'Chesapeake Shores' Star on the Romantic Season 4 Premiere Proposal (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Sunday's season 4 premiere of Hallmark Channel's Chesapeake Shores.
Here comes the bride...
Chesapeake Shoreslaunched its fourth season Sunday with a signature Hallmark Channel moment, when army vet Kevin O'Brien (Brendan Penny) went down on one knee against the backdrop of a picturesque sunset alongside an idyllic cliff to ask his longtime love, firefighter Sarah Mercer (Jessica Sipos), to marry him. The proposal came after a long line of near-perfect proposals gone awry for Kevin (who was once previously engaged), but it all worked out in the end when Sarah happily said yes.
"For us, because we wanted to concentrate on relationships and especially because that's such a moment in the premiere, that it felt like they were the couple that are the most ready to take that plunge," showrunner Michael Berns tells ET of their engagement. "And I think you really wanted to move them forward and -- if there are more seasons for this show -- give them the ability to see what happens in their lives when they themselves have to deal with their own family."
"It's a nice spot where they end off and I think that it's a nice ending for them," Penny tells ET of Kevin and Sarah's next chapter. "And it's also a very nice beginning for them." Following Sunday's episode, ET spoke with Penny about the big romantic gesture, what challenges await the newly-engaged couple and why this was the time to do it.
ET: This was a huge episode for Kevin. This is a character who has gone through a lot in the first three seasons, and his decision to propose to Sarah and get engaged seems like a nice step forward for him. Did you see this coming for this for Kevin? Did you want this to happen?
Brendan Penny: Kevin's journey to love has been a bit of a tumultuous one, I would say. He was always in charge of the family in their younger years when mom left, and he was the rock -- him and Abby -- who takes care of everyone. So he was never really allowed to show too much emotion. He was always out trying to protect everyone. I believe that's why he joined the army and become a medic, to help everyone. And so when he was engaged to Georgia [in season one], they just fit and that lifestyle fit and they were both a version of the same person, which didn't really work out.
But when he met Sarah, played by the lovely and talented Jessica Sipos, who I adore, it's an exactly perfect fit for him. She's different enough from him to challenge him on his own stuff, and they really have quite a connection. It was difficult in the beginning because Kevin's best friend died in the war and Sarah's husband died in the war. And the only reason Kevin didn't die was because he switched seats with his best friend. So there's a lot of guilt and a lot of familiarity with the sacrifices and the overall randomness of why some of us get to stay and some of us don't. I think this is a great relationship for Kevin, and I did see it coming, because it is a perfect fit. Now he's really settled down, figured out exactly what they want and yeah, I thought it fit very nicely.
You mentioned Georgia. What do you think Kevin has learned since that relationship that has propelled him into reaching a place, mentally and emotionally, to be ready to take the plunge again here?
I think that for Kevin this time -- a big difference with Georgia and with Sarah was that with Georgia, they were always busy and very much involved with their jobs, saving people. And with Sarah, he has that element, but she challenges him emotionally and he is free to let down his guard, where with Georgia, they were both still very guarded because they were both caught up in their worlds. With Sarah, he's been allowed to let his guard down and that's really where the relationship developed.
One of my favorite scenes from the episode was the opening, where we see Kevin hypothetically ask his siblings for advice on how to pull off the perfect proposal. What was it like to film that moment?
Anytime there is a scene that has all the siblings, it's fun because we all get along really well. We all goof around in between takes, so it was always fun to work with everyone. It was great! It was definitely as much to film as it was hopefully that people like out of it.
What was also endearing was the lead-up to the actual proposal, when we see Kevin have a lot of almost perfect proposals before something ruins the moment. Was that fun to see him struggle through that a little bit?
Of course, yeah. It was tricky though to make it seem though realistic, where she wouldn't be able to see it coming. But I think I always found it to be a very funny commentary on men in general just not getting it and thinking that it has to be something else than what it really is. It's really about connecting and telling the person that you love that you want to spend your life with them. It was fun playing those [moments]. I liked the one with the picnic, where we stole the wine. I haven't seen it, but I don't know if they used the part where I rinse the plate that has gotten stuff all over it. That was a nice little improvised moment.
Can you talk about filming the actual proposal at the end of the episode, where Kevin proposes by the cliff? Were you nervous that day filming that scene?
No, not really, because I proposed, I think, to about six or seven different women on Hallmark Channel. (Laughs.) I feel like one of those men who just keep going through life getting married. What I did like about the scene was all the other proposals were trying to be extravagant. And in this one, he saw her for who she is, saw the beauty for it all and just wanted to ask. I thought that was a nice moment.
For Kevin and Sarah, it makes sense that the proposal was simple.
For those two, there's no façade -- to make it simple and real is where it's at for them.
Now that they're engaged, how do anticipate what an engagement will look like for Kevin and Sarah? What awaits them moving forward?
I think that getting engaged is a bit of a painful process in the O'Brien house, because it seems that everyone has their own agenda. And I feel like it's the family's agenda comes first over the couple's own personal experience. So I think that Kevin and Sarah decide this is way too intense that everyone has to have an opinion.
Will we see Sarah's family again before the big day?
Her parents come. They're in Philly and we're in Chesapeake, but later on, they come out for the wedding party, so we do see them again, we do visit them again. Her family is portrayed pretty funnily by the brothers, making them seem like a bit of a meathead family.
How would you describe the rest of the season of Chesapeake Shores?
I would describe these [remaining] episodes as all over happiness, with very, very minor hiccups. But overall, it's the part in the story where it just works out for everyone. And the fans are going to get to see what they want to see and the results that they want.
This is a shorter season than the previous three. Do you get the sense that this could be it for the show?
You can never really tell as an actor. I've been shows where you think it's going to go six or seven, and it goes one. And then you have shows where you think it's going to go long, and it goes six or seven. So I think it really is going to depend on how the fans respond to this season, whether or to not it's going to continue. And obviously, everyone hopes that the show goes, because it's fun to do and we get along. If it doesn't go though, the fans will definitely be happy with the course of how it sums up the season.
When I was doing some research for this interview, I realized you and Jesse Metcalfe were both in John Tucker Must Die. Did you become friends on that movie?
I played one of the teammates on the basketball team. It was me and another guy that played his two main buddies on the basketball team. Jesse and I became friends on that movie and we hung out a bunch. It was pretty funny to have done that movie and joined onto this. Meghan Ory was also in John Tucker Must Die. She played a very small part. It's a very small world and a funny thing that happens.
Outside of Chesapeake Shores, what else are you working on?
I am in BH90210 and I am in four episodes. (Penny's arc began in last Wednesday's episode.) I'm playing the character, Wyatt, who is [Jennie Garth's] bodyguard. I grew up watching that show fully. The cast member that I worked with the most was fantastic, and I had a great time with that person. That was a really, really good experience and a lot of fun, so I really hope the fans respond to that show.