Interview With Actor Jim Thorburn

By Ruth on March 18, 2017 in Interview, movie, television

I sincerely take it as a compliment when an actor I have interviewed previously suggests that I interview this or that actor, and that is exactly how Jim Thorburn came to my attention. For some unknown reason, I just hadn’t noticed him in Hallmark films, and when Tammy Gillis told me that she was married to him and that he had a couple Hallmark films coming up soon, I thought to myself, “How on earth did I not know this?!” After all, I’m supposed to be the champion for the supporting roles, but I guess he just slipped beneath my radar. Thankfully, he was quite willing to answer a few questions for me recently, and we covered a little bit of everything: his inception in the business, his notable roles (Hallmark and otherwise), and a hint at what his future holds/may hold for him in the entertainment universe.

RH: Please tell us about your somewhat unconventional journey to become an actor. Why did you ultimately choose this profession?   

JT: I come from an athletic background of professional ski racing, basically from age eight to my early twenties. My choice to become an actor really came to me when I was working on the other side of the camera in the art department. I had the pleasure to interact with cast on The X-Files and was inspired by performances I experienced firsthand. I always had an interest in acting for TV and film and thought this was something I’d love to pursue.

Please tell us about your first acting role, how you got it, and what it was like.

My first role was in the pilot of the TV series Millennium. I knew both Chris Carter and David Nutter from The X-Files, and I got the opportunity to audition thanks to them. It was a very cool show to be a part of, and to this day I’m so grateful to have had that experience, as it started me on a whole new path.

You enjoyed quite a stint on Paradise Falls. How did you land that role, and what was it that you enjoyed about your character, the cast, and the crew of the show? 

Paradise Falls was my first time being a series regular. I went through an audition process of two to three callbacks and then a chemistry read with the actress playing my girlfriend. I enjoyed this role as my character was constantly getting into some sort of trouble while trying to do the right thing.The show was very campy and set in a small lakeside town. I had such a great time shooting that series because of such an amazing cast/ crew and the beautiful location of Lake Muskoka (cottage country) in Ontario, Canada.

You enjoyed a shorter but nice stint on Blackstone. How did that role come about? What are your memories of that show?

I landed the part on Blackstone by audition in Vancouver. Being a part of this series really educated me on the struggles and realities faced by indigenous people. It is an incredibly honest and brave series and it’s really great to see their stories being honoured with many awards and accolades here in Canada.

It appears that your first Hallmark movie was the original Garage Sale Mystery film. How did you get that role? What did you enjoy about working on that set? 

I was offered this role and was excited to be a part of a great cast.  There was/is a possibility of being brought back for future instalments of it, which would be great! I really enjoyed working with the talented director Peter DeLuise.

With Lacey Chabert, The Tree That Saved Christmas

One of your more notable Hallmark films was The Tree That Saved Christmas opposite Lacey Chabert. What did you enjoy about working with Lacey? Any behind-the-scenes memories of that film? 

Lacey is really great to work with and an amazing person on so many levels. I always say she is the “TV Ambassador of Christmas”; she loves Christmas more than anyone I know.  I can’t wait to work with her again.

With Lacey Chabert, Eric Keenleyside, Corey Sevier, Lini Evans, and Alisha Newton in The Tree That Saved Christmas

I also really enjoyed working with the two girls, Yasmeene Ball and Alisha Newton, that played my daughters; they kept things interesting.  I’m proud that The New York Times had it as one of its favourite movies to watch Christmas 2014.

I see that you got to work with your wife (Tammy Gillis) on the The Support Group. Was that the first time you had gotten to work with her? What was it like working with her on set? Is it something you hope to/plan to do again? Why? 

That was our first time working together. She was starring in and directing the web series and asked me to play a part for her. It was a great experience. She is very talented on both sides of the camera.  She is currently writing some movies that hopefully I’ll get a part in 🙂

With Wendie Malick from Finding Father Christmas

We have seen you in many Christmas films–two this past season: Finding Father Christmas  and Christmas Cookies. What do you like about filming Christmas movies? Also, what do you like about working for Hallmark in general? 

It’s funny… I really do like working on Christmas movies. It’s like it’s Christmas all year long.

from Christmas Cookies

There is always a positive message in the storyline. I also find the movies have a well-rounded cast of all ages, which reaches a much larger audience. And hey, who doesn’t like Christmas? As for working for Hallmark, I’ve been lucky to be on their radar and really hope to work on even more of their projects.

With Yannick Bisson from Dead Over Heels: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery

We will see you in the upcoming Aurora Teagarden film. What can you tell us about your role without giving away the storyline? Did you share any memorable scenes with any of the regular actors/crew? 

It’s fun to be a part of a murder mystery.  Unfortunately, I can’t say much or I will be giving up spoilers. I have scenes with most of the regulars and working with Candace {Cameron Bure}, Yannick {Bisson} and Lexa {Doig} was definitely a highlight. I originally read for a different character in the movie and owe big thanks to Jim Head, the executive producer, for seeing me in a different light as “Detective Pete Lambert”. Terry Ingram did a great job directing and the crew was fantastic.  The movie is airing on Hallmark Movies & Mystery on March 19, 2017 at 9/8c.

With Kellie Martin and Giacomo Baessato from Hailey Dean Mysteries: Deadly Estate

Any other upcoming roles that you can mention?

I’ve just finished up a lead role on the second Hailey Dean Mysteries called Hailey Dean Mysteries:  Deadly Estate, and I’m playing “Ryan King”. Again, I can’t  say much without giving away storyline. Kellie Martin, who plays “Hailey Dean,” is fantastic and was a real pleasure to work with.  It has been announced that it will be airing on Hallmark Movies & Mystery on April 9, 2017.

With so many scripts and roles coming your way, how do you connect with each of your characters? Is there some kind of process you use? How is it different to connect with a movie role as opposed to a TV role? 

That’s a good question regarding character connection. Personally, I feel that I connect from the first time I read the material. It’s hard to explain, but it just comes easy and feels like the right fit., and then from there, its time to start making choices and put in the work. In terms of connecting in TV vs. film? I don’t think the connection is much different; however, my working experience has mostly been in television.

Any plans to do any writing or directing eventually?

I do have a few ideas for writing and one is for a Christmas movie! I’ll let you know as it progresses. I’m not going to rule out directing in the future, but for now I’m very fulfilled  with acting.

What do you do in your free time to unwind? 

I like to play tennis and want to get back to skiing more often. Recently I’ve found cooking to be a great way to unwind. New York Times recipes are always a nice challenge. If I had it my way, I would go to Italy and take a course on making pizza. LOVE pizza.

It absolutely electrifies me to no end to see that Hallmark is featuring Jim in two films within the next four weeks. To be honest, that is something that doesn’t often happen unless the network genuinely likes the actor, so that would tell me that Hallmark has seen something incredibly special in this handsome, but versatile actor. While he has developed quite a sizable amount of Canadian network appearances (and a few in the U.S. as well), I would venture to say that many viewers have a similar predicament to my own of being somewhat unfamiliar with the amazing works of Jim Thorburn (with the exception of The Tree That Saved Christmas). As the remarkable Hallmark pool of actors continues to increase in size, scope, and sequence, actors of caliber are going to begin to come to the forefront, and viewers will clamor for more films from their favorites. I project that once viewers witness the spectacular abilities of Jim in these two mystery films, they are going to find him more recognizable than he may have been previously. It’s always extraordinary to note that he is remembered for a Christmas film, but I would say that it is high time for him to appear as a lead in another. Moreover, maybe the network would be open to finally giving his wife a lead opposite him. After all, we know that Hallmark derives great joy from casting couples in films (remember Love Locks), so maybe the fans need to make a request for that to happen this Christmas. In the meantime, we viewers can revel in the fact that we get to see Jim this upcoming Sunday (March 19) in the new Aurora Teagarden film, and then just a couple weeks later (April 9) in the new Hailey Dean film–both airing on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Network. There is no doubt that Jim is a dependable, kind, talented actor who deserves to become a favorite leading man with this network (at least in my humble opinion), but I know Jim is content to just be a working actor, fulfilling his dreams right alongside his lovely wife. Maybe that Christmas film he’s writing will become a reality–you never know! Or maybe Tammy will give him the lead in one of her films. I think it’s going to be an exhilarating time for Jim, and I would invite all of my readers on this journey with him via the links below so that we don’t miss one stimulating moment of what is bound to be a thrilling ride as he sets out to accomplish all the goals in his heart and mind!






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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