Bruce Boxleitner has been a fixture on television for nearly four decades. And he’s not showing any signs of slowing down. Best known for his leading roles in How the West Was Won, Bring ‘Em Back Alive, Scarecrow and Mrs. King and his later forays into science fiction with Babylon 5 and the Tron films, the versatile actor has gone in an entirely new direction with Hallmark Channel’s latest hit, Cedar Cove, which has just been picked up for a second season. We’ll see Bruce return as the innkeeper Bob Beldon when the new season premieres in 2014. In the meantime, you can catch him in The Thanksgiving House, airing Saturday, November 2, at 8/7c on Hallmark Channel (ch. 312).
We caught up with Bruce recently to ask him a few questions about exploring new ground with his role in Cedar Cove.
What is it like to work on Cedar Cove after your long history with the sci-fi genre? It’s so different from everything else you’ve done.
I know, but at this time in my life, maybe that’s what I gotta do. I am in the sci-fi world and I love it, I really do, but you have to reach other audiences.
I’ve been in a lot of Hallmark movies. I’ve got this movie with Lindsey Wagner coming called The Thanksgiving House. They’ve been very generous and been there when I needed a job. I’m so happy we’ve been picked up for a second season because I think the show found itself finally, like all shows have to when they first start out.
I met Debbie Macomber. She certainly has given J.K. Rowling a run for her money as an author. She’s got something like 170 million sold of the Cedar Cove books. She’s this woman who based these books on her small town, a little town in the northwest Pacific coast, Washington state. Our show, I would dare to say, is the prettiest show on TV.
What’s your relationship like with the other characters/cast members?
I love Cedar Cove. I’m working with Barbara [Niven]. She and I have done a couple of movies together. We have sort of a natural chemistry that you find with certain actors. It works, we fit.
If you’ve been following the plot, Andie [MacDowell] and Dylan [Neal] are trying to get it together. You have three relationships in dire straights in this thing, but Bob and Peggy [Barbara Niven] are happily married, so you don’t see much of us right now.
But your character is a male companion for Jack for him to talk about his relationships with Olivia?
And also his issues with alcohol. I think that’s very brave for Hallmark. I’m proud to be a part of it because my character is a recovered alcoholic too. The fact that we’re dealing with that issue in this show—I think it’s good.
How would you describe Bob?
I’m kind of a mentor. I’m a patriarch character in the community. Very loving husband to Peggy. His history is a little different in the book. He was a Vietnam vet. He suffered some problems and he tried to dry them as a young kid when he came back. That’s why he had this problem.
Jack, as you see him in the show, is fighting it. He goes to a bar and orders a drink and sits there and looks at it. It’s tugging at him. I love this element of the show. It’s not just romantic problems. We had this one guy die in our bed-and-breakfast. I never knew I’d become an innkeeper in a role. From spaceship commander to innkeeper. It is a leap, but I’m enjoying it.
Have any thoughts on Bob’s story line for season 2?
No, I’m going to have to leave that up to them. I just think it would be cool for them to get back out fishing again. We’re always by the water. It’s in all our shots. Bob started out as a commercial fisherman.
In real life Dylan Neal is a real woodmaker, artisan. He’s a builder. I can hammer nails, saw wood, that’s about it. I’m a fisherman, he’s never fished. I grew up fishing.
Would you think of Bob as a hero? Seems like you play leadership positions a lot.
Well that’s what happens when you get to a certain age. You can’t be the philandering husband anymore. All the people who are having problems are in their 40s. When you hit 60 and above now you’re the patriarch. That’s fine with me.
I’ve kinda fallen into those things. I don’t know. Maybe I’m tall. I don’t try to push it around. We have very strong women in the characters. It’s oriented that way. The men characters—we have to be as interesting as the women characters. When I watch it, I sit there and say, “Come on, Jack and Olivia. Get it together.”
I can summarize most of it in that I think they’re very relatable characters. That’s probably behind the success of Debbie’s books. They’re relatable people, they have relationships we have known about or had. We don’t have a lot of that in the TV landscape.
The second season of Cedar Cove is scheduled for 2014. Bruce’s movie The Thanksgiving House airs Saturday, November 2, at 8/7c on Hallmark Channel (ch. 312).