When Jessy Schram first read the screenplay for her latest Hallmark movie – part road trip, part love story, and part self-discovery — she was immediately intrigued by the Christmas story of a woman with amnesia.
The movie, Time for Them to Come Home for Christmas co-starring Brendan Penny, is quite a story to capture our hearts this holiday season. She recalls the joy she felt while making this movie in the fall in Vancouver.
The Suburban Chicago native, who still has relatives and friends there, says she loves going home for deep-dish pizza and other hometown goodies. She also appreciates the Midwestern vibe and enjoyed heading there for Chicago Med.
Schram is best known for her roles in TV’s Veronica Mars, Hallmark’s Jane Doe mysteries, Nashville, Chicago Med, and many beloved Hallmark movies, including Country At Heart, (in which she also sang), The Birthday Wish, A Nashville Christmas Carol, and Harvest Moon.
In her latest movie, Schram was drawn to her character, who after losing her memory, feels alone and lost through much of the story.
“At the same time there’s that lesson of being present and being exactly where you are, connecting with the people that you’re meeting right there,” she exclusively told Monsters & Critics. “So, I felt a lot of joy in certain ways,” she added, “and then a lot of frustration and feeling alone in other ways.”
Monsters & Critics: Why were you attracted to this lovely holiday movie?
Jessy Schram: This one felt a little bit different in a few ways. I think the opening scene drew me in because I really wasn’t sure who this woman was; even what time period it was while I was reading it. I just wasn’t sure where this story would go.
And when we dealt with this amnesiac story, I think the appeal for me was figuring out who this person is, who you are without your memories, and without any baggage or judgment of who you are.
So, that was a draw for me, as well as that she starts remembering things and going through this story she’s scared of maybe who she was before she lost her memory. So she has this desire to find who she is but also a little bit of fear in finding out what the truth is as well.
I thought that that was something interesting to get to play, especially with Christmas as our backdrop. There are multiple storylines that are going on this one and I thought that this was really special.
M&C: There were several acts of kindness that really touched me.
Jessy Schram: There’s so much kindness in this story. Especially, hearing someone say how it gave them a little bit more faith in humanity. While I was reading the script, I would be questioning certain motives or what was happening. And then when we got on set and our wonderful cast was acting out these different scenes, it felt so genuine, and truthful, and something that I feel like I would try and do for somebody. It felt really good.
M&C: Did you previously know Brendan Penny, your leading man, who everyone adores in the Hallmark series Chesapeake Shores?
Jessy Schram: I did not know him beforehand. I’d heard lovely things about him. And then on our first day, they changed around some scenes and we were in the car all day together, and we became the best of friends. We started out the movie on the road trip, so it felt very serendipitous.
M&C: I’m a big holiday person and I just think that putting yourself in her shoes and thinking about being totally alone for the holidays because you don’t know who you are is a pretty scary thought.
Jessy Schram: Yes, I agree. Especially interesting that there were a lot of discussions about why she was drawn to Christmas? What were her feelings? Some of it would be the initial sadness, but I think because she doesn’t have memories she’s more looking around and understanding that this is a massive part of everybody’s life.
M&C: I think most of us are guilty of not stopping to enjoy the moment.
Jessy Schram: True. What’s interesting also is having that sped-up world and then slowing down, one of the things I found myself saying a lot on set when we would be talking about the scenes is both of these things can exist at one time. There can be that joy and there can be this feeling of loss. Both of these can exist at one time and how do we live in that moment?
And that’s what being present is, is all of these things can exist at one time. It doesn’t need to be one or the other, which made it extremely interesting for me to find my way as the actor through this character.
M&C: We have to talk about why you love Hallmark.
Jessy Schram: So, I love Hallmark because of the feeling that it brings for everyone. It’s a safe space while also keeping things entertaining. I’ve heard so many different stories about how these movies affect everybody, and why they watch them. That’s one of the reasons I love making them so much.
It’s also rare that you get to make movies where you know that the outcome is going to be good and still can play all of the in-between during them. So I love these because of the feelings, and the joy, and the safe space that it brings for people to watch.
M&C: How do watch these movies, slippers, robe, couch, snacks, and all that other stuff?
Jessy Schram: You have to be in your PJ’s, that’s like the number one rule. I’ll usually have a viewing party as well, so I have my friends over. During COVID -19 restrictions we would be either on Facetime or texting each other so we could react to the moments with each other. But I settle into bed and watch them. I’m not even on a couch, I need to be in my bed watching these movies.
M&C: The Hallmark fans are so loyal and excited about each new movie.
Jessy: Schram: Absolutely. The fan base of these movies and the dedication to watching them is at the heart of all of this. I went in for my regular yearly checkup the other day and my doctor was telling me when my movie was going to air next and telling me about her favorite ones that just aired. I know fans who literally make no plans for the weekend just so that they will be home to watch our Hallmark movies. Those special stories pull all of my heartstrings.
M&C: They have the right idea because we may need a little bit more Christmas these days.
Jessy Schram: Yes. Christmas makes me feel better, so yeah, why not have it all year-round?
M&C: I loved your singing, especially in the movie Country at Heart. Is there more singing in your future?
Jessy Schram: I am. Singing for me has always been more of my hobby and something that I find it so much fun when I get to make it part of a character. But that’s something where I’m always writing songs and I’ve been slowly making an album as time has gone on. Usually, acting will get in the way and take my attention and time for a while. Hopefully next year there should be an album. Some Christmas songs and some just regular folk-based songs.
M&C: I spoke to Lea Thompson a few weeks ago about her new Christmas movie, Next Stop, Christmas, and she mentioned you fondly from the Hallmark Jane Doe mysteries.
Jessy Schram: Lea is one of the most amazing women that I know, let alone to work with. She taught me so much. She had started directing Jane Doe while we were on that, so those were her first directing jobs. That was my first real gig ever, so I got to learn so much from her as an actress but also as a friend.
She just taught me so much about giving, and loving, and community, and just being a really cool human being. She’s definitely a featured person in my life. She made such an impact on me. I saw that she was doing that movie, so I’m so excited to watch it.
M&C: One major message in this movie is not to have regrets. When you’re in a role like this with somebody who has amnesia, and there’s nothing to remember but her leading guy certainly has a lot of regrets, what goes through your mind?
Jessy Schram: For me, at least a lot of the time when I do movies like this the storyline will always coexist with something in my life that I need to look at. I am someone who tries not to live with regrets but I’ve definitely let fear dictate a lot in my life. So this was an interesting one where Brendan Penny’s character is carrying his baggage and my character is not. And being in the present is a lesson that I need to practice daily for my own anxieties or for my own regrets or different things.
I think that that was really fun for me to get to do because a lot of time even on set with the back story that the script or I get to create, I’m carrying so much and trying to be this person. And in this, I got to create the character and then throw that away and just be here in the scenes as opposed to carrying so much baggage.
And so in real life, I feel like I definitely came away from this set going, wow, what a great lesson to get to be more in the present and to let all things exist at once as opposed to being focused only on one or letting something dictate another something and having regrets about that.
M&C: What are the charity projects that are near and dear to your heart?
Jessy Schram: There are a few that I work with regularly and one that I’m actually doing a Christmas giveaway for right after the premiere of this movie. But the main ones that I work with on a regular basis are called Red Eye, and that’s a mentor program in Watts, California. And there’s Liberia Chimp, which is a rescue for chimpanzees in Liberia.
And there’s Corazon de Vida, which supports orphanages in Mexico because the government doesn’t help with funding for orphanages or recognize homes with children in them as orphanages.
So I work with those three on a regular basis. And recently teamed up with My Friend’s Place, which is a resource center here in Hollywood for the youth, so maybe ages 14 through 24. Being a resource for them of safe places, basic necessities like hygienic products as well as different schooling tools; basically being a resource center. And right after this movie airs, I’ll be teaming up with a company called Life Therapy, and 30 percent of the proceeds from the bracelets and candles that they buy will all be going to My Friend’s Place. So that’s a new development that will be happening and I’ll be promoting soon.
There’s Corazon de Vida and that’s in Baja, Mexico. But this new one, the resource center for homeless youth is called My Friend’s Place.
M&C: What else have you been working on?
Jessy Schram: I was just filming a project down in Jefferson, Texas. I haven’t been to Texas much but I walked into this very small town, and it’s kind of like New Orleans where it has the balconies on these buildings. And it’s only about maybe 10 blocks long, but there’s a gazebo in the center of it and everybody was coming out, walking to the restaurants and doing different things. And I looked at my friend and just went, “This is a Hallmark movie.” And the people that lived there said, “Yep, just wait for Christmas, this whole place feels like a Hallmark movie.”
M&C: So, why should everybody watch this holiday movie?
Jessy Schram: If you want to go on a road trip and you want your heart to go on a ride that’s happy and that’s safe, this is the movie to watch. I think that being in the present moment is something that you get to do while watching this movie and too often we don’t always take time to do that.
Time for Them to Come Home for Christmas airs on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries on Saturday, November 27, at 10 p.m. ET.
For more Hallmark check out Exclusive: Hallmark’s Erin Cahill offers a holiday love story to help us ‘ignite something real’