Erica Durance Dishes On Filming An Enchanted Christmas Cake - Exclusive Interview

Erica Durance starred alongside Superman for years in "Smallville." Now, she's become the hero of holiday movies. This season, you can see her starring in "The Enchanted Christmas Cake," where you're sure to get a glimpse of sweet treats, a whole lot of romance, some laughs, and all the other comforts we crave each and every holiday season. This definitely won't be the last time we see Durance working on a Christmas movie either. Multiple holiday films later, she's at the point where she no longer needs to read a new script — and can we really blame her? After all, if it's a Christmas movie, it's bound to be good.


We got the chance to sit down with Durance to hear all about her new holiday movie and what she's been up to since she went up, up, and away from "Smallville." In an exclusive interview with The List, Durance dished on the difficulties of playing Gwen in "The Enchanted Christmas Cake," the coolest stars she ever met at Comic-Con, and how playing Lois Lane changed her life.

All about Erica Durance's new Christmas movie

I'm excited to hear about your new movie "The Enchanted Christmas Cake" because I love Christmas movies.

Me too.

Can you tell us what it is about?

Yeah, so this is finding our gal Gwen. So she is trying to have, kind of, a reconnection with her grandmother. Her grandmother was her soulmate, and one of the things that she did when she was younger is she baked with her grandmother. And so she's trying to bring Christmas back by baking this special cake, and she can't find the recipe. And so her whole thing is this obsession with trying to find the right ingredients, and it takes her along this journey.


And she ends up meeting this fellow, and, of course, they fight and then they fall in love, and it's wonderful for Christmas. But she's just really searching, I think, to find that connection again, to people that, you know, that are lost. ... And then she finds love, and it's at Christmas time and, like you said yourself, right? We all watch these movies at Christmas time for that kind of sentimental feeling of love and relationships and family, and even looking back into the past. And so she's trying to find this special ingredient.

And so it's a little bit rom com-y. I liked it. I was drawn to it a little bit more because it had a little bit more of the comedy beat in there, and she was allowed to be a little bit more foolish and quirky, which is more to my personality anyway, so yeah.


Your character Gwen teams up with a producer to shoot a Christmas special about her bakery — so you filmed a Christmas movie about filming a Christmas special. What was that like?

Actually, that was really quite fun. We did one particular piece where, we end up — she ends up on a TV show trying to promote it, and she's not an actor and not comfortable, and so that being inside of the book that way and trying to play her as nervous in the interview and that sort of thing was definitely outside my box, isn't what I'm used to doing now. So that was a little bit out there. [Laughs]

Yeah, because you're used to doing interviews all the time.

You get used to it. I mean, you get used to — Basically, you become a nerd to your own idiocy. So if you make mistakes or whatever, you're like, "Well, it just makes me human," but this character of Gwen took herself so seriously in what she needed to do, so I had this — I was getting to play that I was on a TV show, on a TV show, which was cool.

Why Erica Durance wants to be more involved behind the scenes

You not only starred in "The Enchanted Christmas Cake," but you were an executive producer on it, too. What did your day-to-day look like working on this movie?

Well, you know what was really nice? So Rob Vaughn was producing the whole thing. He directed it, and Robin Dunne, we've worked together for quite a few years on different projects, and so they were friends. And so they brought me in to do this particular movie, and we just got to have a lot more dialogue. I was able to talk about how it was going to happen, where it was going to happen, different things and aspects to do with the script, and that sort of thing. So you're just allowed to be in the room, basically, in that way and kind of be more involved in the creative side of things.


Do you hope to do more of that in the future?

Yeah, I did that on my show on "Saving Hope," and I loved it. It was really, really cool. I'm interested in all aspects of film and television and the storytelling process. I have great respect for all the different pieces that need to be put together for things to work out. And so I'm looking to do that. I'm still trying to find ways to get in there and do some directing at some point. And so maybe you and I will be getting to do an interview where I'm doing that.

So yeah, I'm really excited about where the future is and other ways that I can stay telling stories and telling good stories. You know, there's a lot of stuff going on in the world that's rough, and we're getting so much news on our social media sites and that sort of thing. And I'm not saying it's not important to have those things, but we get so inundated in things that we can't necessarily help with right away that I think it's also nice to remind ourselves of just things that we love like Christmas, like a good story. You know what I mean?


I get called about a Christmas movie, and I skim the script, right? Because I know, within reason, it's going to be great. It's going to be fun. It's going to be a nice little story where people fall in love, and there's a happy ending. And I still think that's really important to put out there, and people love it. And so I'm kind of trying to find a niche to get into there and be part of that world more but part of it in a much more leadership kind of way. We'll see how that goes.

What it was like on the set of An Enchanted Christmas Cake

Like you said, "The Enchanted Christmas Cake" isn't the first time that you have starred with Robin Dunne.


You were both also in "The Christmas Chalet" together. Can you tell us some fun on-set memories that you have with him?


[Laughs] We are good partners in the working world. We balance each other very, very well. I'm, again, quite, quite — How do I say it? I'm quite quirky, and he's very deadpan, and so those styles work really well when you're using the comedy.

And we met each other back when I was probably 15 — Oh God, this is aging me, but we did a funny little sci-fi movie way back in the day here in Vancouver, and then just these two. So there's just, you know, what happens when you've known each other so long, right? It's just, it's very easy banter back and forth and a lot of fun, little ad-libs and that sort of thing. But it's just a really comfortable space to be in with somebody. You trust them. You trust what they're doing with you in the scene, and that allows you to have a little bit more fun as an artist too.


I have to ask: since your character is a baker, were there tons of tasty treats on set for you?

[Laughs] There's a lot of cookies. Yeah, there always are tasty treats on a set because we are fed. It's like they feed us, and they try to do anything they can to make us perform [Laughs], like we're small toddlers that are going to have a temper tantrum at any moment. So there's always food. But I do remember there was a couple of times where I snuck some baked goods between takes and ate a lot.

But the irony of that is that I'm really desperately lacking in the domestic department. I'm a functional cook. And even my children said to me the other day, they're like, "You know, when you cook, it's just not as good as when daddy cooks." And so here I am, playing a character that's supposedly this great baker, but the caveat, of course, is that she is quirky, and she still is missing this one particular ingredient. And now if you were to put on any bit of logic and kind of ask yourself, "Of course. If she's a baker, she should be able to find the ingredient," but we just blow past that. Don't pull the thread, get involved in the romance, in the Christmas spirit of it, and I think people will be in for a real treat.


Erica Durance discusses stepping back into Lois Lane's shoes

I can't talk to you and not bring up Lois Lane.

Okay. I don't feel bad about that. I loved her.

You played her on "Smallville" for so long. What it was like to reprise that role eight years later in "Crisis on Infinite Earths"?


It was a surprise. [Laughs] I never thought that was going to happen. And when they called about it, I was definitely on board, and they gave me the specifics, and it was really, really cool. First of all, the location was neat because it was the old Kent Farm. And so that felt very surreal and brought back a lot of memories.

And yeah, it just — What was really neat about it is, you haven't played the character for, I don't know, I think it was almost 10 years. I hadn't seen Tom [Welling] for 10 years, and we just kind of said, "Hello," walked in, did our part, had a couple laughs. It was really nice. And it was just, it was very — It was like we had not stopped working on the show.

So I found that they did a good job. Because what are you going to do when you bring those characters back? How are you going to keep it within the realm of what works, given that it's on another show and there's other Lois and Clarks out there now? And I felt that, you know, even though it was one little scene, it was just so well done. And they kept her sassy still. She was still kind of tormenting him a bit, which I think is very important to her character. [Laughs] So yeah.


Did you keep any of Lois Lane's props from "Smallville"?

I did. I was just going to see if I had anything here. This is my office. [Motions to her bookshelf] All sorts of books and stuff. I kept the Lois Lane name tag, and that was on our desk, and our coffee cup and some of those things, but yeah, I'm sentimental. I kept almost all of her wardrobe. Of course, I can't wear it anymore because I had two kids. [Laughs] So we do our best to stay fit, but that was a whole other time in my life, I should say. But yeah, I'm pretty sentimental, so I kept loads of stuff, and I took pictures.

Do you keep them on your desk, or are they on your bookshelf right there?

I'm looking to see if there's anything here or if it's all — I'm really — [Looks through her desk drawer] No, I don't have it right now, but it seems like the other day I had some of her stuff out for inspiration, but yeah. I'm — this is my workspace, and the wall over there, I have some of my magazine covers I did way back in the day, so I can tell my kids I did that once, and tell myself I did that once. [Laughs]

That's fun to have all that stuff there to inspire you in your space.

Yeah, you know? Kind of just — We are all inspired by other people, that's great, but there is something to be said for being inspired by, "Hey, you did do this before. Let's get at it." So whether I'm working in here, or reading, or I do yoga and Pilates and stuff in here, it's kind of my little studio space.


Erica Durance reminisces about working in the superhero world

You also starred in "Supergirl." What was that experience like compared to being on the set of "Smallville"?

You know what? I found that everybody was really, really nice in bringing me into that. It came about because they needed somebody to fill in for that role, and I happened to be in town. I just had my son Liam, who's 5 now, so that was a long time ago. And they called me, and they're like, "Erica, would you come play Alura?" And I said, "Sure, it's a 20-minute drive."


And I went there and Melissa [Benoist, who plays Supergirl] was great. And it all really hinges on what your lead is like, right? They set the tone for the set, and she was a hard worker. She was fair. She didn't have any kind of crazy ego, which is easy to get in this business, especially when you're at the level that she was at with that show. And yet, it just felt like they were family, and they were having a really nice time, and they were very warm.

It was really surreal, because you would go into certain set pieces, and it would look almost identical to Superman, or she'd be doing things that Superman did before. It was fun when I played Alura, and I got to do the heat vision. I'd never done any of those things, so she was teaching me all the things that you have to do for that. And yeah, we had a couple of good laughs.


What is your favorite part about doing all these superhero series?

I can't pin it down to one thing, and I think that's why I like it. So when it was Lois or Alura, I mean, it was a smaller part, but I found that whatever role I was given on a day-to-day basis, it would be something different that I was doing. Whether it's romcom or sometimes they dip into a little bit more drama. Then I'd be doing stunts.

And then you get to be part of a story that is fantastical. It is so far against what's being pushed right now, which is like real, real, real, you know? All that kind of stuff, which just gets overwhelming and kind of oppressive. So it's kind of nice to be part of a story, which is about like, the good guy wins! [Laughs] And, you know, everybody wants to have superpowers. I watch it with my little guys now, and they want to be superheroes and fight for truth and justice and all of those things. So it was fun to be part of such a big, big machine.

What do her kids think of her roles?

Have your little ones seen the show? Do they understand that it's you?

They haven't seen the show yet, but they see me going off to do these little movies, and they'll be like — Because I just finished another movie for Hallmark, and they're like, "Were you Hannah today?" And I was like, "Yeah. Mommy was Hannah today." And then, of course, their thing is like, "Where are you on the leaderboard?" Because they're trying to figure out, because they just do everything from their little games they play. [Laughs] And it was just so funny. It just came out of nowhere. I was like, "Wow, you're already so competitive." But yeah, so they're starting to kind of get a little bit of a, "Oh, we saw Mommy," and they'll just like walk by the show and then be like, "Okay, I'm onto my other thing," which is fine. It's good. Yeah.


That's kids, though.

That's right. They're like, "Oh, yeah. Okay. Whatever." Or they'll be like, "Why?" My son Liam, who's 5 now — I say that because it was just his birthday a couple days ago [on December 7].

Oh, happy birthday!

Thank you. Yeah, I'm going to say thank you because hey, it was a lot of work. [Laughs] But he definitely likes it when I get all done up, like when I have my hair done and my makeup done, and he'll be like, "Oh, Mommy. You look so pretty today."


I'm like, "Wow, this is just concerning." He only compliments me when my hair looks nice? How did this happen?

The most memorable stars she's met at Comic-Con

You have been to Comic-Con a few times because of all these superhero series. Who's the coolest person that you've met there? I'm sure there are a lot.

I have quite a few neat people I've met over the years. There's Patrick Stewart, that was a big deal for me. Noel Neill. Margot Kidder, so that's kind of all in that world.


I met David Tennant one time. That was very cool for me because I loved "Broadchurch." I didn't watch his other major, major thing that he was in, which is I'm going to get in trouble for not even knowing the name — "Doctor Who"! I know he was in that, but I found it — We were in Wales for "Smallville," and I found out he was there, and I stood in the line for a picture with him, which was very cool. And he always plays such a serious character, but he's actually kind of fun and bubbly and goofy, which was a little bit surreal.

And then I met the cast from "Outlander," which was awesome. [Laughs] I was such a nerd.

Were you totally fangirling? What's that story?

Well, it was just — I thought I did okay with it. I thought I was pretty chill, but then my peers from "Smallville" were like, "You went and asked for a picture with them in their lineup?" And I was like, "Well, yeah. That seemed appropriate." And they're like, "You should have just done it in the coffee room." And I went, "Well, I'm not cool like you. I tried to follow the rules." So yeah, I fangirled a bit on that just because the whole cast — There was quite a few of the cast members there, and I had just finished binge-watching a bunch of it, and I was like, "Oh, my gosh." Yeah. So I am just as nerdy as everybody else. I have my people I like to watch.


How playing Lois Lane changed Erica Durance's life

Looking back, what is your proudest accomplishment so far in your career?

Oh, gosh. I don't know if I, like, have a moment where I'm like, "Oh, I'm the most proud because of this and this." What I have found interesting is that each job was really great for that stage in my life, if that makes sense. So Lois was my first big job, and I look back on that, and I'm proud of the fact that I was able to show up every day and not throw up, because I was really nervous, and, like, get through stuff. So there's little moments within that particular show, because of my anxiety and fear of doing it, the fact that I could just power through and was able to get through that kind of drew from some great messaging I had from my mom and my gran and everything like that.


And then with "Saving Hope," there's a couple of different things. I was much more caring. The leadership role, I did directing on it, I did producing on it. Being able to stay in a state of that kind of emotional trauma for so long, realizing that, "Yeah, if you just relax enough, it'll be there, and you can trust yourself," and all those things that we as artists kind of always worry about. What if it's not there anymore? And then you realize actually you don't need to be precious about it. Whatever happens, however you can make it happen, you're good.

And then being able to do that show being pregnant twice, I would say nothing really feels hard after that. [Laughs] So, I'll be on a show, these Hallmark movies and Lifetime movies that I love so much, but it's like 12, 15 days, right? It's easy. It's fun. And so people are like, "Aren't you tired yet?" And I was like, "No, no. This isn't tired." Eight and a half months pregnant shooting as a lead in a show, then you're tired, right? So yeah I, within reason, I look back on things, and I go, "Yeah. I'm really glad that I did that," and I'm so — Yeah, I don't know if that answered your question.


It did. Absolutely!

I do babble in interviews. [Laughs] You'll have to trim it back.

I'm a mom, too, so I understand where you're coming from. It changes you, too. I think there's no job as hard as being a mom, but it's also the most gratifying.

No, like I'm doing this interview, right, with you right now, and I'm thinking, "How do I manage my kids? What?" And I have to go have a conversation and be like, "How is this possible?" I thought the programming was this, and now this thing is happening. And that's the thing with kids, right? I was chatting with one of the teachers, and they said, "They humble you like nothing else." Right? Because you think you're doing this thing in the house, and you have these rules, and all of a sudden, something happens, and they're human, and they go out, and they surprise you. [Laughs] You're like, "He did what? What's happening? Why is he doing that? He knows he's not supposed to do that." So yeah, it's the hardest job there is. [Laughs] At least in my experience, in my world. Okay, that's what I'm going to say in case somebody wants to roast me for saying that now.

What's next for Erica Durance?

You mentioned a Hallmark movie you're working on. What's coming up next for you that you can tell us about?

Yeah, so, okay, other than our Lifetime movie "The Enchanted Christmas Cake" that's coming out on December 15th ... I just finished doing a Hallmark movie called — Well, the working title was "Three Sisters." I'll see what they end up calling it, but it's on January 9th. It's coming out as well. That one wasn't Christmas. That was just — You know how all the networks are now packaging for basically every particular season? That was just, I think, [it's] meant to be a wintery one, a Winterfest one, and that was nice because it was about the relationship of the three sisters in it. And, of course, they all find love and have love and deal with their relationships, but it was also their relationship with each other and their mother. So that was really fun.


"The Enchanted Christmas Cake" premieres Wednesday, December 15 at 8 p.m. EST/PST on Lifetime.