‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ Star Eric Mabius Teases Obstacles Before Oliver & Shane’s Wedding
After three years, the Postables — Oliver (Eric Mabius), Shane (Kristin Booth), Rita (Yan-Kay Crystal Lowe), and Norman (Geoff Gustafson) — are back for a new Signed, Sealed, Delivered, The Vows We Have Made (premiering Sunday, October 17).
“It was probably the most fun we’ve had on any of these, to be honest with you,” Mabius tells TV Insider, “just because we had had such a long break and because there’s so much past experience and sense of family and I think we’ve all been really missing one another.”
In the latest film, the team tries to solve the mystery behind a letter from a young boy fighting leukemia. At the same time, Oliver and Shane’s wedding day nears. But will they get married? Mabius won’t say, but he promises “a magnificent ending to this movie. It was just an absolute joy to shoot and so rare that we got to shoot the ending as the last scene of our filming.”
The star tells us more about the latest movie in the franchise.
Talk about stepping back into Oliver’s shoes. Was anything about it different for you?
Eric Mabius: With each movie, [writer and executive producer] Martha [Williamson] tries to certainly cover new ground and peel back more layers of each character. Oliver’s struggle has always been how to conduct himself in his daily life and how much of his buttoned-up attitude and his attention to detail are really the fundamental parts of who he is and that’s really what this movie is about as well. What aspects has he been holding on to unnecessarily? It’s really more about trying again because he has had his heart broken by many of the most important women in his life and even though he is unique and together in a lot of ways, he is very childlike in others. And that was a real process of discovery.
Trying to bring all of what I had learned about Oliver in the past to this experience was important. Reflecting on that, but also at the end of the day making him more fallible and learning to let go of that control in this movie was important. Martha’s writing allowed me to explore that. The hardest part was walking away after this because we had waited for so long. We were really in the mode of this universe and wanted to just keep going with the next movie or even back to the one-hour series format.
Talk about the letter the team’s investigating.
What’s great is this movie is not about the letter per se. It’s the key to unlock this whole mystery. The letter gets us to something that has to be returned and tracking the item down that is mentioned in the letter is a whole expansive odyssey that they go on. It’s not flavor of the week or subject of the week like in so many other two-hour movies. It really is a journey. There’s not too much that is predictable in this script of Martha’s. It checks the boxes, but the way we get there, I think, is exceptional.
It’s time for Oliver and Shane’s wedding. What can you tease about the big day?
We don’t know if Oliver’s really ready for this. There are several times in the movie where we don’t know if it’s actually gonna happen, which I love.
How’s their relationship as they prepare to say “I do”?
Oliver is doing some serious reflecting, and he’s afraid he’s going to make the same mistake he has in the past because he jumped into his wedding with Holly with kindness and openness to the world, and he was really hurt by her. She left him really right after they were married on his honeymoon.
We think we know how Shane and Oliver interact. We think we understand the proximity they have to one another, but there are some real forks in the road. As Oliver is uncovering his trust issues, we’re not sure it’s actually going to happen because he’s shocked about the things he learns along the way. The people closest to him that have known him long enough are pointing out the things that are clear to them, but absolutely not clear to Oliver. [He is] someone who purports to be so self-aware and in control [but] is very much not in this movie.
Shane’s mother (Sherry Miller) is in town. How’s her and Oliver’s relationship?
Oliver has heard so much and has always tried to ease Shane’s mind because Shane has a lot of problems with her mother. Oliver jumps in with both feet and really tries to make Shane’s mom feel at home. But she is the queen of malaprops in so many ways, and you can generally count on her to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Oliver trying to navigate the minefield is really funny, and there are a lot of embarrassing moments.
What can you say about the future of the franchise?
We don’t know because there’s been a lot of changing of the guard in terms of executives and creatives at the network, but we are continuing as we always have. We’ve always tried to create shows that are at least of the Hall of Fame-caliber that a lot of us remember growing up watching, just a real movie event that happens on the small screen. Martha’s writing is of that caliber, and we really are aiming high every time. That’s why to dedicate eight years of our lives to this has been a joy because Martha has always been inclusive in her writing because she is always writing as if this is a movie that is going to be up for Emmy nominations.
What’s so great about her writing is that she intertwines real-life people, real-life aspects of certain people, some events that are real life, into the structure and it allows, I think, all of us as the actors in the movies to be dedicated on a whole different level. We’ve had over 40 hours of programming of this show now. And I feel like the audience has grown exponentially over the course of COVID. I think people are just sick of the same fare that’s really dark and negative or over the top sappy, too saccharin. I think that Martha really threads the needle in such a substantial way where it is funny, it is heart-wrenching, it is inspiring. It is all those things that we want television to be. You don’t feel overtly manipulated.
I think that in a single hour or two-hour format, the show would continue to explore new grounds. While before we were four separate entities as members of the DLO, the Dead Letter Office, now with Rita and Norman’s wedding in the last movie and potentially our wedding in the new one, we’re sort of in their world in an entirely new way as if this is a starting off point. There’s so much to harvest from this entirely new dynamic.
Is there anything you’d like to see specifically for Oliver in future installments?
Martha’s always on the right track about pushing Oliver out of his comfort zone in each movie. That’s my wish for him, to keep being pushed out of his comfort zone… pushing, I think in general, makes for good television, but pushing him out of his comfort zone is important because he lives such a structured life. I know there was talk about something more along the lines of higher stakes, not James Bond, but something more suspenseful of a storyline which would certainly be fun. We would love for them to explore what the USPS limits are in terms of investigation.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Vows We Have Made, Movie Premiere, Sunday, October 17, 9/8c, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries