Jason Dohring plays a single father trying to raise a daughter on his own in the new Hallmark Channel movie “Portrait of Love.”
To help create the illusion of a lost spouse, the prop department made fake photos to place around the house to help the audience and actors feel like it’s the story of a real couple.
The images had more meaning to Dohring.
“The photos are of my wife in real life,” Dohring says. “So as soon as I saw the photos, I started to feel the emotions of what’s going on.”
He plays a single dad still living in the town where he grew up. He thought his artistic ability would take him away from the small town, but he stayed to raise a family. His childhood sweetheart (Bree Williamson) left town after her heart was broken, but she returns for a special city event that brings the pair back together. Francis Fisher and Corbin Bernsen also star.
Once Dohring had the emotional base for his character, all he had to do was take cues from his co-stars. He found working with Williamson — who is best known for her work on “One Life to Live” — easy.
“The first day I met her I saw how professional she is. She had a timeline of this couple completely worked out, even to knowing the exact place where we broke up,” Dohring says. “That place was right next to the place where the characters meet again in the film. I thought that was really smart. She has a specific technique for working and it gets good results.”
As for his appreciation of art, Dohring once again turned to his wife, an artist, who he has watched for years.
Dohring also worked a lot with Caitlin Carmichael, who plays his daughter. He again called on his own life for inspiration. He has two children, a boy and a girl.
He enjoyed the energy that Caitlin brought to the set.
“It was very funny to see her on set. She always had this great joy. It was fun to play little games with her because that was a great way to foster the daughter-father relationship,” Dohring says.
Dohring has a great appreciation for young actors, having started working when he was 8. He had never planned on being an actor, but he has a set of twin brothers and sisters who were eager to act. Twins are always in demand because labor laws limit the amount of time youngsters can work. Twins double that time.
One of the times Dohring tagged along with his siblings, he got cast in a commercial and he has continued to act since then. His brothers and sisters didn’t have his acting drive.
He took an acting class when he was 16 and the instructor took him under his wing. He pushed Dohring to go after a variety of roles and not just the good guy.
One of the works he performed, “Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?,” written in 1969 by Don Petersen, inspired Dohring to become more interested in character roles. He toned that character down for his role as Logan Echolls in “Veronica Mars.”
“Going after character roles means I get to play the best of both worlds. It’s truly fun to play the bad guy, but it’s nice, like in this movie, to play a decent guy again,” he says.
This approach has resulted in a broad range of characters for Dohring, including his work as an ancient vampire in “Moonlight” with Alex O’Loughlin. The series got a good response from critics but lasted one season.
“There were some timing issues. ‘Twilight’ wouldn’t come along until six months later. There was also a writers strike. I thought we had the gears turning at the end but it didn’t last,” Dohring says.
Working on “Moonlight” broadened his audience appeal. He had a huge following of young people because of “Veronica Mars” but “Moonlight” attracted a lot of female fans over the age of 50.
That’s the same demographic that’s a big fan of Hallmark movies.