Interviews

Exclusive: Why Hunter King loves Hallmark, Christmas fairy tales, stunning ballgowns, and Corgi puppies

Hunter King in a scene from the movie.
Hunter King and Mistletoe in the Hallmark film, A Royal Corgi Christmas Pic credit: Martin Maguire/Hallmark

When reluctant royal Prince Edmond (Jordan Renzo) finds himself in a bind after giving his mother, the queen, the gift of an unruly Corgi puppy named Mistletoe, he turns to Cecily (Hunter King), a canine behavior expert from America. 

After many doggy disasters, Cecily insists that Edmond actively participate in the dog training sessions. The two of them work side-by-side to get the pup ready for the Christmas Ball, and sparks clearly begin to fly between them.

In A Royal Corgi Christmas, just as the precious canine captures their hearts, they discover that love can grow in the most unexpected places, and each of them begins to question what they really want in life. 

Best known for her role as Summer Newman on Young and the Restless, King most recently starred in the CBS comedy Life in Pieces opposite Colin Hanks. Regarding features, she starred in A Girl Like Her, Hallmark Channel’s Hidden Gems, and Nikki & Nora: Sister Sleuths.

Read on as King shares her fond memories of bringing this lovely fairy tale to life in and around Dublin, working with adorable Corgi puppies and dogs, and why she continues to enjoy making movies with Hallmark.

Monsters and Critics: I would like to talk about dogs, the royal family, Hallmark, and the holidays.

Hunter King: All my favorite things; let’s go.

M&C: In general, are you a royal watcher? Were you interested in the British Royal Family and all the goings on?

Hunter King: Before this film, I can’t say that I was really into it. I was a little bit, but after this film, I feel like I learned a lot on set. I feel like I got a Royals 101 course from everybody there. 

They taught me everything. I really took a lot of time on the way to set by asking my costars, ‘Okay, so who is this person? How are they related to this person? What do they do?’ They gave me the low-down. So now I feel like I am not a royals’ expert, but I am getting there. 

M&C: Were the curtsying and other protocols difficult or challenging?

Hunter King: Oh, well, the curtsying was kind of a fun thing with Clare, our director. I was like, ‘Well, so how do you do that?’ And it was kind of like an in-the-moment thing of part of the character but also part of me not knowing exactly how to do it. Is it a curtsy; is it a bow? It’s part character and parts me not knowing how to do it correctly, not wanting to do it wrong. So, doing it wrong while also not wanting to do it wrong combined, and I ended up doing it completely wrong.

M&C: Are you a dog lover? And how did you become such a believable dog trainer?

Hunter King: I am a dog lover. I say that as I am lying next to my dog right now. When we didn’t have a family dog, I would make posters for my dad plastered with dogs on them. Specifically, I wanted a golden retriever, so I would say, ‘Please can I have a dog,’ and put the poster on his workstation. So, every day when he got home, he would see this giant poster asking for a dog until, eventually, my parents got me one.

Then in the movie, every day before work, we would kind of go over whatever my character, Cecily, was doing with the dog that day. And kind of figured out whatever tricks I needed to learn that day with Mistletoe, the dog. So, it was just kind of like a little crash course every day.

A scene with the Corgis.
Hunter King, Shane Mark Lennon, and Frank Smith in the Hallmark film, A Royal Corgi Christmas. Pic credit: Martin Maguire/Hallmark

M&C: What kind of dog do you have now?

Hunter King: I have a golden retriever. Her name is Poppy – like the flower. 

M&C: How much were you into princess stuff?

Hunter King: I’d say mostly I was into princess stuff from the Princess Diaries. I was a big 90’s kid. I feel like every little girl’s dream, just wearing a big ball gown just mostly from watching Disney princess movies and stuff like that. I think that that’s where a lot of that fantasy came from.

I feel like I got to live out my little girl fantasy by putting on the big princess ball gown in this film. It was great fun getting to do that kind of stuff. The things that people don’t get to see behind the scenes, like you would think you just get to get to wear one princess ball gown, but you really get to try on so many until the network approves one. Even though I got to wear one, I got to try on some 20 different princess ball gowns.

M&C: You looked beautiful in that blue ball gown.

Hunter King: Awe, thank you. It was a beautiful dress. It was hard to pick, though. When they’re like, “Which one’s your favorite?” And I’m not even kidding, I think I tried on 20 different dresses. I was like, ‘I don’t know how to pick.’ I feel like I was literally back to my six-year-old self, I was so excited to play dress-up. 

M&C: What are the few things that you loved about making this movie?

Hunter King: I’d say one of the big ones was the people I got to work with. I loved getting working with our director, Clare [Niederpruem]. Getting to work with a female director, I loved that. She’s such a fierce leader. She was so easy to work with. She just made it such a fun environment to be in, and whenever I had any questions, she was right there to answer them for me.

She was just such a fun person to work with. She made the environment so much fun. She’s a lovely person and one of my dear friends. I’ve worked with her husband, Maclain Nelson, before on another Hallmark movie. I’ve known her since before this movie, but she was so much fun to be there. It was nice having a familiar face in Ireland shooting this movie.

All of my costars were so sweet and couldn’t be more welcoming. It was so nice to feel like I was at home even though I was far away from home in Ireland. All of the people were just so lovely. And then also getting to shoot in Ireland was amazing. I mean, you get to work in actual castles. I’ve never been in a castle before. We were able to work in not just one castle, but in four of them. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

Hunter King as Cecily, wearing a wine-colored coat and a pink and blue plaid scarf.
Hunter King in the Hallmark film, A Very Corgi Christmas Pic credit: Martin Maguire/Hallmark

M&C: Where in Ireland were you? How long were you there?

Hunter King: Oh my gosh, we were in and around Dublin for about a month. It was my first time there and it was on my buck list.

M&C: They were sending you to places to eat, to sightsee, to do activities?

Hunter King: Oh, yes. There were so many times, even going to go to the Cliffs of Moher. My boyfriend came with me, and we didn’t take a tour. Basically, we had an Uber driver to take us the whole way, so we didn’t have to sit on a tour bus. And we were able to spend hours getting to look at the cliffs and enjoying the little restaurants on the side of the road. It was just all these cute little magical places that we never would have known about otherwise.

M&C: Talk about your love for Hallmark. How do you watch Hallmark Christmas movies and what is your favorite beverage and snack?

Hunter King: I just recently moved, and I had to go to a hardware store, Ace Hardware. And they had all this Hallmark section stuff like Hallmark cards, blankets, and mugs and stuff. And they even had this cute Hallmark pillow that was like, Countdown to Christmas, and a Hallmark blanket and mugs. And all you need is your Hallmark mug and your coffee.

M&C: If you wanted to talk about a couple of career highlights, what would you mention?

Hunter King: Working in Hawaii on my first Hallmark movie, Hidden Gems, was an amazing experience. That was such an incredible opportunity. And now getting a multi-picture deal with Hallmark is a great opportunity. To be able to work with a company whose main goal is to make people smile, laugh, and bring joy into people’s homes is something so special, and I feel so grateful to be a part of it. 

Hunter King as Cecily in a blue ball gown and Jordan Renzo, in a red jacket with gold ornamentation, a blue sash, and a row of medals, standing in front of a fireplace.
Hunter King and Jordan Renzo in the Hallmark film, A Royal Corgi Christmas Pic credit: Steffan Hill/Hallmark

M&C: What are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Hunter King: I am determined to find matching ugly sweaters for my dog and me. I’ve already considered myself a crazy dog lady but this film has turned me into an even crazier dog lady, being surrounded by so many dogs recently. I am throwing my dog a birthday party this year. 

I’m really excited to spend a lot of time with my family. Everyone in my family is always out of town somewhere, so I’m just really excited to spend a lot of time with everybody. A lot of times my family usually goes out to Chinese food on Christmas, so hopefully, we will get to do that again this year. We’ll end up playing a lot of board games on Christmas. I love just being together.

M&C: Lastly, why do you want my readers to watch this movie?

Hunter King: Who doesn’t love dogs, right? It’s a fun movie about Christmas and dogs. There are puppies, so who doesn’t love that? The dogs who play Mistletoe are adorable. A lot of viewers will be able to relate to this movie in a lot of ways. Even though it’s about royals. I think there are a lot of ways viewers can relate to this movie. I think that people can find companionship, whether that’s friendship or perhaps maybe even love, in unexpected places. That’s something that people can relate to.

Also, I think that a lot of people can relate to the premise that if you let yourself be vulnerable, you can connect to people in ways that maybe you didn’t think that you could. And that a lot of people go through similar things if you let yourself open up to people. It’s really sweet, and it’s fun, and who doesn’t love a Christmas movie?

Hallmark’s A Royal Corgi Christmas premieres on November 25.

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