Rick “Ricky” Schroder may live forever in some TV fans’ memories thanks to his Silver Spoons role, but as an adult, he has become a commanding presence on screen for shows like NYPD Blue, Scrubs and 24, and off screen, as a director and screenwriter. He directed, starred in and produced the new Hallmark Channel movie, Wild Hearts. The TV film, airing March 9, is about a Malibu teenager discovering life doesn’t have to be about doing something cool but actually living it when she meets her father in the scenic Sierra Nevada Mountains.
With experience comes wisdom. As a child and later young adult, you already had more experience on screen than most well-known people in Hollywood. It was like you had your own life already lived at a much faster pace, in terms of work anyway. Unfortunately, people don’t listen to kids or teens. What was the first moment when you were able to really have a voice on set? How did you eventually work that into being a director and when not behind the camera, an actor who was able to speak his mind?
That’s a question I’ve never been asked before and I’ve answered quite a few questions. I was fortunate to have worked with a lot of talented people as a young actor. One common trait amongst talented people is confidence. So I was able to follow my instincts when I performed because of the people around me. The directors and other actors would allow me a chance to show them my ideas for any given “scene” and then a collaborative dialogue would start. Actors must commit to whatever emotion or behavior they are performing. So smart directors understand that the more committed and involved the performer, the better the end performance.
The Hallmark Channel is famous for its movies that leave you with a good, fuzzy, happy feeling. What about “Wild Hearts” keeps in touch with the Hallmark tradition?
“Wild Hearts” is an honest story about people. People who care about each other enough to work thru their differences. Not just walk away. The horses and dogs have to make you smile.
You have a really solid television background. But this time around, you served as a co-writer. How did you pour out your heart and mind into this script in a way you never could before as an on screen-only production member?
Writing is such a satisfying process. Cause at the end of the day you can see what you’ve accomplished. I was also quite motivated since my daughter Cambrie is the star and I am her co‐star.
It seems you challenged yourself additionally by working with your wife on screen and off, in the writing process. A group of friends can often split up when collaborating on a project! What happened so you made sure your disagreements were settled peacefully, and were there ever times you backed down to please her, realizing, “Wow, she was right?”
I loved working with my wife, Andrea. She would write separate scenes, from those which I wrote. When we had a difference of opinion, it was key to really listen to what each other was saying. Sometimes what you think someone is saying, isn’t exactly what they’re saying. So clear communication is a must.
What fun moments happened on set?
Everyday to see my sons working in the camera department or on camera and my three girls was great. But the single biggest memory I have and I still laugh when I think of this, is when Cambrie (Willow) had to slap Luke (Duke). They had practiced it so she could lightly touch him and he would whip his head to make it look like a harder slap. Well after a few takes I wanted to see what kind of reaction we would get from Luke if she hit him really hard. Well, she let him have it and the shock in his reaction was real! Priceless!
Of your former show, “Silver Spoons,” Fox News described it as “in the classic formula of role reversal between parent and child, Ricky Stratton teaches his immature dad to be a grown-up while the latter teaches him how to be a kid.” As a former child actor, what do you teach your own children about the important of balancing work, childhood and family life? More so, because you worked with your wife and children on “Wild Hearts?”
Just try to keep it all balanced. Too much play or to much work gets you into trouble.
In the foreseeable future, what projects do you want to take on as a director, writer or producer? What about acting? How do you plan to challenge yourself so life won’t be solely a series of one genre? Are you ever going to write a film that may involve you feeling uneasy, sad, lonesome or tragic, so much that you might almost be unable to work on it because it pulls out your emotions? Because those are always the best films.
I’m writing a few different scripts actually right now, mostly dramas. They’re all special in their own way.