Laura Vandervoort Talks Desperately Seeking Santa
ABC Family is getting into the holiday spirit with their Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas programming, which will include the new holiday movie Desperately Seeking Santa starring Laura Vandervoort and Nick Zano. The movie debuts on Sunday, November 27 at 8 PM ET, and actress Laura Vandervoort recently held a conference call to discuss this Christmas movie, which centers on an ambitious marketing executive and her quest to find a new Santa for the South Boston Mall. Here's what Laura Vandervoort had to say below.
Do you like doing comedy?
Laura Vandervoort: Yes, I mean I started working when I was about 13 and I really just started doing more mainstream television on sci-fi doing Smallville and V so that's kind of been my world for a while-the sci-fi world. But recently, since V's ended, I've had a chance to do some feature films and really kind of mix it up for myself doing Ted and This Means War and then obviously Desperately Seeking Santa was a romantic comedy and I had never had the chance to do that. Obviously I relate more so to Jennifer Walker then my other characters, which were aliens and flesh-eating lizards, but it was a lot of fun to film and it was in my hometown. I just finished a Lifetime film and having Ted come out next with Mark Wahlberg, I'm just trying to do new things and comedy seems to be a lot of fun for me.
There were rumors out there that when you were in Smallville, there was talk about you possibly having a spin-off show, a Supergirl spin-off show. Was there any truth to those rumors?
Laura Vandervoort: Well, Season 7 in Smallville is when I kind of came onto the show. I was actually just a guest star at the beginning doing two or three episodes and I guess the reaction to Kara, my character, was great and they decided to keep me around and I did all of Season 7. I did hear rumors about a spin-off. For some reason, that sort of never came about and unfortunately we didn't get a chance to kind of test out those waters. But there were discussions about that and then obviously, I moved onto V and just did some returning guest stars on Smallville.
Desperately Seeking Santa is such a fun twist on that money miser Christmas theme. When you first read the script, what did you like about it most?
Laura Vandervoort: Honestly, the fact that she was human was a small portion of the reason I chose to take it because I'd been playing so many out of this world characters, which is a lot of fun to do, but it was nice because I actually felt like I related to Jennifer more than the other characters. She's a bit of a workaholic like myself and I tend to forgot to have fun sometimes because I am so serious and much like Jennifer. In the film she learns that it's not all about working hard and being focused. You can actually have fun and relax and I had a chance to do on this film. It was the first role where I really thoroughly enjoyed the process. We were laughing. We were improvising. We were being silly. The smiles in the film are all real. It was just a great cast and I was finally able to relax. So it's sort of ironic that what my character went through was sort of what I was going through, which is just learning that it's not all about work. But, it has been a great year for me and the work has been fantastic and now I'm learning to just really enjoy it.
Do you have any favorite Christmas traditions?
Laura Vandervoort: I do. I'm going home this year. I'm from Canada and I just moved out to L.A. on my own, so I'm looking forward to going home. Every year, both sides of my family - my mom's side and my dad's side - we do kind of family reunions and we see the grandparents and all the cousins get together. So that's nice, but really the tradition I enjoy the most is just having a fire with my parents. This year, we're going to our cottage up north and there's snow and we have deer that come right up to the door, so it's like a pretty beautiful Christmas. We're lucky. Much like the movie, as we get older, it's not about the presents, it's about the fact that you don't get to see your family as much as you'd like, especially in this industry. For me, I'm traveling alone a lot of the time, so it's really special for me now more so than ever to be with my family and also my mom's broccoli casserole.
It seems like your character might be a little bit of a Scrooge, so I was curious how your own feelings about Christmas differ from Jennifer's and how they're similar.
Laura Vandervoort: Actually, it's funny that you put it that way because while we were filming it, I said to one of our producers, Irene (Dreayer), Jennifer Walker's pretty much the Scrooge in the film and I've never really played a character that people hate or want to hate. So that was kind of fun for me and obviously, she learns her lesson and that sort of thing.
How is your attitude about Christmas like hers?
Laura Vandervoort: Oh, I love Christmas. Who doesn't love Christmas? In the last interview, I was just saying how much I enjoy spending time with my family and really just reconnecting and having the fireplace going and the music going. I think it's a great time in the year to just be thankful for everything that you have.
A lot of people, like we've said before, know you from your sci-fi work and that's obviously a totally different genre. What did you learn from those two series that you've been able to apply here and how different was it on this set?
Laura Vandervoort: All of the sci-fi projects I've done, even all of the other projects-it's a growing process and a learning experience. I started at 13 and didn't have a clue about how the industry worked or whether I could handle it. And then with every role I took, I was learning something new. So on the big shows like V and Smallville, I just I was trying to understand how to work the dialogue and just learning from the other actors and understand the hours that you'd have to work and really kind of holding that discipline. But, on this film, it wasn't as serious and it was more about just really letting yourself shine through and enjoying the process because sci-fi can be very serious, especially with V, we didn't show emotion. So this film was a huge transition for me being about to just be silly once the character realizes what Christmas is about and she develops a bit of a personality. It was nice and to do these romantic scenes, it was a change for me and it was a lot of fun and it shows a different side of me. I've been doing some other movies this year that are comedic. I have Ted coming out next year and This Means War, which McG directed and we were able to improvise. And I just finished a thriller for Lifetime two nights ago. So, I'm trying a little bit of everything. I want to try it all.
Laura Vandervoort: It was great. We got along really well and I think the producers were happy with the chemistry. It was pretty easy. We both have similar personalities-joking around on set and I was lucky the rest of the cast was fantastic. Because we shot it in Toronto, I ended up knowing a lot of the actors that were cast, my friend, John Bregar and Paula Brancati. So it was just a nice atmosphere on set. Everyone was just being silly. There was one night when I think it was the final scene where Nick Zano's character is performing on stage as Santa and it was like 3 AM or something like that and those of us who weren't in the scene were dancing around behind the monitors. It was just a nice crew and a nice feeling shooting that movie.
What was the hardest scene to film?
Laura Vandervoort: I could joke and say the hardest scene to film was when my character Jennifer auditioned all the hunky Santas and I just had to sit there and watch all of these handsome actors in front of me. But, that was an easy part of the job. Actually, they were all pretty enjoyable. I mean, just technically speaking, a lot of the walk and talk scenes are a little tough and we were in a mall that was not closed to the public, so we did have to stop often for actual shoppers making noise. But, it was a pretty seamless shoot. It was a lot of fun.
Have you been approached about doing another V miniseries, perhaps to follow-up because the season finale was so epic and I know a lot of your fans would love to see you return as Lisa at some point. Has there been any talk about that at all?
Laura Vandervoort: No, I haven't been approached or heard anything about that. I know Project Alice is trying to get us back on the air, but no there hasn't been any discussion. When it ended, it ended. We didn't hear from the producers again about it. And a lot of the actors have moved on to other projects, though we keep in touch when we can. It would be nice to sort of wrap that storyline up a little more, but haven't heard anything.
Are there a particular actors that do the comedic/drama thing that you draw influences from?
Laura Vandervoort: There are a few. I haven't really thought about that before, so it's a great question. I mean, even the serious actors like Meryl Streep have these great comedic moments. Ryan Reynolds, funny enough, he has a dry sense of humor and I feel like a lot of Canadians have that dry sense of humor or that's what I'm being told out here anyways, in L.A. Rachel McAdams, there's a ton of really serious, great actors and actresses who do these little comedic films or independent films or have that flash of comedy. So, I don't think I could even really list off the ones that I draw from. I'm just inspired by any serious actors who try to do the comedic side of it because comedy is, I think, one of the toughest things to do.
It's such a great time of year when you can turn on the TV and almost any given night from here on out be treated to a Christmas movie. So how do you find that Desperately Seeking Santa both fits in and stands out from the other holiday movies that are coming on TV every year?
Laura Vandervoort: It fits in, first of all, because it's a great family film, but it's also a very romantic, sweet story between these two very different people. She is the Scrooge of the film and she's very focused on making it up the corporate ladder and she doesn't realize what's right in front of her, which is true love and family, which she doesn't have. It's unique because it's just this kind of almost comedic take on it as well. There's a lot of laughs and we sort of laugh at ourselves in the film. Obviously, we have Nick Zano, who's wonderful, and a lot of the other Canadian actors. It's just a young, new cast and it's our kind of take on a modern Christmas love story.
Are there any Christmas movies that stick out to you as favorites or ones that hold a special place in your heart?
Laura Vandervoort: Yeah, I have the classic White Christmas and because I'm a Tim Burton fan, The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is an off choice, but I've always enjoyed that. There was a clay animation film that I liked growing up called The Abominable Snowman. It was a clay animation film. There are definitely films that I'd want to watch every Christmas that bring me back to my childhood.
Aside from the romantic relationship between David and Jennifer, I really liked all the scenes with you and Paula Brancati (Marissa in the movie) and how it was really about friendship and family as well as the romance. In the final product, what was your favorite part as far as the friendship between you and your co-workers?
Laura Vandervoort: I really enjoyed working with Paula. I knew her beforehand. She was on Degrassi: The Next Generation and I was on Instant Star so we sort of shared the same crew and set. We get along really well so a lot of the scenes that we got to do that were kind of the silly friendship scenes were a lot of fun and the fact that my character Jennifer sort of turns on her was tough. But, I mean, I don't think that I had a favorite scene between her and I. I just liked the development of the friendship. It was just fun to play.
Laura Vandervoort: Sure, it was directed by Seth MacFarlane. He does Family Guy. It was his directorial debut. It has Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis and Patrick Warburton in it. Mark Wahlberg plays a character who has no friends growing up so he makes a wish that his teddy bear would come to life and it does. And then as he becomes an adult, he still has that teddy bear with him. He works at a car rental shop and my character works at the car rental shop with him. So, I had a lot of my scenes with Mark. It's just kind of a really funny comedy-kind of that potty humor. I don't really know what to compare it to. It's kind of a guy's movie, but it was a lot of fun. I think it's going to be really great.
Would you say that this ABC Family movie prepared you for Ted?
Laura Vandervoort: I guess I would say doing Desperately Seeking Santa kind of made me confident in doing a bit of the more comedic stuff and being silly and being more like myself. By the time that we got onto the Ted set, I'm sure it helped, but they were completely different characters. My character on Ted was sort of a guy's girl. Like she can hang with the best of them and throw back the comebacks at the guys. Whereas Jennifer in Desperately Seeking Santa, she was independent and strong as a corporate woman, but when it came to relationships, she was naïve. So the characters were completely different. It was different types of comedy. But I do enjoy doing the comedy and improvising.
You've been working very hard since you were pretty much a kid in this industry. If you could somehow travel back in time to when you were just starting out and give yourself some advice, what would you tell your younger self?
Laura Vandervoort: I would probably tell myself to try to enjoy it a little more and not take it so seriously. That it will all come together and that you don't know everything yet-you're still going to discover new things about yourself and about this world so just hang tight.
The character Jennifer is this big marketing exec who really has a lot of ambitions and I was wondering what took away from working on the film as far as the world of the business person and the high stakes marketing stuff. Like is that something that you would ever want to be a part of? Were you able to learn about how the stresses they go through or what was that like?
Laura Vandervoort: Yeah, I'd never want to be a part of that. That's something I think I already knew, but the corporate world is-I don't think it's for me. I just finished playing a lawyer, so it's fun to play them and to try out new careers through film and television, but I don't think I'm cut out for the corporate world. I think I'm just going to stay where I am for now.
You had mentioned that when they filmed the movie, they did not close the mall to the public. How was that experience? Was it different from shooting on the studio sets or was it really not that big of a change?
Laura Vandervoort: Oh yeah, it's completely different. I mean, all three of the series that I had worked on have been in the studio and rarely go on location. In V itself, I was on green screen the entire series, pretty much. So to actually be out on location shooting a film, especially in a mall that isn't shut down, I mean, it adds to the experience. It does take a little longer to shoot. You do have people watching and noises and that sort of thing, but it's part of the experience when you're on location. We were on location two nights ago in Vancouver on my last project and it's just a completely different experience and you're outside and there's other film crews down the street shooting another movie and people are kind of interested in the industry, so they're watching. It just adds to the experience.
Why should viewers tune in and watch Desperately Seeking Santa?
Laura Vandervoort: Well, if you love Christmas films and you love sort of that warm feeling watching them-your heart feels joy and you want to sit there with family, this is a great film. It's also if you're a true romantic at heart, it's a beautiful kind of love story. It has all the aspects. You've got the Scrooge, you've got Santa, you've got Santa's helpers, which are all the other characters in this film and then on top of it all, it is a beautiful love story with a splash of kind of comedy and humor to it. It was a lot of fun to film, so I think it would be a lot of fun for people to watch.