The winter holidays are fast approaching, and ’tis the season for an onslaught of Christmas movies. While most of these movies are usually found on cable or on subscribed streaming services, this will be the second year that Vortex Media screens a seasonal flick in select theatres before it heads to Super Channel.
While I wasn’t a huge fan of last year’s selection It Takes a Christmas Village, I had a good time with Vortex’s pick this year, Baking All the Way. Don’t get me wrong: Baking All the Way is still very schmaltzy. But with a cast that includes Murdoch Mysteries’ Yannick Bisson (who also directs this movie), Jayne Eastwood, Debra McGrath and Colin Mochrie, Baking All the Way is also charming and funny.
Musician and former Degrassi teacher Cory Lee headlines the movie. As renowned chef and author Julia Wilson, Lee brings a special aura of infectious excitement with her performance. Wilson is searching for the perfect gingerbread recipe, which she believes she finds with humble, Wisconsin baker Kris (Bisson).
Lee’s energy was so natural, I started wondering if Christmas movies were in her wheelhouse. After discovering how familiar she was with the sub-genre, I wanted to talk more about Christmas vehicles with Lee as well as her new movie.
Addison Wylie: As pastry chef/food enthusiast Julia Wilson, did you find that you were pulling from personal experiences to develop that character’s passion for the emotional science behind the perfect treat?
Cory Lee: I love food! It’s part of who I am. I also love cooking, so it was a very easy character motivation for me.
AW: What was your favourite gingerbread treat in Baking All the Way that screenwriter Courtney McAllister cooked up?
CL: I did get to eat a lot of amazing baked goods in the movie. I think my favourite treat I got to eat on camera were the cake pops. They were yummy!
AW: How important is character development to Yannick Bisson, the director of Baking All the Way? As someone who is primarily an actor (and plays co-lead, Kris, in the movie), did he place his cast’s needs before the filmmaking, vice versa, or was there an even balance throughout the production?
CL: I loved working with Yannick. He’s a pro! He would come to set every day with his iPad full of directorial notes. He was very prepared and I appreciate that. I could see him wearing two hats, for sure, but he balanced them well.
AW: Baking All the Way is so well cast, and everyone had terrific chemistry. What was one of your favourite moments working with this cast?
CL: I loved working with everyone. But, I was definitely intimidated when I saw the cast list. I really loved working with Bianca Sas (who plays Abi, Kris’ daughter). It was her first acting gig ever and her excitement was contagious. The snowball scene we shot together was so much fun.
AW: A trope that’s usually poked fun at in these movies is the overflowing high energy that sometimes borders on parody. The spirited attitudes in Baking All the Way were *just* right. But, as an actor, is it hard to maintain that degree of optimism without it potentially falling over into a cheesier element?
I love shooting and watching these kinds of movies. They are just a joy to be in! I think that helps me bring the right amount of cheese *laughs*.
AW: Baking All the Way isn’t your first holiday flick. Is there something specific that attracts you to these projects? What do you think makes Baking All the Way stand out from other seasonal movies?
I love working in this element, and I hope to be in many more holiday movies. As for Baking All The Way, I love the story. Courtney really knocked it out of the park. It’s a classic story with an unexpected twist at the end. The cast is so amazing, and I really poured my heart and soul into this film. Since it was my first lead in a movie-of-the-week, it was a dream come true.
Baking All the Way hits select theatres (for one night only) on Monday, December 5. The film receives its broadcast premiere on Super Channel on Saturday, December 10.