Sunday night sees the latest premire of Hallmark Movies and Mysteries collaboration with Alexa and Carlos PenaVega, Picture Perfect Mysteries.
Picture Perfect Mysteries: Dead Over Diamonds is a lot of fun and finds Allie and Sam getting better acquinted with each other while we get to know more about them, especially Sam, who gets an extended family!
We had a chance to catch up with the real-life supercouple to discuss what's changed since the first installment and what's going on in their lives. On this Valentine's Day weekend, they even offer a little romantic advice. Enjoy our interview!
It's so nice to talk to you guys again. I really enjoyed the latest Picture Perfect Mysteries: Dead Over Diamonds.
Alexa: Oh, thank you.
Everything about it works. And you both seem a lot more comfortable with your characters. What was it like picking up with them again?
Alexa: You know what, well one, we just love this whole group. We're very fortunate to be able to work with the same director, a lot of the same crew, bringing the cast back. There is a lot more comfort this time around.
The first movie was setting up so many things. We're trying to build this world. Now that it's established, I really feel like we were able to get into who these characters were, especially Sam. And he really pulls on your heartstrings this time around.
I agree. And that was one of my later questions, let's just dive into that. He gets a really compelling backstory. What can you tease my readers about that?
Carlos: Hi. Sam, in the first movie, it was not just topical, but we had to really establish who Allie, and who her world was. So, it was really fun in the second movie to just find out now who Sam was and where he came from, and about his past.
Alexa: And you loosened him up a bit.
Carlos: Yeah. And I think finding that out allows people to take more of a breath with him and like, "Oh, okay, now I understand this guy." And I don't know the, writing was so good. And because now that we understand Sam a little more, it allowed the relationship between Sam and Allie to develop a little more, too.
Carlos: Which is way more fun than just keeping it on the surface. But, still no hugs and no kisses, though.
Alexa: Yeah, we're just developing our friendship.
It works. And the other thing is, there's a lot more humor in this one.
How much fun was it to get to just enjoy each other on screen, as opposed to sticking to the... To trying to prepare everybody?
Carlos: Let's just... Well, first of all, the first and second cut of the film. There was so much humor.
Carlos: There was almost too much, we had so much fun. And I think it's a really interesting balance between mystery and that seriousness, and then the humor.
Alexa: Because we want to keep it fun.
Alexa: We don't ever want to go too dark with it, but there's a lot happening. And I think we found a really good balance of enjoying the adventure of sleuthing together.
And you know what else I thought really worked much better in the second installment, than in the first, was the use of the type of music that you chose. It helped drive some of the scenes.
Alexa: Yeah. Absolutely.
And made it almost more playful and more mysterious. Did you tweak that at all? What you were looking for, the second time?
Alexa: So, in the first one there was a lot... There was a lot of back and forth in the first one. Carlos is super musically gifted, I would say. So, he had a lot of ideas and things that... But between Carlos, Ron, our director, Jim, our producer, and then Liz and I shot at Hallmark...
Carlos: Here's the thing, the music is its own character. So, it takes a long time to get it right. And since we've been able to be executive producers on this project, now is when we get to actually see, "Oh wow, this is not just... Let's shoot this and air it."
There's so much that goes into it, and the music is a whole 'nother beast. So, the fact that you said that, that's really awesome. So, thank you.
No, absolutely. I really enjoyed it. And how fun was it to get Erik Estrada onboard? How did that come about?
Alexa: He is a wild ride, that one. Carlos actually has some really great backstory with him, but he's amazing. He's super sweet, and his character added so much to Sam character. And I think my... I hope that we get a lot more Uncle Luis.
Carlos: Oh, yeah.
Oh, I hope so, too. And it helps Sam seem more human, and not just a cop.
Carlos: Oh, 100%, yeah. And again, Erik is such an amazing human being and he's been in this business for so many years, so to have a legend like that on set, everybody... And he's so humble too, so everybody was just having so much fun.
Is there something that happens during the second installment of Picture Perfect Mysteries that you're particularly proud of?
Carlos: I love how it all ties together at the end, having that whole last two to three minutes of, where I'm doing the voiceover and everything is tied together and it's flashing back. Every time I watch that, I'm like, "This is so cool. We did this."
Alexa: It feels like an epic movie.
Carlos: Yeah, like when you see Oceans 11 or Oceans 12, or whatever it is. And they're doing the... Oh wait, and there's an Oceans 13, oh my gosh.
But, how they're doing that whole recap. I've always wanted to do that in a movie, And it was so cool to see ours come together. And you see, it's like boom, and this and this, and this.
And as a viewer you're just like, "Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh." So, I think that was one of the things that I love most in the... We're super proud of because it's not easy to do.
Alexa: Also super proud of us for being in 35 degree weather soaking wet at the end of the movie.
Carlos: That was brutal.
I know there's more of this franchise coming up. What do you hope happens with Sam and Allie as the series continues?
Carlos: Well, we're actually leaving in a week to go film number three. And...
Alexa: You guys are going to love it.
Carlos: It's fantastic. I mean between Sam and Allie, all I can say is they want to do a lot of these, and in the initial conversations was, when do they get together? And I don't think it's going to happen for a while. So, I'm really interested to see how we can build this relationship, this...
Carlos: Yeah. But in a loving way, seeing that chemistry, but having them not get together for many, many movies.
Alexa: They're developing actually caring about one another. Not necessarily, whether it's feelings or not, we don't know what that is yet. They're actually caring about how the other one is doing with their job, with their life. And I think it's so fun to watch it blossom and developed slowly, as they're supposed to do.
Carlos: Most Hallmark movies, they meet in the beginning over coffee, and they're married at the end. Right? So in this, we're really... I mean, there are movies, but essentially this is a long TV show.
And it's just so cool to see these characters just grow and grow. I don't know, I hope that we can have a wedding one day, and then something happens at our wedding. Spoiler alert.
And I watched you on Daily Pop yesterday, and I noticed that you talked about how important communication is to your marriage. And I'm wondering, what are some fun little things that you do to make communicating fun?
Carlos: Oh, well. [laughs] Let me see. Let me see.
Alexa: Reading whole text messages is very important, Carlos.
Carlos: Yeah, reading whole text messages is very important. And then reading them over and over again.
No, but I think it's important for me, at least, is our life is different. If we have to have a conversation about something, she wants to get serious and talk about it, I'm like, "Let's keep this light, let's talk about it, let's have fun, whatever."
Alexa: He's like every dude.
Carlos: Yeah, exactly. But it's just a balance. It's a balance of making sure that you're listening. Because as dudes, I mean girls are too, but as dudes, we're just so checked out sometimes. And I really have to go, "Hey, you know what, let me actually listen to her and listen to her needs. Even if I don't agree. Let me just listen."
That's good advice. And you also mentioned that you wish that you had more date nights. What are some things you've never done together that you'd like to try?
Alexa: What have we never...? We were super fortunate in the beginning, before before we had kids, which is amazing, but it totally changes the dynamic a lot. We just went on so many adventures.
We're just super blessed to have had so many experiences together. And now that we have kids, we get to take them with us on adventures. But what have we not done? I don't know. We've really been...
Carlos: I mean, we've done a lot of stuff that we want to do.
Carlos: I don't really have a desire to travel to Europe and do those kinds of things. I did that with my band back in the day, it's a lot of work.
Carlos: Are you kidding me? Twice, twice with kids. That's a whole 'nother book in itself.
Alexa: I think I'm going to stick with, maybe not something we'd never done, but stick with this: I would just like more date nights now because that's really hard, as a parent, to just get away and have those experiences alone. But a memory that will stay with me forever is, we were in the middle of filming Picture Perfect 2. And we are exhausted.
We have long days on set, and when we get home, the nanny goes home. So, that way we take care of the kids. But that means no rest. So, after six days, or five days, of shooting, you're so tired. The kids are both screaming, throwing a tantrum. I'm exhausted.
And Carlos just walked over, and he just holds me. And we're just hugging each other in the kitchen for two minutes straight, which two minutes is a long time to be hugging one another. Ten seconds is a long time, but two minutes of just holding each other and being in this together. It was beautiful. As crazy and chaotic as it was, it was just one of the most beautiful moments.
That really is. Wow.
Alexa: It was great.
And that leads me into my final question, which is yesterday, Alexa, you posted something on Instagram that was beautiful and moving, about your body. What was the genesis of your love letter to your body, and how do you hope to help other women accept their body?
Alexa: I get all these questions about... "Oh my gosh, well how did you get in shape after your baby?" And like, "Aw man, I'm so down on myself because I gained this much weight during my pregnancy, or whatever." And I always, I'm like, "Girls..." And mainly this is for everybody, but I'm talking to moms, in particular, because that's something that I'm just going through right now.
It's so easy with social media, with billboards that you see, with commercials, to just start comparing to everything you see around you, and what you look like versus what everybody else is posting and whatnot.
Our bodies are phenomenal. The fact that we can create a whole world in there, push out a baby, this light comes out of you. It's insane. It's absolutely beautiful and a blessing. But, why are we so hard on ourselves? We just stretched and moved in ways, and it seems absolutely insane that we're capable of doing this, and I don't think we give ourselves enough credit for that.
And after you have a baby, it takes a long time for your body to bounce back. And there are some miracle moms out there who bounce back two weeks after, and they're on runways and whatnot.
But, for the most of us, your body... You still look like you're pregnant after you push out a baby. The pooch is there for such a long time. And I thought it was super important for people... It is a pooch.
I think it's super important for people to see that, your skin is stretched out, you're wrinkly. We're all human, and sure, we want to show the pretty side to people, but to me, that is actually pretty. I think it's beautiful. The body created life.
And if you end up with stretch marks, those are your marks that made your baby. Embrace them, love them. There's nothing wrong with those, and you don't have to apologize for them.
Is there anything else you want to tease about the movie, and for what people should look forward to before we go?
Alexa: Just that you think you know who did it, but you have no idea.
So, it's a good mystery.
Alexa: It's a great mystery. We're really proud of it.
Picture Perfect Mysteries: Dead Over Diamond premieres on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Sunday, February 16 at 9/8c. Don't miss it!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.