In the Christmas movie BEAUS OF HOLLY, premiering tonight on Ion Television, Holly (Jennifer Freeman) has a holiday surprise for her beau Phil, played by Michael Copon. In a quaint tourist town (actually, Idaho Springs, Colorado), Holly, per what she thinks is part of their five-year plan, proposes marriage. Trouble is, Phil thought Holly was going to break up with him, and has pre-cushioned the blow by arranging to spend the weekend with his ex, Tiffany (Nikki Leigh). Will Holly leave the door open for Phil’s return, or will she fall for carriage driver Jake (Johnny Pacar)?
Copon (rhymes with grow-LAWN), is a hyphenate who has been acting since his teens. He played Blue Time Force Power Ranger Lucas Kendall in the POWER RANGERS TIME FORCE TV series and videos. Other performing credits include ONE TREE HILL, GREEK, THE SCORPION KING 2, BEYOND THE BREAK, and NIGHT OF THE DEMONS.
As a producer, Copon is part of the team that just won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Digital Drama Series for the most recent season of THE BAY, which he also appears in. Copon has also been both actor and producer on KILLER HOLIDAY, FEARLESS, and AFFAIRS OF STATE, an actor/writer/producer on DYSTOPIA, and actor/producer/writer/director on WORTH THE PRICE.
Speaking by phone from his home in Virginia Beach, the area where he grew up, Copon talks about his work on BEAUS OF HOLLY and the Christmas spirit.
ASSIGNMENT X: How did you get involved in BEAUS OF HOLLY?
MICHAEL COPON: I had reached out to the line producer, Mark Atkins. Mark directed a film that I did in Belize, called AWAKEN. I was looking for someone to do CGI for my project I’m about to write and produce, because I know Mark and his wife are involved in CGI. So, we got to talking about that, and then he was telling me about a movie that he was producing in Colorado, BEAUS OF HOLLY. He sent me the script, and the part that he said I would be good for, and I read it, and then the producers and director wanted to audition me, and then it turned into me getting the job, and actually going to Colorado to shoot this movie. It turned out to be an incredible feature.
AX: You had actually worked with Nikki Leigh before, on FEARLESS …
COPON: Here’s the funny thing – I knew all three of them [Freeman, Leigh, and Pacar]. So, I actually know Jennifer from growing up, in just L.A. in general, from the Disney Club. She hung out with Shia LaBeouf and my buddy Ty [Hodges] I was on THAT’S SO RAVEN, so we all hung out in this crew back in 2000, 2002, Nikki and I did FEARLESS.
Johnny, we played on the same celebrity basketball team, called the Hollywood Knights. We actually went to Italy together to play on that celebrity basketball team, but we would see each other almost every week playing basketball during the season.
AX: Did you play any one-on-one while you were up in Colorado, or did COVID prevent that?
COPON: [laughs] COVID prevented us from doing a lot of things. We were pretty much told to just hang in the rooms, and just quarantine while we were not working, so we would try to stay to ourselves as much as possible.
AX: How do you see Phil as a character?
COPON: Well, originally, Phil was supposed to just be the kind of selfish douchebag in the film that obviously breaks the girl’s heart. Where I came into it, and I think [Producer] David Latt actually called me and congratulated me on the success of my character, I wanted to give him more dimensions, more colors. Because here’s the thing. Holly as a character is a smart individual, and I was like, “How can someone be so smart, and yet fall for an idiot like that?” So Phil had to be somewhat likable, enough for the main girl, who had planned everything her whole life, and had everything down to a T [to propose to him]. Yes, he would make dumb decisions, but always had a way to pull things together, muster up forgiveness, and get Holly back on track. You almost can’t hate him, because he’s not dumb, but he makes stupid decisions that are kind of comical, to where you’re just like, you can’t hate him. So, that’s how I saw Phil.
Obviously, the background is, he’s a lawyer, but beyond that, I wanted to give him so much life, in terms of his being lovable, goofy, high energy, quick on my toes, I’m a witty person, I think fast, I react fast, I’m a go-getter. So many elements I brought to the character, to where, yes, I’m deciding between the two different girls, but at the same time, obviously, I had to play the bad guy, too, so I had to show my selfishness, and I had to show that I was completely into my idea of what I wanted for myself. I channeled Vince Vaughn in some regards, when he was in WEDDING CRASHERS and a couple other films, that character where he would say things and get away with it, and yet you still walked away loving Vince Vaughn’s character [laughs], even if he was an a-hole most of the time.
AX: Do you think Phil is any different when he’s with Holly, and when he’s with Tiffany?
COPON: No, I didn’t want him to change, because that would come off as he was scheming, manipulative, and kind of an evil person. Phil was the same person with both girls. He just truly was indecisive on what he wanted. Actually, I went through a situation like this a long time ago, before I met my wife now, who is everything that I would want in a woman. But before, there were a couple of girls, where I was, “I like these characteristics of this girl, and then this [other] girl, I kind of like these characteristics.” So, I kind of channeled that, where it was a hard decision for me back then, but really, the answer was that neither girl was the right one for me [laughs].
My wife now – we started dating, and I was like, “Okay, I’m going to be with her forever,” but with this situation, I think Phil truly was just confused on the topic. Both of them had great qualities, but they were very yin and yang. Tiffany was very impulsive and kind of crazy, a little bit more out there in terms of risk-taking and spontaneous, and fun, and free. And then Holly was sweet, predictable, very well-organized, planned. If there was a checklist, she would have checked every box, but maybe was missing the spontaneousness that Phil was getting with Tiffany. But he liked Holly more, in terms of the fact that she was more about the family, and Christmas, and the roots of what I think he enjoys. Because Tiffany – her family were workaholics, they were always on their phones and iPads, and not giving any attention to Christmas.
AX: How was it working with your friends?
COPON: Oh, it was great. When you’re working with people you know, it takes the film to a whole new level. It’s like the show FRIENDS. When you work with people for years, you become so close that there’s a connection that the audience sees and they feel when they watch you guys interact. So, doing the film with Nikki, who I’ve worked with before, it just made things come to life a lot easier. And same thing with Jennifer and Johnny. The fact that we all knew each other, there are certain things as an actor you know about someone, and you can pick on it during the scene to pull a different reaction out. I did that with Johnny in the table scene. I know that Johnny is one of those guys that, if you pick on him or you try to tease him a little bit, he has to explain himself a little bit. If you say, “Johnny, what are you doing?” He’ll be like, “Well, I had to …” And I’m like, “Dude, I’m just kidding with you, man.” So, it’s just so funny that, in that scene, it worked with the character, because I could tell that my character was getting under his skin, in real life, too. Not that he was getting mad, but he knew what I was doing. I was egging him on to react, but him trying not to react more made it funny. You could see him biting his tongue a little, and it played along good with the comedy that I was trying to push with Phil’s character.
AX: You also got to do some of your own stunts in BEAUS OF HOLLY …
COPON: Yeah, when my face plant was in the mud, that was actually me, in real mud, in a parking lot across from production. I thought they were going to put fake mud out. No. When I said I would do my own stunt, they were like, “Cool, thanks, Mike.” So people can know, that was really my face going into real mud.
AX: How was working with BEAUS OF HOLLY director Anthony C. Ferrante?
COPON: He is, number one, a star director, so underrated right now. This guy has the ability to direct a hundred million-dollar to two hundred million-dollar films. He was just so on top of everything. The minute I met Anthony, even though he was waking up at 4, 5 AM, and doing so many different things on the set, he still made time with his actors. And he’s an actor’s director. There are a lot of directors who don’t care about what the actors are doing, per se, they just expect them to come on set and do their jobs, that’s what they’re paying them for. Whereas Anthony gets in and wants to help find that character with you, and play along with it. And it really makes it fun as an actor, because it makes you want to get involved in the character. It makes you as an actor not feel like it’s just a job.
So, Anthony was just a stellar person, hilarious guy, incredible songwriter. Even one song we’re singing in the movie is one that he wrote. And then I found out he did all the SHARKNADO movies. He’s really diverse, he can do comedy, he can do drama, he has it all built into his mind. He sees everything from end to end. I direct movies myself, and I write myself. I’ve worked with a lot of directors, but not many have the energy and the charisma and the talent that Anthony does. He just exceeds any director I’ve really worked with, to be honest. The fact that he can pull together such an incredible movie with such a low budget, that takes talent. I see a lot of people that direct low-budget films, and it’s not easy. It’s a lot harder to do what he did with such a low budget, and it became a magical movie. Just like how when I watched WEDDING CRASHERS, there’s something magical, and you’re like, “Oh, this is something special.” I feel like that’s what this film has. And Anthony, anything he does, he makes it the best that he can. You take a guy who’s like, “I’m going to make the best movie I can make about sharks falling from the sky because of a tornado.” That’s Anthony, a guy who can make that a good project, that crazy idea, and make it work to where people just keep coming back to watch more of it – this guy now is doing an awesome Christmas movie.
AX: What’s your attitude towards Christmas in real life?
COPON: Oh, I’m a huge Christmas person. We’re in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in the city here in Virginia Beach. It’s not as small as a New York [one-bedroom], but we have a very small place as opposed to a big house. My friend came over the other day, and was laughing about how our whole living room is our Christmas tree. They were like, “I can’t believe you dedicated this much space for a Christmas tree, considering you don’t really have room for a Christmas tree.” [laughs] But yeah, we have Christmas decorations all over. We even have a tree outside of our apartment door. So, we love Christmas, we love decorating, we love spending time with family as well on Christmas.
When I lived in L.A. for twenty years, the only time I would come home was Christmas. It was the one holiday I’ve never missed. Being that I am very close to my entire family, and my mom, and all her siblings, and my dad, and all his siblings, we go around, and every Christmas, we don’t just open gifts, we always talk about what we’re thankful for. Sometimes it becomes an emotional thing. I’ve always appreciated that about my family – we always go so into detail about how we feel about each other, not just about the gifts that we’re giving or receiving. It’s really about each other, and what everyone means to us in our lives, so Christmas is my favorite holiday, and the people around me, it’s their favorite, too, so it all works out.
AX: So, you empathize with Phil’s feeling in BEAUS OF HOLLY that Christmas should be a big deal …
COPON: Oh, one hundred percent. I poured that into the character. I could completely relate to Phil going through this thing in his mind, and I could see why he probably wanted it. Because Tiffany is more fun, free, maybe spontaneous, spunky, very physical. Maybe Phil wanted, “Oh, I don’t know what to expect daily with her.” But then, there’s something to be said about tradition, and there’s something to be said about foundation. And I think that’s what he found in Holly. He was trying to remember the consistency in her, and all their little memories and little traditions they did on Christmas, even though they had to plan everything, I think that’s the only thing he was missing. If he could have a perfect girl, it would have been a mix between the two.
Ironically, what I did to approach the character was, I took the best qualities of Holly and the best qualities of Tiffany, and I tried to embody both of them. I tried to be someone who was fun and spontaneous, but organized and put-together. Because really, what Phil was missing was a girl that was two of them combined into one, and he wanted someone that would mirror him. But that selfishness is what drew him to breaking Holly’s heart in the beginning.
Even when I did that, I ad-libbed a lot – I asked the director if I could and he was fine with it. My whole way of saying, “Hey, I’ve got to go see if this is a thing [with Tiffany], and I promise, if it’s not, I’m going to come right back to you, okay?” And Holly says it sarcastically, like, “Okay.” I’m like, “Okay, great. I see you agree. That’s perfect. You’re not going to regret this.” And she’s like, “Wait. No, I wasn’t …” So I played off of her saying the words, but I played him almost dumb, to where you really couldn’t hate him.
AX: You’re also working on a new directing/writing/producing acting project …
COPON: Well, the new one is actually a personal project that I’m doing for my YouTube channel, MichaelCopon on YouTube. I wrote an adaptation of my Power Ranger character that I did twenty years ago. I wanted to give my fans something fun. So. I wrote a screenplay called LUCAS: FORCE FROM THE FUTURE, and it’s going to be free on my YouTube, something fun I’m shooting and investing in on my own, and I’m excited to do it. Previously, I’ve done WORTH THE PRICE, DYSTOPIA, AFFAIRS OF STATE, wrote, directed, and produced all these projects that are on Amazon and various channels, and then recently THE BAY.
These shows over here that I’m doing in Virginia, I get to get my hands real dirty, because I film, I’m directing, I’m writing, I’m sound-scoring, I’m working on the entire film from A to Z, so it’s a more fun passion project for us, because that’s what my wife Yvonne and I do, we shoot commercials for companies here, so we have a marketing niche here in Virginia Beach. It’s called Copon Studios.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about BEAUS OF HOLLY?
COPON: I definitely want them to know that it’s more than just a typical Christmas film, but that sounds so generic to say, but I think that is the core of what I want them to know, and to really help spread it out, and enjoy it. I really just want people to enjoy the film. I know everyone who worked on it wanted to just make a good movie. I think COVID happening kind of gave some life to this film, because everyone was just dying to work. It wasn’t about the money, it was just the fact that it was good to be around people again. It gave us all hope.
So, in a sense, I want them to know, this is a film that was birthed and made in the middle of a pandemic, and it gave us all hope that there is a brighter future ahead, that there aren’t just negative things happening in the world. We were safe, we got tested every other day, and we all wore masks every day, but we made an incredible artistic project out of passion and faith and hope that it was going to be one of the best Christmas movies out there of all time. All of us came to it with that energy, and I felt it.
BEAUS OF HOLLY airs on tonight at 7/6c PM on ION TELEVISION.
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Exclusive Interview with BEAUS OF HOLLY star Michael Copon on his new ION TELEVISION holiday film