Italia Ricci Talks Hallmark's Catch Me If You Claus and Its Unique Blend of Humor and Holiday Cheer

Italia Ricci Talks Hallmark's Catch Me If You Claus and Its Unique Blend of Humor and Holiday Cheer
By: TV Fanatic Posted On: November 22, 2023 View: 36

As surprising as this may seem, given how much we adore and appreciate Italia Ricci, TV Fanatic has never had the opportunity to speak with her.

Lucky for us, she is starring in a new Hallmark movie with the hunky Luke Macfarlane, and she was excited to talk about filming her first Christmas movie for the network, as well as being dazzled by the gorgeous vision of a man who starred opposite her.

In our interview below, which has been edited for length and clarity, you will also discover she's got an R-rated sense of humor and much more.

Italia Ricci for Catch Me If You Claus

Is there any competition between you and your husband, Robbie, with these movie releases?

I mean, not really, because they're two totally different platforms, and his is not as PG as ours, so they're different movies. But it's just fun because I love Christmas, my family loves Christmas movies, and my mom is over the moon with the fact that she gets both of us in two different movies this year.

Catch Me If You Claus Key Art Poster

Oh, that's awesome. What's it like for you to connect with fans on social media like you do? I loved that you were plugging both your movie and his movie at the same time. But you have a really good relationship with your fans.

I was really lucky to start on social media the way that I did with Chasing Life back in the day because all of my fans were such a community.

It was a lot of people who were battling cancer or any sort of health issues, and so we had a lot of the support. It felt like a family. I haven't had a whole lot of negative experiences with my fans, so I feel like I'm able to share a little bit more than I normally would.

So I love how supportive they are, and I love sharing what I can with them, and it's pretty real. I don't like to try and fake anything either, which I think they appreciate.

Avery Has Chris All Tied Up

Oh, absolutely. And you can sense that. You can sense that you're just being yourself, which is a nice way to be on social media.

Yeah.

Hallmark audiences are always excited to see their favorites again. This is your second Hallmark Christmas movie, right?

Well, the first one wasn't a Christmas one. It was a winter one because it aired in January.

Oh, okay. Oh, so it's your first.

So this is my first official Christmas one. I was so thrilled when I got the script, and I think it's the first Hallmark where Santa is actually a character.

Christmas Standoff

Why did Catch Me If You Claus feel like the right fit?

It just felt so fresh and different. It's more of an action-adventure comedy romance thing, more than your typical Hallmark bingo scripts that you could play with.

And although I've done those, and I love them, and they're super sweet, I just really liked how fun this one was going to be.

And knowing that Luke was going to be in it, I'm such a big fan of him, and I knew what a great job he'd be able to do with it. So it was an easy yes.

Avery Is Open for Suggestions

I've mostly seen you in dramatic roles, but you really have good comedic timing.

That's interesting that you say, because I always say, whenever people ask what type of roles you prefer, I would much rather cry for you for ten pages than try and make you laugh for one line because I get so nervous.

And in this script, a lot of the comedy is all from Luke's character, Chris, and I'm sort of the straight guy in it, and I have to keep everything grounded.

I'm sure I played her a little bit more sarcastic than she was on the page because that's just more me, I guess, but he brings it out of you, and he's so good and so fast and so funny. I wish I could share the blooper reel with everybody because it's just us in stitches.

Avery Pulls Out the Big Guns

I'm so glad you said that because I was wondering about it. He's one of my favorite comedic actors. His delivery is just off the charts. You have really tight shoots with Hallmark. How do you not just dissolve into laughter when filming something?

Oh, we did. We did. And especially with this director, Bradley Walsh, and our producer, Michael Barbuto. They would just let the camera keep rolling and just be like, "Try taking it this way," or, "Come up with something like this."

So a lot of it was improv, and I'm terrified of improv because I'm just not that fast. It just ended up that I would just be in stitches because I couldn't even imagine what was going to come out of Luke's mouth before he even said it.

And I'd be like, "You can't make this a two-shot. I'm going to ruin it." But it ended up working, and we got some really fun, spontaneous moments.

Avery Holds Chris at Arm's Length

The first scene where the two of you meet when he comes down the chimney is probably one of the funniest scenes that's been in a Hallmark movie in a long time. What was it like filming it?

Well good. That was on our first day. It was one of the bigger scenes, so we were jumping in at first and getting our characters to one of their higher points in the movie, energy and tension-wise. So it was fun.

It took us a minute to figure it out because it's such a long scene, and there's only so much movement you can do, so we had to try and figure out a way to make it interesting without being able to move so much.

So I think that that's where a lot of the beats and the reactions tended to be a little bit bigger there because we needed to. He's tied up.

Gorgeous Avery in Her Christmas PJs

That's a great scene, though, to jump-start the tone of your movie. For you two to begin working together with that scene sets the tone for the rest of the movie.

Yeah. It was, again, so many different versions. They'd be like, "Try one like this. Try one like that." And we would just end up going in all different directions.

By the end of each day of this shoot, we were like, "We have no idea what kind of movie we just made. It just depends on the editor because we've made seven different versions of every scene."

Have you seen it?

I've seen some of it in ADR.

Christmas Comedy

What do you think? Knowing what you filmed, how many different takes that you took, and so many different reactions, what did you think of the final version of those scenes?

I was smiling the whole time when they were playing the scenes for me, so that's good. I think Luke is just so magnetic and so gorgeous and so talented.

And just even while we were shooting, in certain takes, I would just be like, "I don't remember my words because you're just so damn gorgeous. I can't speak. You need to just turn it down a little." [laughs]

So anyway, he really carries it, and I'm so grateful to have had him as my leading man in this because I just don't think it would've been the movie that it was. And everybody, really, all the supporting characters, everybody did such a fantastic job.

And it was all night shoots. We would start at 4:00 PM and wrap at 6:00 AM every single night. So for everybody to still bring it and do such a great job and have that energy at those crazy hours, I applaud every single person behind and in front of the camera.

Chris and Avery Decipher the Clues

What are your favorite comedic Christmas movies?

My favorite comedic Christmas movies? I like The Family Stone. That's more drama, but I like it. I'm dying to see Robbie's because we're in Vegas. We landed late last night, so I didn't get to watch it. I tried to sneak-watch it without him this morning while he was sleeping, but we're going to wait.

But I've heard it's hilarious, and it's getting great reviews, so I'm dying to see that one. Comedies? I'm not a big comedy person, so Elf and stuff like that? That's not my jam. I would be more like Bad Santa.

[laughs] Okay.

I'm a little more rated R than I think the Hallmark audience might think I am. [laughs]

Avery and Chris Hit the Town

Oh, that's an interesting take, though. It makes you doing these a little more exciting to know that.

Well, yeah, and it's hard, too, because my instinct when we're improv-ing is to do something where I will look into the camera and be like, "I'm sorry, guys. I know you're not going to be able to use that on Hallmark."

So, the movie drops on Thanksgiving Day. Are you going to be gathering friends and family to watch it together?

Well, we live in Toronto, so our Thanksgiving was last month. So I've already got all my Christmas decorations up, but I will be having my mom and some friends and people over to watch it because why not? It's awesome.

Santa Breaks In

What holiday traditions have you and Robbie created for your family?

We have a really fun tradition. Because some of our really close friends are very gifted filmmakers, we film my husband Robbie in a Santa suit coming down the chimney and putting presents under the tree and eating the cookies and reading a list and all that stuff.

And then, we show it to our son the morning after and videotape his reaction. It's pretty special.

----------------------------

Now that you know she's often filmed her own real-life Santa, be sure to tune in to Catch Me If You Claus on Thanksgiving night, Thursday, November 23, to see how the antics unfold!

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on X and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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