Celebrate the holidays early when ABC Family kicks off their 25 Days of Christmas lineup a little early. Next week, the network will air their latest original movie Christmas Bounty. The movie stars Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin and Francia Raisa. Most of you will recognize Mike from his early start on MTV’s The Real World and The Challenge and Francia from here time on the ABC Family series The Secret life of the American Teenager.
We recently had the chance to chat with the stars about their new movie. Christmas Bounty premieres on November 26th at 7/6c on ABC Family.
Read our interview here:
Former bounty hunter turned elementary school teacher Tory Bell (Raisa) was ready for a new life when she left the family business behind and moved to Manhattan. But when an old enemy is released from jail and vows retribution on Tory and her loved ones, she returns to New Jersey to take care of him once and for all. When Tory’s upper-class fiancé, James, follows her home for Christmas, she tries to keep her bounty hunting ways a secret, but the plan backfires when James unwittingly becomes involved in the Bells’ mission. Further complicating matters, Tory must work closely with her ex-boyfriend, Mike (Mizanin) to bring down their target and keep James out of certain danger. But as Tory becomes further entrenched in her old life, she finds herself torn between whom she once was and her plans for the future. Will Tory choose her new life with James, or will the thrill of bounty hunting and unresolved feelings for Mike prove too powerful to ignore?
What was it that initially drew you to this role?
Mike: 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: 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!
Mike: 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: Another memorable moment for me was that I had my first on-screen kiss.
Francia: Oh yes! I was really excited about that!
What should fans expect while tuning in to Christmas Bounty?
Mike: 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: 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.”
How did you [Mike] manage to take the MTV brand that you created into your dream career?
Mike: I still look at my life to this day and I’m in awe of it and I don’t know how I did it or why it happened. I would say it’s all a little bit of everything; it’s preparation, it’s hard work, it’s determination, but also there’s a little luck involved. It’s not willing to settle for anything less than success. People always told me that I couldn’t do something. When I tried out for The Real World people were like, “What’s going to stand you out from 40,000 people?” And I would tell them, “I don’t know, but I’m still going to try out.” I try out and I make it.
Then once I wanted to be a WWE superstar people were telling me that, “You’re not 6’ 7”, you’re not 300 pounds, you’re not full of muscles, you’re not athletic enough,” and I just wanted to prove them all wrong. So I think it’s my motivation and my dedication to prove everyone wrong whenever they tell me I can’t do something. So I think it’s a little bit of everything, but I think it was just my mentality that I wouldn’t take no for an answer.
We’d like to thank Mike and Francia for taking the time to answer these questions for every one on the conference call.
Be sure to tune in to Christmas Bounty on November 26th on ABC Family.