Interview: Hallmark Channel star Pascale Hutton previews You Had Me at Aloha

Two co-hosts of a travel show set in Hawaii clash over their ideas for production but realize they must grapple with the fact that not only do they need each other to further their careers, but they also balance each other on and off the screen. Photo: Pascale Hutton Credit: ©2021 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Zack Dougan
Two co-hosts of a travel show set in Hawaii clash over their ideas for production but realize they must grapple with the fact that not only do they need each other to further their careers, but they also balance each other on and off the screen. Photo: Pascale Hutton Credit: ©2021 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Zack Dougan /

Pascale Hutton is no stranger to Hallmark Channel productions, but You Had Me at Aloha is a special one. It’s a true labor of love for Hutton, who brought the newest Hallmark original to life with her friend and When Calls the Heart co-star Kavan Smith. Hutton talked with Culturess about her new movie, her chemistry with Smith and how the project came about.

You Had Me at Aloha premieres June 5 on the Hallmark Channel, kicking off the network’s Summer Nights programming. Filmed on location in Oahu, the story follows a TV producer (Hutton) who is thrown into hosting a travel show in Hawaii with Ben, a travel show host who throws her world upside down.

If you’ve ever wondered if Pascale Hutton is as exuberant in real life as she is in her projects, the answer is yes. Her excitement is contagious and her passion for this particular movie shines through because of her deep personal connection to how it came to life.

Interview: Pascale Hutton talks Hallmark Channel’s You Had Me at Aloha

(Sarabeth Pollock, Culturess)  First of all, this is such a perfect way to kick off Hallmark Channel’s Summer Nights programming. What a great movie to start with. It’s such a cute movie, but also I think everybody’s been itching to get out. 

(Pascale Hutton) Well, the movie was not supposed to be made and airing now. We were actually set to film it in April of 2020, and then, of course, the world shut down. And then when things started to open up again, Kavan and I were already pre-engaged to be filming season eight of When Calls the Heart. So we were already filming When Calls the Heart until basically Christmas. So we couldn’t film it until 2021. Then it was going to launch Summer Nights. And I actually think the timing is really serendipitous. I think it’s perfect, because exactly like you said, people are itching to travel, and it’s a possibility now. The world is starting to open up. People’s bubbles are starting to open up and people are able to think about travel again, and I think a movie like this that reminds people of all the excitement and joy and adventure that traveling brings will be well-received and much needed in people’s lives right now.

And I feel like there’s something really cathartic about it, and as you say, serendipitous, about the timing, that it was almost like it was so meant to be. It’s also something we really need, probably now more than ever. Summer Nights is a regular event for Hallmark, but this year it means more, I think, than ever before.

Yeah, because I think for the first time in over a year, people are able to really entertain the possibility of traveling, and everything that that entails.

One of the things I love about the movie is the obvious connection you have with Kavan. In a preview you described your characters as “oil and water” because Ben and Paige are such opposites. Can you talk about how this movie came about, and what it was like when you finally got to bring it to life?

Well, Kavan and I came up with the concept for this movie. And so these characters were very near and dear to our heart, and it was exactly what we wanted to play. And that’s where the concept really started for the whole movie. I said I wanted to play a character that was very, very different from Rosemary Coulter, who I play on When Calls the Heart. Rosemary Coulter is larger than life, so enthusiastic, so excitable, always up for an adventure, always up for the latest and greatest thing. And I wanted to play a character that was a bit more reserved, didn’t like to adventure or go outside her comfort zone, and was a bit more reclusive. That’s what I wanted to play, much more of a control…I won’t say freak, but she likes to control and research her situation, and that’s who Paige is.

I said, “That’s what I want to play.” And I said, “I think it would be really funny if she was a travel blogger or a travel producer who loves researching travel and loves to learn everything she can about an exotic location, without actually going to any of the locations.” And Kavan said, “That’s really funny. I’ll play the opposite of that.” And so right at the get go, we knew that putting the two of us as actors on opposing ends of the spectrum was going to be really funny, because what Kavan and I do best is that quick kind of repartee banter back and forth. We’re very comfortable with each other. We know each other’s rhythm really well. And so, that opposite was going to play into that dynamic very well. And so that’s kind of where we started and how it came about.

And then once we were there in Hawaii, it was really just, I mean, the two of us were just wanting to have so much fun. We, along with everyone else in the world, hadn’t done any traveling in a year. And so to get this gift in March, which is when we filmed it, March 2021, to get this gift of being able to travel and go to Hawaii and have this experience of filming this movie was much needed, just like I feel everyone will relate to that. We were in the same boat. While we were there filming it we just couldn’t get the smiles off our face because we were so happy to be in Hawaii and be filming this movie and making it happen. 

As you were coming up with the concept, was the location always going to be Hawaii? Or was the location as important as the story?

Yeah, so there’s always a logistics factor too, filming logistics that needs to be thought about, and we just didn’t know what those logistics were going to be in terms of putting together a crew, and having access to certain sites and activities in whatever location we ended up filming in. Some countries are more open and agreeable to that than others. Some don’t want you filming in different destinations or different locations within their country, and are much more closed off, and some are really flexible about that. And so we just didn’t know how that was going to pan out. We knew that Hallmark, back when we were originally thinking of this movie, we knew that Hallmark had just produced a movie that had been filmed in Fiji, and our friend, Martin Wood, had directed it. And Martin Wood came back and was telling us rave reviews of how wonderful, how beautiful, blah, blah, blah. Fiji was amazing. 

And we got really jealous. We said, “Well, we want to come up with a movie that was filmed somewhere like Fiji. “And so when we first started talking to Hallmark about the idea, we said, “We want it to be a tropical destination, but we’re going to leave it to you guys to figure out where that will be in terms of which place will welcome our production. Not all places will welcome it.” And so they investigated a bunch of different locations, in fact. Obviously Hawaii was at the top of our list, but they investigated Hawaii and Bahamas and Costa Rica and Belize and Columbia and Fiji again. And they investigated all of them. And then Hawaii was just so flexible and willing to work with our production and help us make a lot of things happen. And really, I mean, it was just a “meant to be” kind of situation, because once we nailed down that it was going to film in Hawaii, so many things about the story just fell into place. 

Once we were there filming, I couldn’t have imagined us filming it anywhere else. It’s so beautiful. It’s so spectacular. It is a dream vacation destination. On our last day of filming, well, we had actually finished filming, and the day after, right before I was leaving, I walked this long, long walk along the beach, and I stood by the ocean, and I just looked out at this beautiful ocean and the beach and the waves. And I just had this thought to myself, I sent it out into the world. I said, “Please, bring me back here at some point. Bring me back here to film another movie. This was so magical on every level, making this movie. Please find a way, bring me back.”

In so many Hallmark movies the location becomes a character in the story.

And that’s how we wanted it. That’s how we wanted it. Absolutely. We always knew that wherever we ended up filming this movie, that was going to be another star in the movie, that was going to be another character because we really wanted, especially because the concept is a travel show within a show, that we wanted it to really authentically highlight where we were visiting. And obviously, Hawaii just has so many things to highlight, that once we decided on Hawaii, it was really easy to fill in those scenes and pick those activities that we were going to feature, because they’re so abundant.

Did you stay at the resort while you were filming?

We were staying at that hotel, the Kahala Resort, and then filming there as well. And it’s such a beautiful hotel and such impeccable service and it’s right on the ocean and you have this kind of private beach that’s just for the hotel and beautiful pools. And I mean, it was a dream. It was a dream vacation, really. 

What were some of the standout moments for you while filming?

Well, I love the scene where Kavan and I were in the ATV, and booting around. That was just so much fun. And Kavan is such a good driver and he’s very comfortable behind the wheel. And so he was racing around, up and down those mountains, and it was very, very fun. So I loved doing that, but I also loved getting to try different cuisine and different foods. So that was even amazing having that opportunity to try. The man who was in charge of props on our show, his parents owned a restaurant when he was growing up. And so he was a really good cook. So he actually cooked a lot of the food that was featured in the movie that Kavan and I eat. And so it was delicious. So that was another very unique, special experience. 

And then, I just loved filming. I never got tired or took for granted the fact that each location was spectacularly beautiful. I was never not in awe of the fact that we were filming on the beach, or we were filming in the jungle, or we were filming right beside a Hawaiian waterfall. Everything was so exciting and magical. I just felt like I was soaking up every second of it

That is so cool. I love that.

The other thing that was funny was I actually really liked filming that scene with the goats, which was ironically one of the last scenes we filmed in the movie. I think that was on our second last day, we were filming that, and those goats, they were wild, and when I read the scene, I had envisioned tiny little baby goats, a bunch of little, cute, little baby goats. And then when those beasts came out with their huge horns, I thought, “Oh my gosh, am I actually in danger here? These are crazy looking. Crazy looking.” 

They had crazy names too, like Red Devil. “Oh gosh, what is this goat going to do?” And then to get the goats to run, as is often the case with animals, any animals in a movie, you often use food or treats to incentivize them. And so they had this food, goat food, that I had in my hand hidden, and those goats, they really wanted that food. They were very keen on getting that food. And I don’t think they have control over those horns going out the side. They would move their head with no idea that that horn was still another two feet out to the side from where their head is. And so there were a few times where I was jumping out of the way going, “Oh my gosh, they’re about to get me.”

That’s one of the things that makes Paige such a wonderful character – she’s so relatable. When you have so many people doing things for social media these days, something always goes wrong or you can’t control it. And with Ben, and his penchant for saying “that reminds me”, well my grandfather used to say that all the time. Both of these characters are so deep and relatable.

Oh, well, that makes me so happy. I mean, that’s obviously what we were aiming for, and to have you receive the movie in that way just makes me really happy, because that’s exactly what we were hoping. 

Now that this experience has come full circle, are you working on new ideas?

Kavan and I have a few irons in the fire. We’re always batting around ideas. And the good thing is we collaborate really well. So he’ll throw out an idea and then we just kind of spitball on that for a while, and then I’ll throw out an idea, and we’ll kind of go with that. And eventually one of those ideas starts taking more shape and we go, “Oh, you know what? I think there’s actually something there,” and we start expanding upon it. And so we’ve got a few things that we’re kind of throwing around right now.

The great thing is that Hallmark is very receptive to hearing ideas that we have. And obviously there’s an audience there that we have a close relationship with, and we all love working together. And so those are three key elements that it would be silly not to utilize. And so, yeah, we’re always looking at creating another. What’s the next thing going to be?

Next. Hallmark Channel Summer Nights 2021 schedule. dark

We want to thank Pascale Hutton for taking the time to speak with us. You Had Me at Aloha premieres June 5, and When Calls the Heart was recently renewed for season 9.