Those only familiar with Chris Jericho as being one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time might be taken back to find that he is starring in the holiday movie “Country Hearts Christmas” for UPtv. Even he thought the idea was a bit away from the norm when he was sent the script.
“But once I started reading the script, I realized it really wasn’t that far off,” Jericho says. “Once I got into the character, I really enjoyed playing it. Even though the movie has some faith themes to it, I didn’t find that to be a cop out sort of thing. I found that Bones had been through the ringer. He was basically part of a stadium-level rock band. That’s as big as it gets and the fact he had to walk away from it because of his addiction problems means he’s going to have some abrasiveness to him. I liked that part of the character.”
Jericho’s character of Bones is a husband and father (as is Jericho) and a former band member (ditto for Jericho) who has had great fame and fortune in his life (Jericho again). The big concern for the character is that his two musical daughters (Lanie McAuley, Katerina Maria) will not be home for Christmas because of a chance to perform on a national program.
Being away from home for certain holidays and events is something Jericho became familiar with because of his professional career. He always made a concentrated effort to be with his family as often as possible.
“I remember when my kids started getting into Halloween, I would always be off. I was always off for their birthdays,” Jericho says. He pauses, laughs and adds, “Of course now they are young adults and don’t want to be hanging around with their dad on their birthday. Christmas for sure. Thanksgiving always for sure. The only thing I was not home for a lot was my own birthday because I was always touring.”
The hectic life Jericho has lived has only gotten busier, as he has been adding acting jobs to his resume. He entered that world with some background because of his work as a professional wrestler.
Along with the back-breaking demands of being in the ring, a big part of professional wrestling is the storylines going on behind the scenes. Jericho had to learn fast and trust his instincts shooting those segments. Many had to be re-written or completely written on the spot.
At least with a project such as “Country Hearts Christmas” there was a completed script. All that was left was for Jericho to find the way to play a character who has had a rough past but has re-invented himself into a caring father, husband and friend.
The film also gave Jericho the opportunity to remind people that he has a musical background as he is the lead singer for the heavy metal band Fozzy. The group has released seven studio albums including Remains Alive.
“It is always fun to be able to pick up a guitar and noodle with it and have some fun with it in the course of what you are doing as a character,” Jericho says. “And I am far from a guitar player, but I can hit a couple of barre chords and power chords enough to fool people into thinking I can do something with it.”
“Country Hearts Christmas” – a sequel to the October UPtv premiere movie “Country Hearts” – will be broadcast at 4 p.m. on Nov. 19. UPtv devotes a massive amount of programming during the holidays to Christmas films. That’s why Jericho knew when he heard a sequel was being made the odds were high it would be a Christmas movie.
“It’s a great, light-hearted family drama in the middle of a lot of these Christmas movies, but this one stands out a little bit to me,” Jericho says.
One reason it stands out is that Christmas has always been a very special holiday for Jericho. The tradition with his family – that goes back to when he was a child – is that there is no free-for-all when it comes to opening presents. Each person takes turns opening their gift and showing it to the group. The idea is to give each act of giving its own moment in the spotlight.
There is no word as to whether there will be a third film in the series, or if there is a chance the “Country Hearts” story could be adapted into a television series. Either way, Jericho would be on board with the production.
“I would love to do more with this character and with this family,” Jericho says. “I enjoyed the process a lot more than I thought I would when I first read the script.”