Christmas in July is finally over, and that means a return to inspiring, romantic movies on Hallmark Channel.
Cindy Busby and Torrence Coombs star in this delightful summer romance as a couple of old friends, one-time young, summer loves, who reconnect when they could both use a friend.
We had a chance to chat with them both, and today, we're featuring an interview with Cindy.
You have carved quite a niche for yourself with television movies. What do you enjoy about making them?
I really have. It's so interesting because when I first started off in my career, I'd done a couple of smaller roles in certain movies at the beginning of my career. And then I remember auditioning for a lot of TV movies, not specifically at Hallmark, the middle part of my career.
And I remember not even being able to book anything on Hallmark for such a long time, and it was so strange. I was like, I don't understand. I feel like I'm so right for this.
And then with Unleashing Mr. Darcy and Cedar Cove, when that came along, it just opened up the flood gates, and the word got out, and here I was, in demand, and working, and loving it.
And yeah, it's been a really wonderful process. I love all the aspects of the industry, but TV movies are nice because it's a short schedule. You get to create a full movie with and spend three really close weeks with such talented and passionate cast and crew.
And a lot of the times you get to work with them over and over again, which is, it becomes like a really big family. And the thing I love about Hallmark, as well, is that they throw parties. Well, not anymore, but when we were able to all hang out in groups.
And I'd be like, "Oh, my gosh, Hey, it's you. Oh, Hey, you," And I got to know everyone. And so, that's what I really enjoy about it is the sense of community that I think sometimes is a little bit tough as an actor.
You walk on a set, and you don't really know people. And then, depending on the role you get, after a couple of weeks or a couple of months, you don't really see them again.
It's heartbreaking every time; it's like you're breaking up with people. So, with all of these movies, it's just been a gift where I get to just repeatedly work with friends, which is all I could ever ask for.
I never even thought about it. I mean, I have thought about the aspects of never really having a place to hang your hat, whenever you do movies all the time.
So, it's almost like a temporary job.
That would be a way that everyday people can understand. You work as a temp, and while it's really great that you get to have so many different experiences, you really miss the long-term relationships.
Yeah. It's like being a substitute teacher. You show up, and you're like the new kid in town, and then all of a sudden, you don't see them again, if ever, or maybe a year down the road. And it's, you get used to it after a while, of course.
That's just part of the name of the game, but it definitely can be heartbreaking, especially when you really connect with people. But sometimes the people that you connect with live on the other side of the world, or they're just busy with family. And you know how life is, we just... But I'm so grateful for those moments.
And I feel lucky that I get to work. And I guess that's the difference is you win some, you lose some. But for me is, I get to work with so many different people from all over the world, and never just the same group of 10 people, which is actually such a really cool gift.
And as an actor, we portray human beings. And so, if I have an opportunity to be exposed to all different lives, and cultures, and experiences, then that just makes me a better actor, and I think that's cool.
Have you done on-location shooting outside of the US for your movies, and outside of Canada?
Where have you been?
So, I shot Royal Hearts, the movie with James Brolin; I shot that in Romania.
I loved that movie. That was so cute.
Wasn't it great?
Yeah. And you had such a little attitude, which is so rare on Hallmark movies. I mean, you just weren't letting that go. I loved it.
Wow, that was Romania?
Yeah, that was Romania, and I truly have James Brolin to thank for that little friction in the movie. Because he just really, because he directed the movie as well. And he's really passionate about creating just something different, and that was his way of doing it. But yeah, that movie is so near and dear to my heart, and I had the best time. And most of the actors were from Britain.
So, most of them are from London or the outskirts of London, and the Brits are just the best. They're just so funny, and rambunctious, and just a good group of people. And again, I don't really get to see those guys, but wow, we bonded that month we were all together.
It was just a true moment in time I really cherish a lot. And then I also, last year I did a movie in Australia, which has yet to come out, called Romance on the Menu. And Australia is like, ugh, what a dream that place is. It's truly incredible.
But then most of the places, I mean, I shot a miniseries at the beginning of my career in China. So, I actually spent two-and-a-half months there.
And then, but for the most part, it's been all over Canada and all over the United States, which is, it's so fun to get to travel and work at the same time. It's like summer camp.
Well, Hallmark movies, even in Canada, are filmed, they pick the most beautiful locations. It just must be a dream just even to be on set.
Yeah. I mean, Vancouver, a lot of the movies are shot there. And the great thing about British Columbia, Vancouver, is that it really can play just about anything.
You've got the ocean, and you've got the forest, and you've got, if you go inland, you can actually have a bit of desert where they have wineries, and it gets really, really hot. It can just be anywhere. It could be anywhere in middle America. It can be a big city. It's a really great backdrop for any story.
We talked about not having long-term relationships, but from what I understand, your Romance in the Air co-star, and you, have a bit of a background on Heartland.
What was it like working with him again?
Yeah. It was so cool. Working with him, I think it was a decade ago now, which is insane how fast time is flying. But yeah, it was so great to work with him back in the day. And both of our characters in Heartland were antagonist characters, which was quite nice, and we got along super well back then.
And then we lost touch, but we always stayed in touch via social media and that kind of thing, and we always had a great rapport. And then when I found out he was going to play opposite me in this movie, I was so excited.
I was like, oh, it's like just seeing an old friend again. And that's really how it felt, even though we hadn't seen each other in, I don't even know, nine years. It just felt like no time had passed at all.
And so, I think it was, that's what helped our chemistry, off and on screen because we got to hang out with each other on weekends and that kind of thing. So, I always feel like that helps make the relationship that much more believable, especially for Eden and Riley, the two characters.
They've known each other since they've been kids. And so, for us to already have that connection from years and years ago, I felt like that really helped us in the story.
Yeah. It was almost as if you were reliving that story without the romance part.
Rekindling your friendship.
Yeah. Art imitating life, if you would.
And how would you describe your character? How would you describe Eden to the audience?
I would describe Eden as someone who's checked all the boxes in her life, where she has a great career, she's got a boyfriend, a cute apartment, but there's something missing that she's lost along the way, that's really not bringing her happiness and joy.
And so, she realizes that when she is forced onto a vacation to find herself again, she realizes that she misses the old parts of her life. And when she brings those in, including Riley, that opens her up to who and what she really is and wants in her life.
And it gives her permission to follow through with something that means something to her, and not just what, quote-unquote, society wants her to do. And I think that's really special. I think we can all relate to change being scary.
And sometimes if we take the big plunge, great things can happen. And whether that's a relationship, whether that's in work, whether that's moving away to getting back. I think it's just getting back to the roots of things.
Sometimes we just get lost in the ebbs and flows of life.
And Eden and Riley both change direction in their careers, as well as their personal life.
And if you have to give up acting, where would your dreams lead you?
That's a really interesting question. I've been asked that a lot throughout, and it's tough because acting is so important to me, and it's something I've truly dedicated my life to. But I would say teaching in some way, shape, or form.
I love watching people grow and watching people succeed, and watching people... I've mentored people along the way in my career, people who are just starting out, and I really get passionate about sharing anything and everything I know, because we're all in this together.
And I really think that it's such an important thing to do.
It's not me against you. It's me with you, let's do this.
And so, I don't know, maybe some coaching, teaching of sorts. And then, of course, one thing I've realized is I'm obsessed with organization, so I would potentially own my own organization company because I love it. It brings me so much joy that I think I would excel at that.
What's your organization tactic? Is it containers and that type of thing, or do you have a big process?
Yeah. So, my process is just making sure that everything you have has a use. So, like the Marie Kondo way of, does it spark joy in your life? And for me, it's like, does it have a use? If you haven't worn this sweater in a year or two, then why do you still have it?
Is it just collecting dust? And what does this knickknack really mean? Is it really useful to you? Is it really meaningful to you? And what is it about holding onto things that speaks about you?
And the psychology between our notion of holding on to things versus being free when we don't have so much stuff. And yeah, I really love containers too. I just love a labeler, too, like if you put a label on a box with cards. I'm just like, my mouth starts to water, and I'm just so excited about it.
That is so cute.
I love containers, and The Container Store is my dream store to spend a lot of money.
Yes, absolutely. And it's funny because we don't have Container Stores in Canada, where I grew up. And so, when I first walked into one, I remember I started sweating. I was like, "Uh oh. I am screwed." How am I going to get out of this one? Yeah, exactly.
But I think, again, at the end of the day, it's about buying things that are useful for you and that you can reuse. The new thing that I'm really into, without getting too sidetracked, is using old jars that you buy spaghetti sauce in, or almond butter in.
And then once they're done, you empty them, you wash them, and then you use them to put rice, and spaghetti, or beans. And I just started using that. I'm like, I can't wait to finish jars so that I can put more stuff in them.
So, what are some of your favorite summer activities?
Ooh, my favorite summer activities are definitely swimming. I love being in the water. I am such a Pisces. I am a true fish. I could spend all day long until I'm totally wrinkled up.
And so, whether that's in the ocean, whether that's in a lake or just a pool, I love that. And then I love going on really nice walks or hikes. I also used to, I haven't done this in a little while, but I love playing tennis. And then also just having a barbecue, and just enjoying being outdoors, I guess.
Growing up in Montreal, you have all four seasons, so I really learned to appreciate the summer and the fall, and just spending time on the porch. And just, I love being with people, and that's my thing. And of course, I haven't done this in a while, but camping is real fun or renting out a cabin.
And then having that sweater that smells like a campfire for an entire week is just the best.
No, I agree. In the movie, Eden finds herself drawn to the boy that she knew during her childhood summers. And have you ever had the equivalent of a summer love that you left behind? What kind of memories did playing this role evoke for you?
I didn't really have a summer fling, but I definitely had, I guess I could equate it to, I had this guy in elementary school, slash high school, slash a little bit post-high school, that was always the guy that got away sort of thing, where it was never good timing, or I was super shy as a kid and a teenager, especially with boys.
And so, it's that thing, where it's if you see that person, it doesn't mean you necessarily want to be with them, but it brings up those old feelings again, where it almost brings you back to your youth, and it reminds you of the good old days.
And it brings up just a giddiness inside of you, and I just, I think that's so special. And to be able to have such great memories and feelings in regards to someone, I think that's really special.
And there are so many people that happens to, where they reconnect with their high school love, and then they end up getting married in their forties, or whatever. And I think that's so cool because maybe it wasn't right then, but it's that unrequited love, I suppose.
And I've never really had that, but I do have that one boy that if I would see today, I'd probably be like, even though I have a partner in my life, I would. And it's funny, I was just talking to him about my high school crush recently, and he's totally fine with it.
And he was just smiling; he was like, "Oh, that's so cool." And I was like, "Yeah. He was just my guy that nothing happened with, but if I saw him again, I would probably feel a little bit giddy."
Yeah. Your heart would race just a little bit like, "Oh, my."
What's your favorite romantic gesture? What really gets you going whenever somebody does something? It doesn't have to be a giant gesture, but just the little things.
What I noticed in the movie was Riley was always doing something because he recognized that it would mean something to Eden. So, what gets your heart a flutter?
So, if we're going to talk love languages, if you give me your time, quality time for me is so important, especially in a fast-paced world, where people are so busy, and we all work such long hours.
And my partner is in the industry as well, and so he works very long hours as do I, but it's the little moments where you drop everything for that person. That is priceless.
It doesn't cost anything to do that. And I think that is, for some people, the hardest thing to do, and yet the most meaningful. And for me, I don't care about any gifts, but only if you could give me your time. And that goes the same with my friends too.
We might not see each other for two weeks, but if we put aside an afternoon where it's just me and them, no phone, no distractions because there are so many distractions nowadays, and it requires more effort to put in the time.
And so, therefore, that means the most to me. And then I'd also say a handwritten card is my go-to. I love writing long, meaningful messages and cards, and I love receiving them too.
I'm old fashioned in that way. I feel like I'm a little bit old fashioned. I would much rather talk to you on the phone than text you. I just think that there's something about speaking to someone, again, taking the time to talk to them rather than just send someone a message and hope for the best.
Are they going to write back to me? I don't know. It's just such a weird concept that we live in nowadays, but I'm a little bit old fashioned.
So, the other thing that Riley and Eden did, was go to the local ice cream shop. What is your favorite frosty treat for summer?
Ooh, I'm not much of a sweet tooth, personally, but if I do have to get something at the ice cream shop, my go-to was always a strawberry sundae. Vanilla ice cream with strawberries on top is just simple, delicious, and totally up my alley. Otherwise, I would say cookie dough ice cream.
The movie also featured, hello, hot air balloons! Have you ever been on a balloon ride before?
No. I actually had never been in one. Torrance had, a couple of times. But yeah, when I first read the script, I saw that there was a hot air balloon, and my heart started pounding because I was like, "I don't know if I can do this. I am so scared of heights. What's going to happen on set?"
And I had a bit of a panic attack, because I was like, "I really want to do this movie, but I don't know if I'll be able to live through the day. How am I going to? I'm just going to come off as a fool."
And anyway, so I talked to my agent and manager, and of course, everyone told me that everything would be done so securely, and we actually never ended up going fully up in the air.
We only went about, I don't know, 30, 40 feet up, and then they just tethered the basket. So, we were floating at certain points, but with the movie magic, it just looked like we were really, really high up there. And of course, with green screens and et cetera, we were able to make that believable.
But it turns out, Torrance was the first one to tell me, he's like, "You'll see. When the balloon starts going up, you won't even notice it floating. It's so light, and it's not jerky at all." The most abrasive thing is actually the gas when you pull on it, and the fire comes out, it is so loud. I could barely hear myself talk.
But other than that, it was such a smooth ride, and I wanted to go higher. I was left wanting more, which was actually a nice lesson. Sometimes we just freak ourselves out when we don't even really know what's going to happen, or how we're going to feel in the moment.
And so, it was me just letting go of my fears, and just enjoying it. So, I would, I think, I would definitely consider going into a real hot air balloon ride, all out, at some point in my life, but that was a good initiation.
I think the fear of the unknown keeps you from doing things, but when you're actually in the moment.
It's not as scary.
Exactly. And I guess that brings it back to Eden, the character of the unknown of what happens if I'm not with Michael anymore and I do end up with Riley? And what happens if I move back to where I grew up, and I let go of this job?
But sometimes change can be the most beautiful thing if you're willing to take the leap of faith. And that's always something that people want more of.
They want to see that in stories because I think we all want to take leaps in our lives, and sometimes we're just so fearful of doing that. And when we can see that it's possible that something great can be around the corner, then we just feel that much more motivated.
Is that how connected with Eden?
Yeah. And sometimes on the surface, the story can seem a little bit more simple than that. But I think as an actor myself, I like to dig deep into humanity and could go through experiences and the psychology of why we all do certain things.
And yeah, that is definitely, the psychology of her character is really appealing to me, of being able to let go and surrender to what may be the best for you. And sometimes that means letting go of certain things, and that's not always easy, but when you do, look what happens. You float like a hot air balloon.
Romance In the Air will be on Hallmark Channel on Saturday, August 1 at 9/8c.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.