Tara Holt – The Perfect Christmas Present
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) I just got back a month and a half ago from Spokane, Washington filming a SyFy show called “Z-Nation.” It was a really interesting project to work on. Now, we have a Christmas movie coming out in a week that I filmed. Now, I’m kind of working on what I want to do next.
Q) Please tell us the premise for your Hallmark film The Perfect Christmas Present and about your character.
A) The Perfect Christmas Present takes place in Chicago. My character, Jenny, moved out there with her fiancé and we end up having a little bit of a difficult relationship in the beginning. He’s busy with work so he hasn’t really been able to spend time with me. So, Christmas is approaching and one of his best friends from when he was in a fraternity in college now has the job of “Mr. Christmas.” He has the ability to hang out with someone and figure out what their perfect gift would be. So, my boyfriend hires him to help him find the perfect gift for me. In the few weeks we spend getting to know each other we end up spending more time together than my boyfriend and I do. So, we get closer and closer over time and I don’t want to ruin it, but it gets complicated!
Q) Was there anything you added to the role that wasn’t scripted for you in the original breakdown?
A) Originally my character was always the sweet, loving girlfriend. She runs a charity in LA and is seeing if there is a place for the charity in Chicago and if there is a place to move out there. So, it’s kind of a temporary trip to feel things out to see if this is something she’d want to make permanent since she didn’t get a job offer to move out there the way her boyfriend did. She’s just coming to see if she can make things work with him and also maybe get a job out there. That was already there and it’s a fun loving Christmas movie, but I kind of added that I wanted to make sure the fun part was really there and to bring her out her fun, bubbly comedic side a little bit. I talked to the director a lot about how we could tie in a little bit of comedy in there. Reading the script initially reminded me of Something About Mary because the seemingly perfect woman is being followed by this guy and as they get to know each other he is actually falling for her. So, when I was reading it the movie reminded me of Something About Mary and I thought it would be kind of fun to find the comedic moments in it. I know that Hallmark isn’t too much comedy, but it ended up being a fun behind of everything in there.
Q) Did you get to spend much time with costar Sam Page to develop your onscreen chemistry or did you have to jump right in as filming began?
A) We actually had to jump right in. I want to say that one of the first scenes we filmed was actually one where I’m getting mad at Mr. Christmas because I’ve kind of figured out what he was doing this whole time by spending time with me. He’s actually using me to look for a gift for me and the other stuff is possibly meaningless. We have to start off in that place. I don’t want to giveaway too much, but it was definitely interesting. We just had to start right away with towards the end of the film and I had never met him. We just had to disguise it in order to pretend we had a built-in relationship. Sam Page is amazing and an amazing actor. It was really easy to have already had a built-in relationship with him. He’s great!
Q) What did you find the most challenging part of filming the movie?
A) You know, I guess the only thing that was challenging for me was the moments I would talk about my dad in the story. As an actor, you want to find the similarities between you and your character, but then you also don’t want to use too much of your own life since it’s not your own life. I actually lost my father in 2012 to ALS and in the story I had lost my father in a car accident when I was younger. So, there was a similarity that I had to just kind of go in there and it was almost harder to not use my own experience and love that already existed for me. It was almost impossible to not have that there. It was something that was a hard thing for me and I wanted to do it justice since I knew what it was like to lose a father. I wanted those moments to be objective though. There weren’t too many other difficult moments on this film. It was actually a really, really fun experience. It was really lighthearted. There weren’t too many difficulties. It wasn’t like we went into crazy long days. Overall, it was great. There were sometimes when the weather would get a bit cold. It was February in Chicago and we were on a walkway in the middle almost of the lake and it was freezing. That was as bad as it got, but nothing crazy.
Q) What were some of your most memorable from making the film?
A) I would have to say the cast and crew were all so fun and funny. I’d have to say that joking around in between takes with them and with our DP, Adrian [Peng Correia] who is hilarious. The director was also so funny and really knew how to make everyone laugh. I would say that it was the laughs in between that really made everything a fun environment to film in. After every take Blair Hayes (the director) would say, “Adorbs!” He’s an older man, but he loves saying “adorbs.” At the end he was calling Sam Page and I by “double-dorbs.” He had a fun way of shortening every word like that, which is a very millennial thing to do and it made it funny that he would say “totes adorbs” at the end of every take.
Q) What do you think it is about The Perfect Christmas Present that will make it a fast Hallmark classic film?
A) I would have to say that I guess it’s familiar, but original. I think that with any film that has success that is the recipe for it. It needs to be familiar. This story like any other love story is familiar. We all understand falling in love and how unexpected it is and unpredictable. It could be with someone you never realized was right under your nose. Also, these situations are unique because he’s Mr. Christmas and finding the perfect gift. It’s all these things that are not normal today that people do. They are not normal professions. And it’s just really cute! I think most of all it is a feel-good movie and it will make the audience feel really good and loving and put you in the Christmas spirit. I have no doubt this is something that will be shown every Christmas from here on out.
Q) What do you hope viewers take away from watching the movie?
A) This movie is just about following your heart and I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason and following your heart. I think with this film it gets a little complicated because she is in a situation where her current boyfriend isn’t giving her the time and energy that she deserves as a woman. I think it is important to know your worth and know you how should be treated and know it’s okay to leave something that isn’t good for you or not serving you, especially if there is a man right there who wants to treat you the right way.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and your work?
A) I would like to say thank you for the continued love and support. I really hope everyone enjoys this film. I’m really excited for everyone to see it.