"Right now we're doing a social service thing; we go and try to stuff all the local food pantries with as much food and clothing as we can," says Luke Perry, who makes that a family activity. On Jan. 26, he returns as Circuit Judge John Goodnight in "Goodnight For Justice: Queen of Hearts," the third installment in Hallmark Movie Channel's popular series of Westerns set in the 1880s. "This guy is about justice, period. He will hang you, he will shoot you, he'll do whatever he needs to do to get it done," says Perry of the character, who becomes unwittingly involved with a female con artist (Katharine Isabelle) on the run who doesn't know he's a judge. Complicating matters is Cyril Knox (Ricky Schroder), "a Confederate soldier who lost his mind and he had this obsession with this girl, in hunting her down — a 19th century stalker. Goodnight ends up getting in my way. Westerns are so much fun."
Perry concurs. "It was a lot of running, a lot of action, It's the most fun I've ever had," he raves, noting that he has ideas for a lot more films in the series, "however many of them they want to buy." He's also excited about a short film he did called "Flat Chested," in which he plays the ex-boyfriend of a woman (Alicia Witt) who learns she's likely to get breast cancer, calling it "one of my favorite projects I've ever done." Word has it that he and "Beverly Hills 90210" co-star Jennie Garth are developing a TV project, and he doesn't deny it. "I would love to. She's one of the best actresses in town. But I don't know yet," Perry says. "We're still kicking it around."
For Schroder, "Goodnight for Justice" is the first of two Hallmark projects this year. He wrote, directed, produced and stars in "Wild Hearts," which will premiere March 9. It's a contemporary family story in which he plays a mustang wrangler who discovers he has a daughter — played by his real-life daughter, Cambrie. "She comes to spend the summer with me to get to know the dad she never knew. Then a horse comes between us." The movie really was a family affair, as "every one of my family members made an on-camera appearance: two sons, two daughters and my wife in smaller roles, except my son Luke is the young villain," says Schroder.
Compared with "Goodnight," in which he had no responsibility other than to act, "Wild Hearts" was a lot more pressure. "When you're the director, producer and the star you never leave, but you can influence everything. It's such an inclusive process. It's just a matter of steering everyone. I'm the captain. But I don't yell at anybody. I like to have fun when I work," says Schroder, whose projects in development include a war movie and a reality series following the last brigade in Afghanistan called "The Last Tour."
When it comes to being eco-aware, "I turn off the lights constantly around the house. It drives me crazy when my kids leave the lights on. I run the thermostat like it should be run: I have it on a timer. It turns down at night and it automatically turns on at 6:30 in the morning to warm the house up," he says, relating a gas-saving driving practice. "When I go down a hill I put my car in neutral and coast," he says. "It's like a fun game for me."