Ryan Merriman in Elevator Girl – Hallmark Profile

Ryan Merriman

In anticipation of Hallmark’s new orignial movie, ELEVATOR GIRL, which premieres Saturday, February 13 (9p.m. ET/PT, 8C), I thought I would share a really nice profile of Ryan Merriman, who stars in the movie. So enjoy and you can also find a larger version of his photo all the way down.

Ryan Merriman is a throwback to a bygone era, the kind of stand-up guy who – in a world of “Me first!” – isn’t supposed to still exist. But exist he does, remaining loyal to his high school sweetheart (now his wife of five years), speaking to his mother every day on the telephone, giving much of his time to charities, practicing unfailing politeness and generally acting like few 26-year-old guys who hit the jackpot in Hollywood at a tender age.

This is, in short, the kind of Midwestern values guy we root for, big time. But when you say this to Merriman, he shrugs in the kind of “Aw shucks” way that you might expect of a kid born in Choctaw, Oklahoma, who doesn’t think what he’s doing now is much of a big deal at all. Were he Jewish, he would be referred to as a “mensch.”

But Merriman will have none of this talk, of course. Which is hardly a surprise at all.

“The truth is that I’m the lucky one,” Merriman maintains. “I feel like with all the good stuff that’s already happened to me, God’s got his hand on my shoulder. It seems like He’s always done the right thing for me when I needed it. I mean, shoot, look at all the success I’ve had, and I’m just in my 20s. That isn’t because I’m so cool. I really have been tremendously fortunate.”

Of course, one can make the argument that we make our own luck. And if that’s the case, Merriman has put out plenty of effort to remain on a steady roll after having landed in show business at the ripe young age of 11. That was when he was brought out to Los Angeles, after having done commercials and local theater in Oklahoma, with a phone call from filmmaker Rob Reiner.

It was 1994, and Reiner wanted Merriman to audition for the lead in his new feature, “North.” The story goes that the young actor was kept waiting for 10 days after reading for the part when Reiner couldn’t decide between Merriman and another young lad named Elijah Wood.

“I didn’t wind up getting that, you may remember,” Merriman informs. But that turned out to be another stroke of luck. With Wood as its star, “North” would go on to become the biggest bomb of Reiner’s career, a film that Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert once referred to on their show as “the worst film in history.”

Merriman dodged a bullet.

“That’s what I mean by God having a hand on my shoulder,” he reiterates. And right after missing out on “North,” Merriman wound up getting cast in a new NBC comedy series, “The Mommies,” in ’94 – and his career was off to the races. He’s now up to three TV series and some 25 movies in 15 years, ranging from “The Ring Two” and “Final Destination 3” to a saucy romantic comedy called “Elevator Girl.”

“Elevator Girl” is a new Hallmark Channel Original Movie (premiering Saturday, February 13 (9p.m. ET/PT, 8C)) which stars Merriman and “Party of Five” regular Lacey Chabert as unlikely lovebirds thrust together by chance when the elevator both are riding on breaks down. He’s a hunky workaholic lawyer working at a big-time law firm. She’s a free-spirited, artsy type working as a caterer at the dinner that’s being thrown in his honor.

“It’s the kind of project every young actor dreams about being a part of,” Merriman gushes. “I get to play a young lawyer who wears Italian suits and drives a Mercedes. Who wouldn’t want that? In reality, I have a BMW and suits that aren’t necessarily Italian. I think they’re from the Men’s Wearhouse, actually.”

The film is Merriman’s first-ever romantic comedy in a career spent doing “more serious stuff, action and horror. It’s nice to be able to be charming and romantic on camera and not worry about the risque’.”

Indeed, Merriman loved everything about “Elevator Girl,” including working with the Elevator Girl herself, Chabert, whom he called, “such a great person, and such a pro. We just had the greatest time together. We did a lot of dancing/driving around in the Mercedes…”

Huh? Dancing in a Mercedes?

“Oh yeah,” Merriman replies. “Haven’t you ever danced in a car? I’m a really good car dancer. Everyone should have a car dance that they do when they’re partying. Once you get into the rhythm of it, it’s really easy and cool.”

If that doesn’t sound like the fun-loving life of an all-American boy, what does? Actually, maybe
this: Merriman married his high school sweetie, named Micol, five years ago. She works in a “cute little jewelry store and show boutique in Burbank” while her husband is off doing his acting thing.

They lead a quiet life away from the Hollywood party circuit, drawn mostly to sports and charitable works. It speaks volumes about the Merrimans that they moved to Los Angeles fulltime only about two years ago, selling their Oklahoma house and bringing their stuff out here by car and truck. Before that, Ryan would book a job, work it, then go back to Oklahoma.

When he calls for an interview, Merriman’s cell phone number is still the one he had back home and the same one on which he speaks to his mother an average of three times daily.

“It’s funny, she’s actually calling me right now!” he announces at one point during an interview. “We’re a really close family.”

The telephone is also Merriman’s lifeline. He doesn’t much go in for email and has no account on Facebook, My Space or Twitter. His take: “Call me if you want to talk. I might have 120 things to tell you. That’s tough to do in a Facebook message. I’m an old-fashioned guy that way.”

Actually, Merriman is old-fashioned in a lot of ways. His preferred recreation is riding dirt bikes and playing golf, which he claims to do “like a madman. In fact, I played four times just this week.” But he combines it with fundraising, participating in an event entitled Tee It Up For the Troops that generates money for the families of soldiers killed in action overseas.

“My brother-in-law is in the service,” he explains. “I’m there to support anything that involves the troops and the families.”

While he claims to be recognized “not every day, but maybe every other day,” the baby-faced Merriman believes that he’s known more for a made-for-TV movie he made in 2001 at age 17 called “The Luck of the Irish” than his far more recent spate of horror flicks.

“People remember me from that, but they don’t necessarily know it,” he says. “They’ll usually think I went to high school with them. That’s the first thing. I have to kind of break down my resume’ and finally people tag it to ‘Luck of the Irish.’ It’s pretty funny.”

But Merriman isn’t one to shrink from the recognition and is happy to get it in a town better known for chewing up actors and spitting them out than fueling their dreams.

“I’ve had nothing but great experiences, which is a total rarity,” Merriman believes. “It’s such a negative industry. You get 20 ‘No’s’ to every ‘Yes.’ You have to be able to handle rejection and handle it well. Because the bottom line is, you need a little bit of that suffering to make the success sweeter.”

Ryan Merriman - Elevator Girl