Des-irable | 

Hallmark movie hunk inspired by late Irish brewing heir Desmond Guinness

Canadian filmmaker Leif Bristow explained how his swoony Earl of Glaslough is based on the real-life aristocrat, who died aged 88 last year.
HIGH SOCIETY: Desmond Guinness at the 50th Anniversary of the Irish Georgian Society at Leixlip Castle

HIGH SOCIETY: Desmond Guinness at the 50th Anniversary of the Irish Georgian Society at Leixlip Castle

Deirdre Reynolds

LATE brewing heir Desmond Guinness is the surprising inspiration for Hallmark’s latest festive hunk, it’s been revealed.

Dubliner Stuart Townsend is currently wooing viewers in TV movie Christmas at Castle Hart.

And Canadian filmmaker Leif Bristow explained how his swoony Earl of Glaslough is based on the real-life aristocrat, who died aged 88 last year.

“Part of the inspiration for this particular Christmas movie is actually Desmond Guinness,” producer Leif tells the Sunday World.

“Because when we [previously] filmed at Leixlip Castle, their home, I got to meet Desmond and Penny and became very fascinated by Desmond’s drive to both restore and preserve the historic castles in the country, believing that it’s a great way for both visitors and residents in Ireland to stay in touch with their history.

Deirdre Reynolds pictured with Director / Producer Leif Bristow at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park on the set of Hallmark movie Pic: Don Moloney

Deirdre Reynolds pictured with Director / Producer Leif Bristow at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park on the set of Hallmark movie Pic: Don Moloney

“I thought that was really incredible, so the lead male character in this movie is really based on Desmond.”

Airing Stateside on the Hallmark Channel, the festive romance stars Lacey Chabert as a newly single New Yorker who jets to Ireland for the holidays before being mistaken for an elite event planner and tasked with planning a Christmas bash at the Castle Hart of the title.

Dromoland Castle in Co Clare doubles as the stately pile owned by charming Aiden Hart, played by Townsend, in the film, which was shot on location in the west of Ireland in October.

Queen of Hallmark Lacey Chabert in Christmas at Castle Hart alongside Stuart Townsend.

Queen of Hallmark Lacey Chabert in Christmas at Castle Hart alongside Stuart Townsend.

“Desmond gave me one of the books he did on Irish castles and autographed it for one of my daughters, so I actually have that as a table book at home and I always kept it there,” adds Leif, who also worked with Gabriel Byrne on 2002 drama Virginia’s Run. “It just always made a good impression.

“It’s been quite a while since I shot a movie here, so I was delighted to get back.

“If you go back in the history of rom-coms, and you look at Audrey Hepburn [in Roman Holiday] or Sophia Loren [in A Countess from Hong Kong], the power of those movies in part was the location they were filmed in, so Ireland is a very important character in this movie.”

Esteemed author Desmond, whose granddaughter is fashion designer and model Jasmine Guinness, famously founded the Irish Georgian Society in 1958 to preserve Irish architecture of all periods.

Lacey Chabert and Stuart Townsend on set at Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

Lacey Chabert and Stuart Townsend on set at Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

And his striking resemblance as a younger man to the 49-year-old star of Queen of the Damned is no accident.

“Given that this movie takes place in Ireland and the leading man is Irish, we thought well let’s try to find an Irish leading man for the movie,” says Leif, who filmed TV movies Marie Curie: More Than Meets the Eye and Newton: A Tale of Two Isaacs here in the ‘90s.

“Stuart’s just got a really nice look and demeanour for a film like this, and he’s so wonderful to work with.

“He’s really a nice guy - we’ve had a lot of fun with him on this project.”


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