Sarah Drew knows when to tread lightly and this is the exact touch that she needed for her character, Jenna, in One Summer, her latest movie on Hallmark’s Movies and Mysteries.
The movie is about Jack, (Sam Page), a widower with a teenage daughter and young son, who comes to his late wife’s beach house in an effort to heal after their tremendous loss.
Along the way, he and his family meet a kind-hearted restaurant owner and single mom of a teenage son, who reaches out to Jack, and his children to help ease their difficult journey. The movie is about love, loss, grief, and finding out that second chances are possible when you are willing to open your heart… again.
Drew is best known for her role of Hannah Rogers in the family drama series Everwood, and Dr. April Kepner in the long-running ABC Medical Drama Grey’s Anatomy. She also guest-starred on television’s Cold Case, Law & Order, Supernatural and Private Practice. She had a recurring role on AMC’s Mad Men and starred in the movie Mom’s Night Out.
“We’ve all had grief, we’ve all had loss, and we’ve all learned that we can’t figure it out or fix it on our own,” Drew exclusively told Monsters & Critics. “But it’s important to understand that we need to reach out, we need to have people help us on that journey toward fullness and healing, and this is a beautiful story of hope.”
She said her attraction to One Summer was the powerful messages it shares with its audience. “What I also appreciated is that there is just so much love on every page of the script,” she added “This movie illuminates the healing power of love, and that I think we could all use a little bit more of this right now.”
Monsters and Critics: I have to know if you cried a lot while reading the script and making this movie?
Sarah Drew: Oh, it’s a tearjerker, right? It’s an extremely moving story, and I think it’s more of a tearjerker than most Hallmark movies. I feel like this one goes the extra mile. A little extra deep, a little extra tragic; but with so much beautiful hope.
M&C: How did you see your character, Jenna? I really liked that she was very respectful of Jack’s grief and did not push him into a new life.,
Sarah Drew: Yes, the way that I approached Jenna is that she wasn’t out to find romance in any way. I think she’s someone who’s been through pain herself and carried it and bore it with her son, and just has a loving and light-filled spirit about her.
She saw this family that was hurting and kind of just wanted to show up for them and bring some light into the places that felt dark. And it was more about the family as a whole, she wasn’t on a mission to woo Jack or anything like that, she just really wanted to care for them, which I love. And I love that things were hopeful at the end but nothing tied up with a bow.
M&C: So, why did you pick this movie?
Sarah Drew: I found it to be a really relatable story in that I think everybody deals with suffering in some way, deals with loss in some way in their lives. And this story is about moving through the loss, not ignoring it, not trying to distract yourself with other things so you don’t have to feel it or think about it but to really move through it and ask for help along the way.
I think stories like that really resonate with people on a very human level. The love between the father and a daughter, the father and a son, the mother and the son, the love between the grandparents and the kids, and the love between friends.
M&C: What was your experience of working with the three younger actors in this movie?
Sarah Drew: Oh, they were phenomenal. We had such a blast. I had so much fun with them. They’re just all three of them so talented, and so enthusiastic and positive about every aspect of the experience. And that kind of energy and positivity is just totally contagious, so it was one of the most fun sets I’ve ever been on. We all had such a blast working together. It was a really sweet little community that we built.
M&C: Where did you make the film?
Sarah Drew: Wilmington, North Carolina.
M&C: One of the lines in the movie that struck me is, “You can get through almost anything.”
Sarah Drew: Do I believe that? Well, that’s a tough question because I can’t possibly know — the agony of losing a spouse is not a thing I’m familiar with and I hope I never have to experience it. At least for a very, very long time. So, I do think that we have a tremendous capacity for healing and for resilience, as long as we ask for help.
At least that’s what I’ve experienced in my life. But I have not experienced the kind of loss that Jack has experienced in this film. But yeah, I would like to believe that you could get through just about anything if you share your burden with others. I think when people get stuck is when they don’t let anyone in to share the burden.
M&C: Do you ever watch Grey’s Anatomy and any of your other shows and share them with your children or friends or family? What are they like in your life?
Sarah Drew: My kids are too young to watch Grey’s Anatomy, that’s for sure. But the first thing I shared with them was my movie Mom’s Night Out, which was a very fun family comedy. And with that one, my kids were little when I showed it to them.
And at the end of it my son goes, “So wait, was that your family before us?” I said, “No, no, no, that’s my pretend family. I was never married to that man for real and those were never my children.” But it was a little bit confusing for them.
M&C: Have you exposed them to Hallmark movies?
Sarah Drew: My daughter loves the Christmas movies that I’ve done. My son does not like romance, it makes him uncomfortable. So he’s like, “Ugh, I don’t want to watch. I don’t want to watch romance. You’re kissing and I don’t want to see it.” But I love to share the work that I do.
I always have a Christmas viewing party whenever my Christmas movies come out. Where I have my girlfriends come over in Christmas jammies and we eat breakfast for dinner, and I make a special Christmas cocktail and we all watch the movie. It’s one of my most favorite traditions.
M&C: What life lessons do you think you got from COVID? And what things kept you sane during some of the restrictions?
Sarah Drew: Well, we really bonded with our neighborhood. We live on a little cul-de-sac, and the kids would play together outside. And we got really close to our neighbors and we started doing movie nights out in our backyard so that we were socially distanced and outside. The thing that I will always remember from 2020 is we did a production, an abridged production of The Greatest Showman with the neighborhood kids. And it was all instigated by them.
We did a movie night and then they started rehearsing the musical numbers. After weeks of rehearsing the musical numbers, my son came to me and said, “We’re doing a show on Halloween. We’re doing The Greatest Showman and I need a script.”
And I was like, “Uh, okay.” They had already cast all the roles. And so I put the script together and I decided I’d shoot 12 scenes from the show in front of a green screen, and then they would perform the musical numbers live. It was all outside, and everyone had an amazing time!
M&C: Why do you urge my readers to watch this movie?
Sarah Drew: I think that right now we could all use a little bit of hope. There’s a lot that feels bleak in the news. There’s a lot of loss. We’ve all been dealing with a tremendous amount of loss globally with COVID, and this is really a story about loss. And I think the loss that has come and the suffering, and depth of grief that’s come through COVID has affected and touched every single one of us. Kids and adults alike, whether you lost a family member or not, we’ve all been touched by this great loss.
So, this movie doesn’t hold back, doesn’t pull punches about how intense the grief is and how intense the loss is. But it offers a really beautiful sense of hope and light at the end of the tunnel without tying everything up and making everything completely make sense. And I think that feels very real, and I think people will find themselves in this story and have a really cathartic moment watching it.
M&C: Well, I used a lot of Kleenex. For me, Hallmark is like a warm TV hug.
Sarah Drew: I am glad it moved you. I love that you just described the Hallmark movies as a hug, because — Oh, my gosh, don’t we all just need a hug? We just need more hugs in our lives. And if entertainment can provide that for people and make them feel warm, and keep them smiling, or allow them to have a cathartic experience where they’re crying and feeling seen in their own grief, then we have done our job. That’s what we’re here for. That’s what I’m saying anyway.
M&C: What does that fierce fandom for your Hallmark movies mean to you?
Sarah Drew: It’s a privilege. It can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, that’s for sure. I’ve been on the Cameo app since the pandemic started, and getting to do that has been a really sweet opportunity to connect with the fans face-to-face, and hear their stories, and hear about what my work means to them and how they’ve found community just by being fans of the same actors, and have found their best friends online and then have met in person. Their passion is incredible!
One Summer will premiere on Hallmark’s Movies & Mysteries on Sunday, Oct. 3, at 9 p.m. ET.
For more Hallmark check out: Exclusive: Hallmark star Corbin Bleu says we all need nostalgia and ‘perfect dates’ right now