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Alison Sweeney Talks Time for You to Come Home for Christmas [Exclusive]

[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]

When Alison Sweeney and I chatted for the fourth Chronicle Mysteries in August, she hadn’t yet booked a Christmas movie for this year. Lucky for us, that changed, and she’s back on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Sunday night starring opposite our Lucas Bryant (interview here) in the completely lovely Time for You to Come Home for Christmas. We jumped on the phone this week to talk about the movie.

Time for You to Come Home for Christmas

In the film, Sweeney plays widowed single mom Kat, who journeys home by train with her son, Will, for the first time since losing her her husband, who was her high school sweetheart, two years earlier. They meet musician Jack in the train station and then wind up sitting together on the trip.

He’s heading to the same place, and once there, he and Kat keep crossing paths as he pursues a private closure that unravels an unexpected mystery. It’s a really kind, warm story and Sweeney and Bryant are aces together, along with Kiefer O’Reilly, who plays Will. Terry Ingram directs a script by Marcy Holland (The Christmas Cure).

Sweeney was working on development of the next installments of The Chronicle Mysteries when this project arose this fall. She was thrilled to come onboard, and that it had a more dramatic tone to it. “When this opportunity came my way, I jumped at the chance to be a part of [it],” she says.

“They brought me the script and I just fell in love with it right from the get-go. It was fun for me to read something that was so polished and finished. I thought the script was so beautiful when I read it because it does sort of provide you with a little more of the other side of how hard it can be when you have so many wonderful memories with someone important to you. And when that’s gone, you know it’s hard to rally and still feel the same way about the holidays.”

“And so what I thought was so lovely about this is that no matter where you are in life, the Christmas or the holiday, spirit can really help you and pull you through something if you let it. And that was the lesson I think Kat had to learn. Instead of trying to force it to be something, [she had to] allow the heart and the love in Christmas and the holidays to support her through something that was hard, instead of trying to push it away.”

Time for You to Come Home for Christmas

“Jack has a line in the movie where Kat has been trying so hard to put on a good show for her son. Jack points out that maybe her son wants to be there for her, too, and she needs to turn her thinking and see it through his eyes instead of deciding what she thinks is bad. And I thought that was really kind of a lovely perspective.”

Sweeney loved working with Bryant for the first time, and reconnecting with director Terry Ingram, who directed one of The Chronicle Mysteries, and Michael Kopsa, who plays her Uncle Miles in those films and plays her dad here. “I really enjoyed working with [Lucas]. He’s fantastic. I had never worked with him before, so that was really fun for me. We had a really great experience,” he says.

“It was so great to have the opportunity to see everyone and, and be back up there [in Vancouver] and meet new people. I’d worked with Terry before, so that was fun and chance to reunite. I really enjoyed the whole experience. I loved it.”

Time for You to Come Home for Christmas

One of the fun winks to the much-beloved Murder She Baked is that Kat is a master baker, so we have a few scenes in the kitchen that’ll definitely bring back fond memories of Hannah. That wasn’t lost on Sweeney. “I wondered how the fans would react to that. I hope that they see it as sort of a fun little tease. I always want to make sure the fans take it the right way,” she shares.

“It felt that way when I was doing it. It felt fun for me to be back in the kitchen, and certainly like a bit old hand. I knew how to interact with the material. And [I wanted] to really help make that scene the best we could.”

“I do think that [when] people like to bake or to cook, [it’s] something that’s really a part of who you are and part of how you interact with other people and a part of how you are with your family. So I really love and appreciate when it’s included in the story.”

There’s a scene in the film where Kat’s horrified at Jack’s store-bought croissant and it sparks a wonderful bonding scene. “She gets all judgy about the croissant. I would much prefer home-baked cookies to something you buy in the store that’s machine made, so I totally understand her point of view there [in wanting to bake for him],” she laughs.

“[I love] how romantic it is and how intimate it is to share that experience with someone and teach them about who you are. And so I thought it was just a lovely element of the story and something that was just so human.”

Time for You to Come Home for Christmas

Since I pitched it to Cameron Mathison last week, I also mentioned to Sweeney that we need to have him wander though a The Chronicle Mysteries, even if it’s just to stop in the newspaper office to ask directions. “I love the idea. That would be so funny. It’s so hard with everything we’re doing to try to set something up, but it would be so fun. I mean, I know the [Murder She Baked] fans are still there,” she says.

“They rewatch really well…the fans say how much they enjoy watching them again and again. And I think that there’s such a compliment in that, of the warm, fun family and the romance that you see. I read the Harry Potter books, like I can’t even tell you how many times. So, if people feel that way about these movies, that it’s like retreating into a comfy, warm story that they like again and again, that’s the best compliment you could have.”

Time for You to Come Home for Christmas premieres Sunday at 9 pm/8c on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Here’s a sneak peek. In case you missed it, my exclusive interview with Lucas Bryant is here.

Photos and video courtesy of Crown Media.

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