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Kristoffer Polaha Chats Mystery 101: Playing Dead | Moments With Mercy

 Just a couple days ago, I had the pleasure of getting to chat again with one of my absolute favorite actors - Kristoffer Polaha. I've had the opportunity to have Kris on my blog a few times and it's always fun getting to catch up with him.

He is without a doubt one of the most immensely talented actors in Hollywood today and truly needs no further introduction. So let's get started, shall we?

Mercy: Can you share a little bit of what you've been up to since we last chatted?
Kristoffer: Since the last time we talked, Mercy, Hallmark decided to pull the trigger on creating Mystery 101 and turning it into a Mystery cycle, so they ordered 3 more episodes: Mystery 101.2, 101.3 and 101.4.

101.2 - which is called Playing Dead - is going to air this Sunday night on the Hallmark Movies And Mysteries Channel. We're currently filming 101.3 which is called Words Can Kill, and then in July we're going to head straight into 101.4.  It's pretty exciting and we're having a lot of fun!  Jill and I are just churning them out, getting them done.

Mercy: What has been your favorite moment/memory from filming Mystery 101?
Kristoffer: I've had a few, actually.  Usually, you kind of get in and get out when filming a movie. Anytime that you have consistency within a job and it takes longer than just the 3 weeks a movie takes to film (especially Hallmarks)-- with this cycle, I mean, Jill and I, this is our 8th week of filming. And at the end of this week, we'll have 9 weeks and then at the end of the cycle, we'll have done 12 weeks of filming - which is a long time to spend with somebody. So you have all these little moments. There have been pranks on set. Yesterday, for example, our prop guy (who is amazing, by the way, I'm not throwing him under the bus right now. He does an amazing job). But there was a prop that he forgot and I came up with this little song like Johnny on the spot that goes something like this, Mercy: "There's a prop that needs resetting but the boy he keeps forgetting. There's a prop that needs resetting every time, every time!" And then Jill loved it, she laughed and sang it; then we started singing it together and then the crew learned it and the whole crew sang it to this poor guy. *laughs* He was like, "I get it, guys. I get it." It's stuff like that. Good old-fashioned fun.

Kris & Jill

Mercy: If you could choose a guest star to be on Mystery 101, who would it be?
Kristoffer: You know, that's a great question, Mercy because next episode there is a woman of intrigue and then Jill has a guy who kind of comes in; there's some outsiders who interfere with our chemistry/budding relationship. And I was thinking it would be a lot of fun for one of the girls that I worked with before to play that part. So either Lindy Booth, Emilie Ullerup, Ashley Newborough - obviously Meghan Markle is busy, so she's not in the mix there. But it would be fun for the audience to have a little flashback.

Mercy: How are you most like and unlike your character of Detective Burke?
Kristoffer: He's a caregiver. He really protects the people that are in his circle and that's where we're most alike. He's like a grizzly bear. If he feels like someone that he's supposed to be watching over is in any kind of trouble - it doesn't matter if it's Amy or her dad, his partner Claire -  he's going to protect them. And I'm a lot like that.  I'm a daddy and I've got three baby boys and my wife, family and friends. And when you're in my circle, I take care of my circle.  But I think that Travis Burke and I come from different socio-economic classes.  Travis is definitely a blue-collar guy; he's smart, he's really intelligent, but he's cut from a different cloth than I am so that's where we differ a little bit.  But my roots are his roots.  My experience was different but I think it's fun for me to go back there because my grandfather was an immigrant and he knew how to work hard and my dad was able to fulfill the American dream and do something really incredible with his life, which afforded me these awesome opportunities. And so we're only different because of circumstances.  It breaks down to how we eat, how we move through the world, etc. There's a gruffness to Travis that I don't have. 

Mercy: What is one thing you'd like to be remembered for?
Kristoffer: So I'm an actor, and if an audience is going to remember me, I'd kind of like to be in the same boat as Jimmy Stewart, Tom Hanks...these guys who are really great at their craft but who've also made people feel really good on a human level. Even Audrey Hepburn was somebody who -- wouldn't it be great to have these amazing successes as an actor so that aspect of your life was a given, but then the stories also include how kind they are. Just what good people they were. And I would love that to be my legacy.  One of the reasons I love acting is I get to go on set everyday and its like a giant 120-person family and you can encourage people. I have this thing on set where if somebody does something good that's outside of their job qualifications, if they're doing something that they're not necessarily being paid to do but it helps the day move forward, I'll do this thing where I'm like, "All right, everybody, a round of applause for..." and then everyone applauds that person. There's this way to have a positive effect everyday and be somebody who's encouraging and just making the day better. I love that that is the opportunity I'm given everyday. It's a cool thing. Mercy! Best question ever.

Mercy: Can you share a little bit about the short film you did about veterans?
Kristoffer: Yeah! A friend of mine, Chris Dowling asked me to be in a short film that he wrote for a kind of Masters Program at a university down in Southern California. I read it, and it had a really cool message just about the broken VA hospital system in our country.  My character is diagnosed with cancer and after his diagnosis, he couldn't get a follow-up appointment so he's literally dying of cancer and in pain; he served his country and there was no one there to help him. And out of frustration, he takes some pretty drastic measures to get seen.  It was one of those things where I was paid like $800 to go in and shoot it in a weekend.  The crew was all students, minus the director and the writer. Chris Dowling is the guy who directed Run The Race and Where Hope Grows. He's my boy and I would do anything for him. I think it had a really amazing effect. People saw it and the response online was really incredible.  I always love being a part of stuff that speaks to a greater message and has a cause behind it, that can shed light into areas where the more you know, the more you're encouraged to affect change.  I think that is ultimately the greatest power that art can have. One, it can entertain and take you away from personal troubles for a minute but two, it can also shed light into something where knowledge equals change. I think when artists can combine both that and entertainment and makes you go, "Man, we need to fix that" then you've won the day.

Mercy: What is one thing most people don't know about you?
Kristoffer: One thing that most people don't know about me is that I have been around the world. I have been to Japan and China, Vietnam, India, the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa.

Mercy: What is your favorite one that you've visited?
Kristoffer: I'll tell you what, they were each unique and special. But one of the coolest challenges I gave myself was there's two mountains in Africa, they're the two tallest mountains in Africa. One is Kilimanjaro in the South and one is Jbel Toubkal to the North and it's like 14,000 feet. So all in all, you're not needing oxygen, you can get up there. And a buddy of mine (Colin) and I decided that our time in Morocco would be best spent getting to the mountain, trying to climb to the top of it, and then getting back to the boat on time. And we managed to do it! It was really awesome. We took a train from Casa Blanca to Fez and from there we took a pickup truck to this little tiny market town at the base of Jbel Toubkal and then we hiked to a little chalet. From there, we literally trekked across this ice base and made it up to the top and climbed back down, then did the whole thing again to get back on the boat.  I remember one night sleeping on a trail and there was a patch of ground that was surrounded by big boulders but there was a bunch of goat dung on the ground and I was like, "Man, this is where the goats sleep and there are wolves. So if there's anything that's going to eat the goats, they're going to smell all the goat stuff and find two humans and be like, 'What's up?'" *laughs* We just slept on the side of the trail, got to the chalet the next night, had spaghetti, and hung out with Moroccans and alpine climbers from Europe. It was a really cool experience!

Mercy: Any Summer traditions or must do's?
Kristoffer: We have two Summer traditions!  One of them includes going to Tahoe or Donner Lake area for the 4th of July, and the other one includes going to Orlando, FL every Summer. We go to the beach and this place that's my wife's family's land which they homesteaded literally 150 years ago. It's this untouched land in the middle of Florida. It has alligators, deer, coyote, and turkey; all sorts of crazy stuff, which is very exciting for my kids.

Mercy: What is your favorite vacation spot?
Kristoffer: My favorite has quickly become the panhandle of Florida. Between a combination of how beautiful that region is and there are some specific towns, just really beautiful little communities along that coast which are cool. But also the memories that have been made there over the years. So I think that would be it.

Mercy: If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
Kristoffer: *laughs* That's a good question.  My Way by Frank Sinatra/Elvis Presley is the song that keeps coming into my head. I used to sing it when I was a kid... I guess I Did It My Way.  It could be either version, the Frank Sinatra version or the Elvis Presley version.

Mercy: What is the most useless talent you have?
Kristoffer: The fact that I can write almost equally as well with my left hand as I can with my right hand, and I can draw a picture with other at the same time. I'm ambidextrous. That and $5 will get me a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Mercy: Lastly, are there any upcoming projects you can share about?
Kristoffer: Well, I go back to work on Wonder Woman which is coming out June 5th of 2020. That is pretty exciting for me, it's been a lot of fun. I went last Summer and Fall and I'm going back this Summer to do a little more. That's been a real thrill for me.

Friends, Kris is one of the kindest, down to earth people you can find in Hollywood today.  He's genuinely dedicated to perfecting his craft and I sincerely believe he just keeps getting better and better with each role he portrays.
Please join me tomorrow night in watching Mystery 101: Playing Dead on Hallmark Movies And Mysteries at 9pm/8c. If you don't already please click through the links below and follow Kristoffer on social media to keep up with all his work.



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