[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Andrew Walker is in the unique position of starring in Hallmark Channel’s last film of the Fall Harvest and the first film out of the gate for Christmas on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries in two back-to-back weekends. Last week, I chatted with him about Sweet Autumn (which repeats Thursday at 8 pm/7c), and this week, we chat about Christmas Tree Lane, premiering Saturday night at 10 pm/9c.
Starring opposite Alicia Witt, who conceived the story, executive produces, and performs two original songs, Walker plays Nate Williams, a corporate lawyer newly arrived back in Denver who has a meet cute over the finer points of sweet holiday coffee confections when he runs into Meg Reilly (Witt) at a town square coffee spot.
Reilly is a musician who spends her days in her family music shop teaching her voice students, but there’s a history of a near-miss with a career as a pianist, singer, and songwriter lurking underneath the surface of her story. She lives in a duplex with her dad (Drake Hogestyn) and happily runs the store. That is, until a developer drops a bomb in the form of eviction notices–two weeks before Christmas–on them and all their neighbors on their quaint old-school shops on Christmas Tree Lane.
She learns this right after meeting Nate, and he surprises her by jumping up to help her cause to publicize the impending demolition and redevelopment and save the street. She and her fellow shopkeepers, including BFF Emma (Briana Price), who runs the coffee shop next door (which immediately made me wonder why Meg was buying coffee somewhere else, but go with it) join forces for a massive promotional push capped off by a Christmas concert. Steven R. Monroe directed from a script by Michael J. Murray from Witt’s story.
Funnily enough, this film was shot before Sweet Autumn, this past July in Utah, and Walker was excited to get back to work after being home with his family for several months. “It was surprising to get the call so early. We [all got] cars to drive out to Utah. When I landed in Utah, I realized that this was the first project back in the industry.,” he explains.
“There were a lot of expectations on all of us as a team going into this and trying to be the blueprint of how the industry should come back safely. Our primary goal was to make sure that everyone felt safe around us, because we’re the ones taking our masks off during the day.”
“There were two projects that had started at the same time as ours that same week and one of them had been shut down, so when we heard that, everyone really hunkered down and [looked at] what we could do better, that maybe that project wasn’t doing.”
“About three days into shooting, the nervous energy had worn off. There was a sense of just being grateful [about] being back at work, doing what we love and the sense of community, everyone coming together on set and really making each other feel safe.”
“And as the project went along, we hit our groove and everyone felt safe and everyone left healthy. It couldn’t have worked out better. It was a great experience and kind of a historic kind of moment. I could forevermore say that I was part of the first project that came back after COVID, during this unprecedented pandemic.”
Walker personally made an effort to minimize contact that the crew had to have with him. “I just wanted to try and make sure that I was doing everything to help the days move along as quickly as possible. I had a chat with the prop master [and offered] to reset all my props,” he shares.
“I might have to be reminded here and there, but if I have a briefcase in the scene, [I asked to] keep the briefcase. If I have a cell phone, I’ll just hold on to it…throughout the entire shoot. So I was just trying to be thinking like that, same with Alicia.”
Similar to his experience in Sweet Autumn, Walker sat down with Witt ahead of shoot to review the script. “We met at the house that she was renting, on the weekend, and went through the script [which] I like to do every single time I hop on a movie,” he points out.
“I love to meet with the leading actress and just go over the script on a Saturday, Sunday, and also just get to know each other. I had never met Alicia. I met her briefly at a Hallmark party, but we definitely didn’t know each other on that level. And so just sitting there getting to know her a little bit more, we were definitely able to [collaborate and] rearrange [scenes] a little bit and see what comes of it.”
That comfort level also extended to reworking a scene in the moment. “There was one day where we actually did a full on improvisation scene [when I’m] sitting on the sleigh and waiting for her to come out of the music store. We just threw caution to the wind,” he laughs.
“Alicia’s a phenomenal actress and she’s like a chameleon. I really saw her truth, her performer colors come out. I was blown away with her talent, her piano playing, her singing, her acting ability. She let me roll with the punches.”
Walker enjoyed the deviation from the standard template in this film, where Meg finds out Nate’s truth well ahead of the final act, and it creates an opportunity for him to take action. “This time [my character] really wanted the best for Alicia’s character. Trying to play middleman between my father and Alicia and managing the personalities and still [trying to] make everybody happy.” he says.
“It was fun to wear these different hats and try to see different perspectives on things. It happened organically where a couple of scenes, which I’ve never really done before in a Hallmark movie, but I kind of put my foot down a bit with my dad in this movie. At the end of the scene, I would laugh about it with the actor playing my father. And he’d say, ‘Man, go easy on me.’ It was nice to be able to take it to that place.”
Christmas Tree Lane premieres Saturday at 10 pm/9c (note the later time) on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. Here’s a sneak peek.
Photos and Video Courtesy of Crown Media.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Dennis Heaton Talks The Imperfects
Longtime readers at TV Goodness will know that Motive is one of my ride-or-die series, and as such, I am fiercely loyal to its creator, Dennis Heaton. He followed up that fantastic reverse procedural with Netflix’s The Order and is back on our streaming screens with The Imperfects, which dropped…
Kelly McCormack Talks Favorite Moments in A League of Their Own
[Warning: Mild spoilers for season 1.] Now that you’ve had a chance to watch A League of Their Own, here’s the rest of my chat with Kelly McCormack about her favorite moments of the season. Seeing the iconic Peaches uniforms for the first time wasn’t just a goosebump moment for…
John Griffin and Harold Perrineau Talk From on EPIX Season 1 Finale
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] How are we doing, #FROMily? In case you missed it this morning, the very good news is that that cliffhanger will be followed by a second season, which was gifted this morning ahead of the linear broadcast of the finale. I always legitimately appreciate when we…
Elizabeth Saunders Talks EPIX’s From
[Warning: General spoilers ahead.] One of the things that makes EPIX’s From such a fun ride is the abundance of Canadian cast members. Elizabeth Saunders, who plays Donna, is a favorite from her turn on the third season of Mary Kills People [streaming on Global TV in Canada and Roku…
Corteon Moore Talks From “Broken Windows, Open Doors”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight’s episode of From had us all in our feels as we learned through flashbacks about the Sophie’s Choice Boyd had to make to save his son, and back in the present as Boyd said his piece with Ellis before heading into the woods with…
Pegah Ghafoori Talks From “All Good Things…”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode] Tonight on From, Fatima’s anniversary celebration turned into a Colony House of horrors when a misguided Kevin let his monster bae in and she promptly killed him and left the window open for her crew. While the party devolved into terror and sent everyone running,…
Shaun Majumder Talks From “Book 74”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight on EPIX’s From, Father Khatri made a bold move, kidnapping Sara instead of turning her in, and then recognizing her as a vessel for some big messages. That startling realization speaks to him on multiple levels–as a man of faith, a man trapped in…
Avery Konrad Talks About Sara’s Struggle in From “Silhouettes”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Over the course of the season so far on From, we’ve witnessed Sara’s battle against the voices telling her to to do terrible things, and tonight we saw her unravel further, threatening the Matthews and lashing out in a moment of terror with horrifying results….
Hannah Cheramy Talks From “Choosing Day”
[Warning: Spoilers for tonight’s episode.] Tonight, on EPIX’s From, the Matthews participate in the show’s version of the sorting hat, choosing where to call home–the town or Colony House. At the end of the episode, Julie makes the decision to split from her family and instead settle in with Fatima…
Ricky He Talks From “The Way Things Are Now”
[Warning: Spoilers for episode 102 of EPIX’s From.] Epix’s new series From is two episodes in and it’s already laying the groundwork for a seriously spooky season. Tonight’s episode demonstrated the careful balance of relief and horror that the show hits, with our characters’ worst fears realized, just not when…
What They Said: Three Revealing Conversations from Survivor’s Remorse “Closure”
WARNING: Spoilers for Survivor’s Remorse “Closure” The latest episode of Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse featured conversations that showed characters really digging deep into their thoughts, emotions and motivations.
Two Takes: The Catch “The Knock-Off”
Who can you trust? If this episode of The Catch was any indication, the answer is just about nobody. Betrayal was running rampant as Felicity (Shivani Ghai) arose from the dead to seduce-con Margot, Gretchen (Maria Thayer, Gotham, The Mindy Project) played gold-hearted Alice 2.0 before swindling Ethan, Tessa jumped…
What They Said: Top 3 Quotable Moments from Preacher “El Valero”
Both Quincannon and Jesse refuse to give up on what they each think is rightfully theirs. While Jesse is struggling to face the consequences of his actions, Quincannon has laid his past demons to rest and is hellbent on moving forward and putting Annville on the map again. Despite a…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Supergirl “Worlds Finest”
Oh, Supergirl. That ending was cold. But I can’t hate on you because the latest episode has quickly become one of my favorites.
What They Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Black Sails “XXIII”
The dialogue in “XXIII” is phenomenal. It’s always a fun ride when Black Sails carries its viewers along without giving them the chance to catch their breath. When an episode moves at this unforgiving pace, there is no chance for a breather nor is there a respite from the information…
What Lucifer Said: Favorite quotes from Supernatural “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
Supernatural episodes are almost always funny but thanks to the dialogue and a certain man speaking said dialogue, I laughed a lot during “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” You know, when I wasn’t busy fearing for Sam’s life or wondering what in the world was going on with Dean and…
What They Said: The Flash, “Legends Of Today” and Arrow, “Legends Of Yesterday”
Two nights of Arrow +Â The Flash = what more could we ask for?! I don’t know what it is about blending these shows, but I canâ€™t help but feel that every time they come together, they somehow become greater than the sum of their parts. And thatâ€™s saying a lot…
What they Said: Top 4 Quotable Moments from Graceland “Little Bo Bleep”
Shoot outs. Fake outs. And long-awaited revelations. “Little Bo Bleep” was a jam-packed episode that wrapped up some loose ends and totally frayed others. Â It finally gave us one Sarkissian in jail and pulled back the curtain on Briggs’ master plan, but it also set up Jakes for a world…
What They Said: Favorite Quotes from Poldark “Part 4”
â€œWhat have I told you, I don’t require my wife to crochet and sip tea, but I do require her to remember she’s not a beast of burden.â€ No, Iâ€™m not talking about The Rolling Stones! I have to admit though, just for a second, the lyrics popped into my…
3 Moments of Goodness from Brooklyn Nine-Nine “Johnny and Dora”
The most satisfying part of this season’s finale has to the Jake and Amy kiss. Well, they kiss three times but the last one is the best one — and it means something. The Charles and Rosa dynamic was also great. I love how she’s convinced he doesn’t know anything…