Netflix’s sweet family film, Holiday In The Wild, was four years in the making before finally making it to the streaming service this month. Through Kristin Davis' (Sex and the City) perseverance and passion for wildlife conservation, she and costar Rob Lowe were able to bring a love story for Christmas to the screen while also spreading awareness about the care of wild elephants. The veteran actors spoke with Screen Rant about the importance of telling such a tale correctly, and the fascinating ways that streaming platforms open doors for actors and content creators alike.
This isn’t the first time that you two have shared the screen together. Can you talk to me about your on screen chemistry and the differences between your previous experience working with each other and latest one?
Rob Lowe: Well, the first time Kristin and I were together, our costar was a train. And the second time we worked together, our costars were the elephants.
Kristin Davis: It’s so true!
Rob Lowe: They're getting smaller, but we work with big, non-human colleagues. That’s our thing.
Kristin Davis: That's right, because it's kind of interesting and fun. And a lot of outdoors: one in the rain in Vancouver and the mud, one in assorted South African and Zambian locations. I would prefer the Zambian and South African locations – no offense, Vancouver.
But I would say also that it's nice that Hollywood is such a small world. I loved working with Rob the first time, but I was kind of intimidated by him because he's Rob. And he had been a little crush when I was young, you know what I'm saying? And there he was in person. I was just like, “Oh my God.” I don't know if I really talked to you or not, I have no idea.
Rob Lowe: You were great!
Kristin Davis: I just remember being a deer in the headlights. I remember being like, “Oh my God, I can't believe I'm standing here next to Rob Lowe. Oh my God.” So, that's how I felt the first time.
Rob Lowe: You played it very cool, though.
Kristin Davis: Thank you! The second time – since I know his wife, since I've worked with his brother, since I know his nieces and his sons had come up to visit us in Vancouver – I felt a little more comfortable. And also, we were in this quite crazy situation of locations and elephants and weirdness and challenges. It was really fun to get to feel like we could play. We got to riff, which was fun, and he's the best at it.
Talk to me about your characters. Initially you both seem to be oil and water. Where do they find their commonality?
Rob Lowe: I think one of the things that's fun about the movie is it has some themes that are resonant, like the theme of second chances and new chapters in life. These are two characters who are looking for a second chance. and they come together in a really kind of cool and unexpected way. Also, it's very adult, I think. We're playing people who've lived a life, and that has some depth that you don't always necessarily see.
Kristin Davis: I agree. And it takes some time, which is nice. And it's about real things, which is nice. Also, I think that Kate comes to him in a positive way because of his love for the elephants. I think they bond over their elephant love.
This film shot on-location in Zambia, and it's been reported that the wildlife wasn't simply an on-camera, but a real-world challenge that included encounters with lions, giraffes, and crew members on "hippo watch." Talk to me a little about shooting in such an authentic locale.
Rob Lowe: My first day, to combat jet lag. I always immediately try to go and on a long run. I do that all over the world.
Kristin Davis: Which is great advice, but…
Rob Lowe: Really good advice, but it turns out you maybe don't want to do it in the African wild. Because Iran down this tree line, and I turned the corner, and there were these two bull giraffes fighting. I'd never seen a giraffe fight; I wasn't aware of how they fight. They fight with their necks, and they beat the living… It is the most violent thing. I couldn't believe how violent it was.
And then the other bul giraffe, after it won, turned and looked at me. I just backed up; I knew enough to not run away, but I'm like, “Wow, okay, so this is different than running through Central Park.”
Kristin Davis: I was like, “Rob did what?! Rob is where?!”I was in a panic. It was the first day!
Kristin Davis: I know. He’s a little nutty, but we got him a little bit educated after that. I think the snake guy on set helped.
Rob Lowe: So, the Black Adder – I think I'm pronouncing that right.
Kristin Davis: We also had the Black Mamba?
Rob Lowe: It’s the second most dangerous snake in the world, and we had one on set. It was under the blanket that we were going to be playing the scene on, and they had to shut the set down and to bring in the snake expert to find him. It’s this little teeny tiny snake, about the size of your finger, but one bite and you're done. You're over; dead immediately. And it was not only on the set, it was under the blanket that we were about to lay down on.
Kristin Davis: They really like blankets. I mean, he found a puff adder almost every day when we were on that set.
And then Rob always wanted to go see them, because he would put them in a little like a cat carrier to take them somewhere safe away from us when we were done. Robin and Johnny would go check on them. “What did you find today?” As long as they were in the cat carrier, it was okay.
The cold weather and wind also presented unique challenges for the cast and crew, right?
Kristin Davis: What did you read? Oh my God.
Can you talk to me about the weather issues?
Rob Lowe: The wind, the rain, the sunlight changing… I mean, that's what you're signing up for when you do it. I loved it I mean, there were parts that were really inspirational and romantic and made you feel exuberant. And other times it was just a nightmare.
It's not Vancouver, right?
Rob Lowe: Vancouver can be its own kind of nightmare, but there were floods and roads washed out. But that's what you want.
Kristin Davis: It's true. It was a lot. I’m pretty much used to it, but that's what's scary about filming – because filming costs so much. So, then you're like, “Oh my gosh!” But you know what? Everybody rolled with it. Everybody was amazing.
Kristin, I know elephant and wildlife conservation isn't just a role for you, but a way of life. Can you tell me a little bit about how your passion and work have combined?
Kristin Davis: Well, only through a lot of effort is how it combined. And prayer, basically. I mean, I honestly still can't believe it, but I started talking to our producers and our writers about this idea four years ago. They were animal lovers and they started asking, “Tell us about the elephants!”
They followed me on Instagram, so I was telling them, but I didn't really think about it as being something filmable because I knew of the challenges. I didn't know if there was a place that would step up to do it correctly. A couple of different versions didn't work out, which was what I expected. We didn't have Rob yet.
Then Netflix was interested. They really have a global audience and they want to have a global content presence, in terms of not just filming here or Vancouver or wherever. They stepped up; they needed some education about the proper way to do this film about conservation, and they listened. And then they said, “We will add more money to the budget, so that it can be done correctly at these places.”
And then I got Rob, and then I was like, “Oh my gosh, it might actually happen.” But until the cameras were rolling, I didn't totally believe it would happen. It's a miracle really to combine my two loves.
Rob, speaking of animals and wildlife, you voiced the son of Simba in the follow-up show to The Lion King, called The Lion Guard. How did you like this year's live-action remake?
Rob Lowe: Oh, my God. Jon Favreau’s an amazing director. He's an amazing actor, an amazing writer –
Kristin Davis: And a sweet man.
Rob Lowe: It's just a perennially amazing story. No matter how many times you see it, no matter how many different iterations, it's something new. It’s The Lion King! I mean, who doesn't love The Lion King?
You have both been fortunate enough to have long careers, and you’ve been witness to the changes in the industry. Talk to me about the new opportunities and potential drawbacks of streaming services.
Rob Lowe: Well, there's never been a better time to be an actor, for sure. And I see it through the eyes of my son, John Owen, who's in this movie. There's so much opportunity. There's so much content.
When I came up, there were movies and there were three TV networks. Now, there are literally, I think, 700 networks. It’s a number that you think is a joke, but it's not. So, it's a great time to be content producer and to do what we do: to tell stories.
The business side of it is a little more complicated, and even the people who understand the business are trying to come to terms with what it all means. The main thing I like – people get caught up in streaming versus this and that, but – what I love about today is that we live in a time where there are no rules. And I don't mean this as a bad thing, but nobody cares. Nobody cares about anything [regarding industry prestige]. If you win an Academy Award today, the next thing you do might be a commercial for beer. Nobody cares.
When I came up, you were not doing that. No way. You're over. Now, there are no rules. You can go and do a podcast. You do what you want, and I take advantage of all of it.
Kristin Davis: He does, he does.
Rob Lowe: I read books. I do it all. And I don't think there would have been room for that or acceptance of that when I started, for sure.
Kristin Davis: He talked to me a lot about that while we were filming, and it impacted me. It really did. I think you're right. And I don't necessarily come from that mindset either. I think it's just me; that I’m shyer about it all.
But it has impacted me and made me think about things differently, in terms of not being so choosy. For me also, it's about the kids. They’re littler than yours, and so I don't want to be away from them if I don't have to be. But at the same time, it's made me feel like I should take risks, because why not?
Rob Lowe: And here's the other thing. The world cycles so quickly that if you are not doing something relevant – and I don't know what that is; it might be every year.
Kristin Davis: It might be every six months.
Rob Lowe: But if you're not, you're out of the zeitgeist. You're out of the continent. You’ve lost a generation.
Kristin Davis: It’s so true. Things move so quickly; it's scary.
Rob Lowe: You become, as my son would say, “Who's that old actor?” That's who you are. Use it or lose is.
Kristin Davis: Use it or lose it. I like that.
I'm sure that every role you guys have had and everywhere you've shot, you can take something away from it. What are you taking away from this film?
Rob Lowe: Memories. The memories of making it, 100%. It's the exact reason I did it. I thought that would be my takeaway, and it is. When I watch it, I remember where we were when we did it, what the challenges were, what crazy thing happened, what animal was trying to kill me. You don't get that with 90% of the work that you are able to do.
Kristin Davis: So true. For me, I think I just take away the fact that we were able, thanks to Netflix, to tell a story that has so many positives. A love story, a Christmas story, a family story – but it also has the elephant story. I'm excited that some people might see that who might not be aware of it.
I wasn't, and I loved watching it.
Holiday in the Wild is now streaming on Netflix.