ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with actor Justin Hartley and director Charles Shyer about Noel’s Diary. Both discussed holiday movies and the original novel the film was based on. Noel’s Diary is now available for streaming via Netflix.
“When a best-selling author returns home for Christmas to settle his mother’s estate, he finds a diary that holds the secrets of the past,” reads the film’s synopsis.
Tyler Treese: Justin, there is so much history when it comes to Christmas movies and Netflix does such a great job of putting out some fun ones every year. So what is most exciting about this cinematic tradition of The Noel Diary?
Justin Hartley: For me, the players involved – Charles, and then the script as well. I think the script is really good and I think the character has a place to go that is hard to go to and it’s quite a journey from the beginning to the end. For those reasons, it was an easy decision for me. Those are all the things you’re looking for, or at least all the things I’m looking for. It checks all the boxes. So for me, I can’t wait. Let’s do it.
Charles, the book was very successful. What exactly was known 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 never read the novel from the beginning to the end. There was a script that someone else had written based on a novel that I had read, and I thought, “I know how to make this kind of movie that I want to make.” So I don’t feel the need to go back. I know the novel is successful, but this is a serious approach. I skimmed it, but I didn’t read it page by page. So I figured out how to make it my own, and I told Netflix what I was going to do with it, and I had a lot of ideas and they went ahead with it.
Tyler Treese: Justin, you know, this story runs the whole emotional gamut. Your character deals with grief, forgiveness, and openness. You talk about the script that really got you. What do you find most interesting about Jake’s journey here?
Justin Hartley: I really like, when I read it, the idea that … when I go to work and I’m afraid of the journey that the character goes on, that’s when I’m inspired. I was confused and anxious to do the part. When you feel like “that’s a lot, this is a really well-written character, a really good script, and I wish I could deliver,” that’s when the juices start flowing. It’s almost like an athlete. You almost want that challenge, and this movie absolutely has that. So I love the fact that he’s going on this journey — for so many reasons, really, and it’s hard. Not easy. It is difficult and he may not get what he wants. That, for me, sealed the deal.
Charles, there’s a great scene in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Is that your favorite Christmas movie?
Charles Shyer: Yes, I would say it is. That’s the scene that we know is not in the book or the other script. I want to pay tribute to that movie, to [ director Frank] Capra. I like the idea of them being the only ones left watching the movie at the end with the dog. I love the whole concept. It pays homage to Capra, actually. That’s what I want to do. And Barrett (Doss) says it’s the best film he’s ever seen. I like that.