Warning: Mild Spoilers
After several years away from Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, Katrina Law returns in Christmas with the Darlings as Jessica Lew, a personal assistant turned lawyer at Darlington’s company. This career-oriented woman gets swept into the family life when she offers to help take care of her boss’s orphaned nieces and nephew through the holidays. It’s a journey which reveals Jessica’s passions in life and how an assumed path doesn’t always turn out to be the right one.
Whenever Snow Bride comes on, I am instantly hooked into watching, so I was very excited to see that Law was not only appearing in a new Hallmark movie, but was reuniting with Snow Bride scribe, Tracy Andreen. Christmas with the Darlings doesn’t disappoint. It’s a heartfelt movie with several blossoming romances, but also as powerful, is the birth of a new family of people who have lost so much.
Law spoke with TV Goodness about Christmas with the Darlings, filming during the coronavirus pandemic, the differences between her Hallmark Channel and genre show roles, the Hallmark movie role she’d like to reprise, and a fun anecdote about her co-star Carlo Marks. Read on for edited excerpts from our conversation
TV Goodness: I was excited to see that you are back doing a Christmas Hallmark Movie again this year. What went into your decision to do another one after a few years?
Katrina Law: Well, I think for a while, there’s been a couple of opportunities that have come up or just haven’t worked out in the past few years. But I love doing movies in general, because especially during Christmas time, they’re just so warm and fuzzy and cozy, and they make you feel good. And I think that’s my favorite thing about Hallmark Channel. It’s just a feel good network where you can tune in and a family can watch it together. And by the end of the program, you’re just gonna feel great. To be honest, it’s one of my dad’s favorite channels, and my daughters can also watch it without fear of or mommy’s fear of something terrible happening on screen.
TV Goodness: Was there something about this particular movie that drew you to this script and doing this project?
Law: Because my sister-in-law, Tracy Andreen, actually wrote Snow Bride and she also wrote Christmas with the Darlings. So when she asked me if I would like to be in another Hallmark Movie, and in particular, would I like to be in her movie, and of course, the answer is yes. Because I had such a blast doing Snow Bride and the thought of having it be a repeat was a no brainer.
TV Goodness: Was it more difficult with all the COVID restrictions? I know a lot of people are interested in how filming is being done now.
Law: It was more difficult in the sense that when I got the call, they asked me to go to Canada. I was situated in Jersey with my family for quarantine and basically nobody wants to fly anywhere at this moment, because we just don’t feel safe doing it. So my entire family packed up in our SUV drove cross country to Vancouver, quarantined for two weeks, and then we started filming. So yes, was the driving, the quarantine, more difficult? I guess you could say, yes, it was. At the same time though, it’s the pandemic, and you know, we have been in a relative lockdown. So it wasn’t like I was missing– there wasn’t much to do, so I had no issue quarantining or driving across the country. And the fact that Canada makes you quarantine actually made you feel safer going into Canada. And then by the time I got on to set the crew, this was their third movie that they’d already been working through the pandemic. And they had it down. There was no confusion on their end as to what they’re supposed to do within the protocol, everybody was maintaining social distancing as much as much as they could, and especially in such a close environment. And I felt really safe how it was handled and treated on set, and kept my own little bubble. And on weekends, everybody made a concerted effort to not go out. The cases are not as high in Vancouver, so you know, there is a little more freedom out there than in the United States. But everyone was kind of like, “No, we’re here to work and we want to keep everybody safe.”
TV Goodness: How would you preview Christmas with the Darlings? What is Jessica doing and why is she with this family?
Law: I play Jessica Lew, who is personal assistant to her employer. Charles Darwin is the CEO of the company. And, basically she’s ending her tenure just as the holidays are about to start and she’s going to take a two week break, and then she’s going to start working for the company again, except this time as an attorney, because she just got her law degree. She’s not going to do both, so she won’t be working for Charles directly, but she’ll be working for the company. But, then she finds out that their orphan nieces and nephew are coming from Australia to stay, and basically live with them, so she kind of volunteers to help them over the holidays. She ends up getting hooked up with his younger brother, Matt. It seems like an unlikely pairing at first and then sparks end up flying and then you get to see if they end up together.
TV Goodness: While I was watching, I found there were a lot of little tidbits of life lessons throughout the movie, were there any that kind of jumped out at you?
Law: I think the biggest thing is that family doesn’t necessarily come– isn’t always about what family you’re born into. Sometimes it’s about the family that you make along the way. And I think that’s one of the reasons I love this script so much is that Jessica, who lost her family at a young age, for various reasons, suddenly finds herself a part of a family that she’d never been before. And she has a loyalty to Charles, her boss, and almost looks up to him as a big brother, or father figure, and then ends up finding a family and working with the children. And, then having a crush with Max and just kind of gets thrown into this situation and realizing how much she loves it and how quickly those bonds form. And then wants to try and keep them. So, I think that’s another thing. What would you do to keep your family? How far would you go?
TV Goodness: How was it working with the kids?
Law: The kids were fantastic. They’ve got so much energy and so much love. Islie [Hirvonen] and Madeline [Hirvonen] are sisters in real life so watching them function together was amazing. And then of course, there’s Anthony [Bolognese], who plays the brother. And it was the perfect dynamic and just having them on set, especially, you know, with the pandemic going on and everybody paying a little more attention because it is pandemic. Their lightness and energy was everything we needed on set and I think it will bring joy to a lot of people.
TV Goodness: Would you talk a little bit about Jessica’s relationship with her friend and her friend’s romance? That brings a new aspect to a Hallmark movie that’s not been prevalent previously.
Law: I know it’s a new aspect to Hallmark, but to me it just seems like normal life and a normal occurrence. It didn’t cause me to take notice of anything or anything like that other than the norm. So I think I love that about the Hallmark movie. And that my sister-in-law did what she did. She didn’t bring focus to it to say, “Hey, this is a gay couple. This is a lesbian relationship.” She basically just said, “No, it’s just a couple who happened to have a crush on each other, and you happen to be the supportive friend.” And to be honest, she could have replaced either of them with a guy-girl combo, or any combo, I guess, and it wouldn’t have made a difference. I think that’s the most beautiful thing about this relationship is that there’s really no focus on it being different, because it’s really not in real life.
TV Goodness: For fans of your previous Hallmark Movies, how would you compare or contrast Greta from Snow Bride or Anna from 12 Gifts of Christmas with Jessica? How is Jessica a little bit different or the same?
Law: I think Jessica’s a little different than Greta, because she doesn’t start off with an agenda. So Greta, at the very beginning, she’s very ambitious. She goes up to the mountains for a specific agenda to get a story that could potentially harm the Tannehills. Essentially, get the story, no matter what the personal cost was for anybody around. As for Jessica Lew, she’s just always done the right thing. She’s always down the right path. And she’s so loyal to Charles Darlington’s company, and so grateful for everything that they’ve done for her and allowed her to do that she would never do anything to betray them. So leaving the company to pursue her own ambition, her own dreams, is actually really the decision because it’s not who she is. And it does require for her the blessing of Charles Darlington to go and pursue her dreams and, and it’s nice that she surrounded herself with such a beautiful support system.
And then with Anna from 12 Gifts of Christmas, I think Jessica is just so much more sure of herself. As a business entity, she’s murky, she’s more capable, she’s very confident in what she does. She knows that she’s very good at her job, she knows she can multitask, she knows that when she becomes the attorney for the company, she’s gonna do well and she’ll probably get promoted and she knows her passions and she’s very confident. With Anna, she was living in the basement. You’re going to see a woman who’s basically doing the path that she thinks she should do and very diligently sticking to it. And then this family, the new inherited family comes up and as a new potential job comes up, you see her struggling very hard to try to stick to the path she’s decided. Even though these new, shiny objects are drawing her attention more so you see a woman basically trying to do what she’s supposed to do and not necessarily what she wants to do.
TV Goodness: In addition to these romantic movies, you’ve played some women that can really kick ass. What’s the difference between playing a romantic role versus playing in the Arrowverse or on Spartacus?
Law: Oh, well, I love Hallmark Christmas movies because I always get my person at the end. [Laughs]. Where my character from Spartacus died with unrequited love. Or they didn’t even love her the way that she loves him. And with Arrow, her love of her life, Sara Lance, is now with a robot or clone. [Nyssa] doesn’t quite find happiness.[Laughs] My characters don’t find happiness like my Hallmark characters do in the other genres. So there’s that. There’s also the difference that in Hallmark movies, there’s no blood, there’s no punching, there’s no violence. You know, little things.
TV Goodness: You’re not going home with bruises?
Law: No, but actually, Carlo fell down a flight of steps. He’s going to hate me for telling you that, but it was really cute and funny. And of course, everybody was like, “Oh, you’re falling for Jessica literally.” So as actors, we usually go home unscathed on Hallmark movies.
TV Goodness: For any of the three Hallmark Christmas movies you’ve done, would you be interested in revisiting any of them and doing a sequel? If you had to pick one, which would you pick?
Law: I think Snow Bride. I think there’s a lot of potential for a sequel for Snow Bride. They could be married. They could have kids. There are so many cool things.
Christmas at the Darlings premieres November 8 at 8 pm/7c on Hallmark Channel. Check out the preview:
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