Interview With Actor Jason Cermak, “Eat, Play, Love”

By Ruth on August 19, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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I remember the first time I saw Jason Cermak on my TV screen. He played what Hearties often refer to as “Hot Doc,” and unfortunately, we were only treated to his talents in one additional episode in season three of When Calls the Heart. Thankfully, we saw him in mystery films, a Hallmark film here and there, and once in awhile in a Lifetime film (or a network show like Zoo). Interestingly enough, I can remember the two of us swapping stories about whether things were ever going to progress in our respective careers. We only wanted the best for each other, and we did all we could to spread the word about each other’s incredible array of talents. (Actually, he’s the uber talented one–I’m merely the messenger.) Fast-forward to August 2017, when I saw the press release that stated Jason Cermak was starring in Eat, Play Love opposite Jen Lilley. My mouth dropped in absolute dumbfounded pleasure, and I immediately contacted him for an interview. Poor guy–he didn’t even know Hallmark had officially announced it, but like the extraordinary man he is, he promptly scheduled an interview with me. 

RH: So glad it worked out to chat with you today, Jason, and I’m really excited for you to have your first lead role with Hallmark.

JC: Thank you, Ruth, for reaching out. This is my very first lead role, and it was originally called Countdown To Love, and I wasn’t even aware of the change and that Hallmark had picked it up till you mentioned it. I think it was a shotgun kind of thing because we had just done ADR for it, and the guy doing that didn’t even know about the change.

Well, I think it’s a smart move on Hallmark’s part. This is going to be one busy weekend because instead of the original four Summer Nights movies for Hallmark, adding Eat, Play, Love brought the total to five. So there are two airing this weekend. Yours and At Home In Mitford with Andie MacDowell and Cameron Mathison.

That sounds like a busy weekend. My co-star for the film is Jen Lilley, and she’s been in town doing another movie for Hallmark as a matter of fact. With our same director, Christie Will, I might add.  For our film, we also had Lee Majors and Lindsay Wagner as a part of our cast.

I saw that! So now correct me if I’m wrong, but is this your first lead in any film?

I was a lead in a  festival feature–an independent film. It did win some awards, which was pretty good, but this is my first TV movie lead.

That’s what I thought. And the reason I reached out is that Net over at http://itsawonderfulmovie.blogspot.com/ posted about the movie, and when I saw it was your first lead role, I found myself thinking back to when I first started following your work back during When Calls the Heart when you played a doctor. And now you finally got a lead role! I know you were doing stuff before that show, but When Calls the Heart was when you came on my radar. 

It is unfortunate that my character never came back to When Calls the Heart because I truly loved that show.

I know what you mean. And I don’t think your character will be coming back since Paul Greene plays the doctor in the town now. 

I saw that, and I was like, “What? How did they go and find another doctor? ” {laughs} But it’s all right. I was busy on Zoo.  And now I’m doing the series with Jewel as well.

Family Photo on

set of Moonlight in Vermont. with Lacey Chabert, Rebecca Staab, Keith MacKechnie from National Lampoons Christmas Vacation!

That’s right. And I was so happy to see everything leading up to this big role for you. Of course, Moonlight in Vermont was earlier this year, and you had a really good role in that film. 

Oh, that one was a pretty easy role. There were a lot of days I was on set and had no lines.

I remember that, but it was a really fun movie. And it was nice that even though you were a secondary character, you had a little romance going on. People really enjoyed that.  And now you get your first lead role.

Well, Christie was an advocate for me getting the role.  I had a solid audition. She looked at my resume, and she’s like “This guy’s done a lot of Hallmark, but he’s never done a lead.”  They were really looking for a new leading man, so it was a pretty easy sell. I really have Christie to thank so much. I really like her, and she’s awesome. She started as an actor as well and then branched out to be a director.

Jen Lilley, Jason Cermak Credit: Copyright 2017 Johnson Production Group

I’m assuming you probably hadn’t met your co-star before filming this movie?

No, it was pretty crazy. I found out about the role right before I went away to Las Vegas for my birthday.  I know it didn’t really sink in that I was doing it.  I remember having my script there as I was sitting by the pool at the hotel, and I was reading the script for the first time. I had no idea who was cast. All I knew was the role I was playing. I went through and read some of the changes that had happened, and I was ready to go. It was a pretty quick turnaround. I was on set very soon after I left Las Vegas.

But as I was leaving the hotel, I was just going through my email on my phone, and I got an email from Lee Majors. I didn’t even know he was associated with the show. Imagine getting an email from Lee Majors and thinking it’s like junk mail.  I was obviously spammed. But later that day, I found out that he was attached to the project. Thank goodness I could un-delete it and read it.  He actually just sent me a message saying, “Hey, looking forward to working with you.”   It’s really awesome that he would take the time to reach out.

Then when I found out Jen Lilley was attached as well, I did some quick research on her. I’m not a big soap opera watcher, but she was at the Emmys, and she seemed really cool. We had dinner together and got to know each other. It was awesome. She’s a really down-to-earth, cool girl, and we have a lot of common interests. We actually ended up going to church together. We found out we’re both churchgoers. That first weekend, we went to church together. When she was back in town recently for this other project, we were gonna go to church together again, but it didn’t work out. But we’re keeping in touch.

She’s very open about her faith. I didn’t really know her, but she was in a movie with Brendan Penny earlier this year, and I really started following her. 

Yeah, she and Brendan are pretty close now too. And I find it refreshing that she’s so open about her faith. So many people are afraid to talk about their faith, and it precipitates interesting conversations. I got to meet her husband, Jason, and he works for Frito-Lay and is in charge of chips, if I remember right. He doesn’t work on anything having to do with the entertainment industry, but he said it was his first time on set watching her do scenes, which was pretty cool. He had one of these little NES (Nintendo) classics, and I hooked it up in my trailer. Jason’s a big video game fan. He actually spent most of the day on set in my trailer playing Mario Bros.

Lee Majors, Jason Cermak, Lindsay Wagner Credit: Copyright 2017 Johnson Production Group

How was it working with the actors that played the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman?

We just called them “The Legends” on set.  Like, “The Legends are coming!” “The Legends are on break!”  They were really great. I grew up watching The Fall GuySix Million Dollar Man was just finishing up. But yeah, I am a huge fan of Lee Majors, so it was just amazing getting a chance to talk to him. He’s really personable. He’s like a Hugh Hefner. He’s the embodiment of a real man. He did all of his own stunts for The Fall Guy. There was one night that we had a really late night and an early call time, but apparently he took a bunch of people down to the bar at the Sutton and then just told stories like working with Andre the Giant and all these amazing Hollywood stories. I would have loved to participate in that, but the time I did have to talk to him was just awesome. I met his beautiful wife, Faith, when she came to set. They live out in Texas. He’s working on Evil Dead with Bruce Campbell.

And then Lindsay Wagner–her too–just a really lovely, lovely woman. One of the highlights working with her was one of the lunch hours. Christie, myself and one of the producers sat with her, and she was telling us the story about how she got the part as Bionic Woman. She was guest-starring on Six Million Dollar Man. She actually didn’t want to do it. She’s like, “People jumping off buildings and stuff? The is ridiculous!”  Her sister was a big fan of Bionic Men and said, “It would mean a great deal if you did it.” So that was part of it, and then it kind of evolved.  They killed her character off and there was major backlash with the fans because she was like a mother figure. So they resuscitated her and offered her a series.  She had enough leverage at that point to be able to suggest some creative liberties with it. She decided that the character would never attack or hurt people. She would always give credit to others. She was not the one who would be attacking others. She really wanted to use her role to empower women, and she really was able to do just that. So just getting a chance to talk with her was an amazing experience.

I didn’t really grow up watching Six Million Dollar Man, but I did grow up watching Bionic Woman. I knew about Lee Majors and Six Million Dollar Man, but I think it might have been ending or something like that. {pause} I’m certainly looking forward to the movie. What can you tell us about this movie and your role without spoiling the story?

Copyright 2017 Johnson Production Group

Well, I love dogs, and the dog’s name in the movie is Beasley, but the actual dog’s name is Gidget. He’s the one who will be in the upcoming Julia Roberts movie Wonder. So Gidget was the real star of the show. But my favorite dog in the movie was called Burger. He’s this huge dog named Burger who’s like 180 pounds! There’s a scene where we’re bathing the dog, and they wanted him in slow motion to shake. So they put a little bit of ear wax remover in his ear, which is good for the dog, but the dog wants to get it out. So the dog shakes to try to get it out. When the dog was shaking, I remember I got a little bit of ear wax remover in my mouth. {laughs} And I was like, “Ugh!” But it was worth it. Burger was awesome.

When we were doing the film, the producers were adamant about it not being a “dog movie.” They wanted it to be more about the story. So it is exactly that. My character loves animals, and I come back to my hometown and open an animal shelter. My ex-girlfriend in high school went away to school as well. We were kind of like soulmates, but we drifted apart.  When I’m back in town, I end up dating the beauty queen. She’s a reporter. The movie starts out with Jen Lilley’s character coming back to work at the shelter, and we realize there’s something there.

It can sometimes be tough to get things just right in these kinds of movies, as far as the love interests go and the “other woman.” I talked to the writers about it as well. We did some tweaking of some scenes. Originally, the beautiful woman that Emily Maddison plays…it was kind of a fine line between her being a kind of character that was just nasty, but as we worked through it, we managed to find the humanity of what she was going through as well. That’s a tough situation when you’ve got a significant other that’s an old connection. It can be tough waters to navigate.

Well, that sounds like one that we fans should enjoy. Though the dogs aren’t the main part of the movie, that always adds something special for the fans. 

I think it’s important….like a lot of these movies, they make out one of the two women build a fire, right? They make one superficial, and one’s not. Whereas I don’t know, in real life, that’s not really the case, you know? Maybe people have self-interest at heart, but it’s not necessarily out of a destructive or negative place. And I hope that comes across the movie that there’s not necessarily a good or bad choice. In any case, what we don’t want is the guy to appear like a villain in it because you know he’s the commonality or the common thread between these two struggles. I’d like it to be a level playing field. I think we accomplished that with the writer. So we’ll see how it turns out. I’ve heard there have been a few revisions, so I’m not certain how it ended up exactly. I’m very interested to see the finished product.

I’m sure it will be just as good as Hallmark always is. I don’t mean that every single film that comes out of Hallmark is my absolute favorite. I’m not gonna be the one that says every single time, “Well, that was my favorite.” But what I can say is that every single film that comes out of Hallmark, if nothing else, it’s pure entertainment. The way that my mom says it is, ” You know you will be able to sit there for a couple hours and we can just sit back and enjoy it. We don’t have to worry about there being something that we don’t want to see, such as bedroom scenes or profanity or really dark things.” Our minds can take a vacation and just enjoy it! Don’t get me wrong. I watch other networks, and those have their place. But with Hallmark, you know what you’re getting, and you don’t have to sit there and worry or preview it ahead of time before showing it to your kids.

By design, Hallmark’s created a brand. They want you to be able to look at a short film or MOW for five minutes and know that it’s Hallmark. We always kind of complain on set that you’re not allowed to have facial hair or you’re not allowed to wear plaid or show cleavage at all. They just want to create that brand, and that’s the reason behind all these decisions. And it makes sense. They’re creating a strong fanbase.

Right, and you know your family can sit there and watch it. I have a fourteen-year-old daughter, and now that she’s older, I don’t worry as much. But there is still that thing when you’re sitting there watching it, and something pops up all of the sudden that you weren’t expecting and it feels really awkward. She’s usually okay with and is like, “Mom, I’m fourteen. It’s okay.” But I’m the one who feels strange. But it’s not like that with Hallmark. 

Yes, you know you’re in good hands when you sit down and watch Hallmark. Which is tough to come by these days. It’s getting harder and harder with all this stuff that is passing as “acceptable.”

One thing that was an interesting perspective this time for me was looking at myself because I know a lot of actors can be pretty critical of their own work. I had to observe myself as a leading man, and I don’t know….I was telling Jen Lilley, because she’s just finished up a Hallmark movie, and I’m like, “Wow, I’m glad you got a really good-looking guy to be your leading man in this most recent one because you had to look at me in the last one.”  I look at guys like Marcus Rosner, and they’re good-looking dudes.  And I look kind of “meh,” if you know what I mean. I’m usually the best friend. I’m not the best-looking guy around, I don’t think. I don’t know. We’ll see how it translates. I’m open to it, and I think it’s fair that there’s obviously gonna be people who watch it and are like, “I don’t like him as a leading man.” They’re entitled to that. I’m open to hearing people’s feedback. I want to know if they think I can hold my own in these types of shows or if I kind of miss the mark. It’s tough not to take it personally when hearing that feedback, but I care about what I do when I’m crafting stuff, so I want to fill the roles that I get to the best of my ability. And if there’s something that I need to change or if there’s a different direction I need to take, I think that’s valuable feedback to take into consideration.

Jason Cermak Credit: Copyright 2017 Johnson Production Group

I’m sure there are lots of Hearties who will not agree with what you’ve said about not being good-looking enough. They’ll say, “He’s a good-looking guy.” When I look at guys on Hallmark, it would seem to me like you fit in with the group. Marcus has his look. You’ve got your look. And here’s my take on it. Sometimes the leading ladies will all look very similar. The leading men will sometimes look very similar too. I prefer it when I look at a person and think, “Oh, that’s so-and-so,’ rather than having to stop and look it up because the actors have that same look. I understand what you’re saying because it’s easy to compare ourselves to each other. But I know that we’re often very critical of ourselves.

Yeah, it’s the nature of the industry too.

I always think, “If you don’t like it, turn the channel.” There are plenty more things out there for people to watch, and spending your time bashing something or being critical of something doesn’t make much sense in my opinion. {pause} I do know that the Hearties are looking very forward to seeing you in your first lead role. And I’m sure everything will be fine. We have also seen you this year on the Fixer Upper mystery films with Jewel. Have you been told if any more of those are planned?

Yes, supposedly more are planned for this year. I have been asked about my availability, which is a good sign, but I haven’t heard anything officially. And whether my character is in it or not is still up in the air. So I’m on standby. But I love those films.

I know these mysteries have been really great for Hallmark, and hopefully, you’ll get to be in the next ones. 

When I was talking to Colin Lawrence, who plays the chief, I told him, “I’m gonna mature Tommy up a bit in the next ones if I get a chance.” When I was watching the other two, I just thought he was a little too earnest for my liking. He needs more assertiveness. We’ll see how that goes. It’s just fun to have a character you can actually do that with. After you watch it, you’re like, “Oh, I didn’t like that about you. I can do something about that.”

Death of a Vegas Showgirl

I think that’s the nice thing about any kind of recurring role, whether for a movie or TV series. While I haven’t watched Zoo, I know you’ve had a recurring role on there for a while. 

It’s a very fun show. It’s very different than my Hallmark appearances. It’s fun playing kind of a low-life.

I remember you said that, and it makes me think I really need to look it up. 

Yeah, it’s not my normal casting. But now that I have it, it’s great. I think being the Hallmark guy is more easy for me.

I can imagine. Versatility is so important in this business. It’s easy to get typecast as always the nice guy. I think it’s got to be nice, even if it’s a challenge, to do something a little bit different. You were in quite a few episodes of Zoo this season, weren’t you?

Yeah, five episodes. But I just finished filming a series that doesn’t have a lot of publicity about it. It’s a Netflix series that Matt Damon is producing. It’s called The Green Beret’s Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse. It’s a comedy. I’ve got black hair in it. They thought I looked too much like the lead. It’s a darker comedy, and the lead actor in it isn’t even an actor. He’s a Green Beret. He was teaching Matt Damon on the Bourne movies. He was showing him how to do certain moves and going about doing things and why he would do things. They became friends and ended up doing this series.

I’ve heard of the series. I don’t know anything about it, but it sounds familiar.

Well, I know it started as a documentary, like a survival guide of things that would actually be handy if you were in a crisis. And that’s why they got an actual Green Beret. But then it evolved into this scripted comedy, so they’re shooting a full season of it right now. I’m in the pilot. Emily Maddison, who plays my girlfriend in Eat, Play, Love, she’s in the pilot also.

That’s really cool. They probably haven’t announced when it’s gonna be available?

I can’t find anything on it, but I assume it’s being financed by Netflix, and Matt Damon is producing it, so I would think it has the green light to air. But that’s all I know. I know that Netflix and Hulu are trying very hard to create original content so they can hold their own.

Psycho Wedding Crasher


We’ll certainly keep an eye out for it. Anything else upcoming for you?

I’ll be appearing in something called Psycho Wedding Crashers with Fiona Vroom and Heather Morris. And I have the lead in that one as well. I’m not certain when it is coming out, but it will be on Lifetime, and it is more edgy. There’s the shower scene right away.

Well, I’m glad you are the lead, and I noticed Fiona Vroom, who has also been in a lot of Hallmark stuff. 

Yeah, so we did Psycho Wedding Crashers together. She played my wife. Then we did Moonlight in Vermont, and she played my girlfriend. And then in Death of a Vegas Showgirl, she was in that one with me too. So three times in a row we worked together.

That is really something. Well, let’s hope that Psycho Wedding Crashers comes on sooner rather than later. You never know with Lifetime. Anything else upcoming?

No, I think we covered it all. The one thing I’ve not ever done is the CW Superhero stuff. I’m good friends with casting directors who cast for those shows. In fact, my resolution for the new year was to finally get on one of those shows.

Well, we’ll all cross our fingers that that will happen for you. But for now, we’ll all be looking forward to seeing your first lead role, and I just know you’re going to be exceptional Jason. The fans are all on your side!

Thank you so much, Ruth. Everyone’s support means so much. I’m very interested to see what everyone thinks.

One of my favorite things to do as an interviewer is to watch someone like Jason whom I’ve followed for awhile really come into his own. Seeing him go from small guest star to leading man has been a journey a few years in the making, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic for this man. If anyone deserves this break, it’s Jason. He is one of the kindest, most caring men that I know in the business, and even though he often keeps to himself and doesn’t post on social media as much as other “celebrities,” he is well aware of the support the Hearties and others have given him over the years, and he appreciates it more than some might realize.

Two of the things that truly strike me about Jason are his humility and his authenticity. He is intensely concerned about performing to the best of his ability, but like many artists, he is equally solicitous that he may not reach the mark. However, instead of employing the bravado that some are quick to spout, Jason remains vulnerable and genuine in his regard for doing an exceptional job. While I know I’m biased (I always am when I have invested so much of myself into someone’s life), I still declare that Jason is ready for this incredible opportunity, and I believe Hallmark may have just discovered a new favorite leading man. There is no doubt that his unassuming, quiet nature may cause people to initially underestimate his capabilities, but people would be wise to take a moment and actually listen to and watch this sober-minded, sensitive, and capable actor in action. There is no doubt that he takes his work seriously, and he is incredibly adept at the art of observation. (He honestly tells the best “on-set” stories, and I don’t even have to pull those stories out of him!)

So please tune in tonight (August 19th) to the Hallmark Channel for Jason’s inaugural lead role in the film entitled Eat, Play, Love. I would also invite you to consider checking out all the links below and following him where applicable so that you may be kept abreast of his upcoming works in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. Something tells me that Jason is going to soon become one of the busiest actors in Vancouver, and I think this role is going to jumpstart his career and possibly even propel him to stardom. And I’ll just sit on the sidelines cheering him on and thinking, “I knew him when…”

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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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