EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Kathryn Davis Previews Lifetime’s Planes, Trains and Christmas Trees!

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Lifetime Movie Network ‘s Christmas movie “Planes, Trains and Christmas Trees”, is all set to premiere on the channel on Sunday, November 19, 2023 at 8/7c. We at Survived the Shows had the incredible chance to chat via email with star Kathryn Davis about her experience in the movie. Check out the full interview below!

Can you share your initial impressions when you first read the script for “Planes, Trains, and Christmas Tree”? What drew you to the role of Kayley, and what did you find most appealing about the character?

KATHRYN DAVIS: Firstly, I was so honoured to have been asked to be a part of the production. I got the offer on my birthday which was also an amazing bonus. I was a few pages into reading the script when I got a message from Olivier Renaud – asking whether I was working on the movie. So it was fantastic to have the opportunity to reunite with him. So I was able to read the script with us already in mind.

What drew me to Kayley is her determination – I have an admiration for women that are focussed on what they want in aspects of their life. Perhaps I see myself in them a little bit. Kayley is inventive, a problem-solver and determined despite the challenges that continue to cross her path throughout the film. She remains as optimistic as she can.

The movie revolves around the challenges Kayley faces during a business trip and her determination to make it home for Christmas. How did you approach portraying the resilience and determination of your character in the face of unexpected obstacles?

KATHRYN DAVIS: I really wanted to portray the different energies which Kayley experiences in different parts of the movie. She bounces between two different worlds – the present world that she finds herself in – enjoying the calmer moments of being with new friends and genuinely having fun. And the future world – where she is reminded of the pressures of her life and success back in NYC. Kayley goes through periods when she is driven to find a way to return by her life back home. The New York City hustle. 

For me the character’s motor engine is constantly fluctuating as she navigates what is important to her in life.

In “Planes, Trains, and Christmas Tree,” your character, Kayley, teams up with Brett, played by Olivier Renaud, to navigate their way home. Can you discuss the dynamic between your character and Olivier’s and how you worked together to bring authenticity to your on-screen partnership?

KATHRYN DAVIS: So Olivier and I have worked with one another before. So this was a fantastic reunion. We have a strong trust with one another as actors and as friends. That trust allows for more fun on camera, more nuances and more exploration. We would rehearse lines whenever we had moments to on set, at night when we wrap for the day, during our lunch breaks and also we spoke in the weeks leading up to production starting. 

Brett and Kayley both have commitments to get home to throughout the movie – but different levels of priority. Brett wants to be reunited with his family. And Kayley wants to get home for her career. I think Brett’s determination to see his family makes Kayley slow down and reflect. And Ultimately chose to re-prioritise by the end of the movie. 

The film combines elements of both comedy and drama. How did you balance these two aspects in your performance, especially in scenes where there’s a mix of humor and more emotionally charged moments?

KATHRYN DAVIS: For me – being physically and emotionally present with the actor is paramount. It is so vital to actually listen, connect and effect the human being in front of you – if you do that the work comes more easily. It is humanity. We are portraying relationships and interactions with the most truth possible. 

An actor has to invest into the language, really analyse where and when changes in emotion and drive happen. Also having trust in myself that I am making strong choices – that powers me through emotional moments. I just tell myself “Go for it!” and that often leads to wonderful surprises in the work.

The story unfolds against the backdrop of a snowstorm, creating a unique setting for the characters. How did the challenging weather conditions influence your performance, and what kind of preparation did you undertake to immerse yourself in that environment?

KATHRYN DAVIS: There was certainly no preparation required to immerse ourselves in that snowy world. We filmed in late January with extreme temperatures. But no matter how challenging the working conditions can be – the job of an actor is to overcome them and do the work. Plus we had a great crew that worked their hardest to keep you warm – at the end of the day we are all in it together and so blessed to be making movie magic.

As an event planner in the film, your character likely encounters numerous challenges in her professional life. Did you draw inspiration from any real-life experiences or individuals to bring authenticity to Kayley’s career and the challenges she faces?

KATHRYN DAVIS: I tend to put my entire heart and soul into everything that I do. And at times that has caused personal challenges when it has come to balancing my acting world and other aspects. 

I have done event planning in the past during my years in the hospitality industry. So I know how many moving parts there are and the organisation skills that an event planner needs to possess. I don’t know how I did it, but each event that I planned was successful – but it is just not a career choice for me.

“Planes, Trains, and Christmas Tree” is a holiday-themed movie. How do you think the film captures the spirit of the season, and what do you hope audiences take away from the movie, especially during the holiday season?

KATHRYN DAVIS: The crew did a wonderful job of bringing the Christmas world to life on the set – especially in the scene with the tree decorating competition. They managed to dress the sets in Christmas magic – it was such a transformation. Their hard work makes it so easy for an actor to walk on to a set and feel immersed. I think the audiences will really love the production values. The locations, set design and costumes all coming together to make such a cozy, Christmasy environment.

I hope that the movie reminds audiences to slow down and to not overlook the special moments and people right in front of you. 

Working on a film with a travel-centric plot can be demanding. Were there any memorable or challenging moments during the shooting, and how did you navigate those experiences?

KATHRYN DAVIS: The weather can present a challenge – on one of the days on set – we were hit by a snowstorm and the producers wrapped us early for the day in order for everyone to get home. That presented a scheduling challenge later in the shoot when we had to make up the extra shots on another day. 

And if you are filming in the depths of winter – sunlight does not last for long – so it is a challenge to capture day exterior scenes. To navigate those issues I just ensure that I show up to set prepared with acting choices, knowing my script and receptive to directorial feedback. 

The movie explores themes of teamwork and resilience. Can you share any personal insights or lessons you took away from your character’s journey in the film, and how do you think these themes resonate with the audience?

KATHRYN DAVIS: Throughout the movie, Kayley experiences what it is like to LET GO. She is a bit of a perfectionist and she wants everything to go according to plan. However, throughout the movie she is forced to let go of complete control and learn to rely and trust in others. 

On a film set – the crew and cast become a family that thrives and prospers when teamwork is present. At the end of the day we are all in it together, and we will overcome any challenges.  But for me, it is important to note that I could not do my job without hard work and incredible commitment of the crew. Actors may experience challenging, long shoot days – but the crew members are there before the actors arrive and still on set long after you leave. 

Lastly, what was your favorite scene to shoot in “Planes, Trains, and Christmas Tree,” and why? Were there any particular challenges or joys you experienced during the production that stand out in your memory?

KATHRYN DAVIS: There are many scenes that I enjoyed filming. I really enjoy longer dialogue scenes – it allows for truthful connections and exploring nuances. One of the really fun scenes was the walk n’ talk with Olivier when we go out Christmas decoration hunting. There were a lot of nerves beforehand because of time restraints and having to work with a splinter crew spread between two locations. But it was a chance for Ollie and I to have fun.

The common challenge for the main cast – was controlling our laughter. We got the giggles on set many times. The elf scene in particular, we just kept improvising. However, Olivier and I had to be reminded by the director that our characters had only just met. Therefore we couldn’t be too familiar with each other.

Overall, I made some wonderful new friendships on this set. Ric Waugh (Eli) and Ewa Wolniczek (Jenna), Olivier and I still continue to meet up for dinners. We are planning a watching party of the movie in December when I am back from location.

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Chiara

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