Bruce Boxleitner ('Silver Bells')
'It's All About Bruce!'
'Silver Bells' is a Christmas movie about a veteran sports anchor, Bruce Dalton (Bruce Boxleitner, 'Babylon 5'), lives life “for the win.” But, to his family, friends and those around him, that’s not always a positive thing. After getting into a brawl with a referee at his son’s basketball game, Dalton is sentenced to community service as a Salvation Army bell ringer during the Christmas season.
Approaching even raising donations and filling food baskets as a game to be won, things quickly go south. Will Dalton learn that life isn’t a win or lose game, but a sport best played as a team? Dalton’s job and relationship with his family hang on that very question.
'Silver Bells' stars: Bruce Boxleiter, Kevin Downes, Kenton Duty, Antonio Fargus, and Bridgett Newton.
Chatting recently with the man himself Bruce Boxleitner, I first wondered being that this was a simple morality tale, how could it rise above the others of such an ilk? "Hopefully we've done a good enough job to tell a truthful story. I think it's a very simple story, so maybe that's a good asset for it. You just try to be as truthful as possible and I think that's the essence of any storytelling. You include certain truths that people can identify with."
And that's how this movie comes across - like it could all happen in exactly the same way in real life! "I hope so as that's what we set out to do," he laughs. "It's a low budget film, but that's what I like about it. It added a certain kind of rawness to it and a feeling of you are there. We shot it in a small town in MI, Manatee which some of the neighborhoods looked like they were right out of a Frank Capra movie."
"And if I might add that's what kind of attracted me to the story. It's a Capraesque, in many ways story. And for those who don't know Frank Capra he directed some of the big Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper movies now considered classics and Americana at a certain time. There's a certain 'It's A Wonderful Life' aspect here. That's what I've kinda been likening it to in a very, very broad way. It's about redemption in the end."
Please sum up your character, Bruce Dalton "It's about a guy who is a really ambitious man but who is blind to a lot of things around him until he humiliates himself. He disgraces himself to his family, to his son in specific and his community. And then wakes up with the help of his Guardian Angel, his very own "Clarence" in the guise of Antonio Vargas in this movie. And he is made aware that there is redemption and he can redeem himself. And he does ultimately by helping someone else get the credit, but he gets the satisfaction for getting the job done."
You play a Sports Anchor in a small town, but have you ever done such a thing in the past - and did you model this on anyone? "No, not really, but yeah, I kinda likened it to a guy we used to have out here in LA. He was a weather man, but he had a certain kind of enthusiastic approach and his name was Dallas Raines. When we were shooting there in Grand Rapids at the TV station it was fascinating. People were fascinated watching us and I was watching them do their daily programs. But no, I never really thought of it before, but that's kind of the fun of being an actor. You can dip into someone's world and be there, play there, and then you can walk away."
Any reason why you're also called Bruce in the movie? "I know, that's bizarre, isn't it. I never usually hear my own name on any other project. But it was kind of fun. hey, it's all about Bruce," he laughs.
So what was it like working with "Huggy Bear"?! "I loved it. He and I hit it off immediately. I was just talking earlier with someone else about how do people bond? How do people create these very realistic families? And yet I was just saying I had no problem with Kenton Duty and Bridgett Newton, who played my wife and children. And Antonio and I have a love for vintage rock, blues and country music. So we were constantly harkening back to each other with 'Do you know this one, do you remember this one' singing them back and forth."
"Which even had Bridgett Newton screaming out, 'Please, what year is this?'," he loudly laughs. "We'd be singing on the way to location and on the way back at night. Yeah, we were always talking old time music and who our favorite artists were and remembering obscure songs. So Antonio was a hit. I loved working with him. Old Huggy Bear himself. He was my Guardian Angel, for real."
Is it true that whilst you were filming your role as a member of the Salvation Army bell ringer/money collector outside Walmart real customers walked up and donated money into your fake bucket?! "Yes, I think that's a beautiful thing. And it's absolutely true and if there's one story out of this whole thing that was it. We were standing outside of this huge Walmart with a film crew set up. It was horribly cold standing out there on this cement, but apparently I must have done a very good job because people were going by the bucket and dropping in money," he laughs.
"I kept saying, 'Please, please. We're shooting a movie here,' and they would be like, 'No, I always give. I always give.' We did try and give all the money back to the people for the most part. I think most of them got it back. We had to chase one down," he laughs. "We had production assistants with envelopes putting their money back in and running after them in the parking lot. It was hilarious, but I found it wonderfully touching that they still wanted to donate."
Well, that's the beauty of the spirit of human kind, my friend "And that's truly a beautiful thing and it's heartening that it still exists."
And, as we ask everyone this same question, we here at Excusive Magazine love Penguins. Do you, or do you have a personal story about one, perhaps?! "Well, we were attending SeaWorld in San Diego once, my youngest son and I. And we got to go back in the Penguin exhibition there and let's just say my son got a close up examination of one. The Penguin just sort of bent over and had a discharge there all over my sons shirt," he gently laughs. "So, because my youngest son just happened to be at eye level he got everything that day!"
"But no, they're wonderful, truly. They're little guys who walk around so perfectly. And I love watching those big movies made on them about their migration. They are fascinating animals and they're always so very well dressed for dinner. Tuxedos on at all times. How can you not like an animal dressed like that," he laughs.
Finally, will you be in the just-announced 'Tron: Legacy' sequel? "No, there has been no confirmation of that yet, no. That's just all talk, all talk. I know nothing other than that, but I hope I will be. I know it's being planned, but when and where I have no idea."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
UP TV presents the television premiere of 'Silver Bells' on Sunday, December 1st at 7pm, 9pm and 11pm ET.
Blu ray 'Silver Bells' Purchase Link
'Silver Bells' Official Trailer
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