Michaela McManus – Love Finds You In Valentine
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) I am in the middle of shooting Season 2 of “Aquarius.” That’s a blast! We started filming in November, but I don’t think we have an air date yet. It’s been really fun.
Q) What drew you to role of Kennedy in Love Finds You In Valentine?
A) I think in a lot of ways I’m similar to Kennedy, but in a lot of ways I’m not. She’s definitely a city girl, born and raised. I think her life is pretty much mapped out. I consider myself a more go-with-the-flow kind of girl. I actually love nature. That’s something that I think she kind of discovers in this film. It’s not something she is used to, but she does find a connection with it. I was able to relate to her. I was playing Grace on “Aquarius,” which is a different, very intense role. So, being in this movie was a nice change of pace to immerse myself in this very heartwarming love story. What I love and admire about Kennedy so much is that she asks a lot of questions, she lives in the moment, she is curious. She doesn’t shy away from things. She gives her support and walks through the fire. She’s one of the kinds of people that I admire. I think she surprises herself.
Q) Based on a wonderful book by Irene Brand. How true to book does the movie stay?
A) To be honest with you, I didn’t read the book. I don’t think it follows them exactly. I know it is a highly popular series. There is like a “Love Finds You…” in every part of the world. It was fun to be a part of and I could see it becoming a long living series on television.
Q) You got to work with such legends on the film. What did you take away from working with Ed Asner and Lindsay Wagner?
A) When I signed on, they were already attached so that made it that much more enticing to join the project. With Ed, he’s so iconic. He’s larger than life, boisterous and funny. It’s rare to get the opportunity to work with an actor with a career span like his. I was always impressed with how prepared he was. At one point during filming I asked him, “Do you ever think you’ll retire?” He said, “I’m just starting to get good. Why would I stop now?” I think that says a lot about who he is as a person and as an actor. It was just a really special, unique experience working with him. I adored working with Lindsay and it was nice to have another woman on set. She really felt like that role, which was future mother-in-law. She kind of embraced Diogo [Morgado] and me, which was nice. Diogo was one of those people you instantly feel a connection with. When I met him, I was like, “Oh, I know you.” We felt like old pals on day one. It was so easy and fluid. I think the film really benefits from those relationships off screen.
Q) What was the most challenging part of filming the movie?
A) I had been on a horse once when I was maybe nine years old in South Dakota on a family trip. The horse actually took off while I was on it. It was terrifying! One of the first things they told me was, “You are going to have to ride the horse.” So, I instantly felt terrified as to how it would pan out. I immediately booked some lessons in Los Angeles and tried to get better at getting on the horse. When I got to Ohio, something about the landscape and probably having to do with the story itself, I found really comfortable. We shot mostly on this family owned working ranch. There were horses everywhere. There were so many people everywhere who had incredible knowledge of these beautiful animals. So, what I thought was going to be challenging ended up being a really fun learning experience.
Q) How does the landscape of the movie almost play a role itself?
A) Well, I did live in Los Angeles like Kennedy. I grew up in Rhode Island and then I moved to New York. Living in city is great and exciting and, honestly, what I prefer. But you always feel like you need a break. You need a break to breathe in the fresh air and be immersed in nature. I was really welcoming that in my life in last Spring, early Summer when we started filming. It was just a beautiful little pocket of the country. I went on a really neat little trail where horse and buggies would pass me by because it was an Amish-centric area that we shot. It was such a cool departure from what I’m used to, much like what Kennedy is facing in the story. It was just refreshing to get just a little change. I loved that. I got to bring my one-year-old son with me and watching him embrace that world was so special. Something that I love about this job is that not only do you get to live in different characters’ shoes, but you get to experience different places that you might not get to visit or experience in your life. It’s just a really fun perk of the job. I really loved my time there. I did.
Q) What is a scene you are most excited to receive a fan reaction from?
A) That’s a good question. I really loved the whole thing. [laughs] I really do. I’m just a sucker for those kinds of love stories that make you feel good. You are rooting for these characters to fall in love. So, I just think it really takes the viewer on this special journey. I really love this movie. I’m very proud of it. I think people can watch it and enjoy it. There are a lot of little moments that I loved. Mostly the love story is what drew me to the script and what I find most appealing. Watching these two characters from different ends of the spectrum fall in love…It’s a life lesson not to judge a book by its cover. You know what is going to make your heart tick or swell.
Q) What do you hope fans take away from watching Love Finds You In Valentine?
A) These two people from really opposite worlds coming together. One of the bigger messages in this movie is that you really never know what your future holds, what your possibilities are. I think that’s kind of exciting. I think Kennedy is this person who has it all mapped out. She just graduated law school, she’s going to take the bar and has everything mapped out. All of a sudden, she takes this trip back to the ranch her father grew up on and it just takes her on this journey of self-discovery where she realizes, “This is what I want. This is home for me.” It’s something that she never imagined. I would just want people to take away that they should keep their heart open because you never know.
Love Finds You In Valentine debuts on DVD on June 7, 2016