Friday, January 25, 2013

Interview: Luke Perry's Gamble Pays Off

L to R: Ricky Schroder, Luke Perry, Katharine Isabelle

For fans of the Hallmark Movie Channel’s “Goodnight for Justice” films who are anxiously awaiting the next installment, your wait is over. Luke Perry returns as Justice John Goodnight in the third film of the series, “Goodnight for Justice: Queen of Hearts,” which premieres Jan. 26 at 8/9c. This time, John rescues a beautiful woman from a stagecoach gunfight, never realizing she is actually an outlaw on the run. As a romance develops between them, he helps her escape the corrupt man (Cyril Knox, played by Ricky Schroder) who is after her, until finding out she might not be as innocent as she seems. I spoke with Luke recently about this latest “Goodnight” film.

Daytime Dial: So tell us what John Goodnight has been up to since we last saw him in “Measure of a Man” until we see him come face to face with a bear in the opening scene of “Queen of Hearts.”

Luke Perry: Between “Measure of a Man” and “Queen of Hearts,” I never wanted to see another woman again, especially if she is going to spring on me, “Oh yeah, and that’s your kid.” I rode out of that (at the end of “Measure”) and was thinking: “Man, I’m not even going to stop and talk to a girl again. Are you kidding me?” But I come up on this situation that required some dealing with. And when I open the door, who should be there? A pretty girl. Isn’t that always the way?

DD: So in that opening scene, were you really face to face with that huge bear, or was there a protective barrier there between you?

LP: I did that face to face. That bear touched my face. That was an “oh sh*t” moment for everybody. It got real muddy, and the bear was slipping and I was slipping, and we were really close to each other. But they were sweet bears, and their breath smelled good. They’d been eating cookies, and their breath smelled like Oreos.

DD: Speaking of doing your own stunts, there is a really cool scene at the end of the movie, which I won’t mention to give anything away, and it really looked like you doing that stunt. Was that you?

LP: Yep, that was me. I’d been wanting to do stunt ever since I was 6 years old. And that’s a hard thing to pull off, because for insurance reasons, in America they won’t let you do it. But up in Canada, where we shot, as the producer of the movie, I was able to get it figured out. I think that’s a really neat thing for the audience. That’s why you do it.

DD: Did you let your stuntman do anything?

LP: Not to not take anything away from the lovely and talented Eli Zagoudakis. Eli jumped off the cliff before I did, because as a producer, I had to make sure that we got the shot in the can, so the responsible thing to do was to let Eli go first. When Eli got done, I looked at the assistant director and asked, “How much time do we have?” and he said, “Eighteen minutes.” I said, “Load ’em up again, boys.” And I climbed up there and got to do my take at jumping off the cliff.

DD: I got a laugh out of that scene in the beginning, where John shows he is not infallible, as he inadvertently lets off a young Butch Cassidy …

LP: There are two things I always wanted to do with this character: I liked the idea of him bumping up against history — Butch Cassidy, for instance. If you’re somebody who likes history, it puts you in the mind of what period they’re in. I’ve always liked stuff like that. And the other thing I’ve always said is judges are not perfect people. They’re just people who have to have this job of judging. That’s always interested me — the dispensation of justice by people who clearly are imperfect, because mistakes will be made.

DD: I finally saw “Lonesome Dove” for the first time a few months back...

LP: That was great, wasn't it?

DD: I absolutely loved it, especially Ricky Schroder. Aside from being a very good actor, was knowing that he could handle a horse and that he knows his way around a Western a big reason you decided to cast him as Cyril Knox?

LP: My hope was that all those people who saw “Lonesome Dove” would think, “Oh yeah, I saw him in ‘Lonesome Dove.’” And then they would turn up and watch this movie. Yes, absolutely, I wouldn’t try to hide that from you. But he was a good choice, and clearly he identifies with this type of material. We have seen him before and have seen him do it very well. And, of course, I wanted a good actor in the role.

DD: I also like that you cast him against type as Cyril Knox; we are used to seeing Ricky as the good guy.

LP: For me as an actor, I oftentimes wish producers would take a chance and cast me against type, and they often don’t, so when you get a chance, you do it. At least I do. I got a chance to say, “No, no, it’s not the guy that they would expect, so let’s do that.”

DD: How was Ricky to work with? Or is it Rick? I go back and forth …

LP: Rick, Ricky — I don’t think he cares, to tell you the truth. As long as you call him for lunchtime, he’s happy. I think he had a pretty good time on the shoot. And it was good for me to know that when we send him out on a horse and tell him to come riding in the shot, he would most probably stay on the horse. A lot of the time, actors can’t do that, but we knew with Rick that he would be really good.

DD: Your female foil in this movie, Katharine Isabelle, was really great in the part. What was she like to work with?

LP: Katie was great. She was a trouper. We had a real good time, and she didn’t fall either. Seriously — because a lot of times, people say they can ride a horse when you’re in casting but they can’t. Katie really could ride. That’s always Katie you see riding, and she does a great job with it. But not just with that stuff. She also did the scenes really well. She’s sweet, she’s really pretty and she’s sassy — all good qualities onscreen.

DD: And you reteamed with your “Jeremiah” director, Martin Wood. I’ll assume it was a good experience on “Jeremiah” for you to hire him for “Queen of Hearts.”

LP: Yes, it was. Martin is one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with. And people get the idea because he’s done a lot of sci-fi that he can only do sci-fi. I always knew that if I put him in another situation, he would be able to deliver for me. I think this is our best (“Goodnight for Justice” film) yet. Martin really had great command of all the elements, and we had a good pre-existing rapport with each other and a lot of trust. And he was great with all the actors. It’s always great when you get a chance to give someone an opportunity to step outside his envelope and show people that he can do it.

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