“It was such a treat to work on because it was so idyllic and so happy, it’s a great little place to escape to.”
Actress Sarah Edmondson was talking about her upcoming Hallmark movie, At Home in Mitford, that premieres Sunday, August 20 at 10/9c. In the film, Sarah plays Marge Owen, owner of Mitford’s bookstore, who becomes friends with best-selling children’s author Cynthia Coppersmith (played by Andie MacDowell). Cynthia is divorced and suffering from writer’s block, so she escapes to the beautiful serenity of Mitford to reset her life. While there, she ends up falling in love with the town’s most eligible bachelor, Father Tim Kavanaugh (played by Cameron Mathison).
“Marge is somebody who I really related to,” Sarah noted. “It’s pretty much me in a small town as someone who is organizing the potlucks and being the matchmaker. That’s just me. It’s what I do. So, it was a very natural fit.”
Sarah is easy to connect with, she is open and genuine, and has a contagious positivity that makes you feel better, more alive, just by talking to her. That upbeat energy is something she brings with her on every shoot. It’s something that the other actors and crew are affected by in the most wonderful ways.
“The highlight of this project for me was having an opportunity to work with someone like Andie MacDowell. She is a lovely person. She’s a class act and a legitimate Hollywood star. When you’re doing a scene with someone, there can be a lot of waiting, you just sit there while they focus the camera or reset the scene. Often, that’s when actors pull out their phone or run to the bathroom. But it wasn’t like that with Andie, we just sat and talked for hours. It was so lovely to get to know her like that.”
At one point, Sarah shared something that was troubling her with Andie, and MacDowell offered her some great advice.
“She’s such an incredible person, but she’s also so amazing to work with. Just seeing her hitting all of her marks, knowing where the camera was, and understanding the technical side of it while making it all look so easy… I learned so much by just watching her. It was wonderful.”
By no means is Sarah a novice. She has over 60 credits in film, video, and television (Edgemont, Fringe, Psych, Continuum, Dead Zone, When Calls the Heart, Love at First Bark, Barbie Diaries, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic) listed on her IMDb. However, before filming At Home in Mitford, Sarah had taken a little time off to start a family. Coincidentally, the character she plays, Marge, is pregnant. Entertaining Options wondered, “What was it like being pretend pregnant after really being pregnant?”
“You know what, it was easier because I had been pregnant, so I knew what it feels like and how it makes you walk,” she laughed. “Gary [Harvey], the director — who I totally love by the way and would work with on anything… in a heartbeat! — he would tell me, ‘Sarah, you are rubbing your belly a little bit too much, it’s kind of weird.’ I was like, ‘That’s what you do when you’re pregnant, you are always rubbing your belly. It’s like a genie in a bottle, you just keep touching it and rubbing it.’ He just said, ‘Yeah, but it looks weird on camera, so if you could knock it off, that would be good.'”
Gary told Entertaining Options, “I’ve known Sarah for many years and it was such a pleasure to be working with her again. She’s a confident, talented professional who just gets it. She always arrives on set with wonderful fully thought through ideas and is still able to be fully collaborative in her approach. And, she is quite willing to consider any direction we end up taking a scene in. I love working with Sarah and look forward to our next collaboration.”
The acting bug first bit Sarah when she was 16. Before that, she was an entrepreneur. In her youth, she spent summers on Hornby Island making and selling hairwraps on the beach. Her first business card declared: “Sarah Edmondson: Jewelry Maker and Babysitter.”
“Being an only child and loving attention, I was the kid who would stand up and make a play at a family dinner. Or do a skit,” Sarah informed. “I’ve always loved performing. But I also enjoyed other types of art. I did pottery, I did drumming, I did photography… I was never one of those people who said, ‘Acting is the only thing I can do.'”
At 16, Sarah’s uncle Paul was in Vancouver directing a movie with David Hasselhoff. David needed a babysitter, so her uncle suggested that she do it. It was an experience that changed her life.
“I wasn’t doing film or television at that point, so I got a little taste of what it was like being on set. And I was really intrigued. Have you ever been to a craft service table? I thought it was awesome! It was free food,” she laughed. “All the candy and gum I could want!”
When Sarah was choosing her degree at university, she was also interested in becoming a therapist because her mom was a therapist and her dad was a counselor. She decided to major in Drama Therapy.
“I found out that I really liked being on set. I really liked the camaraderie and the whole dynamic of being in a TV show or being in a film. It’s always a whole new group of people, meeting new friends, stepping into a different role, a different life. I just really enjoyed that, so it became something that I pursued.”
When asked if she had any fun anecdotes from being on the set of At Home in Mitford, Sarah thought for a minute before replying. “Cameron Mathison and I had a friendly competition going on about who is the healthiest person between me and him. We would show up on set with various concoctions of green juice and bone marrow powder and collagen supplements and fish oil tablets and low glycemic coconut infused drinks. I thought I was a really healthy eater, but it turns out, I met my match in Cameron!”
If you’re a fan of Jan Karon’s wonderful series, The Mitford Years, when you watch the movie, you’ll notice that there are a few unexpected twists and the characters will be slightly different than you might remember them, but Hallmark managed to capture the paradisal serenity of Mitford with remarkable accuracy and care. Andie MacDowell plays Cynthia with a beautiful warmth and tenderness while Cameron Mathison infuses Father Tim Kavanaugh with a delightful charm. However, the catalyst for most everything of (social) importance that happens in Mitford is Marge. Sarah, brings the character to life with an endearing sparkle that is unforgettable.
“At Home in Mitford is a really sweet film,” Sarah expressed. “The town is filled with nice, friendly people and the worst thing that happens is a dog tramples a garden. The set decoration was beautiful and the costumes were beautiful. As we all worked on it, something magical happened and it just blossomed. I actually cried on the last day of shooting because I didn’t want to leave.”
Gary agreed. “Everyone was simply into making the process as stress free as it could be. It was always a treat to walk on set and be greeted by people who really wanted to be there.”
Sarah concluded, “This is exactly the type of project I want to do all the time. When I’m with people that I like and respect and I’m learning from them, that’s the best! It’s why I make movies. I love people, I love working with people, and I love getting to know people and finding out where they’re from. There’s something about the energy on a film set…” she paused for a moment searching for a comparison. “It’s like a big potluck dinner!”
“And, you know what?” she added. “Right now my life is a lot like Mitford. There’s a little less drama, it’s a little simpler, and there’s a whole lot of love. I love being with my family, doing a film here and there, and trying to make the world a better place, whether it’s through film, helping others, or just by being a good friend.”
At Home in Mitford premieres Sunday, August 20 at 10/9c on the Hallmark Channel.
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