Live From Vancouver: Luke Perry
A chat with actor Luke Perry, who's back on Hallmark Movie Channel this year with two new 'Goodnight for Justice' movies
Cowboys & Indians: When Goodnight for Justice aired last year on the Hallmark Movie Channel, it was the highest-rated film in the network’s history. Were you surprised to get that warm of a reception?
Luke Perry: Actually, that was surprising to me. And I’m glad. All we tried to do is make the best movie that we could. That’s what you try to do every time out — make the best movie that you can, and then make the most noise about it that you can.
C&I: You were given the green light to make two sequels back-to-back: Goodnight for Justice: The Measure of a Man, which premieres January 28 and Goodnight for Justice: Queen of Hearts, which will air later in 2012. Evidently, Hallmark figures folks are eager for the return of the western.
Luke: Well, I know I’ve been eager for the return of the western. That’s why I’ve tried to do as many as I can over the years. The thing is, over the last few years, these guys over at Hallmark have been the only ones really doing westerns on anything like a consistent basis. Other folks may come and go, but these folks have remained committed to doing at least a couple of them every year. And I really like that.
C&I: So you’re back again as John Goodnight, a circuit judge in the Wild West. What’s he up to in these new adventures?
Luke: In the first one, The Measure of a Man, the judge runs into a lady who seems to think that they might have had a child together at one time. And in the absence of any CSI-style science that we have today — who can be sure?
C&I: And how does Judge Goodnight take this news?
Luke: It’s an interesting story, I think. Because when most people think about westerns, they tend to think about some kind of macho-driven drama. And that got me to thinking: What is it that defines you as a man? And how do you communicate that to your kids? How do you teach them the right things about being a man? And here’s the thing about Judge Goodnight: We know that he’s a doer. That’s what I like about the guy — he’s a man of action. That’s what we learned in the first picture. If he can’t get it done in the courtroom, he’ll get it done anyplace he sees fit. And it’s no different this time around.
C&I: So what’s the story in Queen of Hearts?
Luke: That one’s about — well, what I think it’s about is, when guys see a pretty face, sometimes they start making bad decisions. Nothing can cloud your vision like a woman’s beauty. Now, there’s a lot of running and jumping and great action in this one. We’ve got some great horses and great stunts. But it’s got more of a comedic take to it. It can’t be all serious out there. I mean, you can’t be hanging somebody every week.
C&I: Or in every movie.
Luke: [Laughs.] That’s right. If you’re not careful, you’ll have people tuning in just waiting for the hanging. It’d be like people going to the rodeo, just waiting for the bull riding. Of course, at the same time, I don’t want people to get the idea that the judge’s neck-stretching days are over. Because they ain’t. That’s how justice got meted out back then.
C&I: How do you prepare for the Goodnight for Justice pictures? Do you have to go out on the firing range to make sure you can still handle a six-shooter?
Luke: Aw, hell, I’ve been practicing that six-shooter since I was 5 years old, and it was a cap gun.
C&I: What about riding horses?
Luke: I’ve been lucky with these pictures. My friend Danny Virtue is the stunt coordinator. He’s got a great stable of horses out at his place right outside Vancouver, and I can go out there and ride around. The trick is to get the other actors out there so they can practice riding, too. With some of them, their heroes haven’t always been cowboys. Mine have.