Mallory Jansen takes on another role in the Hallmark universe this weekend in Francesca Quinn, PI.
When Frankie’s fiance is murdered, his sister hires her to find his killer. But solving the crime means working with her ex.
We jumped on the phone with Mallory to talk about the movie and working with Hallmark. Enjoy the conversation.
I’ve got a couple things before we start talking about Francesca Quinn. First of all, I was so excited about the possibility of that show Triangle, and it never got made. And it still bums me out.
Oh my gosh. I know. I’m so sad about that, we all were. It was a very large-scale pilot and yeah, we got to shoot in New Zealand for five weeks. It was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.
But yeah, I never saw the pilot. I was so sad. I think that’s the saddest part, that I never saw our work, but stuff happens. Just part of being in the business.
And then we have to talk about The Big Leap and why it never caught on. It was such a great show. Was it as fun working on as it was to watch?
Oh my gosh, it was so much fun. I love that you watched that.
We covered it at TV Fanatic, and it did pretty well for us.
It really had a good fan following, but it’s hard these days with TV. And I think we had a short time span to make it work, and we probably needed a bit more time, but oh my God, we had the greatest time ever. We got to shoot in Chicago and got to get back into dance training, which I hadn’t done in such a long time.
But yeah, I really had to hone my ballet skills and work hard for the role. And I think it was even more gratifying when you know that you’ve worked so hard for it, but wasn’t meant to be. I’m glad we got one season out of it though.
It was such a good character study. I don’t know why people didn’t watch. Maybe they were turned off by the musical side of it or something, but the characters were so good, and they were so much growth potential. Such a shame.
I know. Everyone had their own story. The cast was amazing. I’ll never understand why some things don’t work out and some things do, but yeah, all I can say is it was an incredible experience, and I think it all made us better actors.
We came out of it feeling like we’d really accomplished something. We’re really proud of it.
So tell me a little bit about Francesca Quinn.
Gosh, well, it was just so much fun. I think the thing that I loved the most about this murder mystery was it was such a different role for me to play because just Frankie so intelligent and intuitive and tough, which I think comes from years of being in the force.
But there’s also so much beneath the surface and that’s what I really loved peeling back with the character.
So yeah, I think in the beginning, I certainly just was very attracted to this character. It’s different from anyone else I’ve ever played, but the plot itself was also interesting because there’s so many twists and turns.
And really, the ending is … I don’t think it’s what anyone will expect.
It’s kind of dark as a story. There’s not a lot of the usual lighthearted humor that you usually get. It is a pretty dark story, and these characters are going through some stuff.
Yeah, absolutely. It’s certainly going in a different direction to a lot of other Hallmark murder mysteries. And I like that because it’s very much based in the reality of it. And we played it very real and very true to what we think these characters would be going through.
And every character has a history. Well, especially Wyn and Frankie who have a personal history, but a painful past. And they’re just trying to move ahead with their lives and try their best to solve this case.
But I think what I love is that they work the best when they’re together. And this case really brings them back together and into a good space by the end.
What would you say Frankie’s best traits are?
I think her best traits are just her grit and her assertiveness, and she’s just fiercely independent, and she doesn’t rely on anyone else. And I think that’s just so brilliant. I mean, I look up to this character.
I think it’s so lovely to see a female character written like this, someone who’s so strong and doesn’t need the guy. She just needs to help people and solve the case and be the best private investigator that she can be.
And yeah, I think that’s such a great foundation for a character. And it’s not to say that she can’t have the romance as well, but I think that’s what I liked about her the most.
She doesn’t need it, the romance.
No, she doesn’t need it. And I think that’s what makes it so much more exciting when you see her and Wyn together and what they had and what could be. Yeah, they’re both very similar in a way. They’re both very independent and very strong.
They’ve both been through a lot and seen a lot. So yeah, it’s a very real relationship and yeah, I just loved working with that. Working with Dylan too, was so much fun. He’s just so talented and genuine. And he was just always so prepared and present in every scene.
And I love working with actors like him who just fully commit and also like to have a laugh between takes too, so that really made it fun.
How would you describe their relationship?
I’d say their relationship is very tense in the beginning from what we see. We do find out a bit more about their past. They were once very close. And unfortunately, things sort of fell apart when Frankie’s mother-in-law is charged with a series of murders.
And that changed everything. Frankie left the force, started up her own private investigating company. We find out later why their relationship ended.
I won’t give that away, but there’s certainly a lot of unanswered questions between them and a lot of pain, but still a lot of respect and maybe even a bit of love between them.
And how would you compare Frankie to any characters that you’ve played in the past? How would you say Quinn is in temperament, and if there’s anyone that you think reminds you of her?
Interesting. Well, I definitely think she’s different to a lot of characters I’ve played. I tend to be attracted to characters that have a little edge to them, someone who’s not just sweet and innocent.
I usually love playing characters that have a history and have something that made them more protective or a little more angry or that there’s something that has happened to them. And I just loved delving into the history of characters.
I’d say if there was any character that was similar to Frankie Quinn, it would’ve been my character Margo in Shooter, who was also a cop.
And I really had to toughen up for the role and learn about how to handle guns and how to enter a room and how to do all of these things, how to talk to people as a cop and how to yell at someone as a cop, because there’s a real difference. It’s different. I mean, being in a musical and is much different to shouting as a cop.
So there’s a lot of difference, but I always love learning new things on the job and finding new skills.
And coming into this, I had a few… I learned a lot of new skills, especially from Agents of SHIELD too, a lot of stunts and things like that and using weapons. And it all helps. So I was very grateful to have that experience coming in.
Do you think there’s more of this particular character in your future, or perhaps just playing a cop?
I don’t know, I hope so. I had a lot of fun working on this character. I came out of it feeling more powerful almost, playing a character that was so confident in herself. So I hope that I get to play more characters like her in the future.
From a viewer standpoint, it felt like a prelude, that there was more to come. So it would be fun to see what these two might get into.
Yeah. You never know. I mean, certainly, by the end, they’re more of a team than ever, so it’d be amazing to see what they can do as a team.
And this is your third movie for Hallmark, isn’t it?
Yeah, it is.
Are you interested doing more in the future? What do you like about working with Hallmark?
Absolutely. Well, I love everyone, the team behind Hallmark. They’re just so genuine and so welcoming, and I love doing movies for them. And most of the time they’re very happy, exciting movies that would just make you feel good inside.
I mean, I love watching them, especially, and I can see why it’s an escape for people because it just makes you feel good when you watch it. And I understand that and makes me feel good to film them. So I’d love to continue on.
If you could write your own Hallmark character, how would you like to play somebody? What’s in your mind storywise? Good question. I don’t know. Character-wise? Look, I can tell you. I’d love to do a movie abroad somewhere. Maybe Italy. Maybe I can play someone traveling to Italy on the Amalfi Coast.
That’s where I would go, too.
That’d be amazing. Well, if I got to choose, yes. Maybe like a tourist on a trip who meets a nice guy. I don’t know. We’ll figure it out.
And what else does your future hold at the moment? What else do you have coming up?
There’s a few things on the go at the moment. I’ve always learned to keep my lips sealed until it actually happens. But yeah, there’s been very exciting things in line. Just been working away. But yeah, it’s all good. I’m very excited about the next few months.
Are you looking more at movies? At series? What interests you at this point? You’ve done a lot of both.
Yeah, I know. I’m always open to anything. Usually for me, it’s all about the character and the story. If it’s got both of those things and if I can’t put the script down, then I know it’s for me.
But the thing I do love about TV is that if you’re in a series, you can really delve into a character over multiple episodes. And it feels like there’s like no limits almost.
I love having that time to do that, but you never know. I’m open to anything in the future. Making movies or TV, it makes me happy. And it’s just all about telling a story and doing what I love.
Francesca Quinn PI premieres on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries on Sunday, September at 9/8c. Don’t miss it!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.