoes, and she is quite a bit behind in knowing how to be a mother. The relationship really ends up being much more like friends. When she tries to be motherly, she ends up screwing it up — she overdoes it.”

For Genie, the message of the movie is not so much about when to take a chance on love, but rather, the walls we put up to protect ourselves from being hurt by love. “We all have certain defense mechanisms in us; they were there because they kept us safe. There was a time when we really needed them.

“The problem is, we hang onto them too long and then they start to do us in. So it’s really about, what are your walls like, when did you erect them, and do they still serve you?”

If Genie is approached in another year to do The Note III, she says that she would definitely do it — in part because of the excellent storytelling and in part because of the involvement of the Hallmark Channel.

“The Hallmark brand is very reliable. Their movies are always entertaining, and you can sit down with the whole family to watch. Where else can you get that anymore?”

The Note II premieres on Jan. 31 (9 ET/8 CT) on the Hallmark Channel and re-airs on Feb. 6 and 15. Check your local listings for details.