Someone who looks like Jessica Lowndes can be underestimated in Hollywood. She is gorgeous, a big strike against an actor as producers will take them at face value.
But this beauty from Vancouver is multitalented, and this weekend, GAC Family will show you how much Lowndes can do as they air the first film she ever wrote, Harmony From The Heart.
Technically speaking, the second film she wrote—Over the Moon in Love—was picked up by Hallmark before this one. For Harmony, Lowndes is the star and Executive Producer, writer and performs several of the film’s original songs, which she also wrote and produced.
Her film is a Trojan Horse for her passions and talent, music as a healing tool, and a conduit for true love. Jesse Metcalfe is her romantic foil as Violet (Lowndes) and Blake (Metcalfe).
He’s a hotshot heart doctor who is slightly dubious of her character Violet’s music therapy given to his grandfather Charles, who cannot speak.
No spoilers, but the dialogue, the events, and the structure is more adult and sophisticated than a typical Hallmark film, something she told Monsters & Critics in our exclusive interview that was her end goal.
There is also an undercurrent of solid intergenerational homage as Violet is fond of her grandmother, and Dr. Blake’s grandparents are also held in high esteem. It’s a pleasure to see the talented older cast in this film deliver excellent scenes.
Lowndes first appeared on the Masters of Horror series by Mick Garris and went on to play Adrianna Tate-Duncan on the T.V. series 90210 (2008). She has appeared in numerous films and T.V. series and penned many songs, used in the CBS series Moonlight.
Her collaborative musical efforts have included a duet with British hip-hop artist D.J. Ironik in Falling in Love, which topped the U.K. charts. Lowndes made her theatrical film debut in the 2008 horror film, The Haunting of Molly Hartley (2008) and most recently starred in the 2010 thriller, Altitude.
In her film Harmony From The Heart, Violet’s (Lowndes) dream job as a music therapist at a local hospital has some obstacles, mainly her department chair, Professor Carver, threatens to prevent her from graduating unless she successfully rehabilitates a patient to speak again by Valentine’s Day – just two weeks away.
The patient is the professor’s beloved brother, Charles. But, as we mentioned, music therapy is not something Charles’ grandson Dr. Blake Williams (Metcalfe), a local heart surgeon, totally buys into.
Still, Violet is more determined than ever to show how music can traverse the mile markers of Charles’ life, and he begins to show some signs of progress. It’s a slow boil and a heart-tugger where hard work pays off and the right people fall for each other.
Exclusive interview with Jessica Lowndes
Monsters & Critics: I first saw you on Masters of Horror, Mick Garris’ series!
Jessica Lowndes: That was the very beginning. That’s where it all started, my first role. I met my manager on that project, who was also one of the producers. So yes, that was such a life-changing job for me in so many ways. It’s what brought me to Los Angeles.
M&C: Is there a part of you that would ever revisit doing horror again if it was on your creative terms?
Jessica Lowndes: I already have one in the works. I write all the different genres. That’s what’s so funny. I can write a rom-com and go from decorating Christmas cookies to [thinking up] the most horrific thing ever.
I write all over the board. Currently, I am in Costa Rica, and I’m working from here, and I’m finishing a horror movie and a couple of other projects that I have going. So yes, I can’t wait for that chapter as well.
M&C: Just curious, when you conceptualize a story art for a horror film, please tell me that the female characters don’t scream and meltdown from fear?
Jessica Lowndes: I’m all about female empowerment. I’m all about powerful badass women, and I definitely write my stories with that in mind. I like writing strong characters, which I can relate to, and I love portraying myself.
So I got into writing because I had this one pilot season where I was testing for different projects and getting close and getting down to the final two and then not booking [the role].
And the only thing that kept me sane was going home and writing every night for an hour. I didn’t do it for anybody other than me.
The intention wasn’t to sell the script. I just needed to remind myself why I got into this business in the first place. And I absolutely fell in love with it.
What’s so wild is Harmony From The Heart was the very first script I ever wrote. And it was the first time I wrote “The End” on a document.
And I remember when I started, it started as this blank page, and [the story] could go in so many different directions. I knew that I wanted to write about music therapy because I find it fascinating.
I believe that music has an extraordinary capacity to heal, and it’s powerful, and it touches our soul. And at times, it’s a way for us to express what we can’t verbally tell ourselves.
This [film] is my very first script and is very special to me, and I have written quite a few scripts since then, and I had one get made beforehand, but this is my baby. I was just so blown away by this the more research I did. I had never seen a film about this. So I needed to do it.
And to know that it’s going out into the world is just such an incredible feeling. Everyone involved was just amazing. So I’m really excited about this one.
M&C: You can sing, write, act, you can do everything, plus you look like a model. Is it more challenging to approach big producers like Brad Krevoy with a script as an actor and have no track record as a writer?
Jessica Lowndes: So I had sold my first script to Hallmark a few years back called Over The Moon In Love, which I got to shoot in Vancouver, in my hometown, and that was awesome.
I had the credibility of that one under my belt, which was crucial to get that first one made, but it was very hard.
There were many moving pieces and parts, where there were some days where I didn’t think the film was going to get made.
And like you said, when you send someone a script, you don’t know half the time if they’re even going to read it. So you pour your heart and soul into it. And to get that first one made, I incorporated a lot of my original music into that one. So that was a great thing to have under my belt.
So when I did send a script to Brad [Krevoy], I don’t think he was expecting it or that he even knew I was a writer. But his response was incredible.
He called me, the same with [GAC President] Bill Abbott. Bill’s always been a huge support, and when he switched over to GAC, I wanted to support him as well. And he’s given me so many opportunities, and there will be a lot of scripts in development with them.
They [GAC] also gave me a directing deal, a dream come true. So it’s going to be fun. I love doing anything creative, and this whole experience is just so incredible. It was challenging, but I was involved with location scouting, the casting, the wardrobe, and everything. So to see the whole vision come together is the coolest thing ever.
M&C: How fun was it to you that you got to film in your hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia after you had made a move from Canada down to Los Angeles and then established a career?
Jessica Lowndes: I know. That’s been a trend. So I moved down to L.A. when I got my driver’s license. My parents were incredibly supportive.
I drove down with my dad. Since I was a teenager, I went back and forth and filmed in Vancouver a lot. I moved back to Vancouver during the pandemic and bought a place there.
I still go down to L.A., but now my home is Vancouver. So that was cool for me because usually every time I go back to Vancouver and film, I stay at a hotel or with friends, but now I got to sleep in my bed, which is fantastic.
And that’s the best part too, like getting to shoot where I’m from, I got to throw the people I love in as extras on the film.
That’s the best part. The first movie I made—Over The Moon In Love—I threw my dad in, and my uncle was the drummer and bassist, and my best girlfriend was in it.
And for Harmony, I put my boyfriend in as the barista. He is not an actor, but I just wanted to have these little Easter eggs. And then he did such a great job as the barista! So the same day they were filming, and the producers said, ‘let’s bring him back as a bartender.’
I thought this was perfect, just great. Yes, it was fun. And, to work on all the music on this one was fantastic. I wrote the original song called 11:11.
What I love about that is that I do a play on 11:11 to make a wish. And so in the chorus, I wrote everything you would wish you could say to someone, but you’re too scared to say it.
All of these wishes in the chorus and that song play throughout the film, and it’s my character’s connection to her grandmother.
I wrote that from experience because I’m very close with my grandmother, a singer. I also have more little Easter eggs. For example, I named Desiree’s apartment building the Hardy—my grandma’s last name was Hardy—and my great-grandma’s name is Violet. I have so many touching things, but yes, I dedicated this entire movie to my real grandmother.
M&C: Let’s talk about your hunky doctor skeptic. How did you and Jesse Metcalfe connect, and how did you know he was right for the role of Blake?
Jessica Lowndes: My local heart surgeon. [laughs] Yes. I have always been such a massive fan of his work, and I also was a huge fan of his music. So that was the draw for me.
When they mentioned his name, [I knew] he had an incredible voice and is great at guitar.
I wanted to incorporate music even with his character because I thought that was a nice arc for him. After all, at first, he doubted my ability.
And by the end, you see how he’s opened up his heart, and we’ve opened up our hearts to each other. So I think incorporating the music and singing the duet at the end was just incredible. So there was no one else better for the role. I was just so happy that he said yes.
M&C: One of the things that I enjoyed about Harmony From The Heart was it didn’t feel like a Hallmark movie. It felt more grown-up. Does that make any sense to you?
Jessica Lowndes: Yes, that was my number one goal. I wanted to create a musically driven romance, but I wanted it to feel grown-up and sexy.
I wanted all of the shots to look beautiful in the locations. I didn’t want it to be cheesy. And the story is just so poignant that I had a distinct vision of the look of it, and the art director had an idea, and then I’d show up. And it became the next level. It was like my [mind’s eye’s] Pinterest page was times a million.
I wanted it to feel like a real feature. So it’s [tonally] light, and there is something that everyone can enjoy. But I think that music therapy introduced in this movie can inspire people and provide them with hope, and it is a story about resilience.
I also hope it changes people with the music, and they respond to [the characters] Violet and Blake. And the song 11:11. I hope that people enjoy that song as much as I loved writing it.
M&C: Who was the actor to play Blake’s grandpa Charles?
Jessica Lowndes: He’s wonderful. His name is Michael St. John, he plays Charles, and Susan Hogan plays his wife, MaryAnne. They’re incredible. And honestly, there was no one else better for the role.
It was hard because he didn’t have any dialogue. Right? And it’s a lot of facial expressions, and he had to emote, he had to show everything on his face. He was so good.
M&C: On your website, I noticed one of the charities you had a whole page devoted to was Multiple Sclerosis. Why is that?
Jessica Lowndes: I do, yes. My mom has M.S., so she’s had it my entire life, and it’s a cause that’s close to me.
And I’ve always done things for them, but I’ve done it more quietly where I’ll release Christmas carols at Christmas time, and then I’ll donate a hundred percent of the proceeds to the M.S. Foundation.
It’s always just been in something close to me. But a couple of years ago, I started a line called Love Fights. And initially, I also had created many different designs for different causes.
I wanted to be about everyone else’s fight and who they were fighting for, so we’d take someone’s story and what they were going through each month and then donate to that cause.
We’ve recently just relaunched our store, and now all the proceeds go to M.S. for the time being, but it will move to different causes down the line.
M&C: What’s next for you?
Jessica Lowndes: More of the same. I can’t stop writing. There is no better feeling than seeing it all come together. And especially after this one, I’m just even more motivated.
I have a full-length album coming out, which I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve done singles here and there, and I will make music for movies that I’m in, and I’ll do one-off again, like when I was on [the series] 90210, I’d release my character’s song when she performed, but I’ve never actually released an album.
And during the pandemic, I teamed up with producers out of L.A. So that’s who I did the music for Harmony From The Heart, with Aaron Edwards and Corey Wallace.
My album is called Elemental. And in my first directorial debut, I directed a visual album. So I wanted to create an art film where each video had a different element.
The whole point of it was to set out to showcase the journey we all go on, from being in love to having your heart broken, defining new love again, and all the ups and downs that we experience along the way.
I wanted to convey that was how we experienced inner joy that comes from heartache and also finding new love.
So each music video focuses on a different element, which serves as both a metaphor and a device where the ideas expressed as so can have a light and dark side to it. An example is how the ocean can be turbulent and violent while also being a source of calm and comfort.
It’s just reflective of a complex cocktail of emotions that we all feel when dealing with complicated matters with the heart in one long story.
I will be releasing a couple of videos at a time, and then the entire video will drop online, and then the album will be available on iTunes and Spotify.
It’s a journey and something I’m very proud of, and people haven’t heard it yet. And they don’t know that I’ve been working on it. So I’m beyond excited just to put it out there.
And I also directed a concert version of it where I performed in a live stream concert that’s coming out as well. So it’s all very exciting, and this is another baby, another passion project for me.
Harmony From the Heart will premiere on GAC Family on Saturday, February 12 at 8/7c.