In this exclusive Sonoma Christian Home interview, actor Diogo Morgado talks faith and career with SCH Contributor Vanessa LeRow.
Love Finds You in Valentine is the third movie in the extremely successful Love Finds You franchise. The hugely popular Up tv premier movie can be owned on DVD June 7.
Based on Irene Brand’s popular book of the same title, Love Finds You In Valentine costars Diogo Morgado (Son of God, The Messengers), Michaela McManus (Aquarius, One Tree Hill), Lindsay Wagner(The Paper Chase, The Bionic Woman), and Ed Asner (Up, The Mary Tyler Moore Show).
In Love Finds You in Valentine, California law student, Kennedy Blaine, inherits a ranch in the small town of Valentine, Nebraska. Kennedy (McManus) arrives at Circle Cross Ranch and is immediately drawn to its beauty and charm (and handsome ranch manager, Derek Sterling). With the decision to sell the ranch on her mind, she spends the summer at Circle Cross.
As Kennedy tries to reconnect with her estranged family and ancestral roots, she forges a friendship with the ranch manager, Derek Sterling (Morgado). When Kennedy reconsiders her decision to sell the ranch, she becomes the target of harassment and threats by someone who clearly wants her to leave Valentine.
With grit, determination, and help from Derek and his mom, June (Wagner), Kennedy finds herself fighting for home and love.
Sonoma Christian Home sat down with Diogo Morgado to talk about the movie, his character, and his love of story.
SCH: What drew you to Love Finds You in Valentine?
DM: The Story. The Script. I was looking for something like this for a long time. I was hoping to get a character that was part of something inspirational. I related to the character and some parts of him really spoke to me.
SCH: What drew you to Derek Sterling?
DM: He’s a fighter. He had a tough childhood and was a troubled kid. Because of his adoptive mom and love, he found salvation.
We really tried to portray him as a tough, cold guy at the beginning of the film. That’s the beauty of movies—as time goes on, what you thought about him was wrong. There’s a lesson in that because we are so quick to judge people. Unfortunately, as a society, we judge people until the truth comes out.
SCH: You seemed really comfortable in this role; specifically, working on the ranch, riding a horse. Did you have to prepare or do any research for the role?
DM: I did. I was afraid of horses. (Laughing) When I was 12, I got on a horse and got hurt. It was in front of the whole school. I was the object of mockery for the whole year. So, this was overcoming a fear for me. In a way, I took it as part of Derek’s journey.
SCH: What do you mean by that?
DM: Derek had to overcome fear in a different way. He had to take a leap of faith in order to find himself. For me to honor this character, I had to overcome my fear. Take this leap of faith, too.
It’s difficult for me as an actor to fake the character. I try to be true to it. In order for me to be a ranch hand, I had to be that guy truthfully.
SCH: Your character Derek says in the film, “Life kept kicking me around. New life grabbed me and I grabbed it back.” How did that line resonate with you?
DM: Well, I don’t know if I should say this, but let’s do it.
That scene was one of my favorites as well. To support the feeling, we rearranged some of the lines and words. I really think that words are an excuse for feelings. Sometimes words get in the way. By rearranging the words, the message becomes clearer.
I wanted to play it as simple as possible…not patronizing or preachy, but to show the power of simply being there for someone. Sometimes just being there is the most helpful thing. That’s the message in that scene.
I used that scene to showcase what I believe personally. It’s a privilege, a true privilege, for an actor to have a window of opportunity to put on film something he truly believes.
SCH: The film talks a lot about connection and finding home. Where do you find connection? How do you define home?
DM: Well, wow, that’s a deep question.
I connect with everything that is not obvious. Between point A and B of storytelling, there’s a bunch of layers and shades that aren’t always portrayed in film. I think storytelling is one of the most powerful tools. It is the most beautiful product of human nature. There’s no animal on earth that is drawn to stories the way we are.
Why is that? It’s because stories are what define us as human beings. It’s the glass where we put feelings. So, for me, that’s where I connect. Any story that will show [the layers], I want to be a part of—in any way. I don’t have to be the hero or salvation all the time. I may even be the bad guy. But, as long as the story is true, I want to be a part of it.
What is home for me? Wherever love is. Family, of course. That’s home. But, if we really want to go deep on this, home is every time you’re at peace with yourself.
It might sound cliché, but you can be close to the ones you love, but if you’re not at peace with yourself, you’re not home. At all. You’ll still feel disconnected, isolated. So, peace with yourself is home, too.
SCH: One of the themes in the film is ‘starting new’. Your character is haunted by his past, but has built a new life. What advice would you give our readers about starting over or overcoming a past that haunts them?
DM: That was absolutely and definitely the reason I wanted to do this movie because the movie isn’t patronizing or tells people how to overcome. It addresses the fact (that overcoming is a part of life) and it shows a way one guy was able to overcome.
Who am I to give any advice? I can speak for Derek. Derek was someone who found inner peace through work with nature. He found something that gave him inner peace and a sense of wanting to wake up the next morning and take care of something or someone.
You know we are all struggling—all looking for something that makes us full and happy. We can all relate to the struggle.
One of the things that really helps me, besides my faith, is being grateful for what you have. Gratitude is a powerful, powerful tool.
I guess if I had to say something on the matter, Id say do something small, but meaningful enough that it makes you want to wake up each day hoping to be better than the day before.
Own a copy of Love Finds You in Valentine available on DVD June 7