As long as they keep watching—and I have a feeling they will—we'll keep getting the Christmas movies we love, both from these women and more. "I've heard the most heartwarming things from people who come up to me and tell me what a specific [Hallmark] movie has meant to them," Witt says. "I’ve had fans write to me and say, 'I lost my wife five years ago and Christmas has been really hard, but your movies help me get through that. ' That sort of thing is why I wanted to be an actor in the first place: to help make the world a little bit of a better place.
Witt, for example, enjoys balancing her darker work (like on The Walking Dead) with Hallmark's lighter fare. "It’s fun to come out with a movie where every day you have a happy ending and it’s a sweet love story [or] family story," she says. "I just spent the last week in winter clothes and people I really enjoy working with and Christmas lights everywhere and snow and gingerbread cookies and vegan eggnog.
Rather, she says, the people who watch her Hallmark Christmas movies are the most passionate. "The fans of the Hallmark movies are incredibly loyal and devoted, and it's actually enabled me to connect more with them and the people that enjoy the movies," she says. "They’re so vocal on social media, and I don’t think I'd experienced that to the level I experience now. "Loyal and devoted" is a bit of an understatement.
Viewers are turning to them for refuge—and for a variety of reasons, according to the actors. "I feel like the country is more divided than ever, and the extremists on both sides are not making things very pleasant for anyone," McKellar says. "People are looking for a break, they’re looking for an escape from all the noise created by this political climate that we’re in, and Hallmark Channel provides that.
You’ll get home from work and try to shake it off, and you’re kind of in a darker place. Loughlin agrees. "If you’re dealing with disturbing content, that affects everybody on set," she says. "With Hallmark, we’re not going to the dark side, so these sets tend to be super lighthearted and more fun because the content we’re working on is lighthearted and fun.
Peete echoes this sentiment—"Hallmark Channel is very family oriented, so they have respect for us hard-working mamas"—as does Loughlin. "Bill Abbott, the head of the network, and Michelle Vicary [EVP of programming and publicity at Hallmark] are parents," she says. "They have children.
Lori Loughlin has appeared in three Hallmark Christmas movies, not to mention dozens of other projects for the network; Danica McKellar has several Hallmark movies under her belt, including three holiday ones; Alicia Witt's done a Hallmark Christmas movie every year since 2013; and Holly Robinson Peete's holiday movie was so popular in 2017 that a sequel is coming out this year. [Ed note: This interview was conducted and published before Loughlin's involvement in the college admissions scandal.
Chabert realized this firsthand when the network supported her starting a family of her own. (She welcomed a daughter with husband David Nehdar in 2016. ) "I did a movie when I was seven months pregnant, and they hid me behind Christmas trees and presents," Chabert says. "I went back to work right after the baby, and they allowed me to have the baby on set and travel with my family.
They're my friends, so it's always fun to work with friends. Chabert feels similarly. "Hallmark has really become like family," she says. "I really respect the programming.
Witt says the more uplifting work makes Hallmark's movie sets really enjoyable—which is another reason she keeps coming back for more. "There’s something about the lighter material that I think lends itself to everyone just having so much fun," she says. "If you’re making a movie about something really dark, it does something different to your psyche.
Accommodating the Hallmark actors who are mothers is a priority for Abbott. (He says three-quarters of the employees in his direct reports are women, and approximately half of them have children. ) "We owe it to our employees who give so much, and our talent who give so much," he says. "It’s more than just a job.
I mean, who doesn't love these movies? https://t.co/Ek8AYrnEsL— Glamour (@glamourmag) January 2, 2020