Interview With Actress Anna Van Hooft

By Ruth on September 12, 2016 in Interview, movie, television
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As an avid supporter of Hallmark’s Cedar Cove show, I connected with practically all of the actors involved with the series. As a result, as they have moved on to other ventures, I have been blessed enough to interview almost all of them. It was such an honor to speak with Anna Van Hooft (Linnette) earlier this summer. She and I chatted about the highlights of her career, her entrance into the profession, and most importantly, an issue that is close to her heart.
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RH: So you’ve been really busy filming is what you were saying.

AVH: Oh, this summer has been nuts. This summer, I filmed for four weeks on an action movie, and we were doing night shoots as well, so I was on set from 3:30 P.M. to 4:30 A.M. every day, and then we would go back to day shoots. And so for a while there, I had something that was very similar to jet lag during that time.

Well, you look great. Honestly.

Thank you, I appreciate that. After that crazy schedule, I just spent a couple days sleeping whenever I could.

When I brought your name up to the Hallmark Facebook group, people still remember you from Cedar Cove

Oh, really?

Oh, they do. And they remember your Hallmark Christmas film. In fact, one of the questions they asked was if you were going to do another Hallmark Christmas film. 

I’m not sure. I know they’ve filmed a bunch of them already.  But sometimes Hallmark likes to put people on a break. I know I did one for Hallmark last year and one for Lifetime which was very much in the same vein as Hallmark. So since I was seen so much during Christmas last year, my best guess is not this year. But of course, you never do know. Hallmark puts out a lot of material.

And they do it so fast. 

So fast! Twelve-day shoots for most movies.

Anna Van Hooft (Gloria), Tara Wilson (LInette)

Anna Van Hooft (Gloria), Tara Wilson (Linnette)

Another question people had was about Cedar Cove was–well, of course, it was heartbreaking when the show got canceled.

I was so surprised. I was working on a movie at the time with the wardrobe lady from Cedar Cove and also one of the producers, and it was right around the time when we were going to find out within the next couple of weeks whether the show was canceled or not. I asked the both of them, and the producer was like, “It looks like it’s going ahead.” So I had just assumed. And then two days later, I found out that it was canceled. So it seemed to take everybody by surprise.

Well, it even took Hallmark by surprise. My understanding is that nobody really knew or suspected. 

Well, it just shows that you never know and nobody ever really knows–I’m not even sure who makes that decision. I’ve been on a couple of shows where you’re just like waiting to find out, and you just never know.

Sarah-Jane Redmond, Mike Dopud, Anna Van Hooft

Sarah-Jane Redmond, Mike Dopud, Anna Van Hooft

One of the fans did ask if Cedar Cove had come back for a fourth season, where would you have liked to have seen your character go in the next season?

Well, Linnette had just started entering the whole world of Cedar Cove, and the whole thing that went on with my sister and the family–the family life is what I really liked shooting. I really loved working with Mike Dopud who played my dad. I just personally enjoy working with him so much. But I think there was just so much there to explore–the family life and where Linnette came from. And my father’s a private investigator, and that’s kind of an interesting relationship that we never really touched on. It was sort of in the last couple of episodes with that storyline that things began to be explored. Mike was supposed to be shooting a series in Europe, and they didn’t know that when Linnette entered the scene either. So we just had a bit of filler till we could get around to something with a little more substance. But that’s when things get a little interesting, I think. There were only so many parts that were introduced that I would say would be interesting to explore. We never really explored her love life. But I think the family life would have been where I would have been most excited about going.

It was those last couple of episodes where I got really interested. Before that, I kept wondering where everything was going.

Yeah, the question was, “Why is Linnette even here?”

Yeah, and I wanted to like her, but when it got to those last two episodes, it was like, “Oh, this could be really cool.” I saw that there was more to Linnette than I thought. I couldn’t quite figure her out until then. And I think the part where I saw her first come alive was when Cindy Busby’s character was going through all her issues, and Linnette finally got onto her. I thought that was great.

I improvised the high-fiving of myself. That was the only thing all season that I improvised myself.

That was great! That was finally when I liked this character and where things were headed.

She had a purpose for being there… for being someone who interjected little quirky or romantic comments at the coffee shop. That was pretty much her place for a big chunk of the show. You knew they were going to take it somewhere, but it was like you were waiting for that moment when the writers finally say, “This is where we want you to go.”

And she was the one who when all the other girls didn’t like Warren, she thought Warren was cute.

Oh, yeah. Linnette liked Warren. But Linnette liked everyone. She was just a little indiscriminate with her affections finding most people to be cute or endearing or sweet in some way. But yeah, she did have a bit of a thing for Warren, which was also hilarious because she didn’t know. She was like the new girl on the scene. And then she could–I always want to call them Cindy and Sarah–

I know what you mean. I will often remember the actor’s name, but not their character’s name. But I think it’s great that after all this time, people still remember you and your character from Cedar Cove.

That’s so sweet. Especially since she wasn’t a primary character on Cedar Cove. She was quite on the periphery.

62600_10152747613970215_1749011128_n.jpgSwitching topics a bit, I always like to ask–what is it that inspired you to become an actress?

That’s tough ’cause it started when I was pretty young. Nobody would have ever pegged me as someone who would become an actor. I hated the limelight. I used to hide under the table and cry when people would come over to my parent’s house. Or when we were at church and it was shaking hands time, I would crawl under the pews. I was not somebody who wanted to have anything to do with people I didn’t know. I would just go anywhere I could and read books and read books from a very young age. So I think that is probably where the inspiration came from. It was just stories–I loved reading stories and I loved writing stories. And then I got into ballet when I was younger because little girls love being ballerinas. And I realized ballet is sort of the military of the arts. It’s beautiful to watch, but the practice of it is very redundant, monotonous, and not as creative as I had thought it would be. So I ended up in musical theater, and from the very first time I ever did a show, I never ever looked back. I think that’s when I was thirteen. I found film kind of by accident. I have never intended on being a film actor. I had always intended on being a theater actor. But once I got into it–if there’s ever a place you can just live out the story, it’s on film because it’s about having natural and real connections with people as opposed to presenting. And I was never a presenter. I was always someone who wanted to just live in the story. And that’s kind of how I got into film, I guess.

anna van hooftWow, I just learned so much about you. I wasn’t aware that you did musical theater.

I did. I did a lot of it. I did solos. I did all of that back then. But even in ‘Tis the Season, I did a lot of singing in that, and they cut all of it out. {laughs} And I sang in the audition. They knew what they were getting. I don’t know–I haven’t trained in a solid ten years. But they knew, and they cut it all out. I don’t know if that was for time issues, but I would definitely take it as a sign that I’m not going to New York any time soon.

I was a music teacher–a classically trained singer. Kind of a dancer by accident. But I sang opera. I sang in four languages.

My best friend from high school became an opera singer, and if there’s anything I would come back and do it’s that. It just looks so amazing. It’s like you open your mouth, and the sound just comes out. I’m sure it doesn’t feel that way.

I don’t do a lot of singing any more. Once in awhile. But I received so much criticism over the years for my singing, sometimes that gets to me.

Somebody will always think something about anything you put out there. I get the fan mail, the hate mail. There’s always going to be both.

Oh, I know. I’m learning that.

It’s an interesting lesson to learn.

I sometimes get the person who’s jealous of me because I interview this actor or that actor. And I’m sure you get that, too, with being an actress.

Yeah, you cease being human to people, so people can criticize you in a very strange way in the way they wouldn’t criticize someone they see as human. You’re like this fictional character to them. So I’ve had all kinds of weird stuff. I’ve been called fat many times–which is interesting. You never say that to someone you just meet. I think everybody’s got that thing, and some think, “She’s fat. She’s not real.” And there’s no such thing as perfect, but if you’re not their version of perfect, then they have something to say about it.

12274385_10153243459146156_2559662373133393478_n.jpgWhat kind of training did you take when you decided to become an actress?

Most of my training was in musical theater. I did a lot of training in musical theater when I was growing up. I didn’t train for film, but I just ended up making movies. I grew up in Calgary, Alberta. It was a smaller town–not as much going on. So with the films I worked on, I could ask a lot of questions. It was a very judgment-free environment because it was a smaller town. There wasn’t a lot of actors. So you would get five auditions a year maybe. Nobody really worked that much, so if you were on set and you needed help learning how to hit a mark or understand certain lingo that we all use, there would be people who would be more than happy to explain things to you ’cause that was pretty normal. So that was the bulk of my training.

Anna, your story is absolutely fascinating.

Really?

I mean everyone’s story is fascinating, but yours is unique and unlike others I’ve heard.

That’s so sweet of you to say. I think my life is just simple and obvious, but I suppose that’s because I live it every day.

Well, I understand that, but I always find the people I’m interviewing fascinating. The people are always concerned that they are boring, but I have told them that I have never interviewed anyone who was boring.

Well, that’s the sign of a good interviewer too.

Well, thank you. Honestly, I never would have dreamed I’d be interviewing people. What you’re describing about when you were growing up–I was kind of the same way. Kept to myself, very few friends. I only excelled at singing and being a good student.

How things change.

Oh yeah, and you’ve learned that, too. 

Yeah, well, you have to.

With all your diverse roles in your credits, do you find it easier to play the nice person as opposed to the villain?

I find playing the bad guy way easier.  That’s all I did for a good chunk of my career. Hallmark might be the first time I had to play a happy, perky person. I remember being really terrified. My first Hallmark film was Bridal Wave, and I was like, “I don’t even know if I can do this.” In my life, I’m pretty dry. I’m pretty sarcastic. And I have a face that people love to hate. I just have a kind of mean face. If I’m not smiling or–heaven forbid–if I’m concentrating on something, I look a little homicidal. So it lends itself very well to playing the evil character. And I don’t want to say that they’re my favorite ’cause for the longest time I was excited about playing someone who was the good guy. And then I played some good guy roles, and I wanted to go back to playing someone a little more aggressive, a little edgier. Even in this movie I recently finished filming, I was one of the heroes, but it’s an action movie so you’re not just sitting around talking all the time. That’s what I like. I like a little bit of action. mv5bmtq3odu0mzizm15bml5banbnxkftztcwodywotyxoq@@._v1_.jpg.jpg

When I played Artemis in Supernatural, that was one of my favorite roles. Again not necessarily an evil character, but an interesting dynamic. An edgy one. It’s easier to make a layered villain than it is a very layered hero. Because if you’re playing a hero, all your intentions and motivations are obvious. When you’re playing a villain, you really have to believe what you’re doing which means it’s usually some misdirection of a good intention. Or some sort of hangup that they can’t get over. And so it’s gonna be layered if you’re doing it right. If you’re not judging your character and believing what you’re doing, it’s just gonna be layered. So much of the work is already done for you.

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Andrew Walker Credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Sergei Bachlakov

Andrew Walker Credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Sergei Bachlakov

 

KWIK KWOTE

Andrew Walker, Co-Star Bridal Wave

“I’m just happy I had the opportunity to work with Anna when I did; she’s amazing.”

 

 

 

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You just mentioned something about an action film you were doing. Is this something upcoming that you can tell us about?

I can’t tell you much about it, but I can tell you the name. It’s a WWE movie, the fifth one in the series. If you have ever seen The Marine–it’s a far, far cry from Hallmark. So this is The Marine 5 that I was working on.

Since it is an action film, did you have to learn anything special?

I have quite a few bruises on me now. It wasn’t so bad. I have one bruise from just opening a car door. That may be making it sound more dramatic than it really is. I got to do a little bit of action stuff, and you always have stunt people. It’s nice when you can do as much as they’ll let you within reason. I’m not that great at slamming myself against concrete slabs, but a lot of it was pretty minor. The movie has a lot of wrestlers, so they did the vast majority of the action. It wasn’t so much me. This movie should be released some time in the fall–we’re not one hundred percent sure as it’s in post-production.

Any other upcoming works?

There’s a film I was in called Crash Pad, and that should be premiering some time this year. I don’t have all the details.  And I think that’s it for now.

mv5bmtq3nza4otmwml5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjkxnty1ote@._v1_sy1000_cr007551000_al_.jpg.jpgRecently, I know you were in the Warcraft film. 

Yes, that is my most recent thing that’s out. It was a funny experience. I flew down to LA for the premiere, which was an amazing experience. Chinese Grauman’s Theater for this big premiere. Universal gave us publicists. We got to walk the red carpet. You had all the photographers screaming at you and did all kinds of interviews like ET and Access Hollywood and KTLA and did this big thing on Twitch with like two million viewers. Got to the premiere and all of my scenes had been basically cut. I mean I had been cut out of almost everything, almost all my lines had been cut. So I was more like a featured background performer. Which was fine by me. I never really had a huge role in the film. I had a very small role. So I wasn’t super upset about it, but it was kind of funny. I have all this stuff–all the bobbleheads from Worlds of Warcraft on my desk. And you can see me–my bobblehead is there. So, yes, it’s my most recent thing that’s out, but I am not in it much. With movies, there are three stages–the writing stage, the filming stage, and the editing stage. And I go through a complete metamorphosis with each stage. I mean the Warcraft script that I read and the Warcraft movie that I saw were dramatically different. And that’s just part of it. That just happens.  People go into the editing room, and you never know what might get cut. Warcraft was one of the biggest budgeted movies of the world at the time. We had a four hundred million dollar budget, which was insane. Opening weekend, I know it broke records in China, and they did interviews with people in France and in China about it. Unless you’re a Warcraft fan, it’s not something that really piques people’s interest. It’s got a very specific audience.

mv5bmtg3nzqwndq2mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwndaynty1ote@._v1_.jpg.jpgWhat has been your most challenging role?

That’s really tough ’cause roles are challenging in different ways. Two come to mind in terms of being the most challenging. One was one of the first ones I did. When I did Flash Gordon, I played a character called Princess Aura. I was originally hired to do two, maybe four episodes, but then I ended up becoming a series regular.  But when I first started on the show, I hadn’t done much. I used to go home crying thinking that everyone was going to watch it and say, “What an idiot! Who let her on that show?” Because I was playing with Eric Johnson, who when I was in high school, I was watching in Smallville. I didn’t feel like I belonged there so it takes awhile to feel like you can own the space that you’re working in. And any role would be incredibly challenging in that period. By my sixth or seventh episode, I did. It was not an issue. I was totally fine; I got over it. I did a lot of growing up on that set. I even had one director who would let me direct my own scenes. So it was a big arc. So that was one of my most challenging roles, but not necessarily because of the role, but because of me.

Linnette on Cedar Cove was also one of my most challenging roles because I had to play this bubbly, vivacious, maybe occasionally quite vapid character, and I didn’t relate. She was someone who was very much into getting married and having children, and that was a huge goal of hers. And I’m not as interested in that as she is. I was always more of the career woman. So trying to relate to her was really difficult. Trying to find affection for her so that I could relate to her was also a little bit difficult. ‘Cause I was like, “I don’t know where this person sits with me. I just don’t know.” This is gonna be a lot of work to figure it out. So kind of Linnette, to be honest.

I can see how that would be tough, but definitely by the end of the season, I think you found your groove. 

I started to realize it wasn’t so much about making her bubbly as it was making her quirky. Because I’m not so much bubbly and I have  a lower voice naturally and I’ve got very strong features in my face and none of them really go the Melissa McCarthy kind of way. But I found I had some weird things about myself–like high-fiving myself. That’s something I would do if I was with my best friends. I was trying to find those elements within me that were not quite the same as Linnette, but were lateral–so exchanging bubbly for quirky and that kind of thing. It was a process.

11898780_1000259503338687_7305659128782362855_n.jpgAnd you were coming into a series that had been going for two years already, but I’m sure they were very welcoming. 

The nice thing about being in Vancouver is that it is a smaller scene. I had known Cindy {Busby} for seven years–not very well. We were with the same agency, and we’d run into each other all the time and say “hi.”  So I already knew her, and since most of my stuff was with her and Sarah {Smythe}, that was pretty easy to walk into . I don’t walk onto a set any more without knowing some of the crew members. And really as much as people see the cast, the crew is a much larger portion of the bill. You spend a lot more time hanging out with your makeup artist than you do your co-star most of the time. So it was pretty cozy in that way. And once you’re familiar with Hallmark, you can kind of walk onto set and know people because they are pretty consistent with that.

You and Cindy–those were some of my favorite scenes. I think because the two characters are the polar opposites, you both played off of each other really well. 

You know, it’s funny ’cause in real life, Cindy is a lot more bubbly and outgoing, and she loves making jokes. And she will entertain the crew. And I’m more like get a cup of coffee, read the newspaper in a corner, so we were polar opposites as our characters but kind of almost reversed as people. We character balanced each other pretty much a hundred percent of the time. Normally you’d think you might play yourself on TV, and often, you kind of do. But in that case, it was so funny because we were both such flips. I was like, “Do you want to play Linnette? We could change places.”

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Anthony Bolognese as Jeremy

KWIK KWOTES

Anthony Bolognese, co-star A Gift Wrapped Christmas

“Anna was super fun to work with. She had to pretend to be mean, but that isn’t how she really is in real life; she’s super cool! We went for lunch one day while we had a break on-set and I taught her all about Angry Birds and Minecraft!”

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As an actress, are there any causes you are really passionate about?

I’ve been asked this one a lot. It’s a tough one to tackle ’cause yes, but there’s so many. Environment–I think that’s huge. Human rights issues abroad is something me and my friends discuss a lot. There’s only one I’m actively involved in. And it’s not the most interesting one. I mean, I recycle and stuff like that. But I do a lot of work with fine arts education, which is not one of the glamorous things that’s gonna save the world, but it’s something that I know I can do. So I volunteer at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and I lead tours for school kids there. So I do that two days a week. It’s something small, but it’s one of those things that I really believe in. Fine arts education. I’ve had so many students who used to do fine arts programming for homeschoolers, and once you bond with these students, you realize that a lot of these artistic kids need a lot of direction in knowing where they can go, that somebody gets them. I try to be what I wish I had growing up. My mom’s a teacher, and my dad’s an electrician. And I was, as my mom said, “I came out different.” And they had no idea what to do. And so I had to find my way in the artistic world. And so I just like teaching when I can. And it’s something there isn’t a lot of funding for. I have training in fine arts and in painting and as an actor from musical theater. I try to take my students as they are and help them.

mv5bmjmymjm1mjy0ml5bml5banbnxkftztgwotmxnty1ote@._v1_.jpg.jpgYou may think that is not an exciting one, but that’s a really important one. 

And you understand ’cause you teach music. I remember I had this one student who every morning would be in my classroom, and he just wanted to talk. His parents didn’t believe in fine art education, and I was teaching him about art critique. He just wanted to know things, and he wanted to discuss them, and he just needed somebody who would hear him out. I don’t know how to stop global warming, and I have no idea how to keep people from being stoned in the Middle East. You know, these massive things that you want to be like, “This is what I’m passionate about.” I don’t know how to help them, but this is the one thing I could be like, “Hey, this is some ability that I have.” It’s my big platform. If people get me talking about fine arts education–what it should look like in the school system–they’re in for a very long conversation.

Well, I think that’s important–I’ve always thought that the arts were important, and where do they make the cuts first? Fine arts! And not only I think it’s great when the actors are giving back to the community, but so do my readers. You might think you’re not doing something to change the world–

Well, it’s small, and it’s not one of the headline-making things.

Being a teacher–any kind of teacher–we don’t always know what impact we have made on our students–we may never know. We can’t all go and do all these big things, but you’re changing the world a little bit at a time, and you may never know what your impact is. I know sometimes it can be discouraging.

Sometimes. There are moments. There are children. But I am so happy to have the opportunity to do what I can.

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After conversing extensively with Anna, I can’t even tell you the profundity of respect that I now treasure for her. Not only is her humility uncommonly refreshing, but she is passionate about fine arts education. Moreoever, she is actually doing something in line with that passion. No doubt, she and I could have chatted forever and a day about fine arts education in schools, but she does more than just give the topic lip service. She is a true champion because she is out every week attempting to instill the love of the arts in impressionable, young children who may have no one else in their lives to guide them on the correct path. She is ensuring a future for this glorious sect of society that is absolutely vital to the nourishment of one’s soul. In addition to that, she has tackled some extraordinary roles, and she performs them all in her signature way with a kind of verve that is not always seen in young women in this industry. She was able to decipher how to work through the challenges this profession provided, and at the end of the day, she is further ahead than a good number of other actresses. Maybe Anna will never be a “household name” in this business, but I don’t believe that is her sole focus. She is perfectly happy doing what she loves and infusing that love in men and women everywhere through her work on screen and young children through her volunteer work. Please make it a point to check out Anna at the various links below because she is one who is deserving of every positive thought you can throw her way. Whether it is supporting her works or supporting her as a person (or a fine combination of both), there is no doubt that this woman is a rare pearl in the vast chasm of ordinary gemstones.

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

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