Interview With Actor Kevin O’Grady, “Garage Sale Mystery”

By Ruth on January 5, 2017 in Interview, movie, mystery, television
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Almost from the inception of the Garage Sale Mystery franchise, I was a fan of these Hallmark films. After all, Lori Loughlin is the star, and while I don’t believe I saw the first one on its original air date, from that time until now, I never miss these films the first time they air. It wasn’t until the last one,The Novel Murders, when I genuinely developed an interest in the actor portraying Detective Lynwood, Kevin O’Grady. Furthermore, I have Ken Tremblett to thank because during my interview with him this summer, he mentioned how much fun he had working with Kevin. While I had mentioned Kevin in my reviews of this series of films, it was only this past summer that I began to seek him out for an interview. Due to his incredibly busy schedule last year (just check his IMBD credits if you don’t believe me) and due to rescheduling of the now upcoming The Art of Murder, I only recently had the opportunity to chat with him. I am pleased to state that Kevin was a joy to interact with, and we discussed everything from the very beginning of his career all the way up to what is on the horizon for him now with a heavy emphasis on his marvelous time with the Garage Sale Mystery movies and Hallmark.

RH: What inspired you to become an actor?

KO: It was really a fluke thing for me with acting. Up until the point when I became an actor in my mid-twenties, my whole life was focused on becoming an artist, mainly drawing and pencil art, mostly moving towards maybe doing comics. I also became a commercial artist and an advertising artist for awhile. I grew up in Winnipeg, and then I moved to Vancouver. I met a few actors once I got to Vancouver. I guess being away from the scene I knew in Winnipeg and this amazing–well you’re from the Pacific Northwest… you know how gorgeous it is in that area. So here I was in a new scene and a new area and BOOM! I was just like, “Wow! What are you guys doing? Acting? Yeah, I like acting and movies.” And it was really that easy. I just took a class and I was like, “This is probably what I’m gonna do.” And it was great. You know, I don’t know how many jobs I’ve been in. I counted them the other day. With last year and including my commercials, I am at well over a hundred professional jobs now.

Wow. I hear all sorts of stories, and everyone has their own path about how they became an actor, but yours is a bit different.

A lot of people you hear, they started in high school or they went to theater class. For me, I was always a huge movie fan, so it wasn’t a big stretch. And when I looked into it, I thought, “Wow this is definitely more for me than sitting around at a table trying to draw Spiderman or the Hulk.”

I hear ya. My daughter is an artist. She is only thirteen, but she spends hours drawing these figures. She’ll spend the whole day doing that, and I can’t imagine doing that. 

There ya go. You’re experiencing it from another point of view, but that was me. And I actually got pretty good. I was looking back at some of my drawings, and I really wasn’t too bad. The thing is becoming a comic book artist–there are very few people who can say that. For the amount of effort it took, it was like, “Maybe not, Kev. Let’s try this acting thing.” Which, trust me, wasn’t any easier, but at least you always felt there was a little bit more hope than attempting to work with Marvel or DC Comics.

What kind of training did you receive for acting?

I went to a film/acting school that really appealed to me because it was very specific to getting work as an actor and teaching you how to be in front of a camera ’cause that was always the goal. From the moment I found out what was going on with my friends I had met in Vancouver, it was all about film. It was all about getting in front of the camera. I have nothing against theater. I love theater. I’ve done it. It’s just that it’s a little bit different ballgame. So it was this private school–I say private because it wasn’t some kind of huge chain institution. I met some people who are still my friends to this day. It was a great experience because it was exactly what I wanted. It was artistic, but at the same time, very technical, and that’s how I think. I’d say that within less than a year and a half, it started to build really quick for me. I was taking classes twice a week. And then I ended up getting in a class with a master coach–he’d never like me saying that, but he is–named Warren Robertson. He was a huge bigwig back in the ’60’s and ’70’s. He came from New York and at the end of a very long story, ended up coming to Vancouver. And he was the catalyst that changed everything for me. We worked with huge plays from Tennessee Williams and Chekhov. That was the turning point for me when I got with him.

What would you consider some of your earlier, more memorable jobs in the business?

There were a few milestones. To be honest–not to say it just because it’s the first one–but the first one meant a great deal to me. It was a time in Vancouver when the writers were going on strike. Hollywood as well. It was this massive lull. Kinda the worst time to get started as an actor. I was auditioning and auditioning and auditioning. It was just shy of two years after I got my first agent and started auditioning that I actually got my first job. It was so exciting for me to go, “Wow, they called!” I was working at a job in internet marketing selling domains, and I said, “Guys, can I go in another room and scream? Would that be okay?” {laughs} And I totally did, and they were like, “Wow, we weren’t expecting it to be that loud.” {laughs} And the funny part is that my part ended up getting cut. It was a show called Special Unit 2, and the show ended up being canceled later that year.

One of the next jobs I got was a giant Bud Light U.S. national commercial, and that was very exciting. They kept showing it during all the NFL games, during the playoffs and at the end of the season. Then it ended up getting shown during prime time and I think maybe even during Friends. So that was pretty cool.

Then skip to a number of years later and we come to my big milestone job when I did This Means War, and I got to work with Tom Hardy and I got an actual half-decent role in a major, major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon. To this day, I probably have almost one person a month from the people I know or within the vicinity of people I know mention they saw me in that movie. It’s hard to believe it’s already five or six years old now.

Was the first thing you did for Hallmark Hitched For the Holidays?

Yes, that is correct.

It looks like that was around the same time as This Means War

Yeah, what happened is I shot This Means War almost a year and a half prior to me being on set for Hitched for the Holidays. We shot This Means War in the last quarter of 2010. The movie didn’t come out till Valentine’s Day 2012. They held onto it for quite awhile. So when I shot Hitched for the Holidays, we shot it in February of 2012. I remember talking to Joey Lawrence and the people on set about this big move that was out in theaters now and that they should see it. Of course, I didn’t say it in a smarmy way, but in a fun way. And as you can imagine, we shot Hitched For the Holidays in February, and since it was a Christmas movie, it didn’t come out till some time in November.

Since you’ve been working with Hallmark for awhile now, what do you like about working for the network?

The thing with Hallmark that’s been nice is that they gave me this opportunity to fit into a role that is very likable, but very real. I’ve known I could do a role like this for many years. With Hallmark and the type of movie that it is…it’s nice ’cause it does have the dramatic quality that truly allows me to show my dramatic side in a way that isn’t like this heavy, trying to be way too ultra melodramatic. I can just be real. Just be a real person. But still talking about real things. Talking about murder, crime scenes, investigations. And I get to work with Lori Loughlin who–Lori is fantastic. The thing with Lori is that she’s shown me so much because I get to watch her in action. She has so much experience, and just being around her has taught me so much. ‘Cause if you think about it, in all the movies, except for the last one {The Novel Murders}–that is the only one in which I wasn’t with Lori in a number of scenes–I’ve always been with her in almost every scene I’m in. And it’s one of these things where I’m watching her and she has so much experience. To see somebody be very real, be very natural and also be such a great person once they call “cut.” Those have been the best things I’ve taken away from this role and being with Hallmark.

How did you get involved with the Garage Sale Mystery movies?

If you know the story with Garage Sale Mystery, they did shoot one movie back in like 2013, to get the ball rolling on it and kind of to see how it went. It was very popular. If you’re a fan, you probably know that some of the cast were changed. The detective, the husband, and the daughter. It was one of these things where they needed somebody. They wanted somebody who had a little bit of a resume, which I did. There were some other actors who were in the audition room and are the same way. And a few of them have actually come back and guest starred in the series. It was one of those things where it was a fantastic audition and the producers and the directors and everyone were in the room. You never know. And here I am, and we’re on our sixth movie together now.

There’s been a bunch of them. I live with my parents, and we watch all the Hallmark stuff together. What I love about these Garage Sale Mystery movies is that my daughter will sit and watch them because she loves Lori Loughlin. She thinks so highly of her.

Who doesn’t, right?

Yeah! And she’ll sit there and try to figure out the mystery right along with us, and it’s so great ’cause the murders happen, but it’s never graphic like some of the network shows. It’s wonderful how we can all sit around and watch them and enjoy them. And my mom and I love murder mysteries anyway. I grew up watching Perry MasonMurder She WroteMatlock and all those shows. 

Totally. And that is what these films are capturing. Exactly the story you’re telling me, Ruth, is exactly the story I hear from so many people. And that’s why Hallmark has such a huge impact on not just America, obviously, but Canada and other countries as well. Why Garage Sale Mystery, from what I’m told, is one of the most highly rated, and not just Hallmark, but of the cable genre in the grouping that they’re in. ‘Cause Lori is so great at it and because it’s a show that has all these family values in it, but you’re still involved in a murder mystery. So there’s still something that really keeps everyone involved and intrigued.  It’s not heavy drama or too melodramatic or graphic and it appeals to all these people who do want something else. I’m really glad you enjoy them, Ruth.

With this upcoming one, called The Art of Murder, is there anything you can tell us about the film without ruining the plot?

What can I tell ya? The last one was The Novel Murders. With this one, you can already tell there’s going to be art, and there definitely is. There’s a painting that gets found, and I can’t say too much, but the story picks up from there. It’s got a few more plot twists–who could be this and the red herrings. I enjoyed filming it, and I think we got to do some things that we didn’t get to do before. Certain crime scenes that I really enjoyed. I wish I could tell you more, but…There is art, there is a painting, and of course, there is a murder.

That’s fine. I think you did a good job of telling me what I was going for.

Going back to The Novel Murders, what I really liked about that one was that it was the first one where they started to expand my character. You actually got to see me interview. It was just me interviewing the suspects. Getting to mix in and then Lori kind of jumping in and then going to where we had the autopsy. That one for me was probably one of the more memorable ones. My mom watches them all too, and loves them. That was her favorite one. But she is probably a bit biased.

And that’s something I love about Hallmark. They do a good job of developing the story of the supporting cast as a series goes on and becomes popular.

Yeah, especially using my character as an example, that’s exactly what they have done with Detective Lynwood. Sure, they love Lori, and she’s always going to be in there, but they come to like the other characters too.

Then I thought it was so neat seeing you in a Christmas movie, Every Christmas Has a Story. When I watched it, I only knew that Lori Loughlin, Colin Ferguson and Willie Aames were in it. But then I saw your character and said, “Wait a minute! I know who that is!”

Detective Lynwood!

Yes! At first, I couldn’t place you. We’re so used to seeing you as the detective, and I later discovered there were others who didn’t recognize you right away either. 

Good because I didn’t want to be Detective Lynwood. I wanted to be Doug.

Kevin O’Grady, Isabella Giannulli Credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

Yeah, and you were. It was great, and it was decidedly a different side of you.

I take that as a compliment because I definitely wanted to make sure I was in character for this film, and not in character for Garage Sale Mystery. It was literally two days after finishing up Garage Sale Mystery: The Art of Murder. I found out we were doing a Christmas movie, and I was on set like the following Tuesday. So I saw Lori–Geez what a horrible thing–{laughs} for almost seven weeks in a row.

The review I did of that film on my site was one of the top ten posts of the year. That movie ended up being a big favorite. I’m sure it helped that Lori was in it. 

Yeah, Lori tells me that the owner of Hallmark will just call her up every once in awhile. She’s a big deal for a reason. Any accolades that anyone gives her or likes about her or whatever is so well-deserved. She was just fantastic in that movie.

Well, it was nice seeing a different side of you. 

Yeah, not so serious. Detectives have to be serious. They’re around murders all the time. Especially me–I think I’m Lieutenant Lynwood now. I think they moved me up. Nevertheless, you’re homicide. It’s not some cheery role. With Doug, he’s from North Dakota.

Kevin O’Grady, Lori Loughline, Isabella Giannulli Credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

And your character had a love interest too.

Oh yeah, that’s right. {laughs} Actually, originally they were going to spend a little bit more time on that, but time didn’t permit. In fact, a little inside Hallmark thing was that they had a whole idea to have quite a secondary love story between the cameraman, who they wanted to be in his mid-twenties, and they had a lovely girl to be his love interest. They planned on this secondary love story, but Hallmark decided in the interest of time to just stick with the one because that was such a big dynamic with Colin and Lori. So they kept that little thing in there, and originally they were going to have two people be the crew. But then they thought that since we were going to “real middle of nowhere America,” why don’t we just make it one guy? And I like the fact that I was the cameraman and sound guy all in one.

As I was looking at your upcoming things, in addition to Garage Sale Mystery, I noticed something that you’re in that is directed by one of my favorite directors, Jason Bourque. I’m excited to see you in Drone.

Yeah, I was quite busy this year, but we were able to work that film out. Jason works with my agency, and he’s good friends with my agent in Vancouver, and they were talking quite highly of him. So I decided to go audition for one of the roles. My character is not a nice guy, but it’s a nice little role to show the unfortunately negative attitude towards people from the Middle East in America. So my character is a bigot and a racist. I really enjoyed my day on set. I didn’t get to meet Sean Bean or anything, but I got to meet the other leads, who I just found out that Patrick {Sabongui} got a great part on the latest season of Homeland.

I was going to ask if you’d ever worked with Jason before.

That was my first time. You see how many jobs I’ve booked and you can imagine how many auditions I’ve done. You kind of get to know that when you walk into a room, you get a sense of what the director is like right away. Hopefully, you get a lot of, “This guy is gonna be fun to work with.” And Jason was definitely one of those guys. It was really nice to be able to work it out.

So in addition to that, what else do you have upcoming that you can mention?

The thing that I’m very excited about is I shot a new Netflix movie {Girlfriend’s Day} that is supposed to come out on Valentine’s Day, but that’s not a done deal. {But IMDB says it’s true.} It’s with Bob Odenkirk, who played Saul on Breaking Bad. It was my first job that I booked in the U.S. I did that this time last year. My character is like the complete opposite of Lynwood. He’s a detective, but he’s a bad detective with criminal intentions. Definitely a bit of a racist to say the least and definitely gives Bob’s character a hard time. It was a really fun character to do. And I got that role quite a bit from the role I did on Fargo a few years ago.

Oh yeah, I was reading about that one. I’ve not actually seen Fargo. It’s one of those ones I’ve heard of. You were only in one episode, isn’t that right?

Yeah, one episode, but it was a pretty important role. It was one of these roles where the whole show turns, and it goes a certain direction with the meeting I have with one of the leads. If I didn’t meet him and do what I did to him, the whole show wouldn’t have happened. It was the catalyst scene.

I also have The Mist coming out. It was supposed to come out around February. I had a great year last year. I shot The Art of Murder. Then Every Christmas Has a Story. Then within a few weeks I ended up booking The Mist. I filmed it in Halifax, which is the very opposite side of Canada above Maine. I went back and forth for quite a few months. Almost six times. That’s a long trip. It’s a new series based on a Stephen King novelette that came out many years ago. Then they did a movie based on the novelette in 2007, which I really loved. So it’s the same guys that were behind it–producers and writers. And now they’re doing a ten-episode mini-series, which is very popular nowadays. They do it and of course, if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. They’ve done ten episodes, and they don’t have to worry about it. I got to work with the same director from Fargo. We stayed in great communication, and he’s a great guy who’s received many Emmy’s even for the episode we did together on Fargo. And it’s going to be coming out some time in the summer.

We are going to be shooting another Hallmark movie this month. I don’t know the name nor the title. I’m always looking forward to coming back and having the banter with Lori. I’m kind of halfway between Vancouver and LA now. I’m spending a lot of time here in LA auditioning during pilot season.

It’s really amazing with Garage Sale Mystery. There’s rumors there will be a whole bunch of them made, but with my industry, I never believe it. Here we are about two and a half years later after I did the first one, and I’ve already shot six of them. There are hopes that there will be quite a few this year. I don’t know for sure, but maybe it will be Garage Sale Mystery central this year if we’re lucky.

With all the acting you have been doing, are you thinking of writing or directing or maybe producing?

At a later time, it definitely is something I’m considering. I think with a lot of actors, you tend to be around a lot and see what you really like and what you really don’t like. You go, “Geez, if I was actually to do this, I think it’d be really good. And I think a lot of people would like it based on talking with other people and seeing what they think about it.” A few of my friends–we have that kind of mentality. I’m glad you brought this up because I do. I have a few script ideas that are sitting on my computer, but it’s the whole thing of actually taking the time and doing it. There are a lot of actors who are like, “Yeah, Kev, yeah right. We’ll see that never.” I think I eventually will, and I know I have the ability to…I’m really good at details and spotting nuances that make scenes really nice and helping people achieve that. Depending on how things go, I don’t know. But I would never be against doing some directing or definitely writing my own screenplays and getting into producing–I do foresee that, but for right now, my acting career is really starting to take off and get into the U.S. finally. I’m starting to break into the huge market at last, so I’m gonna pay a little bit more attention to that for now. But thanks for asking. That’s a good question.

I always try to remember to ask because I have found that most actors have aspirations to do that one day, but it can be a challenge to work it into your schedule sometimes. {pause} So to wrap things up, you probably don’t have a lot of free time because I know you’ve had a very busy year, but what do you like to do when you have free time?

Well, I’m one of these actors who is still a huge movie fan. I go to movies all the time. And with the way television has been going lately, I have my few favorite shows that I keep up on. And I also just find that it keeps me fresh. It keeps me in tune with what’s happening. When I do get auditions and I’m on set, it’s very easy to find out what’s happening and what’s needed. But it’s also my love. So that’s one of the things I like to do.

Otherwise, I’ve been trying to spend some time with some friends trying to get some other businesses maybe going on the side. It’s one of these things that until they kind of fly, I’m not gonna really say anything about them. But it’s one of these things where I don’t want to rely one hundred percent on being an actor in case…you never know what’s gonna happen, you know what I mean? That’s how I spend my time.

The other day, since I’m here in LA, my friends and I went up to Universal Studios. Silly things like that. I wish I was somebody who could say, “Oh yeah, I’m a huge hiker,” or “I love to go skiing,” or something like that. I’m not one of those people. I wish I was.

I understand. It’s interesting how there really are a lot of actors who say, “I should be getting out and hiking or being an outdoors person, but I’m not.” So you’re not alone in that at all.

{laughs} Okay, good.

It’s also interesting that some actors don’t watch movies or TV. 

You’re right, some don’t. I have a friend who’s doing really well in the business right now, and one of our biggest connections is that we do love watching movies and talking about them. And getting into them. I remember this huge conversation we had last year about The Revenant. We were talking about Leonardo {DiCaprio}. But it’s so great. We’re not arguing with each other. We’re just having lively discussion.

I find that if you don’t keep up with TV and movies–I know an actor here who is struggling. I was like, “Dude, do you watch movies at all or do you see any of the new television shows?” And he’s like, “Uh…..” And you could tell he didn’t. And I’m like, ” Dude! You have to!” It’s just weird for me. It’s not something I have to force myself to do. I want to do it. I try to do it. And it helps me so much with my craft. But you nailed it. You’ve talked to other people who don’t keep up with TV and movies–how do you not?? Some of them, maybe as you noticed, don’t even care. “I don’t know. I don’t wanna watch it.” But it’s YOUR JOB!

I understand completely. A couple years ago, I didn’t really keep up with what was currently out on TV or at the movies, but now I have to. I try to at least keep up with it, and sometimes I’ll be talking with an actor and mention a show they’ve never heard of, and I’ll be like, “Really? You don’t know that show?”

And that’s the thing. And it just so happens that a lot of the shows that are on the critical vibe during awards season, I’ve seen about eighty or ninety percent of them. When it comes down to it, the awards season is what it is. It’s fun, but it also can say that we can keep going with this show because it has ratings and the critics like it. As far as the business is concerned, that’s where the industry goes. These shows get awarded and we’re gonna make more of these. If you know that and you watch them, then you can know what is expected and wanted when you go to an audition or you’re on set.

Well, Kevin, I think we’ve covered everything that we needed to talk about.

Okay, well if you notice, I like to talk a lot, so there’s a lot of material there. {laughs}

No, that’s great! You made the process very easy, and I truly appreciate it. 

Ruth, I really appreciate you doing this. I know you’re a huge fan of the Hallmark movies and what we do. So thanks for taking the time and keeping the flavor alive, which is already so huge. The more I talk to people, I hear, “My whole family watches Hallmark. We love those movies! I didn’t know you were in them!”

While it’s true that Kevin inundated me with a wealth of information, in so doing, he has demonstrated how savvy he is within this business he has chosen. He’s not content to sit around and hope that offers come flying his way. On the contrary, he ventures out and labors arduously for these jobs, and he is willing to do whatever is necessary to portray these roles with passion, skill, and most importantly, authenticity. Kevin is not one who is going to give a performance that is not bathed in reality. He is again one of these actors who immerses himself in the role completely and gives a performance that is exactly what is requisite, so that the viewers can relate to and embrace his character. Likewise, while he is aware of his strength and he celebrates his successes, he is careful to realize he has not arrived and that he should always strive to improve his skills. When on set or auditioning or even watching movies in his “free time,” he is constantly acquiring techniques and ideas to add to his skill set which, in my humble opinion, sets him somewhat above the typical, commonplace actors who often crowd this business which mediocrity. And in Kevin’s case, I couldn’t be happier for his immense success. I tend to believe his career will only continue its skyrocketing success, and for him, the sky may not even be the limit. So be certain that you tune into the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Network on Sunday night, January 8, for his film Garage Sale Mystery: The Art of Murder. While you’ll probably tune in to watch Lori, I invite you to keep an eye out for Kevin as Detective (or is it Lieutenant now?) Lynwood and take the time to categorically examine his attention to detail in this role as well as the warm and sincere way in which he portrays this homicide detective who has the dubious honor of attempting to keep Lori’s character at bay lest she get herself killed. Also, be sure to check out Kevin at the links below and consider following him via social media lest you miss anything that this rising star accomplishes this year. While he had a record-breaking last year, something tells me that will intensify this year, and how exhilarating it will be to join him on his journey!

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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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