Warren Christie is kind of everywhere right now, and that's a great thing. After winning us over as the roguish Cameron Hicks on SyFy's Alphas, he's now simultaneously appearing as Angie Flynn's charming new boss on ABC's Motive and starring with Lacey Chabert in the moving true story The Color of Rain, which premieres on Hallmark Movie Channel tonight. BFTV connected with Warren on Friday to discuss his recently busy schedule.
In The Color of Rain, Warren stars as Michael Spehn, trying to raise his three children after losing his wife Cathy to cancer. Michael forms a bond with Gina Kell (played by Lacey), whose husband has also just passed away from the same disease, and the two not only heal together, but thrive and eventually fall in love. Why did he decide to take on the role?
"The script was sent to me through some producers that I had worked with before. They were nice enough to think of me," he told us. "It wasn't until the last page I realized it was a true story. I started flipping back and going through it again, seeing it through different eyes. It was intimidating a little bit, obviously!"
Especially when the person you're playing is on the set, watching you pretending to be them, as was the case with this movie. Both Warren and Lacey had the chance to meet their real-life counterparts, and the real Michael and Gina got to observe filming. "The family came to visit us for a couple of weeks," Warren said, and that means more to him than any commercial success. "Our main goal is that the family is happy with the story."
In our interview with Lacey, we asked her to dish on Warren, so it was only fair that we let him return the favor. What did he think of working with her? "What you see is what you get," he told us. "She's one of the sweetest people I've ever worked with." We'd certainly love to see them collaborate again, as they make a truly endearing pair in this very special movie.
The reception hasn't been so warm for Warren's character on Motive, who audiences met two weeks ago when he became the new team commander. We learned very quickly that Mark Cross is not only a thorn in Angie's (Kristin Lehman) side professionally, but he's also her ex-lover. A lot of credit has to be given to Warren, because without the fact that he's so likeable, the friction between Mark and Angie would make us want to punch him. So if it's been interesting for us to accept his character, what has it been like for him to play the part?
"Very cool," he enthused. "You're the new kid in school, they're like a family because they spend so much time together on set. I've never really done a procedural like that before. It was fantastic."
He also confirmed Kristin's earlier report that we'll get to enjoy more Motive: "We actually will do season three," he added. "We start shooting again in September."
All quips about Cross aside, Warren has been a wonderful addition to the show's already talented ensemble. One of the great things about Motive is that it's populated by actors who largely fly under the radar, delivering solid work without much fanfare, and we'd argue he fits that description. As much of a headache as Cross gives Angie, and therefore we're predisposed not to like him, we also can't really fault the guy. He's just trying to do his job and not be treated like the guy who ran over Angie's dog. He is to Motive what Robert Mailhouse's J.J. was to Sports Night, except we actually like Cross, because how can you not like Warren Christie?
Plus, his addition to the show has given Alphas fans a sort of psuedo-reunion of the cancelled SyFy series. Lauren Holly, who plays medical examiner Betty Rogers, guest-starred in three episodes of Alphas. And in two weeks, we can look forward to the lovely Laura Mennell in a recurring role as prosecutor Samantha Turner, a character whose relationship with Cross becomes a plot point, just like her Alphas character Nina had a subplot with Cameron. To say more would be to spoil, but it's wonderful to have the two of them sharing the screen together again, for us and for Warren.
"It's a very different set up and a very different storyline, but there's an ease and a comfort with Laura and I," he told us. "She's another person who I've got to say, I lucked out. She is incredibly sweet and lovely and very funny. I think if anything, we benefited from our history. I think we enjoy working together."
Just don't ask either of them about the cliffhanger that ended Alphas, because they don't know the resolution to it either. "We weren't fully let in on what was going to go on. I know they had a few ideas of where they wanted to go, but unfortunately we'll never know," Warren said. "I'm surprised by how many people still come up and enjoyed that show. I would've loved to do another season." (Both seasons of Alphas are available on DVD, and as of this writing, season one is less than $8, so you have no excuse not to check out this underrated gem.)
The show isn't Warren's only 'one that got away.' There's another project that got overlooked. "A movie came out called Apollo 18," he reflected, referring to the 2011 sci-fi horror flick he starred in with Lloyd Owen and Ryan Robbins. "It was a lot of work and it was something that I thought it just missed the mark a little bit and had the potential to be really cool. I was really proud of it. I wish the end result was a little bit better."
He has no such regrets when it comes to The Color of Rain, not only about the quality of the movie but what it means to the real-life people he and Lacey have gotten to portray. "This movie, I know it's a great thrill for them and I know they're happy about it," he told us. The film is also raising awareness of Gina and Michael Spehn's foundation, the New Day Foundation for Families (foundationforfamilies.com), which is 'paying it forward' by helping other families affected by cancer.
There are so many things to appreciate about this movie - the fact that it's based on actual events, that those events are terribly moving and inspiring, that the fictional version captures the emotions so well, that it's hopefully increasing awareness of a good cause - but let's not leave out that it's giving another piece of center stage to two talented actors, who also happen to be two great people off-screen, too. And it's their warmth and their spirit that makes The Color of Rain come alive. Based on their performances, i's easy to see why Gina and Michael fell in love with each other.
And if we happen to be seeing a lot of Warren Christie at the moment, we're all for it - because if you haven't discovered him yet, chances are you'll fall in love with him, too.
The Color of Rain airs tonight at 9 PM ET/PT on Hallmark Movie Channel (check your local listings for specific channel); Motive airs Wednesday nights at 10 PM ET/PT on ABC. For more on Warren, be sure to follow him on Twitter (@HWarrenChristie).