Tag Archives: Love’s Christmas Journey

Ernest Borgnine Too Busy Working to Figure Out 95th Birthday Plans

Ernest Borgnine Hallmark Channel photo

Ernest Borgnine just wapped his starring role in the feature “The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez” and he has a four-hour television movie event coming up Saturday night (11/5) with the Hallmark Channel’s “Love’s Christmas Journey.”  Not bad for 94 years old. 

 “I feel great.  I’m going to be 95 in January,” he lets us know. As for special birthday plans?  “The family hasn’t figured it out yet.  All I know is, it’s probably going to cost me money,” quips the Oscar winner, laughing.   

Borgnine had to mine his talent for writer-director Elia Petridis “Vicente Fernandez” dramedy, which has him as an old man bitterly disappointed that he never became famous — who suddenly finds himself the center of attention among the Latino workers in his nursing home when they learn of an incident in his past.  “I doubted very much if I could pull off something like this,” he admits.  “Carrying a picture is a whole lot different than just being in a picture.  You have to think ahead to where things are going at all times.  But this young man was so enthusiastic and confident, it made me feel confident.  He said, ‘No one else in the world can do this.  You’re brilliant.’  He was just a dream to work with.  I learned so much.  I can’t say enough,” he says of Petridis. 

Meanwhile, there’s “Love’s Christmas Journey,” the latest in the Hallmark Channel’s enormously popular “Love Comes Softly” movie series of 1800’s prairie family romance tales.  With JoBeth Williams, Charles Shaughnessy and Sean Astin also in the cast, the story has Borgnine as a mystery man named Nicholas who gets the town talking.  “I had a ball with it.  It turned out to be just fun.  When they said, ‘There’s going to be four hours,’ I said, ‘Are you going to show it all at once?’  They said, ‘All at once.’  So you’d better get a lot of popcorn and settle in.” 

Borgnine is also fronting a Turner Classic Movies cruise coming up Dec. 2 — and he’s hoping “Vicente Fernandez” will be ready to show.  Where does he get all his energy?  What’s his secret at almost 95?

“My secret is: keep laughing.  That’s the idea,” Borgnine replies.  “If you can keep laughing and keep smiling, one way or another, by golly, you’re bound to find other people around you laughing, too.  I’ve had my times when I just felt terrible, just awful, you know?   But hey, there’s always something that comes along that makes you feel good.  That’s what matters, really — it’s how you approach life.  You can be like the people who go around with a cloud over their heads for the rest of your days and it’s terrible.  Or you can wake up in the morning and say, ‘Hey, man!  I’m alive and God has had a good look at me and blessed me.'”


Sean Astin’s Nightmares and Laughs — ‘Abu Ghraib,’ ‘And They’re Off’

Cheri Oteri, Sean Astin "And They're Off"

Sean Astin tells us he had “nightmares for a week” after finishing Luke Moran’s upcoming big screen drama, “The Boys of Abu Ghraib.”  The nice guy who played “Rudy” and “Lord of the Rings'” Hobbit Samwise Gamgee as an Abu Ghraib prison guard? 

“I’m someone who’s really fixated on politics,” comments Sean, who has actively campaigned for candidates including Hilary Clinton.  “I’ve also done military-themed movies.  I did some work for the U.S. Army.  The fact I was offered the chance to do this, it had to happen.  I think it’s a patriotic gesture to play the part.”

It’s been a hectic — and extremely eclectic — time for Astin of late.  He just wrapped work on his first Christian film, “Amazing Love,” with Erin Bethea (“Fireproof”) and says he the experience meant so much to him, “I’m mourning the loss” of having to move on after having finished production.  He’s playing a youth pastor in the movie he says is about “fidelity and unconditional love” that’s divided between scenes of today and scenes of the Bible story of Hosea and Gomer.  He has one scene with a very familiar cast mate:  his mother, Patty Duke. 

In another change-up, October 28 marks the beginning of the roll-out release of Astin’s “And They’re Off” horse racing movie spoof.  He reports that the toughest part about playing the sad sack horse trainer in the comedy was keeping a straight face.  “We laughed the whole time,” he says of the film that also stars Cheri Oteri, Mo Collins, Gigi Rice, Martin Mull, Alex Rocco and other funny people.  “Sitting across from Kevin Nealon talking about taxidermy, I had to put my face in my hands to keep from laughing out loud,” Sean claims. 

“This kind of film is something I’ve always wanted to do.  I love ‘Waiting for Guffman’ and all those movies.  That it’s set in the world of horse racing is awesome.” 

Astin says that “And They’re Off” writer-producer Alan Grossbard is a track aficionado who infused the movie with accurate bits of color.  “You know who’s going to love it is horse racing geeks.  There’s enough stuff in there, they’re going find it very familiar.”

Sean Astin (L), cast of "Love's Christmas Journey" four-hour telefilm Hallmark Channel photo

Come Nov. 5, Sean will be seen starring with JoBeth Williams, Charles Shaughnessy and Ernest Borgnine in “Love’s Christmas Journey,” the latest installment of the Hallmark Channel’s hugely popular “Love Comes Softly” series of telefilms based on Janette Oke’s book series of a 19th Century frontier family.

            Actors love diverse roles, but Sean admits, “I don’t know that I intentionally set out to do that.  I just want to work.”  And as far as playing bad, he adds, “I played an ax murdering voodoo cult cannibal in a movie once.  I got it because my attorney was friends with the producer.  There was nothing socially redeeming about it at all.”