By: Kat Harlton
All Media Courtesy of Crown Media United States LLC
Lacey Chabert (“Party of Five,” “Moonlight in Vermont”), Jon Cor (“Dark Matter”) and Brittany Bristow (“Love Blossoms”) star in “Love on Safari,” a new, original movie premiering Saturday, July 28, (9 p.m. ET/PT) on Hallmark Channel as part of the network’s annual “Summer Nights” programming event.
About The Movie:
Busy and reserved Chicago web designer Kira’s (Chabert) plan for a relaxing vacation in Scottsdale is derailed when she learns she has inherited Ukuthula, a beautiful animal reserve in South Africa and must travel there for the reading of the will. Upon her arrival, she meets the handsome park ranger Tom (Cor) who is the exact opposite of her accounting (and bland) steady boyfriend. Along with Tom and Ally (Bristow), the reserve’s other ranger, Kira explores Ukuthula along with its majestic animals: zebras, giraffes, hippos and elephants, and she unexpectedly begins to not only fall in love with Ukuthula, but with Tom as well.
We had the opportunity to catch up with star Jon Cor and discuss role models, his favorite scene and what kind of character he’d love to portray next.
Kat: Is there a type of character you’d like to portray, that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
Jon: Oh, man. Loads! I’d love to flex my comedy chops and vastly improved, now full-time martial arts tricking training simultaneously in a fun and properly-demanding action lead such as the Fantastic Four’s Human Torch/Johnny Storm or Wild C.A.T.’s Grifter/Cole Cash, Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud Strife or Street Fighter II V: The Animated Series’ Ken Masters; but, I’m also and especially drawn to more troubled, impassioned, subtle, layered and arc-dependent performances such as Travis Fimmel’s Ragnar Lothbrok in History’s Vikings or just, misfits, eccentrics and fantastical creatures overall for lack of an even longer and more detailed answer.
Running as much of the gamut as possible over the course of one’s career is the goal, I think, the Great Work. The acting I respect, admire and aspire to the most is often transformative or at least somehow unpredictable and contrasting both inside and out. I really enjoy the challenge of being tasked with bringing characters to life who’ve already been established either in our real lives, say, as historical figures or in popular, lore-infused fiction, too.
The open-minded, ego-transcending or -pausing perspectives necessary to be able to step outside of yourself only to find that you’re actually stepping even deeper into yourself and the rest of the un- or known world by way of storytelling and ad hoc experimentation, is, not unlike gardening or child-rearing, a fascinating and exciting process to me. The only way to continue to grow, I believe, in various contexts and modes of existence, is to learn to welcome and to bravely troubleshoot and overcome adversity on a daily basis. Like so? I love my job and nothing springs to mind should I ask myself, “What or who would I NOT like to play?”
Kat: What was your favorite scene to shoot and why?
Jon: Lacey Chabert and Brittany Bristow were both so much fun to work with, it’s hard to pick a favorite! Hm… Maybe something opposite Abigail! She is so, so, sooo soulful, that woman. It was like receiving my own hand-delivered blessing from God every morning when she’d approach with a big, beaming smile and say with an otherworldly blend of warmth and fortitude, no matter what, with total sincerity and the keenest attention, again, no matter what, “How’s it, my darling?” We had some inspired and inspiring conversations to say the least.
Kat: Do you have any role models that particularly inspire you, either in your craft or personally?
Jon: Yes. My step-father or, as he was and is to me, my dad, passed away during the second-last take of a scene on what I believe was our second-last day of shooting. Pro tip? Never check your phone at work. That said, I don’t find the two even remotely comparable but, regarding my career in the film & television industry specifically and his five and a half year-long battle with sarcoma, a violently anomalous form of cancer, “You don’t quit, I don’t quit,” he’d say and said, after I told him that I’d gotten the offer to play Tom Anderson in Love on Safari but didn’t have to take it, that I could and would continue to stay with my family in Timmins, Ontario.
“Please. Go to South Africa. I want this for you, for all of us. Make something beautiful and heartwarming, share it with the world.” I was proud of myself for being able and willing to muscle through the rest of the workday to be honest, keeping the struggle unbeknownst to the rest of the cast, crew and production team entirely; but, enormous props to Brittany Bristow for seeing through it and choosing to squeeze my hand for just a moment, not too hard so’s not to induce any disrupting feels, ha, ha, but not too softly or trivially, either. I’m not one to forget or to overlook that kind of next-level sensitivity and kindness. Thanks again, if you’re reading this!
Kat: Was there anything particularly challenging about your role?
Jon: Well, I have to say, remembering that you’re at work, that you’re meant to be in scene and not laughing or smiling in hysterical wonder and appreciation all of the time, can be verrry difficult to do in South Africa’s ever-surprising and -delighting biodiversity. I tried to get to know some of the insects, the microscopic, even; the iron-rich soil as well as all of our larger, super-curious, intermingling visitors such as the zebras, giraffes and ostriches that would sometimes greet us just outside of our lodges after a long day. You can’t help yourself. …You just, start to talk with ‘em! Building a kind of community, a mutually-harmless education and awareness of each other.
Kat: Do you and your character Tom share any similarities or characteristics?
Jon: Oh, definitely. I went through a phase in my life following a stark and unrecognizable low, in which I found redemption, a slow yet steady cultivation of self-respect, the experience of tangible joy and even a sense of deep-seated purpose or of being “ – exactly where I was supposed to be,” as it goes, by way of simply helping others be it big or small, solicited or un-.
Tom, the consummate fixer, I think, is a man who, albeit resolved long ago, was hurt in some way, likely through the abandonment of a parental figure or of a key role model who once presented as a fixture, who served as an example of excellence and unconditional permanence in his life until he or she didn’t. As a result, after blaming and punishing himself, after taking responsibility for way too much all of the time in order to make everything his fault and problem in order to better understand and equip himself to take control of and to fix as much as possible, at last, he’s grown strong, emotionally intelligent and resilient, kind and capable, independent and, however, I think, reasonably but protectively insular.
So, also like me, even though he possesses, respects and works on a variety of outgoing or extroverted skill sets, although he fancies himself a fixer, he is very much an introvert and a loner, too. He doesn’t need anyone or anything anymore, not in his mind; he’s already found that special something if you will, in the wildlife preserve, in Ukuthula; but boy oh boy would he love to find that special someone. *cough, cough* Maybe it’s Lacey’s character Kira. *cough* Kira Slater. Maybe it’s not. …What do I know, right?
Love on Safari,” a new, original movie premieres Saturday, July 28, (9 p.m. ET/PT)