Interviews

Daryl Shuttleworth – All Things Valentine

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By: Ruth Hill

 

Daryl Shuttleworth can best be described as a magnificent character actor who, regardless of the size of his role, always immerses himself fully into his work. He has a great respect for the art of acting, and his experience includes everything from stage, to screen, and then some. On the Hallmark network, he has been featured in recent years in both “When Calls the Heart” and “Cedar Cove,” but if you examine his list of credits, you might be surprised at how many times you may have seen him without being cognizant of that fact.  Recently, I had an opportunity to discuss with Daryl his various Hallmark roles, including his upcoming Hallmark film All Things Valentine.

A  REASON TO ENTERTAIN

What inspired you to become an actor?

When I was in fifth grade my elementary teacher, Al Pichler, (who was in his first year of teaching at that time) encouraged me to audition. I had no idea what that word meant so when I asked him, he told me it was pretending to be something else. He had me improvise the role of Fagin {an old man} in “Oliver,” and I even put on an English accent.  Interestingly enough, thirty years later after he retired, he actually got to see me in a play. How amazing was it to have the man who motivated me to act get to see the fruits of his labor?

Had you not been an actor, what profession do you think you might have chosen?

When I was growing up, things were so different. We didn’t have a TV. We played and acting was a part of that play. Nowadays, young actors are more savvy–they want to be famous. They have missed the important thing about acting–having a good time.

For me, acting is what I do and it continues to be fun. But I am a pilot on the side. I have written flight manuals and worked with flight simulations. I’m sort of an armchair pilot, but I have actually landed a small plane on my own.

What advice would you give someone who is considering entering the acting profession?

Go live a life to the fullest. When I was young, I wanted to act. In 1978, I gave my first professional show. It’s not always been a smooth journey, but the rewards are worth it. Even as I grow older, I don’t want this journey to ever end.

I also highly recommend doing your research. When I prepare to do any role, whether on the stage or film/TV, I believe in finding out all I can and thinking through the role to the utmost. For one of my recent stage roles, I did six months of research and it made my performance much more authentic. It was well worth it.

STRONG PERFORMANCES

How does filming in period (“When Calls the Heart”) compare to other filming you have done?

With “When Calls the Heart,” you’ve got to understand that this show is not historically accurate. It is not supposed to be. I have read many comments where some people criticize the show for that fact. As Westerns and other such shows, it is told like a kind of fable. In fact, the show is supposed to be like a postcard so that the viewers can escape from reality.  There is enough negativity in this world and it is a delight to get away from all that for awhile and that is what this show attempts to do.

What was it like playing someone on the surface that is supposed to be on the side of the law but in reality is the total opposite?

 

When I was first asked to play (Mountie) James Houston, Neill Fearnley (the director) told me that he wasn’t sure if Houston would turn out to be bad (because it wasn’t written yet), but he figured that eventually my character would be bad. Of course, as an actor, I couldn’t play him that way. It is not my job as an actor to judge the character. I have to play him with no judgment. In Houston’s mind, he isn’t bad.

When I was called to come back to work because my character was returning, I had just finished a stage play and was in full beard. They said I had to shave it off and I had to get back and play Houston, who now was the “bad guy.” The best way to end the season, in my opinion, would be for my character to come back and set fire to the town. After all, Houston deserves a chance to get revenge!

(In case any “Hearties” are worried, Daryl did not say this catastrophe is going to happen and I can’t see Hallmark letting that happen. But it is clear that Daryl would be very willing to return as he found the whole experience with “When Calls the Heart” enjoyable.)

Interestingly enough, this discussion led to Daryl’s questioning me about the fan’s reactions to the cancellation of “Cedar Cove.” If you are unaware, Daryl appeared as Vice Admiral Nelson in the two-part season three finale. And he quite jokingly took the credit for the show being cancelled.

Since I was in the finale, it’s clear that I killed the show. {Actually, Daryl took his role very seriously in that finale, and he was always very willing to rehearse to get his part just right.} Truly, there were so many characters in the show by season three and whenever a show gets that many characters, it can be very hard to keep the momentum going. While you always feel for the fans, these things do happen and it’s not always clear why.

EXCELLENCY AND COMPETENCE

You have an upcoming Hallmark film airing January 31. What can you tell us about it?

It is called All Things Valentine and it is a typical Hallmark love story, but it does have a few twists. It stars Sarah Rafferty and Sam Page and I play Sarah’s father. With most of these films, the daughter goes running to the mother for advice about love, but in this film she runs to her father, which gives me a chance for some genuinely sweet father-daughter scenes.

What I like about this film is that, as with most Hallmark films, it is rather low-key. But Hallmark does employ some of the best crews and cast members around.  Sarah never required star treatment–she is a lovely lady to work with. And her co-star, Sam, is such a good-looking guy–both Sarah and I agreed on that point.

When you work at Hallmark, it’s almost like going back in time. It’s kind of like the way things used to be in the business. Stellar young crews–in fact the finest crews around. And this film was even better because it was directed by the legendary Gary Harvey. If you don’t know, his story is so inspirational that it may have you in tears.  He miraculously survived cancer of the tongue, but he had part of his tongue removed. When Gary Harvey talks, everyone listens, even though it is difficult at times to understand him. He is one of the absolute best in the business, and it was an honor to work with him.

I do have several other works coming up–you’ll be able to catch me on “X-Files” and also watch out for my work on “Legends of Tomorrow.”

So is there anyone with whom you would like to work that you haven’t?

I really don’t think so. I absolutely love Meryl Streep as I greatly admire her work and who she is in general. Also, from Love and Mercy, I am impressed with Paul Dano who played Brian Wilson. If you ever get a chance to see that film, be sure you look it up as it’s worth watching.

As much as I love film and television, my first love is probably still the theater. In the past few years I have been privileged to see, in my opinion, some of the most amazing theater. In fact, one of my most challenging (and favorite) roles was when I recently played the role of Ulysses in “Annapurna.” The research and authenticity I brought to that part was draining, but only in the best way.

When it comes to television, there are some definite challenges for everyone. Now, I am not one of those actors who focuses on the lighting being a certain way or insists on putting crazy demands on the crews and actors I work with.  One of the hardest things about working in television is not having the live audience there with you. There is a different energy about theater because of the dynamics the audience brings to the performance. Filming in a studio with no viewers is a constant challenge.

THE LAST WORD

What is your best piece of advice for everyone out there?

“Be the best you that you can be. Be extraordinary.”

And with that, our interview came to an end. There is no doubt that Daryl engenders extraordinary respect, and he is forever working to keep at the top of his game. Don’t miss his film on Hallmark in All Things Valentine. And since you will want to keep up with him, make certain that you follow him on twitter (@D_Shuttleworth) and facebook (https://www.facebook.com/daryl.shuttleworth), so you don’t miss a single appearance with this impressive actor.

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