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Interviews

Tyler Hynes Talks Through His Eight-Film Hallmark Holiday Library 

Tyler Hynes Talks Through His Eight-Film Hallmark Holiday Library

Things you realize when you have to re-record your shows on a new DVR – just how many Hallmark movies your people have done. Fan favorite – and one of ours – Tyler Hynes has done eight Christmas movies for Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries since 2018. Alongside this year’s new entry, Never Been Chris’d, which premiered last month, all of the films are in regular rotation between now and the end of the year on both networks and various streaming outlets, as well as a few titles that are on DVD. 

Earlier today, I caught up with Hynes for a very fun, wide-ranging conversation about his holiday oeuvre, if you will. Grab a beverage and a comfy chair, and enjoy this definitive guide, with his delightful commentary, for every Hynie holiday film so far.

Never Been Chris'd

Never Been Chris’d (2023)

This 2023 entry was a potentially hazardous cautionary love triangle that instead became a careful exploration of a lifelong friendship that needed to clear the air about long held secrets. I previewed it here. That friendship angle was what drew him to the project, and he welcomed being part of an ensemble cast. “I was quite comfortable working the amount of days that I did on that. My mental health appreciated it,” he says.

“It was a bit of a tightrope walk. I came on board because I liked the idea that it was telling a love story about a friendship. And I thought it’s nice to be in service of that. And my due diligence was trying to make a gentleman who is flawed. And try to understand and create a good dynamic where it is a bit precarious because he is hanging out with both of them at the same time.”

“It seems like this polarizing movie. It was fun. It was funny. Some people get the whole sort of ride that Joie [Botkin], our writer, was taking us on, and the tone that our director was navigating. And then there seems to be a whole other group of people who seem to be very triggered or bothered by this movie for various reasons. And I had a friend of mine explain to me exactly what that was. I get where it’s coming from.”

Hynes laughs that triangle or not, this film treads a much softer line than 2021’s It Was Always You. “On the scale of things, I stole my brother’s fiance in [that] movie and that worked out okay. I survived that element. It Was Always You is the movie I hear about the most, even more than Three Wise Men and a Baby. Nothing I’ve ever done has touched folks, it seems, quite as much as that movie,” he shares. [It also spawned a line of Romance University swag.]

“And that is not not because of how precarious of a storyline that is. It makes for some sort of titillation, as well as a heightened responsibility to really try to do things right. And I had to navigate some things and adjust some things to make sure that that really didn’t take a left turn into naughty land and I think we did a reasonable job to a large extent.”

“There’s so many factors that can influence where it ends up in the end. You can’t control that. It’s just along the way you have to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons for yourself. On [Never Been Chris’d it was] to be there in service of a story, of a friendship of these two female characters. [Janel Parrish and Pascal Lamothe-Kipnes] are lovely human beings, and they definitely had a challenge ahead of themselves and knew what they were up against and I think they did a really spectacular job.”

Hynes loved the large cast and appreciates the craft and care they put into every role. “I feel this way about every movie, but I just have so much respect for those particular contributions to movies because It’s the hardest thing in the world, much harder than what I do, to come in for a few days and to try to make your mark. No one is rolling out all the space in the world for you to come in and really do something in this scene,” he explains.

“Everybody in this movie, the parents, the friends, they had so much energy, they had so much to contribute. Our director [Jeff Beesley] was so encouraging of that. It was really, really lovely to see. Everybody involved in Winnipeg were just exceptional human beings and I was very grateful to be in their company.”

Time for Him to Come Home for Christmas

Time for Him to Come Home for Christmas (2022)

This counterpart to Three Wise Men followed that film a week later and was the more serious and poignant story of two best friends who lose the third BFF in their tight circle and then become estranged over a mistaken assumption. I previewed it here.

“I think something nice to do in the future is to have things that service in different ways at Christmas. I was really grateful for Orly [Adelson], who is my producer on that, who I love dearly as a human being and a friend. She asked me to come do it. I thought it was a nice, touching story and Holland Roden was a great co-star,” he says.

“I dyed my hair black right before we started so that I looked younger. It barely worked. It was my own entertainment to hide my few gray hairs. And I [realized] ‘Oh, this looks like it’s a dye job. Oh man, this is dark.’ I was texting with the hair department and she said, ‘Just wash it. Just wash it so much to fade it out.’ And so I did, I just remember washing my hair way too much on that movie.”

Three Wise Men and a Baby

Three Wise Men and a Baby (2022)

The 2022 juggernaut about a trio of fractious adult brothers who reconnect while they care for an abandoned baby over the holidays is now on Hallmark Movies Now with extended scenes, which thrills Hynes no end. “What we’ve gotten now is more of that original script that Kim[berley Sustad] and Paul [Campbell] wrote that made me miss my flight. It was so good. There was just so much more in it. And so to see it just makes the heart deeper, the dynamics deeper. There’s a vulnerable moment where my character goes to see his brother when he’s feeling down and they don’t really know what to do with it,” he points out. 

And now everybody gets to enjoy [all of that, including] everybody who was working on it, [director] Terry [Ingram] included. He was the first comment [on my post], and said, ‘It hurt me so much to cut that scene.’” There are certain constraints when you’re doing broadcast that streaming will allow opportunities to explore. And I just really credit the folks at Hallmark for being willing to do that.” 

“Even the movies that I watch…I wish other streamers would do more of this, like the days of behind the scenes, and long featurettes. You can find them on the Internet here and there, but they’re always piecemeal. If streamers are looking for content, there’s all this auxiliary content for the folks who really are passionate about these things and are curious. I wanna see bloopers. Bloopers exist. Annie Howell [at Hallmark] and her team pushed to have bloopers for the RomaDrama event that we did.” 

“I just think what a lovely opportunity to be able to provide a new dynamic. It’s not just, ‘Here are the movies and now here are the movies on an app.’ It’s, ‘Here’s a different experience that might make it more immersive that because of logistical reasons, we couldn’t show on broadcast, but you can have it here.’ And I think this is the kind of innovative thinking that will take us into the future.”

“I was really happy to see how many little moments that they stuck in full scenes that were cut, and then little in between lines, some ad libs that I did when I’m playing video games or random things that we did that just add more color to scenes. Somebody had put some time and some thought into it. And I really, really appreciate anybody doing that. I love to see that. It speaks to the kind of forward thinking attitude that some of these folks have. And I’m here for it all day.”

An Unexpected Christmas

An Unexpected Christmas (2021)

A change of pace for Hynes and his first exposure to Campbell and Sustad, this holiday comedy follows a speechwriter home for the holidays as he and his now ex-girlfriend maintain the ruse that they’re still together when she hits town for a work project. I previewed it here.

“There was a really distinct voice that was written in that. It was the best script that I had ever read up until that point. And it was written originally by McGoonies [Gregory McGoon]. And then Paul and Kim had rewritten it together. And this is before I knew who Paul was or Kim. And I immediately spoke to Paul. We got together and had a coffee. And I just really explained to him how much I valued his work,” he recalls. 

“I think when someone is that good at something, and I can tell they put that much thought [into it] and it’s gone through the process of notes and stuff…It’s one thing to be really good. It’s another thing to be good in the circumstance that is making movies, and going through all the throes of that process, which is not for the faint of heart, and I really wanted to acknowledge him on that.”

“I didn’t actually know that Kim was a co-writer on that at the time, but they wrote it together and I just adored him. Paul had written a character that was himself, albeit probably a more mousy version of himself, but definitely something that he would’ve crushed, and done a much better version of it than I did. But I was a lucky person to get that job.”

“I looked so different in that movie [and somebody asked me about that]. And I [told them], ‘If I can do anything here, making 400 romantic movies. I want to at least be representative of different kinds of human beings falling in love.’ Let’s make them look different so that someone might look at that and say, ‘Oh, that’s my brother,’ or ‘That’s my boyfriend,’ or ‘That’s my husband.’” 

“And so I want fat, hairy Tyler, hairless Tyler, mustached Tyler, bearded Tyler. I want them all [represented] so people can feel like they get a piece. And I thought that this was a nice way to be able to tell [a story about] a character who is not very masculine. He is always on his heels. He’s always kind of in trouble and falling through these circumstances and not handling it well.”

“And I thought, ‘Let’s do that and let’s lean into that a bit,’ so that we can get a bit of a different color and a different shade. And I thought that was a fun opportunity. And Joy certainly enjoyed being angry at me. She was ready to go. And I said, ‘Okay, Joy, let me have it.’ And she did go after this guy. And I I loved it. Let’s hammer him.”

My Family Christmas Tree

My Christmas Family Tree (2021)

In this film, Hynes popped in for a cameo as a cafe waiter who brings Andrew Walker and Aimee Teegarden their order. “I was going to Vancouver to shoot, and my mother informed me that Andrew was gonna be there at the same time. I was just gonna show up in the background and not tell him. I just wanted to come to set one day, cruise around in the background, and leave. And then he would watch the movie and be like, ‘What? What? He was there?’ That’s what I had hoped for,” he laughs.

“And as we got closer, I realized that there’s a bit of logistics involved here. [We ended up coordinating that I would appear in his movie and he would appear in mine]. He came and sat around on set all day and got to watch me go through my process and I got to go to his set and it was fun to watch him.”

“There was a gentleman who was also doing background work, as well. And I remember I was there and I could see he was really interested in what he was doing. And so I filmed him doing his background stuff and I gave him the footage.”

“It was a really nice time. I really enjoyed being a background performer for that day. And it was hard. I’ve gotta tell you, You’ve gotta not blow that one line. If you’ve got three pages, wherever it lands, it’s gonna land. When you’ve got that one line, you think, ‘I really gotta make it count.’ And pressure is hard to overcome. You gotta come in at the right time and you don’t wanna impede the actors.” 

On the 12th Date of Christmas

On the 12th Date of Christmas (2020)

Hynes stars opposite Mallory Jansen as game designers paired up to design a holiday scavenger hunt while also competing for a coveted promotion that he needs to help restore his family home and she needs to validate her choice to leave Iowa for Chicago.

Filmed at the onset of the Me Too movement, Hynes leveraged the timing to inform how his character course corrects for his initial behavior that demeans Jansen’s character. “Again, whenever I do these things, I try to find the overarching reason that this is worthwhile. My gentleman, as written, was pretty salty towards Mallory’s character,” he explains.

“And I didn’t want to diminish this. At that time in our culture, there was the movement happening where people who were being marginalized and mistreated were getting a voice and things were coming to light. And I thought, ‘Well, this is a useful thing.’ Again, in our small, little, light Hallmark version of this, I’ll try to put in some perhaps nicer things that might elevate beyond what’s expected. And that was one of them.”

“[I decided to] lean into this gentleman who is overstepping and being a little bit prickly to this person who doesn’t deserve it. But I’m gonna have him come to that realization, hopefully in an earnest way that feels like he didn’t step too far and that he couldn’t come back from it. And that he would come back from it and own it in a real, nice way where it might be representative of some people’s experiences of being at work and being treated as lesser.”

“I thought that that would be a fun little goal. I make these ridiculous little goals and games for myself with these movies. And that was one of  them. I remember that standing out in my mind at the time as a personal little victory. Maybe it’ll help people recognize a gentleman who is trying to do the right thing, but going about it in the wrong way and eventually does. I thought that that would be nice.”

The Mistletoe Secret

The Mistletoe Secret (2019)

This spin on Cyrano De Bergerac finds Hynes ghostwriting a travel blog for having-too-much-fun-being-vapid Christopher Russell. When he lands in the quaint town of Midway, Utah to highlight it as the best holiday destination of the year, he realizes that it’s not a token designation for the town’s Christmas Council president, Kellie Pickler, or the townspeople, including the iconic Patrick Duffy, who played her dad.

“Patrick Duffy is a legend. I remember just sitting with him at the diner table and having that conversation with him. He’s got such a good demeanor about him. He was so warm, coming in for a very few amount of days. And this is a hard thing to do, to come in on a set where people have a bit of a rhythm and you’re sort of joining the show. I just remember being outside of our trailers late at night talking,” he recalls.

“Kellie was lovely. She had to speak for pages of scenes where we’re standing there staring at each other. The accent is something I can listen to every day. I certainly loved that shoot. 

And this was the first time I actually met or re-met my friend, Terry Ingram. We’ve worked subsequently together a few times on A Winter in Vail and Three Wise Men and a Baby. And usually when I start these things, or at least back then when I would start these things, the first day or two, I could feel the energy from behind the monitors,” he laughs.

“When I start to sometimes do what I’m doing, they lean back in their chair and I can feel butt cheeks puckering [as they ask] ‘What is he doing? What are we doing?’ And I used to have a timer of how long before they come up and [engage]. Terry very quickly said, ‘Let’s let him do it. Don’t do anything to him.’”

“And then like a week into it, we were having a conversation. I started telling him some story about a director who was making me shake a spear at a live jaguar that was just a few feet from me on a television series. I don’t know how we got on the subject, and there was a thin metal wire between me and the jaguar. And I was 13 at the time and this director was telling me to get closer. And I’m said, ‘You get closer.’”

“And then Terry said, ‘I was that director. You’re talking about Peter Benchley’s Amazon?’ And said yes. And he said,’You were the kid?’ And I said yes. So we figured out that we had this history. One of these days I owe him a circumstance where I’m gonna put him in some precarious situation.”

It's Christmas, Eve

It’s Christmas, Eve (2018)

This one was Hynes’s first foray into the Countdown to Christmas world, starring opposite LeAnn Rimes as a single dad music teacher trying to save his music program when the newly arrived superintendent is eyeing its elimination as a way to cut costs. He had no idea what it meant to be adding a Hallmark holiday film to his library.

“My agent called me while I was on my motorcycle. I don’t know what compelled me to pick it up while on my bike. I do that sometimes. And she was like, ‘Hallmark.’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ She said, ‘Leann Rimes!’ And I said, ‘Huh?’ And I got to the restaurant [for] dinner with some people and she needed an answer right now because it shot in the next four days. So I texted my mom and she was already reading the script because my mom does that. My mom has access to my emails. You better watch what you say in my emails because mom is watching,” he laughs.

“I’ve had a few exes email me and [had to tell them], ‘Mom’s reading that. Big mistake. Don’t do it.’  Sometimes I won’t be posting on any socials for a while and stuff, and she starts to lose her mind, but the emails help. Now she’ll know what’s going on and she knows when I’m busy. She’ll just send me a heart emoji and I’ll send her a heart emoji back, so she just knows I have a pulse.” 

“So she had access to the script and was already reading it. So I said, ‘Mom, do I sing?’ And she said, ‘A little bit.’ And I said, ‘You need to clarify, because this will decide this.’ So she described it to me and I asked, ‘Am I gonna be okay?’ And she said, ‘You’ll be fine.’ So I got on a plane the next day to Vancouver.”

“And I had no idea what was going on or what I was in for. And there were sentences like, ‘Once you do one, you’re in the family.’ And I thought, ‘What is this? Is this the mafia? What is going on right now?’”

“And the director kept trying to make me smile constantly after every line that I might perhaps have put a bit of a darkness to or a bit of a joke that I wasn’t beaming with joy and love about. And the one thing I don’t want to do when you tell me to smile is smile. So [I told the director], ‘We’re gonna come up with a safe word. The safe word is pineapple. Whenever you want me to smile, you have to yell pineapple from behind the monitors.’”

“And he would constantly, and it was great and it made me laugh and I enjoyed myself, but it was a different time and a different channel at that point, as well. And from the early onsets I’ve been trying to sneak in a little bit of naughtiness in these movies. That was like, three percent naughtiness and we’ve slowly grown that margin.”

What’s your favorite? Hit us up in the comments, or on our socials, and click here for part two of our conversation as we talk about Hynes’ Boot Shot Tradition, which has collected and bonded fans across the globe.

Photos courtesy of Hallmark Media.

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