Hallmark Channel’s latest holiday movie, On the 12th Date of Christmas, follows two seemingly incompatible game app designers, Aidan (Tyler Hynes) and Jennifer (Mallory Jansen), who are forced to team up to create a romantic, city-wide scavenger hunt themed for the “12 Days of Christmas.” At first, the two colleagues don’t see eye to eye on how to approach their newest high-profile Christmas project, which could lead to juicy promotion, but in classic Hallmark form, they start to realize they’re actually not too bad working as a team.
ET exclusively premieres a sneak peek from the newest “Countdown to Christmas” film, where Aidan and Jennifer — tasked with coming up with festive, witty clues for their extensive 12-part scavenger hunt, have a sweet moment of connection as they make a Christmas yule log.
“What I liked about the story was the movie is essentially about a woman who finds her creative voice, and the confidence in her own talents and confidence in her career professionally. I saw an opportunity with my character — he’s somebody that I think other professional women might recognize. Maybe a guy who is not necessarily ill-intentioned but is not sensitive to the fact that somebody else can deliver and contribute,” Hynes, a regular presence on Hallmark, tells ET.
“Aidan’s so wrapped up in his family and what he needs to do to provide for them, but ends up not giving that much space for Jennifer to shine. So she starts to take that upon herself,” he continues. “There’s a beautiful moment where we can look at this circumstance that I think a lot of women might relate to and address it in a way that seems realistic and has a good ending.”
Because Hallmark films center around romance, a lot of its success rests on the chemistry between the two leads. Hynes, though, prefers to simplify the approach by whittling it down to whether he and his co-star have an easy rapport. Oftentimes, he says, that’s what audiences see translated onscreen.
“Personally, I’ve never been a huge proponent of the word ‘chemistry.’ I understand what that means, but as an actor, when I go into these rooms and I have these interactions, people think it’s capturing lightning in a bottle. And in my experience, it’s not. You just do good work, you do a good job and this your job as an actor is to create that. That being said, it makes it a heck of a lot easier if the person you’re working with A) is super talented and B) is an incredible human being,” Hynes says. “I’ve been very lucky with all of these movies to have that be the case. Mallory is no exception. She’s brand new to this world and these movies are an undertaking to say the least. She was such an incredibly warm, fun, funny human being. We had a blast and it’s so nice doing some interviews and being able to see her because we actually haven’t seen each other since the movie.”
With Aidan and Jennifer journeying across different parts of town, what begins as an icy relationship begins to thaw over time. Though the ending isn’t that much of a surprise (spoiler: they fall in love!), it’s the path they go on that is much more interesting. The last day of filming was particularly standout for Hynes: “The last day was a big day. It was all the ice-skating stuff. [Co-star] Zoe [Fish] had her skates on and she fell for real when she was skating, which I’m so happy they got on-camera because it was so cute. Her reaction to that is one of my favorite moments in the movie when she goes, ‘I’m good.'”
“And at the end of the day, we were just so tired from the shoot. Mallory and I sat down, figuring out how to change that scene around because of the time we had,” he adds. “We ended up losing our minds and giggling and just being silly. About a quarter of that ended up in the movie. But it was just a really nice way to end the film.”
Filmed earlier this year when productions first started back up, Hynes credited the producers and Hallmark for maintaining a safe environment and following COVID guidelines to ensure that filming went off without a hitch. As audiences will see this weekend, it never would have occurred that On the 12 Date of Christmas was made during a pandemic.
“We were, I think, one of the earlier films to come out of the gate and that was definitely a little bit different,” Hynes recalls. “But in this particular moment in time, it was just an opportunity for people to really rise to the occasion. It was honestly the best-case scenario I could possibly think of with the circumstances.”
As for whether the holidays will hold a different meaning this year, Hynes said he’s grateful that he has the opportunity to continue making these feel-good, heartfelt movies.
“It really gives me an opportunity to realize that I make a lot of people very happy, and I really like that. I’m trying to focus on that. As hard as the year has been for everybody and circumstances are individual to all of us, I just thought it was an opportunity to focus on the people around you who matter and try to have nice, quiet, genuine interactions with folks,” Hynes says. “I think these movies really present me with an opportunity to do that through social media and interacting with some of the viewers who watch these movies. And Christmas will be the same. It’s nice that this movie is coming out and as it gets closer to Christmas I’m sure we’ll be able to give people a little bit of a reprieve from what’s going on.”
On the 12th Date of Christmas premieres Sunday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Hallmark Channel.
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