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Jan 25, 201306:41 PMThe Telegraph

The Premier Blog of the West

Luke Perry Rides Tall Again In 'Goodnight For Justice: Queen of Hearts'

Jan 25, 2013 - 06:41 PM
Luke Perry Rides Tall Again In 'Goodnight For Justice: Queen of Hearts'

Hallmark Movie Channel

Circuit court judge John Goodnight (Luke Perry, left) encounters a lovely con artist (Katharine Isabelle) and a vengeful aristocrat (Ricky Schroder) in "Goodnight for Justice: Queen of Hearts," premiering this week on the Hallmark Movie Channel.

 According to Luke Perry, the third time really is the charm for John Goodnight, the straight-shooting circuit court judge he’s been portraying in an ongoing series of westerns for the Hallmark Movie Channel.

Goodnight for Justice, the first in the franchise, introduced the title character – which Perry himself created – as a Wild West journeyman jurist whose parents were killed by outlaws years earlier, and who now dispenses justice with eloquence, compassion and, when necessary, lethal firepower. Directed by Jason Priestley, Perry’s co-star in the original Beverly Hills 90210 TV series, the made-for-cable western scored the highest ratings ever recorded for a Hallmark Movie Channel production. Little wonder, then, that two sequels soon were green-lit.

The first follow-up, Goodnight for Justice: The Measure of a Man, galloped onto TV screens in January 2012. And now there’s Goodnight for Justice: Queen of Hearts, which airs at 8 and 10 pm Friday, Feb. 1, and 2 and 4 pm Saturday, Feb. 2, on the Hallmark Movie Channel.

“We’ve really hit our stride here,” Perry says of his third John Goodnight adventure. “This is the movie I was thinking about right from the start.”

So what’s it all about? According to a Hallmark Movie Channel press release:

“Between dealing with difficult defendants and dealing cards at saloons, John crosses paths with a stagecoach under attack. Drawing his gun, he comes to the rescue of the only surviving passenger, a beautiful woman named Lucy Truffaut (Katharine Isabelle), who John doesn’t realize is actually a convicted con artist on the run.”

But wait, there’s more: Lucy doesn’t realize – at first, anyway -- that he’s an honest judge.

The bad news: Lucy is being pursued by Cyril Knox (Ricky Schroder), a wealthy aristocrat who wants her jailed. The good news: Lucy manages to convince John to help her escape – and board a riverboat where passengers are encouraged to indulge in high-stakes gambling.

Luke Perry phoned us here at Cowboys & Indians this week to talk about Goodnight for Justice: Queen of Hearts. Here's some of what he had to say.

Cowboys & Indians: What makes this Goodnight for Justice film different than its predecessors?  

Luke Perry: Well, I like the action pieces that we were able to get set up. I think we were able to get more bang for our buck in this one than in any of the others. And I love the story with John and the girl. It’s funny. I’ve always said that westerns can be all different kinds of stories. They don’t always have to be guys fighting over horses and cows and Indians and stuff. There’s romance and other things that you can have in the mix. So while trying to stir up this vat, that’s what I came up with.

C&I: Your lead female character is named Lucy Truffaut – like Francois Truffaut, the great French filmmaker who famously claimed, “Women are magic.” Did you intend this as a kind of wink-wink allusion to the late movie director?

Perry: Absolutely. Here’s the thing. When I sat down to come up with this one, the one sort of request that the [Hallmark Movie Channel] had made was that – well, in the past, I hung a guy, and shot a couple of other guys, and beat up a guy pretty badly in the last one.

C&I: Hey, a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.

Perry: [Laughs] Well, being the judge and jury and sometimes the executioner, that’s all part of his job. But the Hallmark people said, “Luke, our audience would also like to see you do some romantic stuff.” And at first, I couldn’t figure out what would be romantic about this character so much. But then I thought, when it comes to meeting a beautiful woman -- historically, we’ve seen it -- that’s when we men make our worst choices. While we’re thinking of ways to woo a beautiful woman, they just get into our heads. And I just wanted to do a story about that. And Truffaut knew all about that.

C&I: Folks who are used to seeing Ricky Schroder in good-guy roles – like his character in Lonesome Dove – may be in for a shock when they see his bad behavior here. How did he get involved with this project?

Perry: My producing partner, Ira Pincus, had a previous working relationship with him, and sent the script to him. And, yeah, he is quite the bad boy here. But that’s the name of the game: The badder they are, they harder they fall. And they’re always going to fall, in the name of justice.

C&I: How do you think John Goodnight has evolved over these three movies? Is the character any different than how you originally conceived him?

Perry: He is turning out to be a little darker than I think everybody envisioned at the beginning. And I think that’s because most of this guy’s make-up, and most of his integrity, comes from that bad childhood experience, those bad things that happened to him in the first movie. He’s still touched by that. Which is why I think he’ll stay moving. They keep wanting to set him down in one place, and have him be the judge there. But that’s not interesting to me. This is a guy who has to keep going to a different place time and again.

C&I: Does that mean you’re already talking with folks at the Hallmark Movie Channel about a fourth John Goodnight movie?

Perry: There’s nothing definite yet. So far, though, the movies have done very well for them. [Laughs] And I’ve certainly got ideas for others. .

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