BWW Interviews: Francia Raisa & WWE's Mike 'The Miz' Mizanin Chat ABC Family's CHRISTMAS BOUNTY
Francia Raisa and WWE Superstar Mike "The Miz" Mizanin will star ABC Family's CHRISTMAS BOUNTY during the Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas. This week, the stars spoke about the exciting holiday special, premiering this Tuesday, November 26 at 7/6c!
What was it that initially drew you to this role?
Mike "The Miz": With WWE it's theater, it's live, you're in front of a live audience, you only get one take. If you mess up the entire world is going to see it and are either going to boo you or cheer you at that moment.
However, acting in a movie -- you don't get that initial reaction and you don't get that live audience feel. Doing a movie is a lot nicer on my body. I just got back from Europe for WWE -- we did a European tour for 14 days of constant wrestling, so my body's tired, my mind's tired. When you're shooting a movie it's exhausting in a different way, where you're mentally going at it and you don't get that much sleep. But I do enjoy movies. I do enjoy WWE. I enjoy them both the same. They're a lot different, and they're also very similar.
I'm really excited about Christmas Bounty premiering on November 26, because the cast just got along so well. It's not every day that you get to enjoy such a close-knit cast. Every time we were done with a shoot we would all go sit and just talk. I think you'll see that closeness and that bond that we all had and that love for each other in Christmas Bounty. I think when a cast becomes close you can really see that they enjoy working with each other, and I think we all really had a pleasure working on Christmas Bounty.
Francia: I agree! Coming off of The Secret Life of the American Teenager I am not used to doing any sort of action. This was my first time doing action scenes on camera. I did grow up doing martial arts. So, I was intimated to work with Mike, because he is a wrestler and has done this for a long time. But he was really welcoming and really encouraging. In Secret Life it was very "go, go, go, go", because TV tends to have more time. It was a lot of fun and we were able to pick it up really well.
Like Mike said, we all really enjoyed working with each other; we became a family, we definitely bonded. We are genuine friends, so it's definitely going to show on camera. I'm just as excited, because we just watched the movie and you could just tell that there was so much chemistry between all of us!
It was definitely a transition, just because I hadn't done film in a while, but I was really happy to know that this was the first project that I was going to do outside of Secret Life and TV.
Did either of you spend any time with bounty hunters to learn stunts for the role?
Mike "The Miz": I definitely watched Dog the Bounty Hunter leading up to doing this role, just checking out exactly what bounty hunters do. So that was the extent of what we did. The casting process was put together fairly quickly, so there wasn't an excess of time where you could find a bounty hunter and talk to him.
Francia: It happened so fast; I found out on a Sunday and I was a plane by Wednesday. So my research was with the director and my cast. I did watch The Bounty Hunter with Jennifer Aniston!
What was your most memorable moment from filming?
Mike "The Miz": My most memorable moment is one having to do with Francia. I'm so glad I got to be with her in this movie because she taught me a lot on the acting realm and was a constant professional. But there was one day where she was trying to do this savate kick for the movie. And let me tell you something, I can't even do a savate kick. I'm the type of person that likes to give people a hard time, and I enjoy doing little pranks, if you will. If I see someone getting a little aroused I have to keep pushing that button. So I kept pushing it and at one point she was like, "You have to give me a moment!"
So I gave her a moment, and she did the savate kick and it was literally the most perfect kick. I think I'm going to take credit for her savate kick, because of the energy that I gave her during that moment.
Francia: That made me so mad, haha! That was a pretty memorable moment for me.
Mike "The Miz" Another memorable moment for me was that I had my first on-screen kiss.
Francia Oh yes! I was really excited about that!
Mike "The Miz": I've been on TV for a while and I never had a movie or TV series where I've had a kiss with another actress, so this was my first time. I guess you could say I was pretty nervous about it, because I didn't know what the rules were. I just went for it, and I think it was Francia's best kiss she's ever had on screen, to be completely honest with you. I mean I'm a really good kisser. You can ask my fiancé!
What traditions or rituals do you have for the holidays?
Francia: I like to cook a lot, so I'm really excited to cook next week for Thanksgiving. I'm the only one doing it, so I will be up bright and early. Other than that, I like to sleep and watch Christmas movies. This year I will have my entire family watch Christmas Bounty over and over again!
Mike "The Miz": I don't know how to cook. If you asked me to cook you macaroni and cheese I could get you that, maybe a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, so you definitely don't want me cooking.
Normally WWE has Survivor series on pay-per-view right around Thanksgiving, which is happening this Sunday. Then I fly to my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, which is my hometown. I celebrate a day that I call "Miz Fest", which is every Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I rent a school bus and I bring about 60 of my high school friends-- yes I said high school -- I basically bring them all on the school bus and we just have a blast through the entire city of Cleveland.
The next day my family goes over to my aunt's house for Thanksgiving. We eat my aunt's dry turkey and her other food that she usually cooks. I've never seen someone try so hard to cook great food and still cannot do it well. So my Aunt Lynn isn't the best cook, but you have to give her an A for effort.
During Christmas, I always love the Christmas movies. I love Christmas Vacation, I love Elf, and now I'm going to be watching Christmas Bounty. I'm actually having a little viewing party on Tuesday over at my friend's house in Cleveland, and I think everyone's going to really enjoy Christmas Bounty, because there's something for everyone. It's not just for girls, it's not just for guys, it's not old people, young people, it's everybody; there is something for everyone. If you like comedy, if you like drama, if you like romance, if you like a little action, guess what, you're going to get it all in Christmas Bounty, and it's going to show that true holiday spirit.
What should fans expect while tuning in to Christmas Bounty?
Mike "The Miz": It's one of those feel good movies! I think everyone watches their special Christmastime movies. This is a movie that's going to be right up there with all the other ones. I think people are going to really watch, and when they're done watching this movie they're going to come away with a smile on their face, they're going to cuddle with their loved ones a little closer. I think it's just one of those movies that will stand the test of time, and I think people will be shocked to see how great it truly is.
Francia: I agree! It's just one of those feel good movies that you enjoy watching, and you take yourself away from reality a bit and you tap into someone else's happiness, and you're around your loved ones and you're cozied up in your house. It's one of those movies that's a perfect ending to your night.
Mike "The Miz": Here's what I want everyone to do on Tuesday night. I want you to get some popcorn, I want you to get your most comfy clothes on, I want you to snuggle with one another, and I guarantee you by the end of that movie you guys are going to look in each other's eyes and say, "I love you."
Can you give a brief synopsis of your characters and Christmas Bounty?
Mike "The Miz": Christmas Bounty is a movie about Tory Bell, played by the lovely, gorgeous Francia, who does an amazing job. Tory Bell is from New Jersey, she has a New Jersey family, she's raised there, and her family is all bounty hunters. Francia's character wants to get out of that life. She moves to New York City, becomes a school teacher, is living the average, ordinary, everyday life like everybody else. She meets a new guy, who's played by Will Greenberg. She has this new life.
Tory has to come back to New Jersey with her bounty hunters to protect her family, and her new fiancé tags along to meet the family. The family is very eccentric; it's very loud, it's very New Jersey. My character is the ex-boyfriend who is a bounty hunter with her, and we basically have to find the bad guy before he finds us.
There could be a love triangle. You're going to have to tune in at 7:00/6:00 Central this Tuesday, November 26th to check it out.
What preparations did you have to take to make it work between the two of your characters?
Francia: We met on set! I was working as an actress on Secret Life. I've been training my entire life for something like this. As I mentioned earlier, I did martial arts for ten years.
I think we both just came in with an open mind. We both just wanted to just make a great project, we both were really passionate about the script, we both loved the script, and there was no reason to not get along. Mike's a great guy and he has a great outlook on work, his work ethic is incredible, and he was really trying to make this character great. He was really into learning how to get in deeper with the character and not just have very surface choices. I really wanted to make it look great when it came to fighting, so we worked together to make sure that happened.
I can see us being friends for a lifetime, but we've only known each other a few months! I'm really grateful that he's in my life, even though he gives me a hard time sometimes, but he's like a big brother to me.
Mike "The Miz": Aw, me too! It was an instant connection between the entire cast; we all just clicked, and it's not every day you get that, to be completely honest with you. I've been on TV shows where people don't like each other, but they have to work with one another. This couldn't be more opposite; everyone was truly likeable, everyone liked each other and wanted to be around each other. Some people would come to set during their off days just to hang out with one another because we were such a close-knit group.
To prepare for this movie I think The Real World got me comfortable in front of cameras, and then the WWE got me comfortable in front of a live audience and theater. I've also done acting coaches, I've done Improv Olympics, so to prepare for this movie I got involved with my acting coach and then just listened.
Whenever I do a movie I always like to base my character off of a couple different characters. When I was in Marine 3: Homefront I went with the Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis type of theme. With this one, since Gil did 10 Things I Hate About You I watched some of his movies and his work. Heath Ledger was in 10 Things I Hate About You and really connected with me with this kind of character. I took that realm and brought it to Christmas Bounty.
Gil is a tremendous director, and did a great job with the entire cast. He made everyone look great and be at their best, and created such an ease on set that you can feel.
Francia: I think we all had the same goal coming into this project, and I think it really shows on camera and it really created a bond between all of us. That's what's important with every cast -- having the same goal to get to the end result. No one was trying to be the star, no one was trying to stand out more. We all really just wanted to work together.
Could you talk about where Christmas Bounty was filmed?
Francia: We were on location in Vancouver at a house. I loved it out there -- We had so much fun! We were at a mall at one point; that was fun. We both live in LA right now, so we had to leave our home.
It was raining a lot, but the weather did not disagree with us at all times. There was a day where we needed to shoot outside and we could not afford to have rain, and it did not start raining until we stopped shooting and we were done for the day. It's a great city. I loved it out there.