When Corbin Bleu was asked to star in Hallmark’s Love, For Real, his number one fan – his mother – went wild. Although he has starred on Broadway, films, and Dancing with the Stars, the dire-hard Hallmark fan was ecstatic.
“The Hallmark fan base is one of the most loyal I have ever seen,” Bleu exclusively told Monsters & Critics. “When I first received the offer for this movie, one of the first people I told was my mom and she flipped out! Even if she is not watching the shows, she always has the Hallmark Channel on in the background.”
Like millions of other fans worldwide, she appreciates the “good feelings” that the movies and series project, especially coming at a time when people are all hungry for nostalgia and more easy-going romantic times.
So, Bleu, and his actress-wife Sasha Clements headed to Hawaii to make Love, For Real. He plays Marco, a Bachelor-type reality show star who has to pick one of several lovely ladies and move around the island with cameras following him 24/7.
Two of the contestants, brought in later in the series, are Hayley (Chloe Bridges) and her best friend Bree (Taiana Tully) who go on a reality dating show to publicize her fashion line, instead of in pursuit of true love.
But nothing goes as planned when love, friendship, and careers are on the line. The movie also stars Scott Michael Foster as Luke, the reality show’s director.
The 32-year-old Brooklyn native has an extensive background in film, television, and theater. He is best known for playing Chad Danforth in Disney’s Emmy Award-winning High School Musical franchise. His Broadway credits include the revival of Kiss Me Kate, Holiday Inn, Godspell, Hairspray, and In the Heights.
In September 2013, Bleu took part in Season 17 of Dancing with the Stars, partnering with pro dancer Karina Smirnoff and finishing as runner-up.
Also in 2018, Corbin was honored as Entertainer of the Year award from the Tremaine National Gala honoring his work in the dance industry.
Bleu told Monsters & Critics that after the difficulties of a year and a half of the coronavirus pandemic, and all of the restrictions that came with it, we clearly need a little Hallmark right now.
Monsters & Critics: Corbin, what attracted you to this script and the part of Marco in the new movie, Love, For Real?
Corbin Bleu: My initial connection was the director, Maclain Nelson, who I worked on Show Offs, this really offbeat project for The Mormon Network, a full-on musical improv show, sort of like Whose Line Is It Anyway. It was a lot of fun and extremely wild. I had such a blast working with him. So, when this popped up, he sent me the script and I thought it would be great to go back to Hawaii and it was an opportunity to do another film with my (actress) wife Sasha Clements. She is the woman who turns my character down and runs off crying at the beginning of the movie. I loved the storyline and the super cute backdrop of The Bachelor.
M &C: Would you ever go on a reality dating show?
Corbin Bleu: No, I don’t see myself ever going on a reality dating show. That ship has passed. My five-year wedding anniversary is coming up and we are an extremely happy couple.
M &C: What did you learn about these reality shows?
Corbin Bleu: Working on this film I got to see a lot of the behind-the-scenes of a reality show and what the filming is day-to-day. So much of is contrived and insane and with the competition aspect to it, the line between what is real and what isn’t gets blurred quickly and easily. It’s wonderful if someone can find true love on a show. Everyone goes into hoping they will, and some actually do succeed.
M &C: What were the highlights of making the film in Hawaii?
Corbin Bleu: Spending time in Hawaii with my wife. Every day we were in this beautiful environment. I was on the set almost every day, so there wasn’t much downtime. But once we wrapped production we stuck around for a few days and had a great time. We went surfing on the North Shore with a pro surfer. I went sky diving for the first time.
M&C: What was that like?
Corbin Bleu: Well, because Hawaii is an island when you are falling, you see this tiny speck of land and it begins to grow as you go down. The perspective is amazing.
M& C: What else did you enjoy?
Corbin Bleu: The food was awesome. I was on a pretty strict diet during the majority of the shooting, but once we wrapped, I could not get enough of the breakfasts there. I went crazy on pancakes; coconut, passion fruit, and guava pancakes. In general, I am a coffee and go kind of guy but those pancakes made me a breakfast person. When we got home, we invited a few friends over and I made a Hawaii breakfast for them. I enjoy collecting recipes from our travels and putting them together in a book.
M & C: So, what is the perfect romantic date for you and your wife?
Corbin Bleu: Initially, we were going to do something big for our five-year anniversary, including planting a tree to celebrate the wood aspect of five years. But we have been so busy lately, which we are very grateful for coming off a time when so many people are out of work.
When the pandemic first hit everything stopped work-wise for 6-8 months and I had a lot of projects that were canceled. Now, it’s slowly picking up, and between work and our home renovation, we are super busy. So, the perfect date is spending the day at home, not doing anything special. Just hanging out with our cell phones off, playing board games, and enjoying each other’s company. We both enjoy the same things, so our romantic dates are going to the movies, out to dinner, and bowling; simple pleasures. Now that things are picking up we want to get back to it.
M&C: Do you hope to work on Broadway again?
Corbin Bleu: Yes. It’s been shut down since March 2020 and it’s about to open up again. We are about to open; everything is starting to come back again and slowly trickle in. I have been fortunate enough to bounce back between film, TV and stage, hosting, and music; but nothing is as fulfilling as working on Broadway.
M&C: Why is that?
Corbin Bleu: There is consistency in your work from doing eight shows a week. You get to hone in on a character and story and you have to find new things every single day. One of the most wonderful things is that you discover new things every single day in front of a live audience. As performers, we thrive off of that additional energy and I’m excited to get back to the stage. I just finished hosting the High School Musical Theater Awards — The Jimmy Awards — highlighting students and honoring their work –– and this year it was virtual.
M&C: You started working as a teen in High School Musical. Could you have predicted your current success?
Corbin Bleu: I was 16 years old, and as a teenager and truly getting the chance to live out these incredible dreams, you have so much you hope for in life. You see yourself and your career. But it’s hard to gain focus and perspective at that age and say I want this kind of career or to go down this path. I just wanted to work and be an actor. Over the years I am very happy with my journey and there is definitely a lot more that I want to do.
M&C: Why should everyone watch Love, For Real?
Corbin Bleu: As with all Hallmark movies you are going to feel good at the end of it. There is this reality show aspect, so there is a guilty pleasure aspect that many of us get watching these shows. I would say it’s a perfect marriage of the fulfillment of watching a reality show and a feel-good movie.
Love, For Real premieres on the Hallmark Channel, Saturday, July 31, at 9pm ET.