I am so excited to share with you all today my exclusive interview with Charleene Closshey, who is the star of the Christmas Movie 'An Evergreen Christmas'. The film also stars Robert Loggia, Naomi Judd, and Tyler Ritter. This heart-warming movie musical is available on DVD this Christmas Season!
I hope you will enjoy my interview (below) with Charleene, who portrays Evie, a young woman who returns home to her family's Christmas tree farm.
'An Evergreen Christmas'. Please tell us a little about yourself. When did you become involved in acting?
Thank you so much!! Yes, I'm feeling beyond blessed at this moment in my life.
I can vaguely remember one of the first times I was onstage -- I was not even two, and onstage in a massive Easter production in a crowd scene in front of about ten thousand people (or so I've been told), but what I remember are the lights. And the faces. Faces of people who seemed interested in whatever the story was being told around me. With this memory, it seems to me that I felt safe and, in many ways, at home.
I think that's why I've always been attracted to telling stories on a larger scale. There's a safety in this space to create and connect with the hearts of people watching. Sharing stories can help stimulate conversation, ideas, growth, even joy. I love this aspect of the craft.
This has been a really exciting year for me as well, as I made my Broadway debut with the Tony Award winning musical "Once" this past April! So there's been lots of powerful stories for me to tell here recently.
2. Do you have any other hobbies or interests you would like to share with us, besides acting?
My first career, though it probably better deemed my first passion, was and is music. At two, I started piano lessons and could read music before words, which probably confounded my preschool teachers. I started violin in the sixth grade (age 12), and immediately fell in love with the instrument, focusing solely on violin moving forward. I attended Harrison Performing Arts Center in Lakeland, FL, a performing arts high school, eventually playing professionally in orchestras around the state. I transitioned into solo work playing with bands and other groups, from country to Celtic to rock, having the opportunity to perform with artists like Josh Groban, Frank Sinatra, Jr., the TransSiberian Orchestra, Ricky Skaggs, Irish Thunder (a sister show to Riverdance) -- lots of pretty cool artists. I even got to play with Charlie Daniels for a few gigs -- in acoustic sets where he would just sing and play guitar and I'd play fiddle, and in arena shows where we'd duel fiddle "Devil Went Down to Georgia". Lots of great memories! And I've been blessed to continue to play violin and now compose music too. It was really artistically rewarding to play a musician on screen AND compose the music for the film's soundtrack.
Beside music, I love to plan and host parties and to cook. I go all out too, with specific themes for each gathering, usually homemade favors appropriate to the festivities, DIY photo booths, carefully timed playlists, video snippets for posterity…the whole thing. The holidays are a bit crazy at my house.
3. How did you find out that you were chosen for the movie, 'An Evergreen Christmas'?
When my fiancé Jeremy Culver and I decided we wanted to create a film that would hopefully have longevity and a touching story, we knew right away Christmas was the right genre for the film. And we wanted to create a project that would allow both of us to explore our artistic inclinations and abilities. So, in many ways, "An Evergreen Christmas" chose us.
I couldn't be more blessed to do what I love with those that I love! "An Evergreen Christmas" truly was a family affair -- Jeremy (Culver) directed the film and wrote the script with his sister Morgen Culver, our long-time friend Jeff Osborne -- who feels more like a brother to me (and happens to be incredibly talented) -- shot the film as our Director of Photography, my mother's expertise in strategic business execution and product distribution enabled her to Executive Produce the picture, our dear friend Kim Waltrip ("The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby" and "Hit and Run") produced and brought together a great team, plus so many others that quickly became family to us along the journey.
Jeremy and Morgen's grandfather was a Christmas tree farmer in Michigan, which provided a rich resource for authenticity of life on the farm.
4. Could you tell us a little about Evie Lee, your character in 'An Evergreen Christmas'?
Evie is a passionate and capable musician looking to find her voice. Her hardships in life in some ways motivated and in other ways deflated her ability to see herself and her capabilities. To me, it seems Evie's path in the film is to remember just how brave, how creative, and how capable she is, and how to love and accept herself so she can better love others. Pretty much what I think we all deal with internally everyday ourselves! (Well, at least I know I do…)
5. How long was the shoot? Where was it filmed? Was your Christmas Movie filmed in the winter?
The film was a 28-day shoot in and around Charlotte, North Carolina, primarily in Lincolnton and Gastonia. We started filming February 4 and wrapped March 4…and it was definitely winter! I remember one day on set where I was outside in pink silk pajamas with a wind chill of about 10 degrees. I'm a Florida girl (AKA cold weather wimp) -- my perception of an arctic chill starts around 50 degrees for me. That morning in particular, with thermal underwear and hand warming packs stuck to my legs under such pretty but thin jammies, keeps the memory of filming "in winter" very real and alive for me. Outdoor filming in cold weather aside, the weather really cooperated for us beautifully. It would usually snow on the weekends while we weren't filming, then clear up in time for gorgeous skies on Monday shoots. The day we filmed the funeral scene, a gentle fog rolled in over the hills bringing a quiet yet steadily misting rain, which wound up feeling just like a funeral and looking incredible on screen! That was a divinely orchestrated set dressing.
6. Now that you are in a Christmas Movie… do you, perhaps, have an all-time favorite Christmas Movie/Special, you watch every year?
For as long as I can remember, my family has always had the tradition of watching of "A Charlie Brown Christmas". Besides a story that transcends any specific generation, its music is just so great! Vince Guaraldi is brilliant. In fact, the film's soundtrack and Bing Crosby's "That Christmas Feeling" album start playing in my house starting the Tuesday after Labor Day. I'm a bit zealous when it comes to celebrating the holiday sprite I suppose.
7. Do you have a favorite scene in 'An Evergreen Christmas'?
Favorite scene for sure is the Fishing Scene with Adam and Chez -- priceless! Tyler (Ritter) and Jake (Sandvig) really bring the scene to life with their honesty, hilarity, improv, and timing. True to form funniness in my book! I giggle just thinking about it.
8. What do you hope viewers will take away from watching your Christmas Movie, 'An Evergreen Christmas'?
To me, the Holidays are about the love created when people come together, remember, forgive, accept, and move forward towards a fresh beginning. I hope viewers will be able to find a little bit of themselves in aspects of the story, feeling the Love around them that is so poignant and so very special to this time of year.
- Website: http://charleeneclosshey.com
- Charleene’s YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/charleeneclosshey
- Charleene’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialCharleeneClosshey
- Charleene’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharleeneC
- Charleene’s IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2598323/
A special thank you to Charleene for this lovely Q&A session!!!
I hope you all enjoyed this interview - as much as I did!
Charleene was so giving, in sharing with us, the details of her film and the movie-making process! I loved when she said, "I couldn't be more blessed to do what I love with those that I love!" That is a beautiful sentiment, and I hope it is one many of us share with her.
I also absolutely adore that she chose 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' as a favorite "must see" every Christmas! I think many of us agree, that Charlie Brown has a special place in our hearts, too!!!
Perhaps, in Christmas Seasons to come... 'An Evergreen Christmas' will become one of our favorite must see movies, as well!
'An Evergreen Christmas' is available on DVD this Christmas Season! I hope many of you will enjoy it!
*Images above via: http://charleeneclosshey.com and Spotlight Pictures.