The More Love Grows, starring Rachel Boston & Warren Christie, premieres Aug 18 on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries! – WATCH

Rachel Boston and Warren Christie star in “The More Love Grows,” premiering August 18 on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Let's take a first look!

A woman experiencing a setback in life learns that it may just be what she needs to propel her forward. Rachel Boston (“A Christmas Cookie Catastrophe,” “SEAL Team”) and Warren Christie (“The Watchful Eye,” “Crashing Through the Snow”) star in “The More Love Grows,” a new original premiering Friday, August 18 (9 p.m. ET/PT), on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Let’s take a first look!


Just after Helen (Boston) and her husband Paul (Patrick Gilmore, “Family Law”) return home from moving their daughter Aly (Roan Curtis, “Firefly Lane”) into her college dorm, he breaks the unexpected news that he wants a separation. Not sure where to go from here, Helen struggles with her new-found single status. When an adorable, stray dog turns up on her doorstep, Helen reluctantly takes him in and dubs him Elmer…because he sticks to her like glue. He provides welcome company and also leads her to Ben (Christie), a veterinarian who helps hernavigate first-time dog ownership. Slowly, Helen wiggles out of her comfort zone, rediscovers her inner strength and begins to rebuild her life as she starts down a new path full of promise and possibility.

“The More Love Grows” is from Grows Road Production Ltd. and Front Street Pictures Inc. John Cassini is executive producer. The movie was produced by Charles Cooper. Heather Hawthorn Doyle directed from a script by Anne Abramowitz Junget.

Why ‘The More Love Grows’ Is Different From Other Hallmark Movies

Heather Hawthorn Doyle, who directed the film (and many others for Hallmark), shares what makes The More Love Grows stand out in an interview for TV Insider.

What makes this movie stand out from others on Hallmark?

Heather Hawthorn Doyle: The More Love Grows to me is such a beautiful film because it’s a multi-generational story. It’s a woman who is finding a new strength in power, regardless of things that are happening to her. It’s a woman who ends up with a beautiful relationship with her mom and who understands that her mom has always done the best that she can, and it’s a woman who is seeing her daughter off to university and is being the role model that her daughter deserves. So multi-generational storytelling and warmth and true honest performances are what make me feel really great about this movie.

What was your approach when it came to directing it as a whole? Because it’s also covering a topic that most Hallmark movies don’t handle, especially in this way.

Yeah, [and] it helped that Rachel Boston is our lead actress. She is a woman who feels things deeply and who cares a lot and has had a life. In that, she was able to find things in the character that she could relate to. It’s a happily married story, at least you think. And then you find out that maybe things are going to take a very tough turn, but she doesn’t let it get her down. And what’s interesting is Warren Christie, who is, of course, wonderful, also went through a lot of things, also is on a growth and discovery. One of the things I love about it is seeing everybody kind of grow in their relationships.

Looking specifically at Helen and Ben’s meet-cute, talk about directing that and what you wanted to show, considering the circumstances and Paul’s surprise for Helen pretty soon after.

Yes. It’s a meet-cute between someone who’s available and someone who’s not available. You can see right from the beginning that he has that little extra hitch in his step at that point in time, and she’s like, “Sure, you’re cool, but you’re just my daughter’s friend’s dad.” But he’s at a different stage of his journey in discovery. So that was super interesting. It’s not a meet-cute that’s typical that it’s like, “Oh, I dropped my quarter.” It’s very kind of cool to see these two people meet, and it introduces dogs and not the hero dog, but these other two, Chip and Chunk, who are adorable dogs who are Ben’s dogs.

Yeah, in that scene, she’s just like, “Oh, I recognize you. I know where I know you from.”

Yes, exactly. She has no idea how important he’s going to end up being in her life.

This isn’t just a straightforward love story because yes, you’re building Helen and Ben’s relationship, but you’re also deconstructing Helen and Paul’s, right? And more importantly you’re showing her acceptance of that and that it actually is something that was coming. What was key to show there?

What’s really interesting when you’re doing emotional and grounded storytelling is finding the things in your own life and in the performers’ lives that they can resonate with. The script was really lovingly crafted and was developed well by Hallmark and by our production company Front Street, and it was developed with Rachel in mind.

Right from the beginning, they wanted Rachel to play this part, and they were so right, because Paul, the husband we’ll say, perhaps at the beginning, goes through a journey himself. That’s one of the things I love about this kind of storytelling is, yes, it’s a story of a woman finding her strength, but it’s not a story of men also not finding their way. It also gives the men in the movie a chance to go, “Oh, I perhaps need to learn and grow, too,” while celebrating the women. I love that about it right from the beginning.

What did you want to do when it came to showing the buildup of Helen and Ben’s relationship? Because you’re doing that at the same time that you’re taking apart something was a major part of her life for many years.

Yeah. You fall in love, you get married, you have a baby, and maybe it’s not exactly Mr. Right — it was Mr. Right Now. Maybe it was the circumstances. And when you fall in love early, you change. You change so much, as you know, between your 20s and 30s, between your 30s and 40s. Sometimes couples don’t change together, and you have to kind of look at that.

What was interesting is Paul realized it first. Paul was like, “We’re not on the same page.” And she was like, “But I haven’t even looked up from my book in so long because I’ve been raising my daughter. I’ve been raising our family. That’s been my priority.” He’s like, “Oh, we’re not on the same page.” And literally, she hasn’t even had a chance to think about it until the day they drop the daughter off at school, which made all of it even more blindsiding.

Ben helps to also open up to that, but I like that she’s very wary about taking that step.

Yeah, he opened up first and she was like, “Yeah, let’s be pals.” And he’s like, “Oh, what have I done to get on the friend train?” And I know that feeling. It’s so adorable to see that. He played it so well, because, again, I think he’s pulling on experience and where you play that and you’re like, “Oh, oh, right. Yes, friends. Friends will be fun.” I think The More Love Grows has so many places where viewers watching it can see something in their own life.

The dogs are adorable, but obviously you can’t direct dogs like you direct humans, so talk about handling that.

Oh, let’s talk about directing dogs, shall we? I have had incredible experiences and I have had experiences that are like, “Nope, never.” So I did an earlier dog movie [Romance to the Rescue], and it went fantastically well. Andrea Brooks and Marcus Rosner starred in it, and we loved that movie. The dog was the co-star of the movie.

Literally the third most important person in that movie was a dog.

So when I read this script and saw how much the dog plays in this script, my literal first phone call was to Stephanie [Stanton-Linder] from Allstars K9 Training who was the dog trainer on that movie. And I was like, “I have another movie for you, and I’m working with you.” It was funny because people were like, “Oh, we’ve set this up.” And I was like, “That’s so great. Thank you very much. No, I’m only working with her,” because, like you say, it’s hard.

So what you do — because you cannot direct a dog — is you work collaboratively with a trainer, and you say to the trainer, “These are the things that are in the script. Let’s walk through them one by one.” And then the trainer says, “Oh, they can’t do this.” And I’m like, “OK, well, something else might be similar. Can they do that?”

And she’s like, “Let me take them away and train them and see.” We’re doing that all in the preparation to the movie, so we know in advance what happens. And then — this is kind of inside television — we have everybody ready, we start the cameras, and then we bring the dog in, because a dog is dog. And so I’ve already talked to the actors and have said, “You know your lines, your intention. It’s not about saying these exact words, it’s about the intention of what you’re trying to get out of the scene. Now act and react to what the actual dog gives you.” That’s what they did so beautifully.

What was the most challenging scene to direct?

There were a couple. The scene of her mom chasing her through the house is literally one of my favorite scenes for sure, but not an easy scene to choreograph, but I think that’s part of the reasons that made it so great. And Gabrielle Rose, who plays her mother, come on, how great was that? [Also], we were at the dog park, and we did one full day of shooting [there]. I would say by the end of that, I needed a nap. It was a lot of dogs at the dog park and a lot of things that they had to do. It was the first time that Rachel had a chance to even be with the dog, because that was our first set of scenes with the dog. That was easily the most challenging scene in the movie to direct, because there are dogs.

And multiple dogs! That’s the thing. You could get something from one of them but then the others…

Yes! I did a show once in my factual life called Surprise! It’s a Puppy — adorable show — and we had bunches of puppies, and I would want to get them to run to the camera, so I would get them to chase me, and I’d be going, “Puppy, puppy, puppy, puppy!” And they would chase me by the camera, and so it would look like they’re running right into the camera. So every time now I direct dogs, that’s all I can think of — “Puppy, puppy, puppy!”

We’re very careful about the dogs. They’re working dogs, so you can’t pet them or give them love or give them food until the end of the day. And then it’s like, go crazy. But during it, you have to be very wary. But every so often, I’ll call out to the dog because then the dog will go [tilts head], “What?” You’re sometimes able to get a good response from the dog just by being the unexpected person.


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