He may be menacing each Sunday night as Miami gentlemen’s-club-owner George Novikov on Showtime’s crusading-serial-killer drama “Dexter,” but in real life, Jason Gedrick is a single father of three sons, ranging in age from 22 to 14.
So when Gedrick got the script for Hallmark Channel’s “The Wishing Tree,” airing Saturday(Nov. 10), it not only reminded him of lessons he’s learned as a father, but also of people who influenced him in his own life.
“You’ve got to mix it up a little bit,” he tells Zap2it. “It’s the Apollonian side of my career, not the Dionysian. It’s a really cool story. It’s one of those stories where you can kick back and just let the story tell itself. It’s not overly sentimental, like some holiday shows can be.
“When I read the script, it reminded me of some of the mentors in my life, like an acting coach or a football coach, who were able to say a few things that resonated throughout my life and allowed me to stay on track, so I’m not living on the streets somewhere. I actually was able to pursue and follow a career based on a little boost in this direction.
“That’s really who this guy is. He’s a guy who’s trying to fight his depression by giving back through his teaching.”
Gedrick plays Professor Evan Farnsworth, a widower who fills his time with his work at a prestigious boarding school in Maine.
When Christmas comes, he agrees to stay and teach English to the students who are staying at school for the holiday. Among these is rebellious, privileged “bad boy” Drew (Richard Harmon), whose parents left him behind to go on a European skiing vacation.
Hurt and angry, Drew takes out his frustrations on the town’s ancient Wishing Tree, a bare tree decorated with handwritten notes detailing the residents’ greatest holiday wishes, while also doubling as a fund-raiser for needy families.
When Drew’s antics threaten Farnsworth’s job, he gets unexpected help from the town and the old tree itself.
Also starring are Canadian pop singer Emmalyn Estrada, Amitai Marmorstein and Erica Cerra (“Eureka”).
As a dad, Gedrick had some suggestions.
“There were a couple scenes,” he says, “where the tough love was really harsh. I thought, it might be interesting to play against that. It was the reverse-psychology thing. The yelling thing never really works.
“Back in the day, when there was revolution or some sort of stand, it was based on something. Now, kids just take a stand on anything to be cool, to be controversial and snarky. It’s a generation of snarkiness. My antidote for snarkiness is, ‘OK, that’s what you want to do, here are your potential outcomes. You want to do it, go right ahead.’
“It makes them think, ‘Why would he say it that way?’ There’s this element of the unknown and mystery, like, ‘If Dad is remotely right, even if half of what he’s saying is true, I don’t even want to dip my toe in that.’ I get more peace that way. I tried to apply that, to some degree, in ‘The Wishing Tree.'”