Interviews

Garry Chalk – Murder She Baked

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By: Ruth Hill

Once I became a colossal Hallmark network fan, I discovered that there was a certain actor who seemed to pop up in their films and television shows on a somewhat regular basis. I researched and realized that this actor was none other than Garry Chalk. With around 355 credits to his name, Garry is one of those professionals who has experienced unparalleled success in this diverse world of entertainment. But in spite of his sometimes frenetic schedule, Garry was gracious enough to set aside some time recently to talk about his work with Hallmark, especially his work in the popular Murder She Baked series.

What inspired you to become an actor?

When I was in school, I had a friend in English class who convinced me to check out the school drama program. Since I could sing, I took part in their production and I determined that just like my friend had intimated, it was one surefire way to get the attention of the girls. Som I persevered and went on to participate in “Oliver,” “Camelot” and others. I truly enjoyed it.

The problem with acting is that it didn’t pay well or at all, so I didn’t pursue it. In 1974, I went off to college to ostensibly become an English teacher and I also studied Anthropology. As I was studying English Literature, I happened upon a production of the play “Of Mice and Men.” I decided to look into auditioning for these plays and I was cast in “What the Butler Saw.” I auditioned and was in as many as fifteen plays every term. I knew I had some talent for acting, but the theatre school didn’t seem to agree.  Evidently, they were wrong.

What has been your experience working with Hallmark?

I have worked with Hallmark for more years than I can probably count. I was making Hallmark films back when the films themselves were rather on the weak side. In fact, I made so many that I took a break from Hallmark for two years. And then two years to the day, they brought me back to be in for The Angel and the Bad Man. They have such great people that work for them that it’s always a tremendous experience.  Furthermore, it’s really nice to take a break and work in films where there is no violence and that are totally family-friendly. It’s kind of cool.  And, of course, I have gotten to work with lovely people like Barbara Niven in Murder She Baked and Andie MacDowell in “Cedar Cove.”

Speaking of Murder She Baked, what can you tell us about this next installment?

Murder She Baked is a lot of fun to do. Working with a professional like Ali [Sweeney] is great, and Barbara [Niven] is an absolute doll. Unfortunately, in this episode, I never got to work with either of them because of the nature of the story. At this point, all I can say about the upcoming film is that a murder happens in town. You will have to watch for its premiere to learn the rest of the story.

I think the reason a series like this resonates so much with the fans is that it’s a nice combo of romance and mystery. No real violence or cursing, light and fun. The cast is wonderful and we work very well together. And, of course, we get to work in some very beautiful spots on the coast. Hallmark has the formula down for a film that the entire family can enjoy while still keeping you interested in the storyline.

So how did you first get the opportunity to be involved with Murder She Baked?

Because of my long-standing history with Hallmark and their brand, I got the opportunity to audition for this role of the Mayor. In the audition room, they really liked what I did with the role. I’m sure it helped that I had been in “Cedar Cove” as well as many other movies.

Mayor Bascomb, my character, is one of those characters that is strong and in control. The role may be small, but he is essential to the framework of the story. It’s a small town and small towns are typically low in crime. Yet in every episode, the simple small town life is in danger and the mayor is the one who has to ensure that everyone keeps calm and that the murder is ultimately solved. I really like characters that are challenging and when you get to work with some of your favorite people in the business, what could be better?

What kind of feedback do you get from the fans and from Hallmark itself regarding your performances?

Hallmark has some of the most devoted fans and I love getting the opportunity to interact with them about my films and shows. On any given day, you can always head over to my Facebook page for some genuine and lively interactions about my roles as well as some more general discussion.

Hallmark is a brand that seems to like what I do and that means everything to an actor when you can have that kind of arrangement with a studio. Furthermore, there are some great people involved with Murder She Baked that makes everything even better. Not only do we have the best cast, including Barbara and Ali, but we have the best guest stars, too. You can count on a romantic triangle including Ali Sweeney, Gabriel Hogan and Cameron Mathison. Add to that the wonderful crew, including director Kristoffer Tabori, and you have something truly special.  I’ve also gotten to work with Peter DeLuise, Terry Ingram–the list is endless. Oh, and we also get to eat some of the yummiest baked goods in this series. I am truly blessed to be able to work and make films with a company who likes me, and I like them. Couldn’t ask for a better life.

As you have also done voiceover work, what are the good points/bad points to that kind of work?

As with any work, there are always pros and cons. It’s nice that you don’t have to get dressed up and you don’t have a script to memorize. You show up and in about two to three hours, you are done. The bad thing is it’s over too quickly, but the good thing is it pays well. There really aren’t too many cons, come to think of it. It’s true that you’re in the shadows or the background, but it’s not too bad.

I really like the challenges of working and acting in film as you create something that hopefully turns out the way you want it to because you gave it exactly what you wanted. You hope for magic and that you have turned out something impressive with which people will connect. It’s never guaranteed, but if you have done your best, that’s all you can do.

I will say that when you work on ensemble animation voice work, the dynamics are a little bit different. Sometimes you work seven days a week with the group and it can be exhausting. Also, some get jaded, but that happens far too much in this business anyway.

What do you hope to do in this business that you haven’t done yet?

I have honestly done it all, with the exception of directing so that is what I would still like to do. I have seriously done everything from singing telegrams to children’s shows to television/movies/radio and everything in between. I have accumulated a wide variety of skills.  Many don’t know that I am a singer and play the guitar. In fact, actors I have worked with for years are shocked when they learn that I am a musician as well as an actor. I even got the opportunity to dance in the production of “Bye Bye Birdie” several years ago.

What is your advice for other actors entering this business?

Build a strong foundation of skill for your craft. And I cannot emphasize enough the benefits of having recognized theater skills. Take the time to learn everything. Research, text analysis, voice training, stagecraft–learn it all. Too many young people in this business are just a “flash in the pan.” They are perfect for one role and that’s it. Don’t neglect the classics–Shaw, Shakespeare, etc.

And don’t fall in love with the idea of being an actor. In reality, it is not glamorous. You sit in an old, dirty room waiting for people to judge you and decide if you are good enough. No one owes you a living. You must always give your best–110%. And you must learn to handle rejection. You cannot get every part. In Vancouver, on any one given day, there are 3700 actors in the city and only 200 working. That means that over 2000 are not working. There has to be something that makes you stand out.

What are some of your other upcoming/current works you can mention?

There are plenty. Of course, we just got done filming the next Murder She Baked installment so be sure to watch for that. Also, there is “This is Your Death,” “Anything for Love,” “The Confirmation,” “Lego NEXO Knights”–to name a few. There will also be a sequel to “Monster Beach” as well as a cartoon feature that I cannot mention right now.

As to my current projects, I’m working on a new science fiction series with Eric McCormack. It’s a really neat show about time and time travel and that is all I can say at the moment. I also just finished a pilot for another new show for NetFlix that I can’t really talk about either. I have another big feature that I start next week and I’m currently working on an animated Bible series called “Super Book.”

I have a few new movies that are out now called Home Invasion and Stagecoach, a western starring Judd Nelson, Kim Coates and Trace Adkins, a country and western star. During the filming of one of the scenes one of our actors who was supposed to play unconscious, fell asleep and started snoring in the middle of the scene–which was pretty funny.

 

 

After chatting with this knowledgeable thespian, there was no doubt left in my mind that he is a remarkable actor with limitless depth and admiration for what he does. Be sure you keep yourself current on his myriad of exceptional works, and don’t forget to follow him on social media lest you miss anything featuring this prodigious individual. And above all, look out for the premiere of Murder She Baked, coming soon to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

https://twitter.com/garrychalk

https://www.facebook.com/garry.chalk.1

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