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Interview with Amy Smart and Mark Paul Gosselaar from 12 Dates of Christmas

What was it about the character of Kate that kind of endeared you to the project?

A. Smart I really liked Kate because first of all, she has such a three-dimensional character.  She’s still hopelessly in love with her ex-boyfriend and wants him back so badly.  She’s stubborn.  She’s work-driven and stubborn.  She just wants what she wants.  She kind of has that tunnel vision and doesn’t see past that.

What I liked about this project is that I liked that Kate has to go through this transformational journey where she is pushed to her limits and has to keep reliving Christmas Eve over and over and over again until she can start to expand her horizons and see that maybe what she thinks she needs is not really what she’s going after.  She’s given this chance to explore other possibilities that are better for her and her life that open her up and humble her.

Which of the Christmas Eves was your favorite to film?

A. Smart I had such a great time working with Mark-Paul.  He’s a wonderful actor and we had fun ice skating and being freezing at night walking down the street, and decorating Christmas trees, and picking them out.  It’s hard to say because I really liked so many different scenes.  I thought it was also fun when my character kept running into her ex-boyfriend and trying to fix—in order to fix her relationship with him so she can win him over and get him in the next night.

Could you describe the movie in your own words?

It’s about this journey of Kate Stanton who is really set in her ways and trying to make her life right and get her ex-boyfriend back.  She journeys and figures out that the way her Type A personality is not actually helping her get what she truly needs in her life.  Through the journey she takes, it allows her to see other people’s perspective and a window into how other people really are.  It’s incredibly humbling and enlightening and fun, and a journey everyone takes where you think you know what you want and then something in your life makes you fall on your … and you can see clearer about what life is really about and what really matters.

What’s one of your favorite Christmas traditions?

I love baking little Mexican wedding ball cookies.  I love cooking during Christmas, all smells like the hot apple cider, the hot spiced wine.

In the movie, your character relives Christmas Eve until she gets it right.  If you could do over any one day in your life, which day would you choose?

A. Smart Wow.  That’s a good question.  It’s funny, because in hindsight, we have so much fear and anxiety about our future, the next day, or what’s happening in our lives.  When you have that 20/20 hindsight that everything was going to be fine, you’re going to be okay, I don’t know of one specific day, but just trusting more in life and your journey.

I know that sounds airy-fairy, but really just knowing if I could go back and know everything was going to be okay in certain circumstances; not to stress out about it.  I think if anything, the best gift we can have is living in the present moment and really enjoying it for what it is; and, not being in our heads and getting sidetracked.

How much of your own personality is reflected in your character of Kate?

A. Smart I think as an actor, you naturally bring a lot of yourself, as much of yourself as you can in different circumstances.  So, I focus more on what the differences are because I’ll inherently bring what I can relate to more so.  I feel like there are definitely parts of Kate that I completely relate to, but not necessarily the parts where she has lost her mom and she’s grieving the loss of that and trying to find someone in her life so she won’t feel alone.

But, there were definitely parallels in my life during this film because I’d gotten out of a long-term relationship and fell in love with a new man who I married.  So, I could relate to her on that place of spending so much time trying to make something work that wasn’t meant to work.

As an actress, is there a particular comic inspiration for your work?  Or, is there a particular actor that you draw influences from; especially in regards to taping this new Christmas classic, 12 Dates of Christmas?

A. Smart Honestly, there are so many wonderful female comediennes that I love.  But, I’m not necessarily trying to copy any one.  I feel like it really has to be an authentic experience yourself as an actor.  So, I really find a lot of humor all over life.  I love more than anything watching people be scared or trip and fall.  I don’t know why, maybe it’s a bad thing.  So, for me, it’s not necessarily that I’m trying to imitate or copy other amazing actors.  But, I just try to have the experience myself.

Is there a particular actor/actress that really makes you laugh out loud?

A. Smart Lucille Ball, who is so incredible and so over the top, but who could just hold that stage in all these funny, ridiculous scenarios.  I think she was such a great woman to really bring comedy to females to start it off.  There are tons of others.  I thought Bridesmaids was such a funny, female driven comedy where all the women that you truly believe; they are such good actors because you really believe that they were living this hilarious journey.

Have you ever been on a date that you wish you could relive?

A. Smart That’s funny—not really.  There’s dates that I would have liked to pass on.

Did you have any issues with mixing up what you say in different scenes because they are so similar?

A. Smart That got really technical because it was the director, myself and the script supervisors really making sure that we, yes it was hard because there were just so many, it was written really well.  So in the story and in the dialog, it’s all mapped out.  But, as far as the attitudes and where she was at emotionally at that point, it was definitely challenging, too, to switch gears so many times.

This is your first married Christmas.  So, I was wondering maybe what you’re looking forward to that going to be different from previous years.

A. Smart I really feel like this year, we had a gorgeous, beautiful wedding.  I’m really looking forward to just enjoying the Christmas spirit, not about being materialistic, just about the celebration of friends and family and cooking and singing and enjoying each other; just using this time to really enjoy our new marriage.  That’s pretty much what I’m looking forward to.

How did you get involved with the movie?

A. Smart I actually got offered this role.  I read the script and I really, really loved it and wanted to do it.  Then, I was so happy that Mark-Paul signed on to do it afterwards because I think he’s so talented.  Everyone’s a huge Zack Morris fan.  So, that’s kind of how I got involved.

Is there something about this character that you admire or a quality that you wish you had?

A. Smart I think that because of the film, it kept opening the character Kate’s eyes to other people.  She was pretty self-absorbed.  Each time she opened herself up more and more to a different character in the film, and their lives, and their stories and how she could maybe make their lives better.

I admire that because I really do think that life is all about balance.  You have to obviously take care of yourself.  But, then it’s so important to give back and find ways of being generous and thoughtful with other people.  I really liked that about her toward the end of the film.

What’s your favorite holiday film?

A. Smart I have a few that I love.  I really like A Christmas Story.

Mark-Paul, what was your favorite part about filming this movie?

M. Gosselaar Well, it was a pleasure working with Amy.  My co-star that I’m currently working with now worked with her and always spoke very highly of her.  Working with her was a pleasure.  So, the reason I came on board with this film was because she was attached to it.  So, for her to follow-through with all the high praise that she’s gotten from so many people that I know was something that I appreciated.  Yes, I think it shows on the film, too, that we enjoyed each other.  We had a great working chemistry.

What has been the best date that you’ve ever had?

M. Gosselaar I don’t know.  I haven’t dated a lot.  I can’t really answer that question, but I would say that the date that my fiancée went on was pretty damn good and that’s why we’re still together now.  Yes.  I would say the date that I had with her.

What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

M. Gosselaar Usually decorating the tree after Thanksgiving.  We just did that with the kids.  I love the way the house smells during the holidays.  We try to light as many scented Christmas-y candles as possible, the pine cones.  We’ll put on the stove cinnamon and cloves and heat those up.  I like the music, too.  I just like the atmosphere of Christmas.

How do you deal with a bad date?  Have you ever been on a blind date and do you have any advice for people that have gone or will go on blind date or a date and how to deal with it if it turns south?

M. Gosselaar I don’t like confrontation.  I’ve been on a few bad dates, but nothing horrible, but knowing there was no chemistry there.  I have such a hard time letting that person know that this is not going to work, unlike your character in the movie who was very honest and said this isn’t going to happen.

I tend to just put my head into the sand and hope it goes away, which sometimes makes it even worse.  It elongates the issue.  But, I tend to just turn my back and hope that the scary thing goes away.

Amy, how about yourself?

A. Smart I, again, haven’t had as many dates because I’ve been in long term relationships, but I just remember this one date I went on that I had no interest.  So, he was nice.  But, I think it’s worth being kind to the person that you’re on a date with, but also being pretty honest so you don’t lead people on.

If you could portray any Disney character, animal or human, in an upcoming remake what character would it be?

M. Gosselaar Oh, wow.  Amy, you got something off the top of your head while I think about that one?

A. Smart I’m sitting here thinking, you have The Little Mermaid.

Yes, Little Mermaid.  Absolutely.  You could be Ariel.

A. Smart I would be Ariel.  I love her.

M. Gosselaar I’m trying to think.  They’ve done The Jungle Book, right?  They’ve made a remake of that.

Well, if you like Mowgli, you could definitely do that if you wanted to.

M. Gosselaar Yes.  Mowgli—no, Mowgli has his shirt off.  I don’t want to have to work out.  Gosh.  We’ll do The Little Mermaid together.  You can be Ariel.  I don’t even remember what her name was though.

A. Smart You could be Prince Eric.

Ariel and you could be Prince Eric.  How about that?

M. Gosselaar What was it?  It was Eric, really? Wow, look at that.

Can you talk about any other projects you’re currently working on?

A. Smart I actually just finished working on a horror film that the Japanese director Takashi Shimizu directed.  We did The Grudge.  It was with Leslie Bibb and Ryan Kwanten and a bunch of other great actors.  It all takes place in an airplane.  That comes out next August, I think.

Then, I had a re-occurring on the second season of Shameless.  That’s really fun to work on.

Catch 12 Dates of Christmas starring Amy Smart and Mark Paul Gosselaar on ABC Family on December 11, 2011 at 8/7pm c.