Andy Garcia previews CHRISTMAS IN CONWAY

ANDY GARCIAAcademy Award and Emmy nominee Andy Garcia comes to ABC tonight with an emotional role in Hallmark Hall of Fame’s CHRISTMAS IN CONWAY.  When his character, Duncan, decides that the perfect gift for his ailing wife Suzy is a real life ferris wheel in their back yard, he goes to any length to make it happen.  The movie stars Garcia, Mary-Louise Parker, Mandy Moore, and Riley Smith, and premieres tonight at 9/8c.  I spent some time chatting with Andy about what happens in the movie, and whether he’ll make his way to the small screen again anytime soon!

What was it that drew you to CHRISTMAS IN CONWAY?
They sent me the script and the offer to do it, and Mary-Louise was already attached.  She’s a genial actress and we had tried to work together before, and so when she was involved, I was excited about that possibility.  I read the material, and I was very moved by it.  This story about the love of his wife is slipping through is fingers and he tries to give her this one last gesture to fulfill her wishes.

MARY-LOUISE PARKER, ANDY GARCIAI read an interview where Mary-Louise said about the characters that it is a pure love between the two of them – so important to the movie that they love each other so much.
The thing is, that commitment to each other, the love, but how do you really show that without saying to the audience “look how much we love each other”.  It’s the simple things – you should be able to read it from their behavior and their history together, and that’s what we tried to do.  Thjose things are difficult when you don’t have time to rehearse.  We got together on a Sunday and shot on a Monday.  It wasn’t like we had a month to sort of talk about it, or get into that relationship. We had to step into it and execute it right away.

ANDY GARCIA, MARY-LOUISE PARKERThere was a small scene where you come into the house, and complain about someone being there, and Mary Louise’s character just rolls her eyes – little things.
Like I said, she’s a genial actress, and she was able to bring those things out – she knows the history of my behavior and what I am and that I’m sort of all bark and no bite.

How are you describing the movie to people who haven’t yet seen it?
For me, it’s a celebration of a couple’s love for one another, and how that commitment to each other is elevated in a sort of spiritual way.  It’s hard to put it into words – maybe in the press kit someone put it in a slogan [laughs].

There are so many moments in the film where I found myself welling up over little things – the finality of their relationship, but the little joys they find.
I think there’s an honesty.  There’s humor in the piece – which helps you sort of recharge the batteries in between the darker or more tragic scenes.  The thing is that you have the moments of the more emotional moments, I think there’s a real sense of truth in the loss and what is going on.  That’s important for the film to work.  Without that, you’re kiknd of glossing over the top of it, so I’m proud that we were able to show that there is something really at stake.  Losing yourself in this imaginary world of a movie, you see this couple experiencing not only love, but sadness about it ending.

MANDY MOORE, ANDY GARCIAWe’re seeing a lot of migration of actors to TV, and I wandered if it’s something you’d consider – a weekly series or a limited event series somewhere?
It really depends, but yeah, as an actor, you go where the material strikes you.  I think more and more, people are going in that direction because a lot of the material maybe sometimes the studios would embrace and do, they’re no longer doing it, or you’re finding it on television, you’re finding that kind of writing on television, so the landscape has changed in many ways.  That’s why you’re seeing it.  The boundaries and borders have been eliminated.

Compared to the movies of the week from the late 80s, for example, this film had such a movie theater quality to it, so I love that the borders are being broken down – we’re getting great stuff across all mediums.
Oh yeah, and we’re seeing the miniseries come back, which is great.  To me, it’s really about the material.  I don’t care what it is.  The material – if I buy it, I want to participate, then I’ll do it.  You have to pay attention.  Even when you create something, you write something, you have to almost say “where could something like this find a home” – sometimes it’s easier or better suited for a limited series, or movies like this, movie of the week, or a miniseries, or is it an independent film, or a studio film?  There aren’t many studio films out there, so it kind of pushes you in a certain direction anyway.  If you’re a writer, director, or producer – they’re not making that many of them, but when they do, they have certain tent pole sort of requirements, a majority of them.

What will we see you in next?
I have a movie that I produced with another extraordinary actress, Vera Farmiga, which I also acted opposite her, called AT MIDDLETON, which will be released by Anchor Bay Films on January 31.

CHRISTMAS IN CONWAY airs on ABC at 9/8c Sunday.  Andy Garcia also co-wrote and sang the theme song that plays over the end credits!  Listen to the jazzy piece here –