Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cameron Mathison Previews ABC Family Film 'Holidaze'

Cameron Mathison is best known for his role as Ryan Lavery on ALL MY CHILDREN. He joined the cast in January 1999, receiving a a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in 2002 and 2004. Mathison’s other television appearances include THE DREW CAREY SHOW, CSI, JAG, WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU, CASTLE, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES and HOPE & FAITH. In September 2007, he joined the cast of ABC's DANCING WITH THE STARS. He also appeared in the television movies ANY MOTHER'S SON and ABC Family’s upcoming original holiday film, HOLIDAZE.

In 1999, Mathison appeared on the 33rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards broadcast as the show's Fan Zone host, and was a presenter at the 40th Annual Country Music Awards. He currently serves as a correspondent for GOOD MORNING AMERICA on ABC. Mathison made his feature film debut in the 1998 Miramax release, 54. He also starred in Washed Up, The Carpenter’s Miracle and The Surrogate.

He resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Vanessa, and their children, Lucas and Leila.

Mathison met with the media last week to discuss his role in HOLIDAZE, airing Sunday, December 8 at 8 p.m.. He co-stars alongside Jennie Garth (BEVERLY HILLS, 90210) in the ABC Family Original Movie premiering as part of ABC Family's annual 25 Days of Christmas. Read the interview below:

What's your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?
It's funny, because we're a tradition overload kind of family, but most of them are in and around Christmas. I think our Thanksgiving tradition is the traditional Thanksgiving meal. It's turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, but the little twist is that we always buy our Christmas tree the weekend that immediately follows Thanksgiving -- so that we get to enjoy our Christmas tree for as long as possible without infringing on Thanksgiving.

Was it challenging to have your on-screen feelings with Jennie Garth go back and forth so much?
You know, it was in a sense. We had to keep on remembering “Alright, so wait a minute, what's happened? Where are we now? So we're in love with each other now, this is good”. We always had to go back.

It was almost like two different characters, and the director was very, very helpful with me, especially, because Jennie more or less made a natural progression in her change. Whereas, mine was a black and white change as soon as she went into her dream state/alternate reality state. I was a totally different guy and that was fun. It was a good challenge and, again, like I said, our director was great with making sure that I stayed on top of that.

What kind of process did you have to go through to get this role?
I've got a great relationship with ABC, ABC Family, Disney and it was kind of that once they got their female lead locked in with Jennie Garth, they extended an offer to me because they felt I was a good fit. Jennie and I know each other a little bit and the way we act together. It was just sort of like “Get your lead female in place and then let's go looking for the guy that would work.” It was a nice phone call. It was a nice offer to get.

What was your reaction when you found out that you had the role?
You know I was thrilled on a few different levels. I was thrilled because I really like the script. I thought the script was very sweet and I enjoyed the different elements. I loved my character Carter McClure. I really appreciated the decisions that this guy made in his life to stay in a small town. He's very grounded with good values -- he didn't want to follow the big city and the corporate world. He wanted to live a nice, simple grounded life in a small town and stick to those roots, and I really appreciate that in him because I didn't do that.

I went to New York and L.A. chasing the dream, which I'm very grateful that I did. But at the same time, I'm at a phase in my life where I'm probably headed more in that direction. I'm always trying to simplify and find more balance in my life. I loved the script. I loved the character.

I'm a big Jennie Garth fan. I think she's very funny, very good, so sweet, and it was nice to get to know her while working together on this movie. I was thrilled on several levels.

What do you find most rewarding about acting?
I think what I find most rewarding is learning about myself through my characters and the experience. The more deeply connected you are with the people that you're working with the better the work and the character, and then I think that really translates to life. It will help you in life to be more grounded and genuine. The more you can get out of your own way and remove the chatter in your head, the more the genuine character can come out and unfold in a spontaneous way.

I think that's also great in life to really focus on other people and cherish others, which I align with working as an actor. I really feel that the best actors out there are very centric. They're really connected. They're not in a “what about me” state and I think that's a good lesson in life. So I think those are the things that I've taken away from acting that are the most rewarding. There's probably more, but those are the first that come to mind.

How was filming on location for HOLIDAZE?
We filmed in Toronto! I spent half of my young life in and around Toronto, so it was nice and chilly – but beautiful - in January. I love Toronto. I organized my high school basketball alumni game while I was there so I got to see all my buddies. My brother and his family live in Toronto, so I stayed with them for part of it and it was a great time.

Are there any correlations between your character in ALL MY CHILDREN (Ryan Lavery) and your character in Holidanze (Carter)? How much of your own personality is in this particular character?
First, the Ryan Lavery/Carter McClure connection, I would say that my character Ryan on ALL MY CHILDREN had a more troubling background. He wasn't grounded and genuine in that small-town-way in the early stages, but he kind of grew to that. I believe he grew up to be more like Carter McClure in HOLIDAZE, so in that sense, they're sort of connected. I think Carter is just a solid good guy and has stuck by his values his whole life. He really knew what he wanted in life, and I think Ryan was far, far more troubled and made many mistakes in his life.

Second, my connection to Carter, I would say I always bring part of myself into the haracters. I really admire Carter. It's the aspect of me that is trying to have more of a balance in a small town feel of a life - but also be able to continue in the entertainment world, which is typically a big city experience. I crave a simple, content, peaceful life. I really, really enjoy that and that to me is the real solution. That aspect in me is probably where I bring in Carter's perspective.

I'm able to find a little bit of balance. For example, I live in L.A., but I don't live right in L.A. I live in the mountains in Altadena so I feel like I'm in this little mountain town and it's a small community, which I love. I'm trying to say no to more jobs so I can be around and coach basketball. There are definitely things about me that are like Carter, but I certainly didn't make that decision my whole life, that's for sure.

Were you able to show any of your co-stars your dance experience after being on DANCING WITH THE STARS?
Jennie and I were on Dancing with the Stars in the same season! And she did better than me by one place — she used to bring it up in a quite sweet and funny way. She
came fourth. I came fifth. She beat me by one spot, so if anybody's showing anybody moves, I don't have the unwritten authority to do that. She would lay into

Would the two of you ever put your dancing shoes together in film or on the road?
That would be fun! Anything that I can do with Jennie Garth, I would love to do it. I really like her. I got along with her really well and I enjoyed her perspective on life. I think she's really talented and very, very funny. We did a little skating scene in the movie, and there ended up being a little bit of a
dance there, but that's as close as we got to dancing in the movie.

What is your favorite holiday movie?
Well, I'm just going to go back to a classic, It's a Wonderful Life and Christmas Story are some favorites for me. The animated original version of The Grinch That
Stole Christmas is a classic for me. But my modern favorite movies with my family -
probably Elf. My kids love Elf. They just think it's so funny.

What is your favorite thing to eat around the holidays?
It's the traditional Thanksgiving Day meal. We even have it every Christmas, too. It's turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. That's probably my favorite meal of the whole year.

Do you prefer to act in dramas or comedies?
I probably prefer comedy. Why? I'm not sure. I feel like the energy of a comedy is a better fit for me. I try to be a happy guy! It seems that most of my life has the energy more for a comedy than for drama. I'm grateful to do both, but I would have to lean towards the comedy side of acting.

Do you prefer acting on television or film?
The movies that I've been doing lately have been mostly for TV - so it's sort of the same thing. I would say movies because you have more time and it feels less rushed. When you're acting for TV, often the budget is more of a concern and you just have a crazy pace. But then again movies also probably shoot like that sometimes. I'm just happy to work!

Do you have a particular attraction or show that you like from any of the Disney parks?
Yes! I would probably say Soarin' is one of my favorites. I think it's “Soarin' Over California” in Disneyland and it's just called “Soaring” in Florida.
Space Mountain has got a very special place in my heart. I've always loved Space Mountain. I've got a good story that goes way back to when I was a kid at Space Mountain, so that's just a classic ride for me and I still really, really like it. I think it still holds up. Even with all the roller coasters, I think it totally holds up.

What advice do you have for up and coming actors and actresses?
I would say - study, study, take classes, take workshops, do as much as you can, get involved in a theater project, just as much as you can to study the art. Volunteer in a theater, whatever you can do to train with people, train your voice, train for the physical training in improv. Do as much as you can even if you don't think it's going to be something that you're going to want. It's all going to help you so much. I didn't start in this business at all like that. I started in a completely different way and I really wish I had, which is why I'm so enthusiastic about it. That's the number one thing that I would say to people.

If you could revisit any time in your life, what would you go back and do differently?
That's a good one! I would definitely go back and work on what I'm doing now, in terms of acting. I would make different little decisions – like choosing not to play my first year at college in McGill basketball. I ended up playing from my second year on, you know I really regretted that. I would go back and in any way possible minimize causing any problems with people.

What was it like working on set during HOLIDAZE? Are there a particular funny stories from behind the scenes?
There's one scene in the movie where I have to stand there without clothes on – but obviously I wasn't standing there naked. It was on the third day of filming
together with Jennie. So I'm standing there in my underwear for a long time which was awkward! There was another scene when my character and Jennie Garth's character are being romantic and kissing – in between takes Jennie would check her emails on her phone and it all just looked so funny. So I came to the conclusion that I must not be that mesmerizing!

If Jennie [Garth] is the better dancer, who is the better skater?
Probably Jennie! I mean I'm Canadian, so it's really embarrassing for me to say this,
but I think I may have passed her. I've had to do some skating in other roles and I took some lessons and I got much better. I took lessons during HOLIDAZE and I was very grateful for that, but it was very humbling as a Canadian to have to take skating lessons. Whereas Jennie just kind of threw on the skates and got out there and did her thing. She was pretty good!

Was it difficult to get into the holiday spirit when you were shooting the movie in a non-holiday season?
It's only difficult when you're just sitting there reading and working on your scenes
at home. But then you show up on set - you're in the costume and the set decorators are always fantastic. So you've got all the Christmas decorations, you've got the Christmas lights, the Christmas tree, you've got the smell of the turkey - that all really helps. Then you just try and believe it! You just make the decision and you get lost in that character and that situation. It can be difficult, but if the conditions are right around you it makes it much easier. There were a lot of really talented people working on this film, so they made it very,
very easy.

What are your plans for this holiday season other than watching HOLIDAZE with your family?
Of course! My family and my wife's family alternate Christmas and Thanksgiving, so this year we're on Thanksgiving with her family in California. My wife's sister, Denise, puts on an amazing spread. We'll spend Christmas in Colorado with my family. We'll be skiing and it's a beautiful place to celebrate Christmas – it's very snowy and fits the holiday!

Are there any current projects that you may be working on?
I've got a couple of things going on! My main gig at this moment is contributing on GOOD MORNING AMERICA. I shot a pilot in the summertime for Hallmark Channel and I'm waiting to hear if that gets picked up. It's tough to do too much when you're waiting to hear about a pilot getting picked up.

My whole family is going to be part of the Disney Christmas Special on Christmas
morning, which I'm really looking forward to.

What do you like to do for fun outside of acting?

My number one thing that I do outside of acting and any work at all in my career is be with my family, be with my kids and my wife — just the simple things. I love to do school drop-offs and pickups, play basketball, run around in the yard, play with my dog—all that stuff is my absolute favorite thing to do.

The other thing I like to do is that I'm a big meditation practitioner. I love to meditate. I love to train my mind in love, generosity and compassion -- I really practice those in formal meditation and in informal meditation. So that's something a lot of people may not know or guess about me.

If you could have one superhero power in real life, what would it be?
I guess it would probably be the ability to control other's minds. You could stop all
war, hurting and harming if you could just stop people from making these decisions.

What is the nicest thing a fan has ever done for you?
I'm sure everybody that's in the entertainment world says the same thing, but I have had such incredible experiences with the fans and so many nice elaborate

The nicest things that the fans have done for me - is usually when they do things for my kids or my wife. They've done things that have gone way out of their way. It's just so generous of them to think of it. I feel like it's such an act of extending
themselves - it's so kind.

Ultimately, though, the nicest things are just like support and saying kind words. Especially for actors, we really appreciate hearing those things!

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