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Interviews

Luke Macfarlane Previews CrimeTime: Freefall 

Luke Macfarlane Previews CrimeTime: Freefall

[Warning: General spoiler ahead.]

As Hallmark Movies & Mysteries continues to test the waters of potential new franchise series, we’re treated to delightful new premises and pairings, and it’s a chance for audiences to have a say in which ones come back by tuning in. Friday night, CrimeTime; Freefall, a fun new entry with a fantastic premise, tone, and pacing, premieres at 9 pm ET. I’m going to yell at you now to WATCH THIS ONE. 

In the film, written by Kraig Wenman (Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries) and directed by Stacey N. Harding, Lyndie Greenwood and Luke Macfarlane team up as a newly relocated TV star who just wrapped a decade-long stint playing a detective, and an actual detective in the small Colorado town she’s just settling into with her family.

CrimeTime Freefall

Taking a page from The Journey Ahead, Hadley Warner (Greenwood) has been told by her agent that pickings are slim for a next gig, so she takes the opportunity for a reset, heading with her teenagers Rain (Hana Huggins) and Hendricks (Lennox Leacock – who appeared with Macfarlane in A Magical Christmas Village and whose dad, Viv, worked with Macfarlane on Maggie’s Christmas Miracle) to Mystic, Colorado, where her mom (BJ Harrison), who they call Granny D, lives. 

Newly arrived and adjusting to a town where not everybody knows her name, she’s horrified when the sweet, rural rental home in the boonies that realtor Jay (Babak A. Motamed)  – and her biggest fan and wannabe BFF – has found for her ends up with a murder victim in the front yard.

Before that, she has a meet-cute with Detective Shawn Caden (Macfarlane), who responds to her 911 call after she hears a gunshot, and returns the next morning when it’s apparent she did in fact hear what she thought she heard. As eager as Hadley is to jump in and offer her TV-informed expertise, he does his best to keep her in her lane. Until he realizes she might be onto something.

CrimeTime Freefall

Earlier today, I chatted with Macfarlane about the film – his first mystery for Hallmark and surprisingly, his first time ever playing a cop. He loved the script, and the cast, which includes his Birthday Wish costar, David Lewis, who plays a security consultant here. “He is one of the most delightful people. I read the script and I loved the tone of it immediately. I did not know that Lyndie was cast, but as soon as I found that I was even more [excited to do it] because I think she’s terrific,” he shares.

One of the things the movie does really well is establish that Hadley and her kids are a unit. They’re not exactly thrilled to be uprooted from their lives in LA (and her son’s grieving the loss of his burgeoning influencer side hustle), but the film avoids the trope of miserable teenagers. Instead, they make it work, and aside from getting to hang out with their beloved Granny G, they go all in with their mom on the true crime angle, murder board and all.

CrimeTime Freefall

Macfarlane was particularly fond of a scene between Greenwood and Leacock. “There was a scene that I really loved so much. The son shows up at school and he is wearing all his LA gear and he realizes, ‘Uh oh, I don’t fit in.’ But the cool part was we saw Lyndie’s character watch this and her heart broke a little. But what she didn’t do is go over there and fix it for him,” he says. 

“I just thought that was a really interesting choice. What are you gonna do as a parent? Are you gonna support them so that they can make the choice? Or are you gonna do it for them? And I love that. I love that scene.”

Last year, Macfarlane worked with Harding on Amish Stud at Lifetime, and he was eager to work with her again. “God bless her because she always does her work. She just lays things in so neatly and nicely, which is not always easy. [With] a mystery, it really is about laying in each Lego brick beautifully,” he shares. 

CrimeTime Freefall

“I think you have to trust your writer and your director a little bit more because it’s a little more subtle and detail-oriented. I remember one of my early conversations with Stacey was, ‘Do I get to wear a uniform?’ We did the research about a county cop so we ended up not doing it.”

“It was [also] one of the few times I’ve been on set where they would politely ask me to do it word for word as it was written. And I do tend to have a bit of a habit where I like to make up a line here and there, and sometimes it ends up in the movies. So that was certainly different.”

When we spoke last spring for Platonic, Macfarlane shared that dancing wasn’t his forte so a planned Coyote Ugly homage that instead became him singing was a happy outcome. Here, he’s not just dancing, he’s also a dance instructor, but Harding kept the action framed so that he didn’t actually have to demonstrate proficiency.

“Stacey’s so wonderful and she’s so prepared. She [told me], ‘Most of the conversation’s gonna happen [in close up]. Your feet can be doing whatever. So that was great. And it was also very sweet, working with all those actors [who played the students], many of whom were seniors [unaware of how long filming can take],” he says.

CrimeTime Freefall

He says that the final scene was fun to film for a number of reasons. “Stacey just does her work.  And it’s so nice to be on set where you just feel like someone’s totally in control. My favorite stuff was near the end of the movie. It was also near the end of our shoot and there was so much to do, as always,” he explains.

“There’s also this thing that naturally happens on any movie … every movie I’ve worked on, where it becomes more about triage than making a movie and you’re just running out of time. And often the most fun things come in that. And that was sort of one of them, but I’m coming in with the gun drawn and sort of kicking the door in. That was [filmed with] steadicam, which we don’t get to do a lot of in Hallmark. And I had lovely memories of working on Killjoys and doing that sort of actiony stuff.”

CrimeTime Freefall

“We’ve got the killer there. We got a little line where I sort of fall down beside Lyndie. And the first take just kind of worked. The camera was dancing with us. Lyndie nailed a little joke and it was just really fun. It was very satisfying. I think we did a second take because we had the time, but it was the first take when we were all stressed out and [getting it done was great].”

Macfarlane says they all hope to get to do more of these, and he and Greenwood were onstage earlier this month at the Television Critics Association to promote the film as part of a panel for Hallmark’s upcoming films and the rebranding next month of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries to Hallmark Mystery – which is a very good sign of the network’s faith in them.

He says that from the jump, Harding treated the project as the starting point for more to follow. “Stacey said to me right at the beginning, ‘I’m shooting this with all the preparation one would do as if they were making a pilot.’ She did a wonderful job and I want it to come back. I really do. We wait and see how it does,” he shares. “I am certainly moving forward with the hope that we get to do it again.”

CrimeTime Freefall

This is m reminding you again – WATCH THIS MOVIE. TELL YOUR FRIENDS! Live Tweet (X, YKWIM).

CrimeTime: Freefall premieres Friday at 9 pm/8c on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries in the U.S. and W Network in Canada, and streaming live on multiple outlets in the U.S. Here are a couple of sneak peeks.

Photos courtesy of Allister Foster/Hallmark Media and Hallmark Media; videos courtesy of Hallmark Media.

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