The Noel Diary Interview: Justin Hartley & Charles Shyer on the holidays

ComingSoon editor-in-chief Tyler Treese spoke with actor Justin Hartley and director Charles Shyer about Noel Diary. The two discussed the holiday movie and the original novel the movie is based on. Noel Diary is now available for streaming via Netflix.

“When a bestselling author returns home for Christmas to settle his mother’s estate, he finds a diary that holds secrets to the past,” reads the film’s synopsis.

Tyler Treese: Justin, there is such a rich history when it comes to Christmas movies, and Netflix does a great job of releasing some fun movies every year. So what was most exciting about being a part of this cinematic tradition with The Noel Diary?

Justin Hartley: For me it was the players involved – Charles, and then also the script. I thought the script was really good and I thought the character had a place to go that was hard to get to and quite a journey from start to finish. For those reasons, it was an easy decision for me. These are all the things you’re looking for, or at least all the things I’m looking for. It checked all the boxes. So for me, I can’t wait. Let’s do it.

Charles, the book was so successful. What really stood out about the original novel that made you want to adapt it, write the screenplay and then direct it?

Charles Shyer: To be honest with you, I didn’t really read the novel cover to cover. There was a script that someone else had written based on the novel that I read, and I thought, “I know how to make that into the kind of movie I want to make.” So I didn’t feel it was necessary to go back. I knew the novel was successful, but it was a very serious approach. I skimmed it, but I didn’t go side by side. So I knew how to make it my own and I told Netflix what I wanted to do with it and I had a bunch of ideas and they went for it.

Tyler Treese: Justin, you know, this story runs the gamut of emotions. Your character deals with grief, forgiveness and opening up. You talked about how the script really grabbed you. What did you find most interesting about Jake’s journey here?

Justin Hartley: I really loved when I read it, the idea that … when I take on a job and I’m intimidated by the journey that the character goes on, then I’m motivated. I get giddy and I get anxious to get the job done. When you feel like “this is a lot, this is a really well-written character, a really good script, and I hope I can deliver,” that’s when the juices start flowing. It’s almost like an athlete. You almost want that challenge, and this movie definitely had that. So I love the fact that he’s going on this journey — actually, for several reasons, and it’s hard. It is not easy. It’s hard and he might not get what he wants. That, for me, sealed the deal.

Charles, there’s a really great scene in the It’s a Wonderful Life movie. Is it your favorite Christmas movie

Charles Shyer: Yes, I would say that. That’s the scene we came up with that wasn’t in the book or in the second script. I wanted to pay tribute to that movie, that [ director Frank] Capra. I like the idea that they were the only ones left to see the movie at the end with the dog. I just like the whole concept. It was truly a tribute to Capra. That’s what I wanted to do. And that Barrett (Doss) says it’s the best movie she’s ever seen. I love it.

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