BEAUS OF HOLLY is a Christmas movie, premiering Saturday, December 12 on ION Television, with a title that’s a play on the line “boughs of holly” from the Christmas carol “Deck the Halls.” It also refers to Holly, played by Jennifer Freeman, a greeting card designer who brings her lawyer boyfriend Phil (Michael Copon) to the small town of Winterland, Colorado (actually, Idaho Springs, CO) for a romantic weekend.
When Phil expresses uncertainty about their future together, Holly is taken on a tour of the area by carriage driver Jake (Johnny Pacar). Jake’s spontaneity is alien to the schedule-oriented Holly, but his warm heart may win her over, if Phil doesn’t get her back.
Freeman, a native of Los Angeles, started acting early. She spent five years as the oldest daughter on the half-hour comedy MY WIFE AND KIDS. Feature film credits include YOU GOT SERVED, JOHNSON FAMILY VACATION, THE CARETAKER and FALLING AWAY. Freeman is also something of a holiday movie veteran, having starred in THROWBACK HOLIDAY, the just-aired THE BUSINESS OF CHRISTMAS, and the upcoming BET+ film KISS ME FOR CHRISTMAS.
In a telephone interview, Freeman discusses BEAUS OF HOLLY and her love of the Christmas season.
ASSIGNMENT X: How did you get involved with BEAUS OF HOLLY?
JENNIFER FREEMAN: I got a call from my agent to read the script, and I immediately fell in love with it, because I love Christmas things, first of all [laughs]. It was totally a movie that I would watch with my daughter at Christmastime. And so, I was like, “Yes, I can’t wait to do this.”
AX: You love Christmas, and you’ve done several Christmas-themed movies. Are they something you’re particularly excited about doing?
FREEMAN: Yes. I love romantic comedies, and I feel like now, romantic comedies are usually Christmas movies. And I think it’s just a really nice time of year. Christmas movies bring so much joy, and especially right now, I feel like we can all use the joy and just a break from everything that’s going on in the world. I think that this movie is just so special and unique and warm, and just a really beautiful little love story, and so I’m really excited about it.
AX: Can you relate to Holly’s Type A need to schedule everything she’s going to do?
FREEMAN: Yes and no. When I was reading this character, Holly, she was hilarious to me, because she’s a Type A personality, she needs and wants to plan everything all the time, and just to be in control of life and what’s going to happen. She has her five-year plan, and everything is by the book. [In real life], I’m a mom, I’ve learned that things don’t go as planned. You read all the books when you become a mom, and then you think you’re ready, and then the kid comes, and nothing that was in those books is like motherhood. And that’s kind of how I feel like Holly – she wants love, and she wants a relationship, she wants to be married, and she writes holiday cards for a living. She’s really in tune emotionally, but she doesn’t allow herself to go with the flow enough to really experience love and her emotions and to get out of her head a bit. So, it’s a cool journey that we get to see Holly go on in this movie, and I think a lot of people will be able to relate to that, to her character development.
AX: How was playing the relationship between Holly and new friend Jake?
FREEMAN: He was such a sweetheart. The balance between Phil and Jake is, Jake is a gentleman. He’s patient, and he’s kind, and he’s interesting, and he’s adventurous. And so, it’s such a huge contrast between them. And she is a little bit scared about being adventurous. But she ends up finding out that’s actually what she needs. I hope I’m not giving too much of this away [laughs].
AX: How was working with Michael Copon, who plays Phil?
FREEMAN: What’s funny about Michael Copon, I knew him from when we were teenagers. We really hadn’t seen each other since then, because I was in Los Angeles, and he moved back home to Virginia. So I was like, “Oh, my gosh.” We have the same circle of friends, so it was awesome to catch up, and to be able to work together. It was like everything came full circle. So it was really fun, to be able to play off of each other, because his character is so funny, such a jerk [laughs].
AX: BEAUS OF HOLLY director Anthony C. Ferrante said that the two of you discussed her reaction to Phil’s hemming and hawing, that you said, no, she wouldn’t be tolerant of that.
FREEMAN: Yes. I really enjoyed working with Anthony. I can’t wait to work with him again, because I felt like he really paid attention to so many details, no matter how tired we all were, or how hot we all were, because we shot this movie in August, in Colorado, in the mountains, with winter clothes on [laughs]. So, it was just a lot going on. But he made sure that Holly was a strong woman, that she wasn’t a pushover, that Phil wasn’t going to run over her, and take advantage of her, and she was going to stand up for herself. I really appreciated that, because I think it’s really important for women to see strong women. It felt really good, because we all have these experiences with these guys, but she puts her foot down, and she has her boundaries. So, I really appreciated him making that point and, continuing along the movie, making sure that that was something that we were always being intentional about.
AX: How was working in Colorado?
FREEMAN: I had never been to Colorado before, so I got altitude sickness and heatstroke at the same time [laughs]. Nobody warned me about the altitude sickness, so I didn’t know what had happened, but they really took care of me – they had medics, and so I got better really quickly. But it was really fun. It’s so beautiful. The little town that we shot in, and the shops, were just so quaint and so cute, and all of the people there were so nice. The weather there is crazy – it can be hot, and then rain, and then go back to hot [laughs], so I was very confused about that, but it was awesome. Everyone there was really amazing, the whole cast and crew, and it was just a really cool experience.
AX: There’s a lot of physical stuff that you have to do in the film, between the sleigh riding, and the snowball fights, and the gingerbread house construction, and at one point, you’re on Snowdrop the horse. Presumably, it’s your stunt double in the long shots of the horse racing along, but you climb up onto the horse, and you dismount, and I think you’re riding Snowdrop for a bit. What was the most fun to do, and what was the most challenging?
FREEMAN: Well, I’m always up for adventure. I had never ridden a horse before, so when Anthony was like, “Hey, can you get on the horse?”, I was like, “Oh, sure. I will attempt.” I think the hardest part was, when you do stuff on camera, you’re doing it for the camera. You’re not exactly taking your time and doing it how you would do it in real life, because you have to do it a certain way so that the camera can get the angle, it looks right. So, I had a hard time getting off the horse, because they were like, “Well, don’t take too long to get off the horse, because he might get anxious and kick you off.” I’m like, “What?!” [laughs]
So, every time we did a take, obviously, that makes you more anxious, and wanting to get off as fast as you can, so the horse doesn’t kick me off. So, that was probably the hardest part, because I was a little bit scared. I guess they had to tell me that [the horse might get impatient], but I would rather have not known that, but it was fun to work with [Ace who plays Snowdrop], a live horse. He was really cute. I think that was the most challenging. There was a stunt double that did the running [of the horse] through the woods, and those types of things.
AX: How was shooting the dream sequence where Holly is wearing Christmas lights?
FREEMAN: Oh, it was so fun. I really liked the way that came out. Sometimes you do things in movies and it feels like, “What are we doing?” And then you see it, and you’re like, “Wow, that looks incredible.” So that was one of those things that I was like, “Wow.” I was really surprised. It looked so whimsical and magical.
AX: Is Christmas something you’re excited about in your real life?
FREEMAN: I love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday. It’s why I love Christmas movies. Me and my friends and my daughter, she’s eleven, we always watch all of the Hallmark Christmas movies, Lifetime Christmas movies, they always have all of these marathons of Christmas movies that are always playing, and we make cookies, and eat desserts, and it’s just a special time of year to really spend time with your loved ones. Especially this year, I think it’ll be even more special, as it’s a smaller group of people that we’re going to be spending Christmas with, so it’ll be more meaningful. So, we’ll be watching even more movies, I’m sure.
AX: IMDB says that you’re in two TV series, BE SOMEONE and PUMP. Are those currently on?
FREEMAN: PUMP is a TV show that came out earlier this year, in March. That’s on Urbanflix TV, a streaming service. That is about a gym, and I’m the general manager of the gym, and it’s a workplace comedy, so I’m just really trying to pull together my team, and they are kind of all over the place. So, it’s a really funny show.
BE SOMEONE, we shot in December [of 2019], but we didn’t get to finish shooting, because we were supposed to shoot the rest of it in March, so it’s not finished. I don’t know when we will resume that, but yes, those are the two shows that I’m in.
AX: You were on MY WIFE AND KIDS near the beginning of your career …
FREEMAN: I was. I was Claire Kyle, I was the oldest teenage daughter, and I was supposed to be a cool cheerleader, but I was very clumsy. I did that for five years with Damon Wayans and Tisha Campbell, and it was super-fun. Both Damon and Tisha are very close [to Freeman as friends]. Tisha was actually in the show BE SOMEONE, the show that we didn’t get to finish. She was playing a police officer. It’s a drama. So that was very interesting. We’ve kept in touch for almost twenty years now. It’s really nice to have a lot of really great friendships and relationships from that show.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about BEAUS OF HOLLY?
FREEMAN: I want people to watch. I just think it’s a really special romantic comedy, because there is comedy in there, and it’s just a really great Christmas movie that you can watch with your entire family. You can watch it with kids, you can watch it with your grandparents. This movie is all-generation, a movie that you can watch together.
It felt like we were just in another time, and so I hope when people watch this that they’ll forget about everything that’s going on, and they’re able to just enjoy this beautiful, quirky, fun love story, and just feel the Christmas spirit, which I really think shines through in this movie. It’s fun, and it’s about love, and I think that it’s just a great movie, and I’m really proud of it.
BEAUS OF HOLLY airs on December 12, 2020 at 7/6c PM on ION TELEVISION.
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Article: Exclusive Interview with BEAUS OF HOLLY star Jennifer Freeman on her new ION TELEVISION holiday film