[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Danica McKellar and Dylan Neal return to Hallmark Channel Sunday night for Christmas She Wrote, a holiday-themed romcom about Kayleigh, an advice columnist who’s laid off and returns home for Christmas, only to be followed by Tripp, the editor who fired her, after he realizes he made a mistake.
He pretty quickly learns that not his only error in judgment–and he’s not the only one interested in her. The film pairs the duo with their Matchmaker Mysteries and Gourmet Detective director Terry Ingram in a script by Ruby Herring and USS Christmas scribe Andrea Canning based on her story with writing partner Lynn Keller.
Since McKellar is well-established in the math field, I’ll drop some math on you. Although she only arrived at Hallmark in 2015, she’s been prolific–Christmas She Wrote is her 14th film between Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, and her sixth successive annual Christmas film. Her first holiday movie, Love at the Christmas Table, in 2012, aired on Lifetime. I jumped on the phone Thursday to chat with McKellar about the new project, Matchmaker Mysteries, and of course, math.
When selecting new projects, McKellar looks for stories and characters that click. “Well, number one is, do I connect with a character and does that resonate with me? This one really spoke to me because my character is a writer,” she explains.
“She writes a column for a newspaper called, ‘Your Best Self,’ and it’s all about being the best version of yourself you can be. It’s sort of self-help and in real life, I actually do a live [Instagram] broadcast every Monday called McKellar Motivational Monday, where I talk about ideas and how to have the best week we can have. Every week, I’ll pick a different topic.”
“I love the interaction with the fans and the exchange of ideas, and this idea that we have a choice in every moment of our life and we have different versions of ourselves, and which version of our best self will we choose to be today? I just love that. And so [this project] registered in that way.”
The film reunites McKellar not just with Ingram but also previous co-stars Dan Payne, Andrew Francis, and April Telek, whose daughter, Ava, also co-stars and with whom McKellar bonded over math. That familiarity helped, especially with the pandemic protocols.
“When I can’t see the face of the person who’s giving me direction [because of a mask and shield], it’s harder. But because I knew [Terry] and I’ve gotten direction from him before, I just felt more comfortable,” she shares. “[It would have been] hard meeting new people. It’s really hard to recognize them on a set [when] you’re not sure who walks by with a big black mask on.”
Matchmaker Mysteries has aired two films, and there are plans to shoot more this spring. It’s a project McKellar not only stars in but also executive produces. “I got involved with the very, very beginning. They brought the idea to me, but it was just a concept,” she says.
“I love romance. I love it in the Hallmark Channel movies. I’m a huge fan of Patti Stanger and it’s loosely based on her character, except adding in the mystery element. She is actually a producer on it, as well.”
“When they [pitched it as] a matchmaker, but with mysteries. I was like, ‘Yes, please.’ I love solving puzzles. I have a degree in mathematics. I love working out problems and solving things. It’s just the best of both worlds together.”
The franchise also allowed her to wink back at Rian Johnson for her double shout out in last year’s Knives Out, where she’s named-dropped in association with a nonexistent Hallmark film called Deadly By Surprise. In the last Matchmaker Mysteries, that was the title of a novel by one of the characters and the book cover was shown onscreen.
McKellar’s passion for puzzles and solving things has extended to an equally prolific series of math books for kids. “My mission is to make math fun and accessible for kids with graphic novel-style, fun, silly cartoons explaining the math concepts,” she points out. “I’ve been writing books for almost 15 years and you can find them all at mckellarmath.com.”
“For parents who’ve been struggling because there’s been so much more learning at home going on with the pandemic, I’m very pleased that I can offer a book for help, no matter how old [the child is]. I even have homeschooling kits on my Instagram page. And I have a whole bunch of little videos that I made with my son because we’ve been homeschooling for years. He’s 10 years old.”
“I compiled little tips and tricks that have helped us. I want to be a resource for parents during this time when they’re feeling the burden of education more than they were prepared for. I can help. And if parents [have] a new year’s resolution that math is no longer going to be a source of stress in this household, I’ve got books out.”
Sunday night, McKellar is planning a Twitter watch party during both coastal premieres. “I love a good challenge and I’m challenging myself to answer every single person who writes to me, all night,” she laughs. “You have to use #ChristmasSheWrote and you have to use my handle, @danicamckellar. If you do both those things, I will answer.”
“Now. if you Tweet me 20 times [and] I started seeing the same name a lot, I’ll remember it [and I’ll answer people first who I] haven’t answered yet, but I’m totally doing it. You’ll get an answer from me.”
Christmas She Wrote premieres Sunday at 8 pm/7c on Hallmark Channel in the US and 9/8c on W Network in Canada. Here’s a sneak peek.
Photos and Video Courtesy of Crown Media.
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