[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
It’s been a minute since Hallmark Channel rolled out a fresh new movie as part of its Christmas in July programming, but this year, Christmas really does come early with the premiere Saturday night of Crashing Through the Snow, a very charming and fun new romcom starring Amy Acker, Warren Christie, Kristian Bruun, and Brooke Nevin. This morning, I hopped on the phone with Christie to chat about the film and some of his other recent and fan-favorite projects.
As y’all know if you’ve been here a while (and if so, thank you!), Christie is a TV Goodness favorite dating back to our site’s inception 11 years ago (and beyond if we’re being honest) so I love any opportunity to catch up with him. Crashing Through the Snow follows last winter’s Christmas entry, If I Only Had Christmas, which he won a Leo Award for last night as best actor in a TV movie.
“It’s always nice to get recognized. I started acting here in Vancouver and it’s nice to be recognized in BC. And I think we do a nice job here and it’s been such a strange year too, so it’s good to get everyone together virtually to celebrate each other and getting through the pandemic more than anything,” he points out. “We opened up [production] last August, so almost a full year of everybody doing their best and trying to accommodate what’s needed to get done and work it together and be respectful of each other.”
With this project, he was thrilled to get involved and pair up with longtime friend Acker, who co-starred with him previously on ABC’s Happy Town and October Road (which are both now streaming in their entirety on ABC’s website). “This script [by Tamar Leddy, directed by Rich Newey] is really charming and funny, a little different, talking about a blended family and how they’re dealing with the holidays. I think that’s a very important thing to touch on. A lot of people are learning to navigate the holidays, whether it be through divorce or blended family and different things,” he shares.
“I liked the banter, but I have to tell you, I’ve known Amy for about 15 years now. We’ve gotten to work in small doses together, whether it be Happy Town or a pilot we did together very briefly, and we crossed paths years ago when she popped on October Road, that’s when we first met and became friendly. So when I saw this script in particular and getting to work with her, those are the two big things and why I signed on.”
“Amy knows it. I think she’s so incredibly talented. I knew what she could do with this script, which I really thought was quite funny. And I just thought it would be great to spend almost a month working with her and having some fun. She’s incredible in it and really, really funny. She really works really hard and is very smart with her details. So we had a lot of fun actually working together.”
Over the course of the film, Christie and Acker’s characters, Sam and Maggie, are thrown together for the holidays when Kate (Nevin), the girlfriend of Maggie’s ex-husband, Jeff (Bruun)–they have the most amicable divorce ever–invites Maggie to join them for the holidays. Sam (played by Christie dialing the I-defy-you-to-not-find-me-adorable charm up to The Most Wonderful Time of Year levels) is Kate’s brother and when he unexpectedly arrives home for the holidays, he finds Kate dancing around his room in a bathrobe and gets punted to a spare bedroom.
Their initially hella awkward meet cute takes a turn when Sam sees Maggie’s discomfort at being the fifth wheel in Jeff and Kate’s holiday with her daughters and offers to help her “win Christmas”–in exchange for help with a business proposal. Fortunately, what sounds like an idea that could get vindictive very quickly never does. Instead, it’s a very sweet film full of holiday moments that will have you checking several boxes on your Christmas movie bingo card.
At its heart, the movie is a family love story about making a blended family work–the very evolved Kate understands completely that Maggie is part of the package deal she gets with Jeff and his daughters, Mia (Summer Howell) and Sophie (Myla Volk) she bends over backwards to bring her on side and not hurt her feelings. Sam eventually sees where his sister’s heart lies, too, especially once he gets a better understanding of how and why Maggie and Jeff have stayed so close.
Christie loved that “no villains” aspect of the story. ”There’s no bad guy in it and there doesn’t need to be, I think what you have is three people trying to make sure that they put the children first, which is really what’s most important. Kate’s not trying to steal time or fight for the time. She’s trying to just share the time and create this unit,” he says.
“The key to your relationships working and everything was really putting the children first. That’s really what it should always come down to. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work [out that way] in real life but this was a group of people who put children first and relationships first. And when you have no bad guy, you [explore] these awkward situations that they have to navigate.”
“Obviously Sam has some problems of his own with how things unfolded back in the day. But you can see how excited he gets within the family things. You can see how much he loved that certain time in his life. He was in pain over what he had gone through and then hadn’t really healed.”
The film also deftly handles the complexities of dating in your 40s when you have established lives. “When you have people who are older, separated with children, you’re not just dating anymore. There’s more to take on there. There’s the responsibility of children involved and you can’t just bail and leave,” Christies explains.
“It’s a different type of thing for a single parent to be dating than just someone dating who doesn’t have those added responsibilities. And so it is touched on there a little bit. You see what great friends Maggie and Jeff are and what history they have. And the fun times they had, but [the divorce] doesn’t have to take away from what they had and their children’s experience. There could be this great history without having to be that certain future. And I think that was touched on really well.”
Christie says he and the cast also enjoyed the filming locations and took advantage of being in a production bubble. “We shot in Winnipeg, Manitoba for a few weeks and then we went to Banff and Canmore, Alberta which are stunning,” he shares. “We had a lot of really fun dinners that we would make together. There wasn’t much we could do [between filming]. When you have a production going and we’re working every day, you don’t really want to do a bunch of stuff just in case, you wanted to play it safe. You don’t want to be the guy responsible for shutting it down.”
Last month, in “Armed and Dangerous,” Christie returned to Batwoman as the iconic Bruce Wayne, and enjoyed getting to drop back into the world. “It was pre pandemic when they called and offered that role. It was pitched in a way where they asked, ‘Do you want to come in to be the face of Bruce Wayne [because when we first see him, he’s not who we think he is].’ I was actually on set shooting what ended up being the season finale, and that’s when everything shut down,” he recalls.
“It was four in the morning and I say my line and then cut. And they told everybody to go home. The shutdown happened. Their lead actress at the time left, and there were all sorts of twists. So it was interesting to go back and have fun and play Bruce and to come back a little more actively Bruce Wayne, or [Luke’s] subconscious version. It’s an interesting thing to play in that world.”
“There are a few Bruce Wayne men out there right now. It’s a property that they’re very protective of, so to be asked to some in and play around with that even a little bit, I was like a kid. How do you say no to that? It’s an incredible group of really nice people there. They have a really great group and that was a good time.”
Last month we also saw Christie go very dark in Lifetime’s Gone Mom, the ripped-from-the-headlines story of Jennifer and Foti Dulos, which is still wholly unresolved–something which affected the production this spring. Annabeth Gish plays Jennifer and Christie plays Foti, and it wasn’t lost on either of them that there are children survivors of the tragedy.
“I’ve never been a part of something where it was evolving during the filming. A couple of times we had rewrites and we switched a day because something was actually happening in the legal system and it affected our script. But more important than that, you have surviving family members, you have children, and you have people who were so affected by this. You have to be very careful with it,” he says.
“Annabeth and I spoke early on [while] she was in quarantine and chatted [throughout]. She and I work in very similar ways, so it helped to hit the ground running. And we talked about it a lot. It’s a very dark story, obviously. And one that’s still somewhat unfolding. You hope that there’s some form of closure for them at some point. We went at it and when we got a story we wanted to tell, and the story that we were going to tell was on the page we worked very hard to make sure it was done with integrity and properly.”
We were hoping that while we were touching on one particular story, the overriding themes would start a conversation and open doors. That’s the hope for that. But at the end of the day, we tried to tell the story with as much integrity as we could. One of the things that we also want to get across was this is a family that looks like they had this perfect life. They had money, their kids, they had careers, it all is different stuff, but what’s going on behind closed doors, that doesn’t change, and the violence that was escalating along the way.”
“Domestic violence and domestic abuse is not based on socioeconomic factors. It covers all people. And how do you spark conversation? Well, if we’re lucky enough, sometimes in our job, we can tell stories that help that conversation. Especially during this last year and a half, which has been such a strange time for so many things, domestic violence numbers sadly have just skyrocketed.
“And a lot of people don’t know where to go. I will also give LIfetime credit. During the documentary afterwards, it was constantly putting up numbers and letting people know that you feel like you’re unsafe, [there are resources] trying to get that information out there.”
I couldn’t let Christie go without revisiting Eyewitness, which we’d never had a chance to discuss. As soon as Mare of Easttown wrapped last month, I immediately put the 2016 series on blast for anyone looking for more Julianne Nicholson. All our coverage of that excellent one-and-done drama that’s now streaming on Amazon Prime, iTunes, and You Tube is here.
It’s not a spoiler to say that Christie was most definitely the big bad of the season as Ryan Kane, the extremely murdery FBI agent whose bad behavior in the pilot sets the series in motion. Over the course of the season, Kane does really awful things and the hat trick is that we at home know he’s no good very bad but the rest of the characters don’t. Christie found that to be a very rich playground.
“It was incredible. Our fans were incredible and very passionate. And the shoot was very interesting, as well. We were in a very remote spot in Ontario and I was by myself. I didn’t even cross paths with the other actors. And we were on a resort that was empty. It was freezing,” he recalls.
“That character was such an interesting, terrifying mess. It was a lot of reading and research and again, playing around. But the beauty of what happened with that character is that everybody watching at home knew what I did–I was the guy that did this thing,” he says.
“So all of a sudden, I show up and I’m around everybody. What happens within that as an actor is you have so much play because the audience, if you’ve done your job right, [starts warning the other characters]. You don’t have to overplay anything because it happens so early and they know. [And] it’s crazier [because] he’s standing there being normal.”
“I was a horrible person. I mean, I hate to say it, but that character killed many, many people along the way. And it was interesting to see him unwind and slowly start to fall apart. I had a blast with that character because as he’s falling apart, he’s just trying to hold the grip on things tighter, tighter, and tighter the more it falls apart. He was absolutely just off the wall. I can’t fully explain him.”
“I can’t say enough about Julianne. I love her. She’s so immensely talented. She’s so funny. It was a pretty intense shoot a lot of the time with a lot of stuff going on, but we had a lot of fun. I thought she was really wonderful. Everybody involved was really great. And I wish more people had seen it because I think she was so good in it.”
Crashing Through the Snow premieres Saturday, July 10th, on Hallmark Channel right after an encore of If I Only Had Christmas and repeats through the 24th. Here are a couple of sneak peeks.
Photos courtesy of Crown Media, The CW,, Lifetime, and USA Network; video courtesy of Crown Media.
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