Interview With Actor Michael Karl Richards, “Chesapeake Shores”

By Ruth on August 15, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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Because of my commitment to featuring and interacting with the entire cast of any production, last year I had the honor of interviewing Michael Karl Richards, known to “Chessies” as the much-hated Wes Winters, ex-husband of Abby {Meghan Ory} on the original Hallmark series Chesapeake Shores. While we fans often cringed when his character appeared on screen, that was merely a testament to his talent. Off the screen, Michael is one of the nicest guys you could ever imagine, but he knows how to immerse himself in a role. This year, I was able to chat with him yet again, and we talked about a wide variety of things including season two of Chesapeake Shores, a few of his other works, and also a few surprises along the way.

RH: Michael, I’m so glad it worked out to chat with you today.

MKR: Oh, Ruth, thanks so much for the call. I know my role isn’t major this year in Chesapeake Shores compared with last year, but–

It’s no problem. I so enjoy interviewing everyone involved in a project from the big roles all the way down to the minor characters. Even though you may not appear much this season, no doubt the fans will remember you from last season.

Okay, well that’s good news then.

Is there anything you’re able to tell us about your character this season without spoiling anything?

What I will say is that there’s some tension between my character and Trace {Jesse Metcalfe} this season. I think I can safely say that without giving too much of the plot away. That’s something I had been looking forward to this season from an acting point of view right. I think the audience can look forward to some of that as well.

Chesapeake Shores (Hallmark Channel)

Well, that doesn’t give anything anyway. In fact, it makes perfect sense that there’d be tension between those two characters. {pause} Are you able to tell us how many episodes you’re in? 

I believe I am in four episodes. Although it’s not as much as last season, that’s not horrible, in my opinion. I would say that every minute of this show has all been a blessing for me from shooting the pilot into doing the episodes last season and then getting the call for this season. It’s all great. It’s all gravy, as they say.  I really love it.

I love that point of view. Even though you were in almost twice as many the first season, I guess it makes sense that you would probably be in less this season as Abby spends most of her time in Chesapeake Shores as opposed to New York. I know they added plenty of new characters this season. Were there people who joined the cast with whom you’d worked before?

You know, I do not have any scenes this season with anyone who is new to the cast this season. My only scenes are with people who were in the cast last year. I met virtually none of the new cast members except maybe one, but I’ll let you discover that on your own towards the end of the season. But I do know that Cameron Bancroft was added to the cast, and though we have no scenes together, I see him once in a while at auditions. I know he’s done a bunch of Hallmark stuff.

Yes, I know him and might get to interview him again soon. He’s a really good guy. {pause} Hallmark viewers also got to see you somewhat recently this year in one of the Fixer Upper {Concrete Evidence} mystery films. 

Yeah, that was a fun experience, and that was a very different character than the character I usually play on these kinds of things. It was fun to play a guy who was a little less sure of himself. It seems that most of the time throughout my career, I tend to often play characters that are quite sure of themselves. But in that case, he was a guy that just really wanted to be supportive of everybody else. At least, that was my take on him. I think he was kind of like a dog in that he wanted to make sure everybody else was taken care of and that everybody was happy. And sadly to his own detriment.

They have had so many of these new mystery series pop up, but it seems like those Fixer Upper mysteries were very successful. I’m trying to remember. Did you have scenes with Jewel?

Yes, I did have a couple scenes with Jewel. A lovely, lovely person. And I also know she’s one busy lady. She acts in these films, and she also went to Australia on tour, if I remember right. She’s such a great person. But I got to work with lots of great people on that project. I even got to meet some local guys on that shoot that I really liked.

I was so glad you tipped me off to your being a part of that film. You told me right before it premiered, so I knew to watch for you. And I thought it was nice for Hallmark to feature you in one of their movies since you had been in their series. I love their loyalty.

Yes, I couldn’t agree more. Hallmark has been great to me. I did a movie for them a couple years with Jill Wagner {Autumn Dreams}, and ever since then, they’ve been using me from time to time.

So hopefully that means we’ll see more of you in the future. I’m sure they’ll keep using you.

Yeah, I love to work with them.

Chesapeake Shores (Hallmark Channel)

In addition to Chesapeake Shores, do you have anything else upcoming that you can mention?

Actually, yes. It’s not scheduled to come out until 2018, but it’s called Overboard. Right after I finished Chesapeake Shores, I went and shot that movie. It’s a remake of that Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell movie by the same name I have a small, supporting role in that, but it’s an exciting movie and something I really looked forward to working on. It was a lot of fun. It had been awhile since I’d had the opportunity to work on a feature of that size. It’s a different kind of animal to most of the stuff I get to work on.

Well, that’s really exciting for you then. Anything else upcoming?

Yes, do you know the television show Travelers?

Yes, I certainly do!

They just have wrapped on season two, and I did an early episode of that for this upcoming season. I think season two premieres in Canada on October 16th on Showcase, but as far as I know, they haven’t announced the release date for when it comes out on Netflix. I don’t want to say too much about my role, but it was a very fun part, and again, it was a departure from what I usually play. I play kind of a salesman. And it was a lot of fun.

Michael, that sounds just great. I’m so glad you got that opportunity, and I’ll look forward to seeing it when I can. 

I look forward to seeing it myself. It was so much fun to shoot.

So you must be an actor who doesn’t mind watching yourself on film or TV.

Oh, I don’t know if I’d go that far. {laughs} I can’t watch myself with other people in the room. Especially the first time. Usually, I need some time between when I did it and when it comes on. Otherwise….Listen, I’m a self-judgmental person. So it is hard for me to watch myself.

I actually do understand to a degree. I’ve been streaming live interviews now for a couple of months on my YouTube channel, and it is a really strange feeling, especially sitting there watching with my parents. I can get very critical of my performance and wonder why I did this or that or wished I’d done it differently. It’s not quite the same thing, but it is similar. I prefer to just do the broadcast and put it out there and let everybody else watch it. Then maybe later I’ll watch it by myself. 

Exactly. And as I’m sure you know, the experience of doing it is the main thing. The watching of it afterwards is a whole different thing altogether.

Now, I may have asked you this last year, but are you thinking of doing any writing yourself?

Funny you should ask, Ruth. I’m writing something right now. There’s not much to talk about because I’m just writing it. One of the things that I work on in my personal life is not to be so self-judgmental. One of the things writing forces you to do is to not be self-judgmental because you cannot judge yourself when you’re writing.  Otherwise, you’ll never write anything.  And so the exercise of writing a script has been that experience for me.  It’s trying to push through that self-judgment and just write stuff. You have to get through those moments where you go, “This is just terrible. What am I doing writing this?” You have to keep writing no matter what.

So is this a movie script or a TV show?

It’s going to be feature-length. But I am writing it so I could break it up if need be into episodes. I don’t know what else I could say about it at this point other than it is a beneficial exercise for me. It’s still in its early days. I’m enjoying it a lot. I don’t know if you know, but my mom’s a writer.  Her and I get into conversations about writing, and that’s kind of a fun thing too. She is a mystery writer. Back in the day she wrote the “Madeleine Carter” novels–Mad Money and the others in the series. {His mom is Linda L. Carter, and you can find more information here.}

I think you mentioned her being a writer during our first interview, but I have to admit I forgot. I plan to look up her books at some point because I’m a huge mystery fan. {pause} So this script that you’re writing, would you be looking at also starring in it?

As cheesy as that is, yeah. It’s something that I would want to be in.

Honestly, that is the trend among almost every actor that I talk to. If they’re not writing something that they want to star in, they are thinking about it.  It seems to be that in this day and age in order to really get that content that you are passionate about and that you want to do, you have to sit down and write it yourself.

That’s exactly right.

There’s a lot of good stuff out there, and while you might get close to what you want, it’s not exactly what you want. So actors usually have their “passion projects” on the side. And I think that is great that you’re doing that. 

It’s so true that in this day and age with the way the industry works, you need to create stuff if you want people to see you in a certain light. And they won’t see you that way until you do.

Right. You certainly don’t want to get typecast. You don’t want to be that actor who is always thought of a certain way. Actors I have talked with like to do something a little bit different. 

Yes, especially if it’s outside your comfort zone.

So did we cover everything that we needed to? Anything you want to add?

Well, let me just end with this. I really appreciate what you do for everybody. I appreciate that you have this blog. What you’re doing is a very selfless thing, and I think it’s cool. The people I talk to appreciate you. I’m friends with Giles {Panton} and many others, and we all so appreciate what you do in promoting us, so thank you.

Michael, you’re welcome. I honestly love doing it. And it means so much that all of you appreciate it like you do. 

I like to think that one of the earmarks of my interviews is that one never knows what direction the conversation may head or what information may be revealed. I always do my best to create a safe, calm environment for everyone I am privileged to interview, and it was quite evident to me that Michael was perfectly at ease while we chatted. And because of his comfort level, I believe that he was more inclined to reveal a few distinct things about himself, his views on the industry, and even some of his professional struggles. 

I applaud Michael for his vulnerability in sharing one of his struggles–that of “self-judgment.” I daresay I am not alone in stating that I readily identify with this inner conflict, and I tend to think that the vast majority of us are often too critical of ourselves and our accomplishments. Generally, we are eager to praise the achievements of others, but we tend to devalue our own. Furthermore, artists as a whole gravitate towards perfectionism, or at the very least, we consider ourselves “recovering perfectionists.”  

In the world of entertainment, far too much artificiality, egocentricism, and pageantry are touted as the norm.  While “the life of the rich and famous” is enjoyed by the Hollywood elite, I have discovered that the vast majority of actors are “working actors” just like Michael. They are pragmatic, humble, kind, and genuine. While some may underestimate Michael’s talent due to the lack of “significant” roles in his credits, that is not where Michael’s heart nor desire lie. He is enthusiastic about every job he does in this business, big or small, and his attention to every detail when developing a character (minor or otherwise) is admirable and refreshing. It is what has made him the artist and human being that he is. And as far as I’m concerned, the benevolence that Michael has shown me (I won’t embarrass him by detailing his generous acts, but know that he is full of surprises) is something that has endeared him to me in a very special way, and he is now “stuck with” a lifelong supporter in me.

So please tune in every Sunday night to the Hallmark Channel to revel in the beauty and romance of Chesapeake Shores. Although Michael’s character is only featured minimally this season, there is no doubt in my mind that Wes will have some memorable scenes that add to the overall ambience and contention of the storyline in this series. Additionally, if you are so inclined, please check out all of Michael’s links below and follow him where applicable. After all, a magnanimous soul like Michael who loves the Hallmark network and what it stands for is something that should cause all of us “Hallmarkies” to connect with and support this fine and upstanding human being who consistently gives such amazing performances in all of his roles!

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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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