Thursday, May 10, 2012

Interview: Genie Francis Gets a Mother's Day Surprise!

Just in time for Mother’s Day, Genie Francis and Ted McGinley are back as newlyweds Peyton MacGruder and King Danville in “Notes from the Heart Healer,” premiering Saturday, May 12 at 8/7c, on the Hallmark Channel (and re-airing throughout Mother’s Day weekend). The couple is celebrating their first anniversary when they are surprised by an abandoned baby on their doorstep.

(As an added Mother's Day tribute, Hallmark Channel’s Facebook page — facebook.com/HallmarkChannel — is inviting viewers to share heartfelt messages, notes and photos of moms who have healed a heart! Post your #HeartHealer tribute today and tell us Hallmark and why your mom was magical and how she healed your heart! #HallmarkChannelCountdown #HeartHealer)

I spoke with the “General Hospital” alum recently, and she told me all about making this third film in the “Notes” series and how much fun it was to step into Peyton’s shoes again.

Daytime Dial: Back in 2007, when you made “The Note” for the Hallmark Channel, did you have any idea what a hit it would be — ranking as one of the network’s highest-rated film series of all time — and that it would spawn two sequels?

Genie Francis: I had no idea. I knew it was a wonderful movie. I loved the script when I first read it. I was so thrilled to get that job. And then we were all shocked that it did as well as it did. It was like this huge, unexpected wonderful success, and then, of course, they continued it on into a franchise.

DD: What was the filming experience like this time? Was it easy to get back into the swing of it?

GF: We worked very fast. We shot the whole thing in 14 days. I was amazed that we were able to shoot the entire movie with one baby (instead of twins, as many productions use), which I didn’t think could be done. I’m always impressed how well cast these movies are. The level of talent, the talent pool they have in Canada (where the series is filmed) is just amazing, and it’s beautifully cast every single time. It’s a perfect Mother’s Day movie.

DD: One of the things I like about these movies is while each is a continuation of the previous one, they also can stand on their own as individual movies.

GF: I think that’s true of all three of them. You don’t have to have seen the others to enjoy any of them. They do stand alone yet somehow go in perfect line with the others. It’s a difficult thing to do. I don’t know how they pulled it off, but they did.

DD: How do you feel about the premise of Peyton and King celebrating their one-year anniversary, and then this baby is dropped into their laps and we see how they deal with it?

GF: I thought that was terrific because they are later on in life, and even though it’s a new marriage, she has things that she hasn’t done. She has unfinished parts of her life. They’re an older couple, so for her to say to him, “You know, I’ve got to do this,” it’s got to take him aback. What’s cool about it is that through this experience, Peyton learns that not only does she want to be a mother, but she starts to believe that she can be. She starts to forgive herself for who she was in her youth and realizes maybe she’s not so bad. His willingness to do it speaks of how much he loves her and how strong that marriage really is.

DD: I know forgiveness is a big theme of this movie; what are some other things you hope the viewer takes away from it?

GF: Well, what I love most about Peyton is that she gets involved and she brings everything up as sort of a philosophical or spiritual question like: “Why did I get this baby on my doorstep? I’ve got this baby, but I can’t stop thinking about the mother. Maybe if I can get to this mother, I can prevent her from ending up like me.” She always finds a way to make lemonade out of her lemons in life, from the bitterness in her life, and that’s a great quality. And she’s confused. She asks the big questions, like, “What’s best for this baby?” It’s a struggle for Peyton, but there’s been a healing for her in that she knows that she’s got it in her to be a good mother.