Interview With Actor Peter Benson, “Falling For Vermont”

By Ruth on September 23, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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As I have stated in the past and continue to maintain, Hallmark does an incredible job of featuring the supporting cast in their various films, and their loyalty transcends that of many other more prominent networks. In the case of Peter Benson, I was familiar with his works long before I was aware of who he was, and Hallmark has my undying gratitude for their assistance in my discovery of this man and his amazing talent. Recently, Peter and I had the opportunity to chat about how he began in the business, his notable works over the years (with a heavy emphasis on his Hallmark works), and even his future aspirations (which will decidedly resonate with Hallmark fans).

RH: So nice to get to talk with you today, Peter. I am such a fan of your works, and you continue to pop up in a wide variety of the things I watch on TV.

PB: Yes, it’s been a busy couple of years, especially for me, but it’s very nice to get to talk to you as well, Ruth.  I’m always happy to talk with anyone who likes the Hallmark network and supports it as you do.

I was looking through your credits, and I actually have seen more of your works than I realized. 

Vancouver has been booming a lot the past few years, and I’ve been fortunate. So knock on wood that it continues.

I noticed that you had also done a lot of motion capture work. 

That’s right. I haven’t done any in the past couple years. But I think about ten years ago, I used to do a ton of motion capture. It was right when things were just starting to move into that world.  It was a great experience. I got to work on a lot of fine animated films and quite a few video games as well. That type of work requires a whole different skill set which is always fun to get to use.

You’ve had an extensive career, but I’ve only been noticing your work for the past few years. It was actually because of your wife’s {Julia Benson} involvement in Cedar Cove that I first noticed your work.

Cedar Cove was so good for Julia. She still gets recognized for being a part of that show.

What An Idiot Photo by Nelson Mouellic

Then I noticed you and the fact that you both had the same last name, and that’s when I realized you were married. Then I started noticing your directing and writing credits. In fact,  I remember when What An Idiot came out because a lot of people I know were involved in that project.

Yes, we were able to got a lot of the Vancouverites together for that project. And about a year and a half ago, I directed another film, Marrying the Family, that is just starting to get some notoriety.

Another one I’m familiar with because of Nicole Oliver

Oh yes, Nicole was great in that film and very funny. I’ve known her for a long time, but getting to work with her on that was a real blast. And then not long after that one, she and I did the Britney Spears film together called Britney Ever After. That was an interesting journey as well.

Yes, Nicole convinced me to watch that one, so I did. I am not a Britney Spears fan, but I really enjoyed that one, even though I don’t think a lot of the fans did. 

It didn’t necessarily get the best reception, but there were a lot of good people involved. I don’t think anyone was trying to paint her in a bad light. I think we all tried to do our best and tell the story.

I don’t think the movie painted her in a bad light either. I thought it was rather balanced, but I really don’t know much about her. 

That was my impression too, and I didn’t want to do anything that was going to be negative. I thought it was balanced, but then again, she’s such a big star that you’re never sure how fans are going to react.

I think I’ve lost count of how many of your works I’ve seen. In fact, you actually made a movie way back with my friend Sebastian SpenceUncaged Heart

Oh wow, that is an old one.

And then when I showed your picture to my mom the other day, she recognized you as the guy from the Command commercial. 

Really? Well, you want to be somewhere in people’s consciousness, and you’re not always sure where it’s gonna land. I did a commercial about a year ago with MC Hammer. I guess it’s been playing quite a bit and people seem to recognize that one. To be honest with you, I’ve never even seen it. But people will see me and start dancing badly because I danced badly in the commercial. I’ll look at this person who’s dancing and I’ll wonder, “What’s going on with this person?” And they’ll go, “MC Hammer!” And then I’m like, “Yeah, yeah.”

You know, when I asked on Facebook in the Hallmark group if people had questions for you, one of the fans said that commercial was their favorite one.

So funny. And yes, it was a fun one, but like I said, everybody seems to have seen it except for me. I actually did find some outtakes they did of Hammer and me dancing badly, which was quite funny and I’d forgotten about. And I have to say it’s a real moment to be doing the MC Hammer dance in front of MC Hammer. He was a good sport about everything, and it was sure fun.

Before I started seeing this one so much, I saw the other Command ad that Lisa Durupt did with MC Hammer. 

That’s right! Lisa and I are good friends, and we’ve been joking that we both have done a lot of Hallmark, but somehow we’ve never crossed paths and did one together. But I love her, and she’s a great actor and awesome person as well.

Peter, how did you get started in acting?

Well, I grew up loving movies and TV, but I didn’t know anything about the industry because when I was a little kid in Vancouver, there wasn’t any movie industry here. So I didn’t really think about it. But I did my first real play in grade seven and sort of got bitten by the bug and never lost it. I kept doing plays in school every year after that.

From that point on, I’ve been in some kind of acting class for the next twenty years. I went to University and got a degree in communications while still taking acting classes. Around that time, the industry started to grow here in Vancouver. I ended up working for a guy, met his agents, and got into his acting class. I got my own agent that way. When I finished University, I went to a full-time acting program.

I guess you could say I was a little later getting into acting professionally. I was almost twenty-five when I got my first job. I know some people start in their teens or even younger.  But I have been immersed in it ever since I officially began. For the first few years, I did a lot of commercials. That’s how I paid the bills; I was pretty fortunate with that. It was when I hit thirty was that I started working a lot in film and TV, and it’s been a lucky run since then.

I am always fascinated by every story I hear from actors about how they got started. It seems like everyone has their own unique path and there’s not just one right way to do it. 

That is one hundred percent true. And by the way, when I meet kid actors, I’m always so impressed by them. I don’t think I could have handled it being fourteen, fifteen…having to go to auditions and all that. I think I was better suited to come to that later on.  In order to be a kid actor, you have to be a specific type of person that can handle it.

I have interviewed so many kid actors, and I am constantly impressed by them and their parents.

Yes, quite a combo. Amazing kid and amazing parents. You definitely need both to make it work.

Do you happen to know what your first Hallmark film was?

I think it might have been A Bride For Christmas. And that was one of the funnest films I have done. I had a great time on it. I love Christmas movies in general, and my role in that one was that of the best friend who is sort of cocky and sets up the bet with this guy to see if he can get engaged before Christmas. I did that one with Andrew Walker, and we had a great time. They also gave me some freedom to ad lib and whatnot, and I really great time on that one.

I know it’s always tough to know if the film is Hallmark or Lifetime or whatever network it may end up being. Especially up in Canada.

That’s so true. In fact, I did another one that they thought was going to be for Hallmark around that same time–Baby Boot Camp–but it didn’t end up on Hallmark. It ended up on UP TV. But it’s hard to say which one came first as they were both around the same time. I always remember both of those ’cause my wife was pregnant with our first child.

Aurora Teagarden: A Bone to Pick
Candace Cameron Bure, Lexa Shmexa, Marilu Henner, Miranda Frigon, Peter Benson, Dan Payne, Sonya Salomaa, Daniel Bacon, Dave Collette

Since that time, we’ve seen you in several Hallmark films. I think it’s great that you have joined the Aurora Teagarden cast as a regular. 

Yes, I think we’ve done six films, and I just got the call the other day to say that we’re doing another one.

That is good news! The mystery films have become so popular, and it’s always good to see the same cast members returning. Candace Cameron Bure is always a fan favorite, and these films have become massive hits. 

I tell you, Candace is amazing. And you know, when I did the first one, we were told that there could be more, but we weren’t a hundred percent sure. Then she was so busy after we did the first one because that’s when she started doing The View. And then Fuller House got greenlit during that time. So we’ve been working in between her schedule. She’s a machine; she works kinda nonstop. But she’s amazing and hilarious. It’s been a great job because every time we come back to it, it’s like the first day of school after summer break or something like that. All I can remember from those movies is us all having a good time and laughing. Oh yeah, then I guess we also made a movie. {laughs} It’s really a blur. I just remember enjoying all the people, including the producer Jim Head, who creates a really good environment. Him and Candace are great along with the rest of the cast.

With Mirando Frigon

And Miranda {Frigon}, who plays my wife–she’s a friend of mine from almost twenty years ago. We started doing plays together and short films, and we kinda came up in the same acting group. So it was cool to get cast as husband and wife.

I’m so glad we have another Aurora Teagarden to look forward to. I know they had announced it, but it’s nice to know that it’s confirmed. I love the cast. And I think that adding Yannick {Bisson} to the cast was another exciting move on Hallmark’s part. 

Yes, and he also is such a phenomenal guy. He’s fallen right in line and easily become a part of the group. We all get along great, and I think he rounds out the whole cast pretty well.

A lot of Hallmark fans were remembering you from My Favorite Wedding this past June. Probably because it was your most recent Hallmark film and Paul Greene was in it, too. I think what was nice about it is that it seems like they often cast you as “the other guy,” and sometimes that other guy isn’t so nice.

Yes, and I got to be a nice guy in My Favorite Wedding.

And you actually got the girl!

Exactly. It is often that I am not playing the guy who ends up getting the girl. Hilariously, the bride in that one, Christine {Chatelain} is truly one of my best friends. Our kids play together every single week. That was a funny one to get married to one of your best friends. I also knew Maggie Lawson from before because I’d done Psych with her. I had never met Paul before, but we fell into a groove pretty much right away because we had a lot of mutual friends. He knows Candace quite well, of course. He’s great and so much fun to work with and about the nicest guy in the world. I know he’s a big Hallmark favorite. I will say he’s a very charming guy. I will also begrudgingly admit that he’s even better-looking in person than he is on TV. He needs to tone down his handsomeness; it was just a bit too much for the rest of us. {laughs} I’m kidding of course, but he’s a great guy and fits that role perfectly.

from Mech-X4

Before we get to Falling For Vermont, I notice you’re in another show that I have heard of but haven’t watched–Mech-X4.

Yes, it’s a series on Disney XD. Season two has just started airing, which I had to keep under wraps for awhile because it was alluded to that my character might have possibly died at the end of season one, but now I can speak a little more freely. I do play a really fun character. In season one, I’m the villain, but he starts out as the nicest guy in the world–he’s kind of a “Tony Stark”-type character. He’s the richest guy in the world, and he friends these young kids, and then, of course, tries to destroy the world with robots, or monsters, as they fight them off with massive robots. But there is a twist in my character for season two, which is a lot of fun to play. It will be cool for the younger fans to watch that. It’s been interesting with so much Hallmark and now Disney stuff, I have very different people who recognize me. I’ve got little kids and the Hallmark crew, and they don’t necessarily watch the same thing.

I am familiar with the show because I have interviewed other actors who have been on it, but I don’t usually watch Disney XD. I have a daughter who’s fourteen, but she’s kind of past the Disney XD age as well.

What I can say about this show is that it is different from most other Disney things. It’s a little darker and a little edgier, so at fourteen, your daughter still might have a chance of getting into it. There are fight scenes and stuff that even when I got the script…when I first got hired, I was picturing sort of a Disney sitcom-type show, but by episode twelve, I was flying through the air, punching a teenager. I was like, “Really? I’m gonna punch this kid?” And they said, “Don’t worry. He’s gonna punch you back.” It has become a bigger show; it almost feels like a feature film. They really did a cool job with it, and I hope people get the chance to see it. Everybody on the show is pretty proud of it.

With Julie Gonzalo, David Winning and Barbara Kottmeier 

This weekend, we get to see you in the new Hallmark film Falling For Vermont.  What can you tell us about the movie and your role without spoiling the story?

Once again, I play the lead character’s boyfriend/manager in the beginning of the film, and she’s a very successful author. Her books are just about to be turned into movies, kind of on the scale of The Hunger Games. She’s about to become quite famous, and I’m very excited about that as her manager. He’s one of these interestingly fun characters because he’s sort of “the other guy,” and like you said before, some of those characters aren’t likable. But with this one, I thought he was quite a likable guy, but he is so focused on money that he doesn’t quite appreciate the amazing girl that’s right in front of him. He’s just way too business-focused. But I don’t think he’s a bad guy; he’s just driven. It is one of those movies where my character, Brad, every time he pops up in the movie, he comes in with a lot of energy. He’s a fun balance to the rest of the film, I think. I had a great time playing him, and they let me play around with my character a bit, so I had a good time. And Julie Gonzalo, the lead actress, was so much fun to play off of. Ironically, one of my best friends in the world is Benjamin Ayres, who plays the other guy in the film. He and I came up on the acting circuit together, and he was in my wedding party. We’ve been buddies for years. He has been in Toronto, so this was the first time we got to work together in a long time. So it was great having him back, and we get to play these two guys who are chasing the same girl. It was a lot of fun.

What a way to kick off the Fall Harvest movies.

Infidelity in Suburbia behnid-the-scenes

Yeah, and we just finished shooting it a little over a month ago, but it happened fast. David Winning is the director of the film, and he’s done tons for Hallmark lately and other networks too. He’s a great guy to work with. He is such a busy guy. I feel like I’ve been shooting a movie with David and then on my day off, going to auditions for another movie that he’s directing. In fact, we did a Lifetime one not too long ago called Infidelity in Suburbia. That was the one with Marcus Rosner , who is obviously another Hallmark guy. But that film was definitely not Hallmark.

But back to Falling For Vermont, I think it’s a really great film. Julie and Ben are both really great in it and they have a great chemistry. I like the whole premise of the story as someone who gets amnesia and they’re in a new town with a fresh start to reanalyze their life and choices. And it’s also quite beautiful where we shot it; it looks like the perfect, little town with those lovely fall colors. Hopefully, the fans will enjoy it.

I have no doubt the fans will enjoy it. Hallmark never disappoints. We always know what we’re getting, and even if a movie is not our favorite film of all time, we can spend a couple of hours just being entertained without any bad surprises thrown in. We don’t have to worry about our kids walking in and seeing something we don’t want them to see. 

I am with you on that. The films are family friendly, and honestly, I watch them too. There’s a lot of chaos in the world, so it’s a nice thing to turn on at the end of the day. They’re fun to watch, and they’re also so fun to make.

With Julia Benson

Since you’re married and have a family, is it easier to balance your professional and private life since your wife is also in the business?

I would say a bit of yes and no. I think, on the one hand, it does make it easier because our schedules are so crazy and so changes often happen last-minute. When your partner is an actor as well, we both understand that part of the business. But that said, being two parents with young kids and having two crazy schedules can sometimes make it difficult because kids have a need for consistency.

For example, while we’ve done a few things together ourselves, we haven’t actually shot that many projects together. But recently, we both ended up getting parts on a show called The Detour that shoots in Calgary. It was pretty random how it happened, but now you’re both scrambling to be in a different city for three days while the kids have to stay home. So it has its challenges at times, but we do our best and make it work.

I knew you guys hadn’t done a whole lot together. I was just thinking how we need to work it out somehow that you two do a Hallmark project together. 

A hundred percent! That would be great. There was briefly some talk about Julia being in Falling For Vermont, but even before that could come about, she ended up getting on another Hallmark film that shot at the same time. So it never went any further with that. One of these days our paths will cross in a Hallmark film or show. She was in the first Wedding March film, and then I just shot the most recent one which comes out around  Valentine’s Day. So we were just a movie off of each other.

I know it’s become a trend with Hallmark to have husbands and wives working together. 

Well, knock on wood that we get to jump on that trend one of these days. We love acting together, and working together is always fun.

You mentioned the show you’re both on–The Detour

Yeah, it’s on TBS, I believe, and in its third season. Julia popped in for an episode, and I ended up getting two or three episodes on it. It’s shot in Calgary and really funny. I’m not sure when it comes out, but it’s a fun show.

I’ve also been shooting a show in Vancouver called Ice. It’s a really cool show. It kind of reminds me of Suits, but in the world of diamonds and diamond dealers. I had only heard of it before I was cast in it, but then I watched the trailer and a few clips. I haven’t had a chance to see season one yet, but it looks great.

All that sounds good, and it sounds like you’re keeping busy, which is always a good thing. 

Trying my best. Busy is good as an actor.

Directing Marrying the Family

You mentioned Marrying the Family. What can you tell us about its distribution and when we might be able to see it?

We’re still playing the festival circuit with that film, and we’ve got a couple more coming up. We’ll probably launch the official distribution in a few months.

Okay, I remember with What An Idiot that it took a while before it made it to this country.  It’s now available on Amazon if people want to look it up since you and Julia did that one together.

I can’t believe how long ago we did that one. We did kind of everything on that film, and I keep thinking we just shot it, but I date everything back to the kids. That was before we were even pregnant with number one. Now our firstborn is turning four in about a month. And, of course, we wrote the script even a couple years before that. We’ve actually done a few things together. We produced a TV pilot we wrote together for the Canadian network about seven years ago. Then we did a horror film, and then we did this comedy, What An Idiot. And then I got to direct Marrying the Family with a bunch of friends as well.

To be honest, that’s the kind of thing we’re looking into next, even with Hallmark, is trying to put together some pitches.

You know, I kind of had a feeling that’s where you were headed. I think that would be great. I would love to see that happen for you guys. 

It really has been our focus, and we’re putting together some pitches right now. Julia’s been working with a producer who has put together a few of the Hallmark films. I’m also hoping to shadow direct on a few of the ones coming up so I can get a feel for directing those. It’s a world we’re really familiar with now, and it’s totally where we’re at in life right now too. What An Idiot was more racy and edgy, but now we’re parents, so we’re changing our taste. I think the Hallmark stuff is in our sweet spot right now.

Well, it might be the right time ’cause Hallmark is expanding so much. There is plenty going on with the network and so much content being produced that it will hopefully work out for both of you. 

One of the cool things about a lot of the Hallmark shows is that the fans are devoted and passionate about the shows. As I said earlier, Julia is still contacted and recognized regarding Cedar Cove, and she has a really good connection to it. So I think that may also work in our favor.

Absolutely, Peter. Thank you so much for taking your time to chat with me and cover so many of your works with us. I truly appreciate it.

Same here, Ruth. Thanks for reaching out. And I hope you and the rest of the fans truly enjoy Falling For Vermont.

Aurora Teagarden Cast

First of all, Peter must be one of the most complimentary guys I have ever had the opportunity to interview. I realize that most of the actors I know regularly acknowledge the works of their friends and co-workers, but with Peter, those commendations about his co-stars stream effortlessly from his very heart and soul. There is no doubt in my mind that he is quite possibly one of the most genuinely conciliatory actors in the business today, and I am convinced that his list of friends is quite endless. He seems to make connections readily, and it is decidedly tied to his benevolent, humble spirit that exudes from every ounce of his being. He even extended his characteristic graciousness to me by making it a point to inform me of how much he has enjoyed reading my interviews, and he was even willing to follow-up with me if necessary for any clarifications or additions.

I know I often declare that someone is a rare breed in today’s world due to this or that, but in Peter’s case, he is even more uncommon than most. In fact, in some ways, his devotion to his craft seems to rival that of the golden era of Hollywood, where he would have been labeled a character actor (possibly in a derogatory sense, as character actors were often undervalued in days of yore) who would have done a little bit of everything without any name recognition and possibly even poor remuneration. Even in today’s age of super-inflated egos and selfish promotion, Peter is a breath of fresh air in the way he presents himself and approaches his work. He and his wife are committed to the profession, and they are willing to labor as intensely as necessary to accomplish every dream within their hearts and minds. While they have made the shift towards family friendly entertainment, they have thoroughly embraced that genre as keeping with their current focus in life, and I can only hope and pray that Hallmark will grant them both a movie, series, or at least a chance to work together on a future project together with this most amiable of networks.

Please ensure that you watch Falling For Vermont which premieres on the Hallmark Channel on September 23, thus kicking off the much-anticipated Fall Harvest movie block of six fun-filled romantic comedies. Additionally, I would request that you check out all of Peter’s links below and consider following him where applicable. While the name Peter Benson may never ascend to the apex of any Hallmark fan’s “favorite leading men” list, it is undeniable that Peter is one whose versatility and unpretentious nature will always guarantee that viewers will witness a role that is portrayed with profound authenticity and enthusiastic fun.

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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

1 Comment

  1. denise September 24, 2017 Reply

    wonderful interview!

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