Interviews

Toby Levins – Murder She Baked

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By: Ruth Hill

 

If you are familiar with the popular Murder She Baked series starring Alison Sweeney that airs on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel, you might remember Andrea’s policeman husband, Bill. After all, that is how I first discovered the actor Toby Levins and it was only because his co-star (Barbara Niven) mentioned him that I realized he was on Twitter and had been featured in many films, television shows and on a variety of networks. And when I had the opportunity to interview him, I jumped at the chance. I am not certain what I expected as I delved into the psyche of this multi-faceted actor, but as he discussed acting, the Murder She Baked franchise and more of his upcoming works, I found myself captivated with his responses and his quite appealing wit.

What was it that inspired you to become an actor?

In truth, it’s not a very romantic story. I was a skier growing up and I had every intention of becoming a professional skier when I left school. As I was preparing to take my final exams that final year of school, due to various reasons, I realized that career was not going to happen. So, I turned to a university guide to decide an area of study. That guide was alphabetical….and I didn’t want to be an accountant and the rest is history. Luckily, when I stepped on stage for the first time in acting school, I enjoyed acting tremendously. It’s a great job.

What is it that attracted you to the Murder She Baked franchise?

Most of the work I do is brooding, heavy, my-children-were-murdered kind of drama. Murder She Baked is a definite (and welcome) change from that. Before Chocolate Chip (the first film in the franchise) I had not met any of the cast, but I am so happy it has turned out the way it has. It’s like a little family I get to see three or four times a year.

 

What is it like working with Barbara Niven, Lisa Durupt, Alison Sweeney, Cameron Mathison, etc?

In short, awesome! They all bring something unique to the table. It’s no mystery that Ali is the captain of the ship and she is a great person to be around. Not only personally, but from a business perspective – she is everywhere and anywhere as well as being very inspirational. Barbara is amazingly positive and LOVES her job. Cam and I are planning on going on a Heli-skiing trip during the next shoot. Be ready for a million tweets about it! He takes a much better selfie than I. Gabe [Hogan] may play a mild-mannered dentist on the show, but he’s actually a pretty shady character. His prison name is Gabe ‘Greasy Hurricane ’ Hogan. Lisa was born to play Andrea and the baby weight came right off! (Her character was pregnant in the last installment.)

What did you do to prepare for your role in this franchise?

When I originally landed A Chocolate Chip Murder, I read the first book. Since then, I have not read any more. I like to approach the script with fresh eyes and no predetermined ideas. Of the twenty roles I have played in the past two years, fifteen of them have been either a cop, detective or a sheriff, so not a lot of preparation is needed! I may have to buy the uniform to save time!

What can we look forward to from your character in the next Murder She Baked film?

I haven’t seen a script yet! I am going to assume there will be some serious police business with Cameron, some light, but frustrating banter with Ali and some playful romantic moments with Lisa. Also, I think Bill finds out that Norman is his brother separated at birth.

You’ve enjoyed quite a run on “The 100.” Tell us about your role and experience with that show.

It’s been amazing. I had auditioned for “The 100” several times before and either didn’t get the role or had shooting conflicts. I think Carl Emerson (my character) was the seventh guy I had auditioned to play on the show. I had no idea the arc that Emerson would go on through the two seasons I have done the show. Every time I read a new script, and I didn’t die, I did a little dance in my living room singing “RENT IS GONNA GET PAID!!” Season three, which is airing now, is a big season for me. I don’t have many episodes, but the ones I am in…are BIG. I can’t wait to see the reactions from the fans

What are some of your other upcoming works we can look forward to?

I just wrapped a really fun episode of CW’s “Supernatural” that will air soon. I shot a pilot for ABC called “Beyond” at the start of 2015 that got picked up recently and we go to camera in late March. It’s a project that I am very excited about and has a ridiculously talented cast and crew. I also do performance art every full moon. It’s an interpretive dance that retells the Battle of Waterloo from a groundhog’s perspective.  That last one is inaccurate.

Any advice for aspiring actors?

You have to really want it. And you have to want it for the right reasons. If you want to get famous, there are much, much easier ways to obtain fame. If you just want to walk the red carpet, go buy some red carpet. Be prepared to put in the time. I spent the first ten years of my career making very little money and getting very little traction. It’s only in the last four to five years that I have been able to call myself an actor for tax purposes. Now that the cold realism is out of the way, it’s a really great job. Get training, read a thousand plays, watch great movies, move to an industry hub and get to work. Success in acting hinges on three things: luck, innate talent and hard work–in no particular order. No one got anywhere without all three.

 

 

After that entertaining interview, I don’t think there is much more I need to say about Toby. No doubt he was born to be an actor and destiny smiled on him when he happened upon that career choice in the university. Not only that, he has a delightfully wicked sense of humor and talent just oozes out of his pores. He works incredibly hard and his passion is to be the best he can be at his craft. I greatly anticipate discovering if his predictions are accurate about the next Murder She Baked film, but more importantly, I look forward to investigating his copious and varied works on his list of credits. He is about as down-to-earth as an actor can be and I salute him for his entire approach to this art form. Please do not miss out on anything from this remarkable actor by following him now on twitter (https://twitter.com/TobesLevins ).  After all, we want to be a part of that process that continues to see to it that his “rent is gonna get paid,” right?

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