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Dan Jeannotte plays Mike in `Falling in Love in Niagara.` (Credit: ©2024 Hallmark Media // Photographer: Courtesy of Johnson Production Group)
Dan Jeannotte plays Mike in "Falling in Love in Niagara." (Credit: ©2024 Hallmark Media // Photographer: Courtesy of Johnson Production Group)

Q&A: Dan Jeannotte has adventure filming 'Falling in Love in Niagara'

by jmaloni
Fri, Apr 19th 2024 04:30 pm

Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni


Dan Jeannotte is taking center stage this weekend, starring in the new Hallmark Channel film “Falling in Love in Niagara.”

Jeannotte is best known for his roles as Sam Kirk on “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” as Ryan Decker in “The Bold Type,” and as James Stuart the Earl of Moray in “Reign.”

In “Falling in Love in Niagara,” the award-winning Canadian actor plays opposite those roles, portraying what he calls “kind of a slacker.” Mike is the antithesis (and antidote) to Jocelyn Hudon’s super-structured Madeline.

As the network notes, “After her fiancé leaves her before their wedding, Madeline goes to Niagara Falls to honeymoon without him. There, she reconnects with her adventurous side, learns to let go, and finds new love" in Mike.

This wasn’t the Collingwood, Ontario, actor’s first project with Hallmark – but it might be his most fun. While filming, he was able to (amongst other things) ride a Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours vessel, go ziplining and visit a winery.

Jeannotte explained more in this edited Q&A.

An adventurous Dan Jeannotte ziplines in the Hallmark Channel’s new “Spring into Love” presentation “Falling in Love in Niagara.” (Credit: ©2024 Hallmark Media // Photographer: Courtesy of Johnson Production Group)


BTS: It's not often that we have a Hallmark Channel movie filmed in our backyard. Watching the previews, it looks like you guys didn't have any fun at all on this one.

Dan Jeannotte: It was a real grind (laughs).

BTS: Yeah, it looks like it.

Dan Jeannotte: It's not often that I get to work on something where I also get, as part of my paid job, I get to go to beautiful places and go on wild adventures. It was amazing to get to be in Niagara; and to get to do all these fun, like daredevilish kind of adventure games was great.

BTS: Now, I don't know how far Collingwood is from Niagara Falls, Ontario, or Niagara Falls, New York, but was this your first time to Niagara Falls or had you been before?

Dan Jeannotte: I had been before. I've been twice before with my wife, and then once with our boy. Those were kind of briefer trips. Got to see the majesty of the falls, which was wonderful. One time, at least, when we went, it was like winter, so it was half frozen, which is really beautiful in its own way. But this is the first time I got to spend a bit more time there, and to do the boats – like, go right up to the edge – the mist – and do ziplining and do the jet boat. It was the full package this time.

BTS: With regard to the story, tell me what appealed to you about this film and this role?

Dan Jeannotte: Well, I've done a couple of kind of romantic comedy stories before and, naturally, they tend to be sort of more from the perspective or point of view of the female character, the main woman in the movie. What was immediately different to me about this one was that, right at the beginning, the script kind of sets up Maddie, the lead character, her day, her waking up. And it's like juxtaposed against Mike, my character, his day of waking up. Immediately, we're seeing both of them, and how different they both are.

I don't actually know how it ended up being cut together, because I haven't seen the final product yet. But, immediately there was this sense of, "OK, we're seeing these two characters who are sort of diametrically opposed to one another." It is fun, as an audience, to watch these two super-different people start their days in very different ways. And to (wonder), in the back of our minds, how are these two going to get together?

So, that was something that kind of immediately got me. There's a great sense of humor in this script. And it was fun for me to play a character who's on the kind of … I've played a number of, like, loyal characters … and this guy is very different – he’s kind of a slacker. He's a skateboarder and a guitar player. And he's kind of down on his luck and bummed out by love. He has a bit more of a shaggy dog kind of personality, and that was really fun for them, too.

I thought it was just going to be a great kind of opposites attract story. And definitely part of what interested me was the idea of getting to film in Niagara – and it was like written into the scripts, “Now they go on a jet boat. Now they go ziplining." And I was like, “Do I get to do that? Really?”



BTS: Certainly, Hallmark films all around the world. And so, you could have been in any number of places for any number of movies. More films have shot locally in this area. We share the border, of course, and there's really been a concerted effort to get more productions out this way. Can you comment about the experience, and why you think this is a good area to make a picture?

Dan Jeannotte: Yeah, I mean, there's so much natural beauty in that area. Obviously, the showstopper is the falls; but then you've got the beautiful vineyards – the wineries nearby – which is a whole other kind of beauty, and a whole other cultural sort of a touchstone. We also filmed in a winery.

The falls themselves are an area that have a lot of stories attached to the falls – romantic stories, the idea of getting married there, going on a honeymoon there – that's all part of the appeal, or the idea, of the Niagara Region. And I just think that there's a lot of ways to kind of play around with that, to both lean into it, and to kind of show another side of it, too.

Because, obviously, there’s more to the Niagara Region than just people getting married. There's culture there, and there's great people. The people that we met there were wonderful. In the various locations that we went to, everyone was super-helpful, super-excited to have a film shoot happening there.

I think it’s cool that Niagara is an area that is shared by both countries. It's like an iconic place that is both Canadian and American; and I think that there's something special about that.

Jocelyn Hudon as Madeline and Dan Jeannotte as Mike in “Falling in Love in Niagara,” debuting this weekend on the Hallmark Channel (Credit: ©2024 Hallmark Media // Photographer: Courtesy of Johnson Production Group)


BTS: Was this your first time working with Hallmark, or had you done work with them in the past?

Dan Jeannotte: I've worked with them a few times. I’ve done a handful of movies with them.

BTS: So, when I talk to people who work with Hallmark, they tell me that they've had a great time on set – that the cast and crew have been wonderful. But something that has come up more in conversations lately is – to your point earlier about some of the twists and the turns and the different elements of this particular story – obviously, we know that there's a template. We know that there's going to be a relationship, there's going to be ups and downs, and it's going to be very aspirational in the end. But can you speak to the direction the company is taking that, these films of late, they are getting these nuances to them? It seems like the actors are really pleased with the direction the studio is going in, in that regard.

Dan Jeannotte: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, of course, when you think of any kind of genre that's well known, if it's really loved, really popular, the tropes of that genre are going to become kind of second nature. And when we’re watching these movies, we understand the shape that these movies are going to take. And that means, in a way, that your audience is, you know, the more we do these kinds of movies, the smarter your audience gets about it.

I do think that people turn to Hallmark for a kind of comfort food. There's something familiar about it, and that's why they enjoy it. But at the same time, audiences everywhere – no matter what their jam is; it doesn't matter what kind of thing they like – they want to be surprised.

And so, I think it's really great that Hallmark, one of the ways that they're dealing with their kind of snowballing success, is by tweaking their formula. They're not just laying down the exact same story over time. They're taking familiar elements, some predictable stuff, but they're spicing it up with characters and situations that we haven't seen before.

I love what Hallmark is doing, in that respect, expanding their storylines, expanding the kinds of characters that we're seeing, and just making sure it can be comforting and familiar, but without getting stale; without getting predictable. And that's great.

I'll happily keep working with Hallmark, for as long as I can, if they keep adding these little twists.

“Falling in Love in Niagara” debuts at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 20, on the Hallmark Channel. The movie is part of the network’s “Spring into Love” series.


See also >> Good from the get-go: Jocelyn Hudon impresses in 'Chicago Fire' debut

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