EXCLUSIVE | Lifetime's 'Christmas At The Castle' star Dan Jeannotte says location is what makes film 'special'
The actor said that while the movie does have romance, humor and Christmas magic, the one thing that stands out is the film's location in the Scotland highlands
'Christmas At The Castle' is set to premiere on Wednesday, December 23 at 8/7c on Lifetime and brings with it a story of Blaire Henderson (Brooke Burfitt), a perfume expert from the Big Apple who goes to remote Scotland to find a rare fragrance called The Heart of the Highlands. Unfortunately for her, the license owner and aristocrat, Alistair McGregor (Dan Jeannotte), doesn't want to sell her the scent.
Hence, she pretends to be a documentary filmmaker to learn the secrets behind the formula. But, as they spend time together, their chemistry is undeniable and romance fills the air during the holidays. In an exclusive interview with MEAWW, Jeannotte speaks about how he landed the role of McGregor, his experience working on the film and what he has in store next in his upcoming projects.
Revealing that the role of McGregor was a "brilliant, unexpected Christmas present" for him, Jeannotte explained that the producers of the film reached out to him "out of the blue." "They knew me from my role in 'The Good Witch'. They asked if I'd be interested in doing this Christmas movie that would be filming in Scotland — honestly, that already sounded pretty good to me!"
"Before I had a script, I was told the story was about an American who travels to Scotland and tries to convince a perfume maker to sell their prized perfume," said the actor. He also said that he had assumed that he would be playing an American, but that wasn't the case.
"They wanted me to play the perfume maker, a Scottish earl! Funnily enough, it's the second time I've played a Scottish earl — the first being in 'Reign'. In any case, the script was delightful, I'm always happy to put on an accent, and I loved the idea of working in Scotland. And in the end, I brought my family with me, and we made a whole European Christmas trip out of it."
When asked how 'Christmas At The Castle' stood out from the countless other Lifetime holiday movies, the actor said that while the movie does have romance, humor and Christmas magic, the one thing that stands out is the film's location. "We shot the film entirely on location in the Scottish highlands, and it's an absolutely gorgeous area. And the castle, oh my goodness. We filmed at Glamis Castle — a famous historical place, going back hundreds and hundreds of years."
He continued, "It was the childhood home of the Queen's mother. The Queen's sister Princess Margaret was born there. And it's actually the castle that Macbeth lives in, in 'Macbeth'! But amazingly, we were the first film to be allowed access to the castle. That felt quite special, to be the first people to be filming in this incredible place."
As for his accent, Jeannotte revealed the irony of the situation when it came to his co-star Burfitt. "One funny thing about working opposite Brooke Burfitt was that she herself is English, but her character in the film is American while I'm actually Canadian, but I was playing a Scot, speaking with a British accent. So we essentially swapped accents for the movie. She would give me notes on my British accent, and I would help her with her American!" he said.
Jeannotte has played the role of Earl of Moray in The CW's 'Reign' and is known for his roles as Brandon Russell in 'The Good Witch' series and Ryan Decker in Freeform's 'The Bold Type' — all of which are different genres. So how was it working on a holiday set for him? Jeannotte revealed that since he's worked in TV shows before, he's always been part of a set that helps a "LOT of people," but that wasn't the case on the 'Christmas At The Castle' set.
"One thing that was particularly interesting for me about 'Christmas At The Castle' was that we shot the movie with a very small crew — I believe there were 10 crew members total. That's a really small group and it meant that everyone had to really pitch in and work hard. So there was a really nice sense of community, like we were a family, all working together on something special. I loved that feeling. And I'm very proud of what we accomplished," revealed the talented actor.
"Well... I say what 'we' accomplished, but let's be honest, I had the easiest job of all. I'm proud of what my crew accomplished. And it was fun, filming a Christmas movie right before real-life Christmas. Definitely helped me get in the holiday spirit!" he added.
Jeannotte revealed that it was fun with his cast members on set where he was able to watch Burfitt interact with "various large animals". "In the movie, she has an encounter with some Highland cows — 'Highland coos' as the Scots say. And let's just say, when you see me in the movie laughing at Brooke trying to shoo the coos away... I didn't need to act that part. There's also a cameo appearance by a certain antlered North Pole resident, and that was also really fun to watch live," he added.
The actor also explained how the unique storyline of the film appealed to him. What he liked in the script was the "'fish out of water' element". "There's a big-city American woman coming to Scotland, where she unexpectedly ends up a guest at the castle of an earl... She doesn't know how she's supposed to act, or dress, or which utensils to use at dinner."
He continued, "And I enjoyed my character Alastair because even though he's an earl, he's not pompous or stuck-up... He doesn't care about 'high society' or the balls he's invited to." Jeannotte shared, "At heart, he's a country boy. He just wants to take walks with his dog and tinker around in his perfumery. I can relate to that! Only I don't make perfume -- I want to take walks with my dog and tinker around trying to construct crossword puzzles. Close enough."
As for the actor's future projects, he revealed that like "everybody else", his world has "changed drastically during the pandemic" and he has not been on a set since March. "Luckily, I've been very busy — my current project has actually taken up a majority of my time, mental space, and emotional energy for the last five years. He's my son! Mostly I'm just trying to keep him alive, but if I can also teach him to be a kind and thoughtful person, even better. I'll let you know how it goes!" he said.
Catch 'Christmas At The Castle' on Wednesday, December 23, at 8/7c on Lifetime.