Julie McNiven just had a babymoon. Well, not exactly. Couples take babymoons to savor a last vacation alone, and to celebrate the impending arrival of their baby. Similar to a honeymoon, except with a few bouts of morning sickness thrown into the equation. As McNiven described it, a babymoon is a “time to recognize this is the last time it will just be the two of you, and it’s important to acknowledge that.”
Directed by Bailey Kobe, The Babymoon tells the story of McNiven’s Hanna, a young woman who is “very pregnant and on a babymoon with her husband.”
“It’s really a fun adventure film with comedy and drama.” “It’s fun for the whole family.”
In spite of relationship turbulence and Hanna’s quick approaching due date, the couple fly to a tropical destination to reconnect and let loose. But this is not your normal romantic comedy. After Hanna’s husband Trace, played by Shaun Sipos, gets abducted by local rebels, Hanna has a lot more than just normal marriage problems to contend with. In order to save her husband, Hanna has to befriend a few locals—which she does—but not without a few adventures along the way!
Before filming The Babymoon, McNiven had just given birth to her son Tasman (who makes an appearance in the film along with her husband, actor Michael Blackman Beck).
First-time motherhood didn’t deter her from getting back to work immediately, however. “I love shooting films—I love working.” “It kinda comes along with being a mom, and not stopping your passion.”
And that passion is undeniable. McNiven is a chameleon—she has the resume to prove it. “Any character is interesting to me.” She’s played a 1960’s secretary in the male-dominated world of advertising (Hildy, in Mad Men), a fallen angel made human only to later regain communication with ethereal worlds (Anna Milton in Supernatural), a member of an alliance sent to overthrow an ancient starship who loses her body but keeps her mind (Ginn, in Stargate) and numerous other roles.
“Bailey approached me [about The Babymoon] when I was pregnant and not really showing yet.” She remembered having an “aha” moment, where she declared to Bailey, “I’m pregnant!” The two had worked together previously on set of The Caterpillar’s Kimono. Incidentally, Kobe’s wife was also pregnant, lending an extra layer of understanding to the equation.
“We actually gave birth at the same time,” McNiven told me of Kobe’s wife and herself. Because Kobe was also a new parent, he more than sympathized with the need for a new mom to have plenty of time to care for her baby. “[Because] Baily had a daughter the same age, he was super understanding.” “I had to run back and forth from the set to the hotel to nurse,” she said. “Normally you don’t get to leave set for an hour.”
When I asked her what it was like dealing with that level of physical and emotional stress in the middle of the jungle (they filmed in Puerto Rico), she laughed. “As crazy as it sounds, it really wasn’t that crazy!”
This, of course, comes from a woman who’s played bad ass angels and other supernatural characters. “It was a little stressful for my husband the days when I was in the jungle pumping.” “I had this fake belly and it looked like I was pregnant and pumping!”
McNiven obviously has a high crazy threshold, or more accurately, an uncanny ability to multitask and hone in on her craft in spite of outside chaos. “I just felt like I had to power through.”
And as for Tasman’s performance in the film? “He was so great!” McNiven exclaimed. “He didn’t even look at the camera.” When asked if in some aspect she felt like she ended up on her own (albeit belated) babymoon while filming, she paused. Then, as I sensed her smile through the phone, she answered, “It was such a fulfilling experience.” That’s exactly what I hoped to hear.
See Julie McNiven in The Babymoon, set for release Spring, 2016.