The Wolf That ‘Must Love Christmas’

(l-r) Neal Bledsoe as Nick and Liza Lapira as MUST LOVE CHRISTMAS. ©CBS Broadcssting. CR: Bettina Strauss/CBS


Front Row Features

HOLLYWOOD-With “Must Love Christmas,” CBS continues to deliver their Sunday night original holiday movies this month.

The film spotlights, Natalie Wolf, (Liza Lapira, “The Equalizer”) a recluse from New York, who happens to be a renowned writer of romantic Christmas novels. With a terrible case of writer’s block, and a deadline looming, she decides to step out from her safe environment and travel to Buffalo, a city that inspired her first Christmas novel.

When a freak snowstorm hits, she is stuck in the idyllic small town of Cranberry Falls, and becomes involved in a love triangle, with Caleb (Nathan Witte,) a tow truck driver who was her first high school crush, and a reporter, Nick (Neal Bledsoe,) who is determined to interview her for his failing magazine.

“Must Love Christmas,” premieres on Sunday, December 11, 2022

9 p.m. ET/PT and will be available to stream live and on demand with Paramount+

Liza Lapira and the movie’s screenwriter, Mark Amato (“A Christmas Proposal,” “A Kiss Before Christmas,”) spoke with members of the TV Critics Association about their new holiday special.

Q: Liza, I don’t know if there’s also an “Equalizer” episode on December 11th, but if there is, do you get a kick out of the idea that you will be in two shows that night?

Liza Lapira: Yeah, I’m really excited for viewers to see me play (two) vastly different (roles.) Mel, the character I play on “The Equalizer,” is much more self‑assured, to put it mildly, and much more aggressive than Natalie in this movie, so I get a kick out of that. It’s just 180 in terms of a personality shift.

Q: Is there something special in your mind about being a lead in a Christmas movie?

Lapira: Yeah, it’s really special for me to be the protagonist in this kind of movie because I’ve been a fan for so long. When growing up I didn’t see many protagonists that look like me so this has just been a doubly wonderful thing for me to be a part of.

Q: Mark, what are the things you want to avoid when you’re doing a movie like this?

Mark Amato: There are so many tropes that you have to find a way to recycle, and I don’t want to recycle.  Like my critics would say, you know how it’s going to end. You see two characters; we know they’re going to be together in the end.  I said, but you don’t know how.

I guarantee no one is going to be able to predict the ending. And for me that becomes the biggest challenge because if I get to a situation where it feels a little too comfortable and a little too easy, I haven’t tested myself. So each one I hope to get better and better.

Q: Do you have a favorite romance movie that inspired you?

Amato: The inspiration for this movie for me was “Romancing the Stone.”  (Kathleen Turner played Joan Wilder, a romance novelist.) The ‘Joan Wilder’ in my version was somebody who was so completely introverted, who’s just lived in her novels and the occupational hazard that that would create.

Lapira: Both of the leading men in the love triangle helped this character grow just as friends. She confronts a traumatic thing that happened years before this movie takes place, and she steps out of the shell that she’s been living in and leaps into her life as an active participant.

Q: Liza, is it easier for you to act meeting the cute guys or the end where you decide which one you want?

Liza: Meet cute versus the end. If the actors I’m working with and the script and the director are great, then they’re both pretty easy and fun to play.

For this movie, I had two [cuties] to meet. I enjoyed both of them immensely. I got both kinds of cute. I got the high school crush, the guy in my dreams that I haven’t seen in forever, the unrequited love, and then I got the antagonistic banter witty cute, so I’m thoroughly spoiled by this movie.

Q: Liza, what is your favorite holiday?

Lapira: I’m in line with Natalie. Christmas is pretty much up there.  It’s a time for family. I come from a very, very big one and it’s the one holiday of the year that we all make the trek to the main home and congregate and eat and drink and eat and eat.