Interview With Actor Matt Hamilton, “Death Al Dente: A Gourmet Detective Mystery”

By Ruth on October 9, 2016 in Interview, movie, mystery, television
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When watching Hallmark network films, it is quite common to see certain actors featured regularly, and sometimes we don’t even think about learning their names or looking up their other works, especially if they are in supporting roles. However, I have discovered that if I delve a little bit deeper, I often find that I come across incredible talent, and I understand why Hallmark chooses to highlight these gifted actors again and again. Matt Hamilton is one such actor. No matter what role he tackles, his presence on screen cannot be ignored, and he is one of those memorable personages. Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Matt about his nontraditional journey into acting as well as his upcoming works, including Death Al Dente: A Gourmet Detective Mystery.

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RH: What was it that inspired you to become an actor?

MH: Well, I kind of got into acting backwards. I got into screenwriting from the Vancouver Film School and from the University of Victoria. As a kid, I was always writing short stories and imagining them as movies and imagining me being in them.  So I started doing some short films and sketches. A friend of mine–a very successful actor right now named Leah Gibson–she saw some of my writings one day and wrote me this email and said, “Hey, you need to go to Vancouver.” I was in Victoria at the time, finishing my degree. She said, “You need to go to Vancouver, and you need to get an agent.” And I was like, “Okay.” And I did. I was doing the commute to do auditions here and there for the first year and a bit until I finished school. So I wasn’t super serious about it at that point, so I only booked a couple of things. Only the last three or four years, I’ve been more serious I think. The last couple specifically where I’ve been doing more and more stuff and bigger things.

I find your story unusual. I’m not used to hearing that a screenwriter became an actor. 

Yeah, it was the nonconventional route, I suppose.

Well, I don’t know if there is a conventional route. I’ve heard lots of unusual stories about becoming an actor. {pause} Now, a lot of my readers are Hallmark fans, and your list of Hallmark movies–you have done a whole lot of them.

Yeah, I think I’ve done six.

I think that sounds about right.

The first thing I ever booked was a Hallmark movie. At the time it was called Murder Among Friends, and it changed to Lies Between Friends, I think.

I think I remember seeing that. It’s always fun when they change names several times. {pause} Now, I know you’ve done other works besides Hallmark, but how has your experience been with the Hallmark network?

Oh, it’s been great. Lots of times, you meet the same producers when you work on several Hallmark productions. I was on hold for the film Love On the Sidelines for the back-up quarterback for a while, so when I did Gourmet Detective, that was the same director, I believe. We chatted at the audition, and then when we got to set, I was like, “I know this guy from somewhere. How do I know this guy?”  And then I remembered I had a callback with him. But it’s like an extended family, and everyone’s so great on these movies. It’s a blast. It’s always a good time.

wp-1476028611203.pngAnd I have heard that consistently. It’s always nice to hear that everyone really seems to enjoy working for Hallmark. They say it’s like family. And I always hear that the crew is just fantastic. 

Yeah, it really is. You know, I’ve been on sets sometimes where tensions are high and some people don’t like each other, but this has not been the case with Hallmark. And a lot of times you’re making a very charming, uplifting story. Even the murder mystery ones are still feel-good movies.

And you were a part of The Bridge also.

I think I’m listed in the first one, but I don’t know if my character is in Part 1. But I know I’m in The Bridge Part 2. I haven’t seen it, to be honest.

And I know that happens a lot, especially with being in Canada, you don’t always get everything that we do in the States.

No, I have some of it on my demo reel, but that’s the only way I’ve seen these Hallmark movies. I tried to live tweet once when one was on–I think it was Garage Sale Mystery. Lori {Loughlin} was live tweeting it, and I was trying to do it with her. She replied to some of my things, but I didn’t know what was going on. I remembered the script, but it was kind of tough to tell what stage it was in the movie, and they also cut a lot of stuff out. I know with The Bridge, they cut out a subplot I was a part of. I give Ryan his chance to become a writer. I offer it to him, but he turns it down. And I give him this big speech. But when you’re fighting for time, that subplot just becomes a line, “I’m staying in town now. I’m gonna be a writer.” So you never know what will end up in the movie. It is a fickle thing. You have to get the film cut down to that time–an hour or an hour and ten minutes.

I was trying to remember your role from The Bridge Part 1, but now I see that you are only in Part 2. And you’re not the only one. There are others listed in Part 1 who are only in Part 2. So it’s a bit confusing. I don’t think IMDB has that exactly right.

No, I’m not sure what’s going on with that either, but if you’re looking for me in The Bridge Part 1, I don’t think you’re gonna find me.

I think that’s right. I know Part 1 better than Part 2, but of course, The Bridge Part 2 actually got shown earlier than expected due to the fans asking for it. I’m not sure if you were aware of that.

Well, I remember with Part 1, we were filming in like August or September. Then they filmed the second one a couple weeks later. We took a two-week break. So the first one came out at Christmas. I remember asking Katie {Findlay} or Wyatt {Nash} when Part 2 was supposed to come out, and they said, “Next Christmas.” And I was like, “Wow, that’s a long time. It looks like it’s gonna be awhile.” And then all of a sudden, I guess the fans spoke, and in March or April,  it came out, I guess.

mh3Yeah, the fans really spoke. I happened to review the first one–I haven’t yet reviewed the second–and there were people coming daily to that review and leaving comments. And some of those had to be edited as some people were vicious. 

Well, that’s the internet. And here’s the funny thing about The Bridge–my role in it. I have the worst hair in the history of film in this movie. It’s kind of a funny story. I was doing make-up for the first day, and my hair was like it normally is. It was back. Then me and Wyatt turn around–he is a great guy by the way. He and Kate are so awesome. And so someone looked at Wyatt and me and said, “You two could be brothers.” Then the director, Mike {Rohl}, came over and said, “Yeah, actually.” And the producer came over and said, “Yeah, let’s change Matt’s hair.” mh2They did it on set, and so they were ironing my hair down in the opposite way in front of my face, and I could feel that it wasn’t gonna be good. They finished, and then Mike and the producer came over and said, “Oh, good that’s good. Let’s go.”And I said, “You sure? Nothing feels like it looks good.” And they were like, “Oh no, it’s fine.” And so I took my phone out and did the selfie thing, and it was horrendous. They ironed it out over my face. They said it worked well for a record producer in that movie. And so I was on set seven or eight days, and my hair became the running joke. They had to iron my hair down, and the hairdresser was so cute, she kept saying, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” But it was funny. Everyone in that movie looks so handsome, attractive, and then there’s this idiot with the worst hair.

I may have to watch it again so I can notice that ’cause I don’t think I really noticed that.

Well, they ended up cutting a lot of my stuff out, I think. I mean, I’m in a lot of scenes, but I just pop up for a couple lines here or there. But most of the stuff went to the cutting room floor.

wp-1476028432655.pngYes, unfortunately that does happen.

I did Supernatural, and the same thing happened. They cut a lot of my scenes. I was in a lot of scenes. But I was in this one scene where I confront Jensen Ackles where I threaten him, and I have a bunch of dialogue. They ended up cutting most of that scene down. I was like, “Hey, guys, watch Supernatural tonight. I’m on it.” We watched it, and when I saw that my stuff had been cut, I was like, “Ah!” And I was hurt and embarrassed because everyone watched. I only had a couple of lines, but my buddy said, “Hey, the paycheck was still the same.” Yeah, okay, that’s right. And that’s the way it goes sometimes. You obviously want your best work to be seen, but at the end of the day, people have bigger decisions to make. Actually, a friend of mine had his entire part cut out of a show, but the good news is that when that happens, you still get the credit, and then you can come back as any character. That’s the silver lining I suppose.

I think that’s got to be so tough. When I come to review something, I’m very careful that I don’t rip the actor apart or any of the people involved because I know there are so many variables that you have no control over. You may have done it really well, but once the editor got a hold of it, it was changed because the director wanted to go this way or that way. 

At the end of the day, coming from a writing background, the narrative needs to go forward. And anything that doesn’t push the narrative forward–even if it’s a cool scene or a neat character part–it doesn’t matter. We have to keep the story going; we have to keep momentum going.

Matt Hamilton (Duane Lambeer)

Matt Hamilton (Duane Lambeer)

Now I do remember your role in Garage Sale Mystery: Guilty Until Proven Innocent. Yes, because we thought you did it when we were watching it. 

That was a fun movie to play since it was like I was the suspect in the murder investigation. They took a few takes, and I remember they ended up taking one that was kind of in the middle of the road. Peter DeLuise, our director, man, he was awesome. I love that guy. What a great director to work for. And he was just like, “Act. Go ahead. Go for it.”  And I did. And Lori is so sweet and so nice, and I got right up in her face. Lori was like, “Woh!” I was a little worried, but she was like “No, it was awesome.” And I was like, “I know, but she’s so nice, and it just didn’t feel right to be right up in her face.”

mhMy whole family loved that film, and they would remember you. While they wouldn’t remember your name, but if I said the character, they would be like,  “Oh yeah! We remember him.”  {pause} Now, with Gourmet Detective 3, you were in that one, too. Now, was this your first time being in the Gourmet Detective series?

Yes, this is my first. Dylan {Neal} is so awesome. He’s so great. He told me ’cause he had a tough time getting me on that movie, and the concern was that I pop up in a lot of movies. Which is probably why I’m not auditioning for many Hallmark things right now. But it was so awesome on the last day of filming. I was in the last scene on the last day. And I made a crack, “So what time do we  start drinking beer? Do we do it mid-scene or when?” So I finished my coverage on my last scene, and Dylan was like, “Hey, Mattie.” And there was like a slab of beer and wine. And I was like, “Really?” And he was like, “Yeah, man. You’re coverage is done.” And I went, “Awesome!” And then we went out with Dylan and Brooke. So we just went to hang out and chat, have a drink, and then unwind. Brooke was so aweomse. Terry {Ingram} was so awesome. Dylan is so awesome. That was such a fun shoot. Especially Marc {Senior} and Matthew {Kevin Anderson} Oh, they’re rad. I had met Matthew before through some mutual friends, but we had never really hung out or anything like that. We shot in Victoria, where I’m from, and we ended up on that last night going out to celebrate. Those guys are so fun.

Now, Gourmet Detective is airing on October 9, which is opposite a presidential debate and a big NFL game. I understand it’s very important that with this third one, the numbers need to be up there in terms of people watching it. Otherwise, there won’t be another one. 

Which would be too bad ’cause these are really nice movies. It’s interesting–you look at Garage Sale Mystery and Murder, She Baked. Those are really successful. They have great numbers. And this is kinda the same kind of thing. They’re good movies and for whatever reason, whether it be at the wrong time slot or the wrong day or this and that–it hasn’t gotten the same traction. But they were a blast to work on anyway.

So we’re just waiting and hoping and getting the word out. I keep hoping that people will watch it, or if nothing else, DVR it and watch it after the debate.

Yeah, it’s in a tough time slot. It’s counterproductive to put it opposite football, and that seems like a losing battle. Oh well, at this point, we’ll just keep our fingers crossed.

Can you tell us anything about your character in Gourmet Detective?

My character is the chef of this restaurant. So me and the owner don’t really get along, but we’re doing well. And then someone is killed, and I’m a prime suspect. I think that’s probably as much I can say. Usually, I play the boyfriend who gets dumped, and I get called lots of things like “douche bag.” So that’s basically been my Hallmark career.

wp-1476028680334.pngI was looking through your roles, and it seems like you might be getting somewhat typecast as he who gets dumped. I realize there’s good and bad to that. And if Hallmark is kind of taking a break from using you so much, then maybe when you come back to Hallmark, they can use you in something different.

Yeah, I know they’re shooting a lot in Vancouver. I’ve auditioned for a couple leads–not sure if they are Lifetime or Hallmark movies. I think I auditioned for one lead of a Hallmark movie. I was just on hold for a Lifetime movie, and I ended up not getting it. But at the same time, I don’t really care because even the boyfriends who become ex-boyfriends aren’t really jerks. They just don’t really think about the other person. It’s fun to play that kind of stuff, and then the murder mystery stuff is a lot of fun. You wanna play certain scenes and you want the audience to see you.

So I know Gourmet Detective 3 is coming up, but do you have any other works coming up that you can mention?

Yeah, I did this show called Legion. It’s a Marvel show. And it’s for FX. Noah Hawley is the director and show runner, and he’s the same guy who does Fargo. I can’t say a lot about the show yet, but I think it’s set in the X-Men universe. The lead is Dan Stevens, who was on Downtown Abby for a few years. And he did a movie called The Guest, which is really good. Really handsome guy. Really charming guy, but really, really nice British fella. So the idea is that he is a troubled man, and he escapes out of a mental institution. The actress who plays my wife in the show is his sister, and she comes to stay with us. We shot the pilot. The trailer has been out for a few weeks, but it premiered at Comic Con. And it’s gonna be really cool. It’s quirky and it’s a bit edgier. They kind of push stuff like that. But as far as the rest of the season goes, I don’t exactly know how many episodes I’ll be on. This series is kind of based on a comic book series.

wp-1476028750784.pngI know it mentioned a movie of the same title–

Oh, no that movie doesn’t have anything to do with our show. But it’s true that sometimes shows are based on movies. But I think this show is gonna be really, really cool. The pilot script is really interesting. It’s just one of these things that you jump into. There’s no exposition right off the top. As an audience member, you’re actually playing catch-up trying to figure out what’s going on. It is supposed to air next year. Originally, it was going to air in 2016, but that was pushing it.

I was a writer on a script that was shot for Lifetime last year, so I have another one with my writing partner. I think we just have to direct our attention to writing. Knock on wood, it sounds pretty good at this point, so hopefully, if that happens, I’ll be able to make them want to hire me. Last time, I kind of wanted to act in the film I had a writing credit on, but that was the first script I’d sold to TV, so I didn’t know my role–what I could ask for, what I could not. I talked with my writing partner, and then I asked, “Can I be in it? Can I get a role? Can I do that?” And they said, “Well, you could have, but we already have the movie cast, and it’s filming next week.” “What? Holy Cow! Okay, never mind.” So I hope I can get a role in this upcoming one. I hope it gets picked up, so we’ll see.

So you said you were a writer on one for Lifetime?

Yes, it’s called Marriage of Lies. And what happened with that was–my writing partner is Brian Young. He’s a great writer. He writes a lot of TV movies. Esentially, he gives me an outline, and then I write the first draft based on the outline. And then we get notes from the studio, the producer, whomever. And then he usually does the second draft. And with Marriage of Lies, I know they wanted to change the main character. I think she was originally a war veteran coming back with PTSD from the war, and they changed her to a house mom with a child, and she had postpartum. They changed a lot of stuff. So he ended up doing a huge rewrite. So I think on the writing credits, I have like a contributing writer credit. To say I wrote the first draft, which they changed a lot. That’s basically what that means.

I have interviewed several screenwriters, and that is a common thing in the industry.

Oh yeah. Big time.

wp-1476028642352.pngSometimes you have five people listed on the writing credits ’cause this person had the idea, this person did the first draft, and so on. 

Yeah, and unless you’re a big timer, you just have to let it go. A lot of times, you might get pissed off at them for changing the script. They’re doing that because they think it’s gonna make it better. This is how they wanna do it. For this one, it didn’t have that kind of thing for me at all. But it wasn’t my idea. I was given the idea to write. So if they want to change it, go ahead. My paycheck is still the same though. You can do what you want with it basically.

It’s always interesting to write for TV films. Whenever I wrote this scene in this new script, I thought these two characters needed to meet. One thing that was cool was the way they met because no one had met that way before. I got a note back saying they loved it. It was cool. But we needed to move faster. It’s a TV movie and we need to keep moving and moving. And then I was like, “Oh man, but–” then you have to remember what you’re doing it for. You’re not doing it to see your name in lights or be rich and famous. And they said, “You need to play with this. They want to hit it very hard.” That’s done. We’re moving on.

I think that no matter what your role is in the business….it’s like when they cut your parts in the movie or change the script up, this kind of thing happens so much, but I like your idea–the paycheck’s the same.

Yeah, at the end of the day, it’s your job, and you’re there for work. That’s a battle you can’t win. Fighting a studio, fighting whatever. You’re gonna waste energy. Move onto the next thing. Maybe you can get to the point where you invite these big-time actors and more to my house for a Christmas Eve dinner.

I think the most important thing to remember here is that you are able to start to make a living doing something you’re passionate about. I think that’s great ’cause not everybody gets to do that. There are enough struggling actors out there who can’t do that. So I think you have a great attitude.

Oh, thank you. It’s a tough beast to be in this business. It’s not the most secure thing in the world, I can tell you that.

Oh, yeah, the more I interview actors, the more I understand that. I’ve only interviewed since January, but I’ve done so many. I think every time I interview anyone connected with the industry, or at least who has ties to it. I get a real appreciation for what you do. I think it’s one of those jobs where you have to have a passion for it. Some people call it a calling. But you have to know that this is what you want to do, and you don’t want to do anything else. 

When you’re working, it’s the funnest job in the world. So interesting. And a lot of times people will say–they look at actors and think they have so much money. They’re spoiled. And they don’t realize that they’re not really working that hard. The work doesn’t really come when you’re filming. All the auditions and all the stuff beforehand, that’s the hard work. For example, recently, I had two days off, and I thought, “I wanna go to the beach.”  I wanted to do something, and I had friends in town. Then I got an audition for a movie and it was nine pages to memorize. So that became my whole night now. That’s it. That’s gone. I can’t see my friends. I’ve got to get up and learn my lines. And the next day, I had another one. At the same time, you have to think about it ’cause I was bummed out ’cause I really wanted to go out and have a couple of beers with my buddies. This is the work you put in. Doing the movies and the TV shows, you can enjoy it.  This is how it gets here. That’s where all the work comes in before you even come to set.

From what I can pick up, learning lines for your audition is grueling. And being given it to you not far in advance and memorizing all those pages is tough. 

Sometimes you don’t get the email till 9 PM, and at 10 AM, it’s time to audition. And then it’s like, “Oh cool, there’s eleven pages. Awesome!”  Then it’s time to get to work.

Yes, I’ve heard those stories. Or you have three auditions in one day. 

Yes, you get there, and they expect you to have memorized all of these lines. And those lines are flying through your head. But when you’re doing all this memorization, remember, the brain is a muscle. The more you work it, the more it gets better. When I first started trying to remember five or six pages, it was a grueling task. But now it’s just easy. Give me ten pages, give me a couple of hours, and I should be off book completely.

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One of the things I admire most about actors like Matt is that they understand who they are in this business and how they fit into the grand scheme of things. While little aggravations materialize now and then, for the most part, Matt just acknowledges his feelings briefly and moves on. He doesn’t consume his time with ranting and raving about things he is unable to change. Instead, he expends his energy on improving upon what he can change. He applies himself in acting, writing, or whatever the situation demands. And at the end of the day, no matter what transpires, it is a job, and he has a paycheck coming that keeps him following his passion and doing what he loves for a living. I think that more actors could take a cue from Matt and not try to make a mountain out of a molehill, so to speak. I greatly respect the skill and prowess that Matt brings to each of his roles, and as I have now gotten a sneak peak at the new Gourmet Detective film, I can state that Matt practices what he preaches…categorically. So be sure that you tune in tonight (October 9) to the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries network to see Matt dazzle us all with his portrayal of an integral role in Death Al Dente: A Gourmet Detective Mystery. And don’t forget to follow Matt at all the links below so that you can remian informed on what this talented and pragmatic actor is tackling next in his busy career.

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
42-year-old single mother of an active 13-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

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