MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - On the next-to-last day of filming the Hallmark Channel’s latest installment of the wildly-popular “Christmas at Graceland” franchise, Kaitlin Doubleday has just finished a scene with a young actress playing one of her nieces.
As she takes a seat on an over-sized couch covered in bits of tinsel and wrapping paper, Doubleday reflects on the new real-life role she’s embarking on -- that of a working parent.
“Everyone’s been so accommodating and lovely,” said the new mom who temporarily moved to Memphis two weeks ago with her 5-month-old son, Franklin.
Doubleday is one of the stars of “Christmas at Graceland 2," a holiday rom-com filmed in Memphis over the course of 16 days this summer.
Long hours on the set are the norm for any actor, but this shoot is the first for Doubleday since giving birth in February.
“The people are just so warm and kind,” she said. “It’s been a perfect city, a perfect place and a perfect job to be my first with the baby.”
In “Christmas at Graceland 2,” Doubleday plays Harper, a museum curator who takes on a temporary nanny gig for a rich, Memphis businessman.
“I think of ‘Christmas at Graceland’ as sort of an updated, country ‘Sound of Music’,” said Doubleday. “I’m the nanny coming in to the widowed father. He’s regimented and structured.”
The widowed father is portrayed by “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier.
He described the plot this way: “So, my character, Owen, is very much by-the-book. Very rigid, you know? Everything is scheduled. Everything’s on time. And he’s trying to raise three kids, so everything’s buttoned up. But at the same time he hasn’t left room for love, and Harper, my love interest, comes in and teaches me how to let loose a little and fall in love.”
“Christmas at Graceland 2” is not a sequel to “Christmas at Graceland” or “Wedding at Graceland,” both of which filmed in Memphis last summer and premiere to huge ratings for the Hallmark Channel.
The only similarities this time around are the setting and the Memphis heat.
“That has been a challenge,” said Grenier. “When the heat kicks in and we’re trying to play winter and we’re wearing coats and scarves and hats, not so fun.”
While the movie may look like it was shot in a winter wonderland, thanks to special effects set designers, there was no escaping the Mid-South sun.
“It’s been really, well, hot. Really hot,” said Doubleday. “If I did this again, I think I would be way more picky about what I was wearing. No cashmere. Oh my God, the stickiness.”
She added, “The anxiety of putting my cashmere sweater on under my wool jacket to shoot, it was like, oh! But it makes you work really diligently, really quickly, really precisely,” she said. “You want to get this done in one take.”
Sound stages and stately manors, including Graceland, were transformed into wintry landscapes for the holiday flick.
Twelve-year-old Memphis native Hailey Harris, who portrays one of the children in the movie, had a blast in the man-made snow.
“One of the most fun scenes had to be sledding," said Harris. “They covered up like this huge hill with all this fake snow. Sure it got in your eyes and all over your clothes and it was blazing hot, but it was so much fun to be able to sled during summertime.”
Also fun, getting access to the King’s archives. The props used during a key party scene in the movie are all Elvis artifacts -- outfits, decorations and photos from Christmases spent with Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley.
Priscilla even makes a cameo in “Christmas at Graceland 2.” It was a full-circle moment for Doubleday whose mom took acting classes with Priscilla in the ’70s -- a fun fact Doubleday failed to tell her scene partner while filming.
“Maybe if there’s a ‘Wedding at Graceland 2’ I’ll get to tell her then,” said Doubleday.
Fingers are crossed a sequel will follow.
“I’m just having such a really great time,” said Grenier. “The cast is great. The kids are amazing. It’s been a really good time.”
“Christmas at Graceland 2” is scheduled to air around Thanksgiving.
The original “Christmas at Graceland” was the Hallmark Channel’s highest rated and most watched movie of 2018.