Cedar Cove wouldn't be the same without Dylan Neal. The veteran multi-hyphenate - actor, writer, and producer - is the Hallmark Channel drama's male lead, playing Jack Griffith, the dashing editor who's also the significant other of Olivia Lockhart (played by Andie MacDowell). Dylan joined us on Monday to discuss the new season of Cedar Cove and how he's expanded his own relationship with the Hallmark brand.
It goes without saying that he's happy to have a second shot at portraying Jack. "That's basically what every actor in television dreams about. You want to be given opportunities to come back again," he told us. "Cedar Cove is my eighth TV series [as a main cast member], and the first I've ever gotten a second season on."
But now that the show's back, what's in store for the sophomore cycle? "In general, Cedar Cove kind of steps up all of the relationships in the coming season. There's a number of storylines that all have juice here," Dylan teased. "For Jack and Olivia, they have a couple of hurdles to overcome this year, and I would say episodes seven and eight in particular are good ones. Some issues come to a head for Jack and Olivia. And also there's a season cliffhanger, which is very big for our show, and it's not just my character. People should stick with it."
With the first season under his belt, Dylan is comfortable bringing Jack to life. "I understand what he's about," he said, "and Cedar Cove is a very light show. We're not shooting Mad Men or Breaking Bad or anything; the emotional roller coaster is toned down. I have a great time with the character and my job as an actor."
Just don't quiz him on anything having to do with the novel series on which the TV show is based. "I didn't read the books," he revealed, explaining, "Generally speaking, I don't want to necessarily be influenced too much by the source material, because it may not bear any resemblance to what they're doing now. I've just been relying on what I read in the scripts from day one. I have a general idea of what Debbie Macomber was doing...A book has a beginning, a middle and an end, and a TV series has to keep going on and on."
Besides, even if he wanted to read the novels, he probably wouldn't have the time. In addition to starring on Cedar Cove, Dylan and his wife have numerous projects in development for Hallmark that are keeping him busy, including a series of movies for Hallmark Movie Channel he describes as "a murder mystery franchise similar to Castle and Moonlighting," a romantic drama that starts shooting this summer, and a pilot that he had just turned in the final draft of before we spoke to him.
"This year in particular is very challenging. It's a real challenge this year trying to find the time to get everything done!" he told us. "I'm really enjoying working with Hallmark as a writer and producer. I enjoy sort of wearing all these different hats. Acting is something I've always done from day one, but writing and producing's always been the plan as well."
Whether it's in front of or behind the camera - or even a combination of both - you'll be seeing a lot of Dylan Neal on the Hallmark channels in the near future. Something tells us the residents of Cedar Cove would approve.
Season two of Cedar Cove continues tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on Hallmark Channel (check your local listings for specific channel).