Friday, April 18, 2014

Interview: Eric Mabius Delivers in New Hallmark Channel Series

Since the end of “Ugly Betty” in 2010, series star Eric Mabius has been everywhere. He’s starred or co-starred in numerous series, like “Outcasts,” “The Client List,” “Scandal,” “Blue Bloods,” and many others. He’s also starred in a few Hallmark Channel movies — and it’s this partnership with the cable network, known for its wholesome family programming, that has lured Eric back to series television. Eric stars in the upcoming prime-time Hallmark series called “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” as Oliver, a U.S. Postal detective who hunts down the recipients and sources of letters that end up in the dead-letter office (the series premieres Easter Sunday, April 20 at 8/7c). Oliver’s job isn’t as clear-cut as it would seem; it draws him into mysteries and intrigue that you wouldn’t expect from a postal worker. I spoke with Eric recently, and he told me how excited he is for viewers to experience this interesting and fun drama, which is brought to us by “Touched By an Angel” executive producer Martha Williamson.

Celebrity Extra: Tell me about your decision to work with Hallmark again, this time in a regular capacity by starring in a series.

Eric Mabius: As you said, I’d worked with Hallmark before on a couple of movies, and I thought: ”Why not? Why not Hallmark? Why not do an original series?” I firmly believe, and I think Hallmark shares the same belief, that this show is going to change everyone’s opinion of Hallmark. It’s not your mother’s Hallmark anymore. It’s really taking on issues in a way that’s still family-friendly, but much more; it’s not just escapism.

I was blessed enough to have a great family of actors on “Ugly Betty” and a significant amount of success. Actors wait their whole careers to have one of those, and I didn’t have to wait that long. And I just didn’t think I’d necessarily find the same thing again. But I found something better now. Because I feel more in a place to appreciate there’s an evolution going on. Being an actor with two children now and finally in my 40s, I just feel like everything lined up in such a wonderful way.

CE: Tell me about Oliver.

EM: Oliver has a very strong moral compass. He has a belief system, but he doesn’t shove it down people’s throats. He sees the greatness in people and tries to inspire them in the workplace. At different times, the audience gets to view this world through each of the character’s eyes, rather than just choosing one viewpoint as the audience filter. Martha keeps turning the content in on itself, so just when you think you know the road the show’s going to go down, it changes. She challenges us as actors, and I think the audience members as well.

CE: I know it’s early, but are you looking forward to a second season?

EM: I don’t think there are many forces on Earth that could stop this show from coming back next season. But networks have to go through their process. There’s already talk of a Christmas film for the show, just so the audience doesn’t have to go a whole year waiting for the second season. I am not trying to be boastful, I just mean that we’re aiming toward many seasons.

CE: Can you give me any clues as to what to expect this season?

EM: We’re moving toward a very big finale, and that is not set in stone yet. But we want to get it right. And we aren’t pouring everything into the finale. There are some episodes coming up that will feel like a type of finale, and that’s what’s great. Martha has so much left in her repertoire, there’s no end to how long this show could run. As these characters evolve and become more fully human, they help each other. There’s sort of a steady state that has been achieved when you start the series, in that Oliver has created this world of his own invention, and he fills it with people he can help mold. That falls by the wayside as we learn more about him, and Shane (McInerney, Oliver's newest protege, played by Kristin Booth) exposes his vulnerabilities. He addresses what will come to a head as this issue with his wife, and his belief that she’ll return one day. Shane challenges him on a daily basis with regard to his faith, and even though you can’t shake it, he’s learning how to justify it.

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