Mercedes de la Zerda (“Nancy Drew”, “Hemlock Grove”) and Franco Lo Presti (“Bad Blood”, “Snowbound for Christmas”) star in “Well Suited for Christmas,” premiering Sunday, November 6 on Lifetime.
We at Survived The Shows had the pleasure of chatting with Mercedes de la Zerda and Franco Lo Presti about their experience on Lifetime‘s Well Suited for Christmas and what fans can expect from the movie. Check out full interview in the video below!
What’s the main element in Rachel and Brett’s characters and the movie in general that fascinates you the most and drew you to join Well Suited for Christmas?
MERCEDES DE LA ZERDA: For me, the thing that drew me the most to Rachel was just the fact that she was so confident. You know, she’s a business owner, and she’s just has developed herself in a way that she really knows who she is and what her style is and that was probably the biggest thing that drew me to her. Even in her interactions with Brett, even though that could be a tense situation and it can be very intimidating person, she always shows up with a certain level of confidence and you know, she knows what she wants and she just goes for it.
FRANCO LO PRESTI: The script came to me at a perfect time in my life because I had just spent some time with my mentor in California. And I was like, you know, very contemplative.
I just hadn’t worked in a long time and I was like, you know, spending a lot of time with my mentor and and we were there in California, my girlfriend and I, and we were driving one day and then I get this offer for this film and I read the script and it was super drawn to, I mean, Brett’s story because he was placed in foster care and had dealt with a lot of grief in his life and overcome a lot to establish himself as a successful businessman and he was a big supporter and advocate of the foster care community through his charity.
So that attracted me and I was like compelled to tell this story from Brett and then, you know what, spending time with my mentor.
I was just you know drawn to his mentorship qualities and along with them. You know, the courage that it takes to really be seen instead of like hiding through pain. And yeah, in this movie there’s a really big strong importance of family as a theme and connecting with family is very important to me. We definitely had a lot of fun with our family dynamic in this film. So yeah, these are little things that really drew me to playing Brett and being in this movie. It was also perfect to honor my mentor as well at that time of my life.
Lifetime movies and shows always feature well-shaped and relatable characters – Where are you and your characters most similar and where most different as human beings?
LO PRESTI: First of all, I was really fortunate to play Brett. It was really a lot of fun on this set. We shared a lot of similarities in terms of him being a mentor to Demario, his compassion for others, his positivity.
I feel like the older I get, the more grounded I’m getting, you know.
He’s definitely a grounded individual. He really kind of held a low profile and was discreet, which is actually quite admirable. I am kind of like on that path of my own, right? I think sometimes you need to as a person, as human beings. You need to break through these thresholds of comfort in our life in order to get uncomfortable and grow, and he does this in this film and I relate to that on, you know, my own personal path of getting out of my own comfort zone and as well, so I related to him on that level.
I also do wear a lot of black [laughs] I like the color black and it’s a big part of my wardrobe. Yeah, he was very bold and also sensitive. And I was drawn to these qualities of Brett.
And I guess, what’s different, I mean, is that this guy is a pretty serious businessman, and I don’t think I have the mental capacity to pursue that, so that was a big difference for me. But hey, never say never.
DE LA ZERDA: I’d say the things that are most different with me and Rachel is probably the things that drew me to her. It was like just how much she really knows herself and how much she has like a very clear vision of what she wants for her career and her life and her company and even down to what she wants the tuxedo to look like. She just has a very clear vision and I find sometimes, like I’m just drawn to so many things and different paths that I’m just like ‘ohh that seems interesting and so does that’.
And so I think that’s one thing that drew me to her because it’s very different than who I am.
One of the things that we probably share is just like her ability to be quite resourceful and inventive, you know. Like a hurdle she’s able to sort of figure out like, ‘OK, what else can we do here? How else can I connect with with Brett? How else can I present my idea in a way that we can compromise, that we can, you know, find a solution? And then even to the point where she finds Demario and she’s like, ‘OK, actually like, that’s it. That’s the way to go’. So yeah, that’s something that I’d say like was easy to tap into for me for sure.
To all the fans looking forward to watching the movie, how would you describe Well Suited for Christmas in just 3 words?
LO PRESTI: I’d say courageous, there’s a lot of courage in this film, which is really nice. It’s loving and romantic, which you know, these are feel good movies, you get a lot of that, and it’s suitable – pun intended – It’s a great little Christmas story. And it’s also, you know, fashionable, suitable, so you know, it might inspire the audience for their Christmas parties.
DE LA ZERDA: I think modern. That could be a good word because, you know, it’s not necessarily like a traditional Christmas story, there’s a few things that happen in there that you don’t see in a traditional Lifetime or, you know, that type of movie. It’s a bit more dynamic and there’s a lot going on and there’s maybe a few more kisses than you wouldn’t normally see and also the fact that like both characters, there isn’t one that sort of concedes to the other. They both really stand their ground for like the duration of the movie, which I don’t think you see very often. So that’s pretty cool.
Another one would be maybe Familia, definitely like family-centric and the family really plays a big role in helping these two characters be able to understand each other and come together. So that’ll be another one. And then tension. There’s a lot of tension there, like between Brett and Rachel, it’s just like they really go at it.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you in portraying Brett and Rachel?
LO PRESTI: We got to be vessels of truth, right? And I’m telling Brett’s story through me, Franco. So I think the biggest challenge for me in this film was the fact that Brett did not have any connection to his family. His upbringing and, you know, a sense of grief and loss and all the things he had done in his life is completely opposite for my own life. So I did a lot of research on the foster care system in prepping for this film because I need to know about that. It’s incredibly difficult to go through that. Being able to be as truthful as I could be under those circumstances and to have all that underneath my skin through the film was a challenge.
And you know, it’s like why is Brett the way he is and what’s going on in there, you know. Yeah it’s just that was my duty to portray that and I hope it’s felt and resonates with the audience and then people can feel from these films and that’s the goal we all want to be connected and feel something whether it’s emotional or tangible. So that was a challenge for me.
DE LA ZERDA: I think the challenging part is like for me realizing what it is that – as an actor you always want to defend your characters and you justify that they’re like this because of, you know these circumstances and and everything, but then at the same time for me like I found it challenging to stick to that because that’s very important.
But also recognize how racial needed to change and like what her shortcomings were. She’s portrayed as a very like confident character and. And you know, I feel like it’s easy for the audience to see Brett and be like ohh, well, he’s the problem because he’s so hard and he, you know, seems like he’s mean or whatever. And like Rachel is just trying to do her job.
So for me, I think the challenge was like, ‘OK, but this character wouldn’t be in this movie unless she had to transform in some way‘.
So I had to really try and figure out like, what is it that she, how does she need to grow? How does Brett affect her in a way that it brings her to like a place of even more growth and transformation. Yeah, that was really something I had to tease apart and try and and understand more for sure.
If you could choose any other character from Well Suited for Christmas, apart from Brett and Rachel, that you would have loved to play, which one would it be and why?
DE LA ZERDA: Um, the dad. Probably Javier. I just think he had such a sweet character and he connected in a way with Rachel and with Brett that was really significant. I feel like the mom and dad are just really like the heart of the movie. And yeah, so maybe I would choose the dad’s character. He’s just so funny and he has these moments where he messes up and he has these like slips of thought and now the tongue and you know, he ends up being the the chauffeur and he’s just like he has his own like really cute journey. So yeah, maybe I’d choose him.
LO PRESTI: I’m thinking Thomas because, again, he just has such a really tender soul and I just felt connected with that. He reminds me of my father and my mentor and also I just think he’s the epitome of like a faithful, kind, loving man and that’s what I aspire to be everyday
The interview with Mercedes de la Zerda and Franco Lo Presti has been edited and condensed for lenght and clarity. Watch the full video interview at the top of the article!
Well Suited for Christmas premieres November 6 on Lifetime. Watch an exclusive preview below!
Keep following us for more news on Hallmark Channel, Lifetime and Great American Family Networks!