Brittany Bristow stars in A Tail of Love, a heartwarming romance costarring Chris McNally.
The movie follows a woman named Bella who runs a successful dog rescue with her grandmother, and they are shocked when the land on which they operate is sold out from under them.
We jumped on the phone with Brittany to talk about it.
A Tail of Love is kind of a family affair, isn't it?
It is. It is. Yeah. It's been a really fun one to share with people. I'm really excited for everyone to see it. And it was such an honor to be able to work with my mom and my dad on this one.
And you've worked with them before, but isn't this your first lead role on a movie that you worked with them?
Yeah, it is. I've done a couple of these movies with them now, but this was my first time ever having the leading role, which was really kind of a fun, new experience and really special. So yeah, this is the first one.
What's it like working with them? I mean, did your mom tweak the script to your strengths or anything? And how did your dad direct you?
Well, I know my mom seems to think I'm funny. I don't know why. [laughs] But she always likes to throw in a couple of extra jokes if she knows that it's going to be coming my way. So I know she definitely tried to find the good humor in there.
Yeah, so it was really fun, and my dad and I have worked together, and he's been my director before. Of course, this time, it was slightly different because I was on set every single day, but we had so much fun.
And honestly, I think I'm really lucky in that my parents and I now just have such a professional relationship when we're on set, and we really respect each other.
We really trust each other's opinions, and it results in us being able to be open and super collaborative, which is really fun.
And with them, you've also worked with animals in the past. And here you are again, working with animals. What's it like having animal friends as your co-stars?
Oh my gosh. So much fun. I absolutely loved working with the dogs. I mean, I think dogs are so special. They're so intuitive. They're so knowledgeable. They're so smart. They're such wonderful creatures.
And I think it was one of those things where I had all these really special moments on set, where if we were really excited, the dogs would get really excited. If we were having a moment where we were introspective and having a deep conversation, you could feel the dogs change the way that they were navigating their behavior and their responses to us, which was really cool.
It just felt really special to be able to work so closely with them, and Moxie, who plays Indy, is just the most incredible dog. She's so smart. She took directions so well. She knew where she needed to be all the time. And she was just really in tune with both Chris and I, which was really cool to witness.
That was a very sweet dog.
Yes. She's incredible.
Where did the animals for A Tail of Love come from? Were they all working dogs, or were some of them available for adoption or anything?
No. None of them were available for adoption on this one. They were all working dogs. But it's funny, Actually, Moxie was the only one who wasn't a working dog. She's an obedience champion. And Dawn has had her for a few years now, and she's just such a well-behaved dog.
She loves doing tricks. She loves learning new skills. And we were searching for the perfect dog to play Indy, and we found Moxie. And it was incredible because she just responded so well.
You're never quite sure how that's going to work, especially on a set. There are so many people, so many moving parts, but Moxie was so calm and so prepared every single day. She was incredible. And it was her first time ever being on a set.
Whereas a lot of these other dogs have been on sets before, but they sort of ran the show. We worked around them because we wanted them to be comfy. They had really true star treatment. They had dog treats left, right, and center. They had their own little cots, and they would take naps in the sun.
Aw, that's so cute.
Yeah, it was very, very cute.
You just discovered a new talent. Moxie is going to be a star now, thanks to A Tail of Love.
I know. It's kind of crazy. I feel like I should become her manager now.
So tell me a little bit about Bella and what goes on with her in the movie.
Bella is a character who has so much kindness in her heart. She is so loving and so generous and so selfless in so many ways. She will do anything and everything she has to do to protect these dogs, to protect the shelter.
She's one of those people that once you're in, you're really in, but the dogs never need to work for it. She loves them unconditionally, no matter their circumstances or their history. She's so incredibly caring.
She is also a little scared in her own way, in her own life. She's nervous of what it looks like to open up to somebody. She's been hurt in the past, and she's not sure if she's really willing to deal with the pain that can come with falling in love.
Indy really does sort of open her eyes up to just how important connection is. And it's always been there for her. It's just a matter of her seeing it for herself, which is a really beautiful thing to witness throughout the story.
And going back to Indy again, how was it watching her work? Is she a girl? Moxie?
She is, yeah.
Just those scenes with the boots and the flag. And I mean, how hard is that to bring the light? It's so touching.
Honestly, it's one of those things too, where, in the movie, it was so heartbreaking. Because when you're really in character, and you're really invested in the moments and in the characters around you, including Indy, it feels like your heart breaks for this dog. It was really interesting.
I told the story just the other day. But when we were filming that scene, there's this moment where I get really upset, after we discovered that. And I actually started crying on set.
And Moxie is a very smart dog, she's a very sweet dog, but she is not a very cuddly dog. She loves Dawn, her owner. She will cuddle Dawn to the moon and back forever.
But when it comes to people around her, she's very professional. So she'll sit with you. She'll look at you and give you the lick here and there, but she's not super affectionate.
But in that scene, when I was crying, she came up to me. And you know, how dogs will touch noses, when they're trying to connect with each other sometimes, it's like their way of giving each other a little affection?
It was one of the purest moments I think I've ever had on a set, was just this un-encompassed creature looking at me and going, "I need to try to fix this." And it was so beautiful. That moment is heartbreaking, but it's really beautiful at the same time if that makes sense.
Oh no, absolutely. And I wasn't going to ask this question at this particular point, but now I am. It's not very often that I get angry watching a Hallmark movie, but I had a really hard time with Rachel Montgomery.
You and me both.
I mean, she was just ... I was just like, "`I hate you." [laughs] The actress did such a good job.
The actress who plays her, Stephanie Moore, is such a lovely lady. She did such a good job.
Can you talk a little bit about what's going on with her and how she's involved in the story?
Of course. So Rachel is the person who buys the Stockard Pet Food Company from JR when he decides that he's going to be selling. And she sort of comes in and has all of these plans. I think she's one of those people.
She knows there's a lot of money in it. She wants to make that money, and she doesn't really care who she hurts in the process.
Rachel and Bella are really interesting in how complete polar opposites they are. And it really highlights their true qualities. Rachel is greedy and unkind, and selfish. And Bella is the person who is her complete opposite.
She's kind, she's selfless, and she's generous. And she just wants to do whatever she has to do to save the shelter and save the dogs.
And Rachel just does not care. And it's funny because when I first met the woman who's playing her, she was so incredible. She's so kind. And then she stepped into the shoes of this character, and I was like, "I don't like you." But we had a ton of fun playing together because she was just so good at being a little meanie.
And she really was a meanie.
Oh yeah, no, she's super mean. In this movie, there is a real mean character.
And it's different because in a lot of movies like this it's something that comes between the romantic leads. And that's not the case here at all.
What can you tell us about JR?
JR is very determined. He has a lot of drive. And I think he's somebody that really genuinely wants to do the right thing. His heart is in the right place all the time. He wants to do right by his country.
He wants to do right by his family. He wants to do right by Lily, Bella's grandmother, a woman he knew his entire life growing up. And now he wants to do right by Bella.
He's just somebody who will do everything in his power to do the right thing. And I think it's a really commendable way of navigating life. And he's a really standup character.
He's somebody that I think a lot of people would look at and go, "Wow, I want to be like that," in that I really want always to be putting my best foot forward and standing up for the people who matter and saying, when I think that something's not right.
And I think that's one thing that's really incredible about his character. And I think Chris [McNally] brought a lot of that as well.
I was going to say, Chris has a real knack for romantic leads. There's just something so believable about his portrayal.
Yeah. And I think a lot of that is that Chris is just a really lovely person. He has a big heart, and he genuinely cared not just about the film but about his character. And in the same way that you would care about your friends, he really wanted to truthful performance to JR.
He really wanted to make sure that JR was a real person. And it really shows in this film. I think he did an incredible job. And he was just such an incredible co-star to have. And I feel very, very lucky that he was JR in this film with me.
And what was your rapport like on set? Did you guys have conversations about the themes you were sharing and work off of each other? How did that work for you?
Yeah, we definitely did. I think Chris and I have a very similar way of preparing for the role, which was really cool, in that we both do a lot of press work. We both really look at the script and find all of the things that maybe feel little sticky, or maybe we could reword a little bit to make it feel more natural.
But we're both people who put a lot of effort into the thought of what clothes we feel would be the best clothes for these characters? What hairstyle, what everything? We create the full backstory. We do all of that.
So what was really fun for us is, as we were exploring different scenes further throughout the film, we had an opportunity to sort of unload the characters we'd built to each other.
So that it felt like we were in the same sense as Bella and Jr are getting to know each other, we were getting to know each other through our characters.
And then it was just really nice and that we would share a lot about, okay, this is how I'm feeling in this scene. So this is where my emotional place is coming from.
Does that honor what's happening with your character? And if not, can we still do it? Can we find a way to play with that? Or do we need to rework things a little bit? And we were really collaborative. And it was just really lovely.
What do you think is particularly special about A Tail of Love?
I think what's really special about A Tail of Love is that it's a film about two people who are really unsure of where they're going, in terms of what's next for them. There are people that have their sights set in terms of -- this is what my life is going to look like.
This is what I'm going to do every day. Sure. There are going to be breaks here and there, but they have a complete concrete path in front of them. And then that gets interrupted, and they both have to navigate where to next. And I think that's something that a lot of people go through on a daily basis.
So what's really kind of great about this film is it shows two people having to be vulnerable and having to take a chance on themselves, on each other. And I think it showcases vulnerability in a really beautiful way.
I also think it really showcases how animals have such an impact on our lives. It showcases how incredibly important the relationships we build with our dogs and our cats are, and how important we are to them and vice versa.
Yeah. And so many people can get on board with that part of it.
Yeah. Yeah. I think it's a really relatable film. Of course, it's a movie. It's living in a movie world. But I think, realistically, it's a film that a lot of people can look at and go, "Oh, well, I've experienced something like that."
Or I've felt like that at some point in my life. It's a relatable story. And I think a lot of people will be able to relate to both JR and to Bella at various points throughout the film.
So I know you've done some producing in the past. Are you looking at producing any movies like this in the future for you?
I would love to. I mean, I really enjoy all assets of the film industry. I find them fascinating. And early on in my career, I wanted to learn as much as possible about all aspects of the industry.
I felt that the more well-rounded I could be in terms of understanding what it is to produce or develop a story or write it, the better off I would be as an actor and as a team player on a set.
So I've worked in a lot of different fields within the film industry, and I would absolutely love to produce a film like this. I just finished writing the first draft of a new script with my fiance.
So hopefully, we'll get that off the ground at some point. And it is a romantic comedy. So we'll see. But I would love to produce that. And yeah, I mean, it's a dream to do it all.
What's it like writing with your fiance?
So much fun. We have an absolute blast together. And it's a story that we've been coming up with for the last couple of years. And finally, we thought, "You know what, let's just sit down and write this thing."
So it's been really fun, and we laugh a lot and talk through the different scenes. And it's been really enjoyable.
A Tail of Love premieres on Hallmark Channel on Saturday, April 23 at 8/7c.
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, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.