If you watch a lot of Hallmark (and why wouldn't you), then faces start to become familiar. The actors who bring the characters to life for Hallmark dramas and romantic comedies become like family.
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Stephen Huszar who has a brand new holiday movie on the calendar this year with A Homecoming for the Holidays.
He's a genuinely charming man, and it was a great pleasure speaking with him about the many different facets of his professional life. He even shared hints of his holiday celebrations with family.
In the movie that premiered on Saturday, December 7 and replays throughout the month, Broadway actress and musician Laura Osnes plays an aspiring country singer named Charlotte who meets Stephen's character, Matt, while she's getting ready to usher off her brother on his first overseas military deployment.
A spark gets ignited, and three years later when both her brother and Matt have returned, Laura, now a successful country music star, bumps into Matt again while he's doing charitable work in her hometown.
Of course, sparks fly, and obstacles get thrown into their path, but they're also on a journey together to spread love and kindness throughout their community.
The role of Matt works very well for Stephen who is no stranger to Hallmark.
"I love Hallmark shows because they're very uplifting. They're inspiring. They're family orientated. A lot of people can enjoy it. It doesn't seclude certain audiences.
"I like to inspire people and make them laugh when I can. It's an opportunity for me to put a little comedy in there as well."
Clearly, Stephen holds his ability to entertain in high regard. He enjoys characters that others hold in high esteem, too, at least within the Hallmark world.
"Ultimately, it's good for a character to have to have qualities that other people can look up to and idolize, like being trustworthy and honest, but also a good judge of character. Basically, a good person."
"It's interesting as an actor, of course, for the character to have a bit of an arc," he shared. Aside from the more typical Hallmark stories, Stephen enjoys spreading his wings with different types of storytelling, such as his Hallmark Movies and Mysteries series, Ruby Herring Mysteries costarring Taylor Cole.
"There a lot of diversity in my character, and they're really starting to build a relationship between my character and Taylor Cole's character.
"But on Homecoming, as well, it was just really great to see a character who's a military officer and then veteran who helps to set up a nonprofit organization that helps fellow veterans find shelters for their home and family. Veterans that are underprivileged and a little out of place when they get back."
Stephen enjoys the opportunities he's been presented with and particularly Matt on Homecoming because he gets to step into the shoes of characters and honestly portray them which allows him to become more empathetic towards people in the world in general.
It's not only through his craft that Stephen hopes to make a difference. He's actively working to help better the lives of others through charitable work and focused filmmaking.
"I'm a big advocate of helping out kids that are being bullied these days and the whole topic of bullying. I actually produced a film about it a few years ago, and we're going to be launching a curriculum for schools, as well, if they would like to dabble more into this territory.
"I know it's a really big issue, but it goes beyond schools. Bullying really exists in workplaces. It's in our work, it's in our countries, and all over the place. That's something that really intrigued me, and I feel called to help. So what I do is produce content that brings that to light."
Using his available platform allows Stephen to shed light on issues that are important to him, and if you'd like to get involved, his film, Milton's Secrets is available on Amazon. It features a pretty talented crew, too, starring Donald Sutherland, Michelle Rodriguez and Mia Kirshner.
"It's an interesting story about a kid who's being bullied at school, and he's just on his 11th birthday when his grandfather comes to visit. His grandfather's a very noble and compassionate individual. He's also a war veteran.
"He approaches the whole topic with a lot of compassion and empathy, and that's really the message of the film -- how to translate that bullying behavior but also having compassion for the bullier. And there's that open communication, which really, really helps. We're very proud of the film, and I hope it can reach a wide audience someday.
Working with Osnes on A Homecoming for the Holidays was like a dream come true, too.
"She is such a professional. She has such an open heart and just, as you say, is a star in so many ways. Personally, she's one of the easiest persons I've ever had to work with and the most professional at the same time, which is a rare combination sometimes.
"Of course her voice is so beautiful that I think she had us all crying at one point in one of the scenes because we were just so touched by it and by what she was doing. It was great, and we maintain a great friendship since the show too. If everything goes well, hopefully, we'll be able to do another one together sometime."
And while Stephen enjoys a good Christmas Carol as much as the next person, don't expect him to lead. "I do like to sing, but I don't think people want to hear me sing, so we left that up to Laura. She did a great job."
The classics, such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, sing out to Stephen because those are the kinds of tunes that he listens to as he celebrates with his parents in front of a roaring fire in Canada. "We just listen away and decorate the tree and have a good old time. I'm really into the old Christmas carols."
As for other holiday traditions, the Huszar family opens their presents on Christmas Eve, something that Stephen is surprised to learn happens much more frequently than he realized.
"I love it. W have dinner and then straight to the tree. We love doing that. We're a European family. We're Hungarian first generation and so that's what we do, and I just love it. It's such a nice way to wind down to the year, and really brings us together after dinner.
"We have a nice fireplace in my family's house. It's a warm time, and we exchange stories and catch up. We all have busy lives, and it's just wonderful to get together that way."
And if you're wondering what can be found on his family's holiday table, it's peppered with some traditional cabbage and wonderful mushroom sauce over a Bramley Goose with sides of sweet potatoes and turnips with all the fixings.
"That pretty much happens every year and my mom makes a great Saskatoon berry pie for dessert. We can only get those berries in Saskatchewan. It's pretty amazing. They're like ittle blueberries but they're four times better for you than blueberries."
That sounds absolutely delicious, but equally as appetizing is that word on the street is that the writers are already at work writing new material for more Ruby Herring Mysteries.
"You never know, of course, until it happens. It looks very promising, and we had some really great feedback from the show. It was just announced, actually, that it's going to be premiering in the UK in early January, I believe. It's going international.
That's great news for fans around the world, of course. Ruby Herring Mysteries is a lot of fun, and Stephen and costar Taylor Cole have struck up a friendship away from the series, too.
"I think Taylor really enjoys being up in Canada when she can, and she's a favorite among the Hallmark fans. We have a great time, and I really feel like the chemistry of the characters is building, and people are starting to see it and get curious about where we're going to go next. So are we."
While Stephen prefers to leave the details to the writers and not step on any toes, He was willing to weigh in with his hopes about what the future could hold.
"I love the direction it's going. I think that the stories are becoming more interesting. We're really seeing a deeper relationship built with Jake and Ruby. We're introducing our families now and things like that, and that's really what makes it fun when people really start to relate to the characters.
"That's what I hope we see more of -- more backstory as we are starting to develop to see what really makes them tick when they're not all solving crimes. That's what we really had fun doing on the last episode, so I hope that continues.
But it's not all Hallmark all the time for Stephen, who can also be seen in a film released this month starring Laura Vandervoort.
"It's called Rabid, which is a remake of a classic 1977 film, a David Cronenberg film. That's coming out in theaters in the US actually on the 13th." "It's a horror film about a girl who has a terrible, disfiguring accident who then goes to visit a STEM cell research center to do reconstructive surgery. Little does she know that it has some serious side effects.
"My character is actually a daytime acting star in the movie, and he's actually at the STEM cell research center when he encounters Rose, who just got the surgery, and we have a romantic encounter. And the next thing you know, I'm suffering from some pretty severe side effects, as well, from her actions.
"It's an interesting horror film, and it was very awesome character work for us as actors because our characters got to go through a serious change from lots of psychological, emotional, and physical trauma. That was a good, challenging role for us."
He also has another holiday film coming out (it doesn't currently have a US release date) called Mistletoe Magic.
"It's a story of of two buddies from high school that reunite around Christmas time. After a chance encounter, they end up trying to find a missing mistletoe before Christmas. It's kind of a chase to find the mistletoe. It's hilarious, really funny. I got the pull out my comedy chops on that one."
And Supernatural fans will be interested to know he just finished shooting an episode of that CW mainstay in Vancouver. As it's the last season of the long-running series, Stephen is really honored to have had the opportunity to work on an episode that will be airing in the new year.
"It was really awesome working with the boys because it's sure been a beautiful run for them, and it's a kind of nostalgic to be on a show that been running that along. That's going to be coming out in the new year as well."
Stephen feels really blessed that so many US production companies are filming in Canada. "Well, I love the US. I've lived in the US. I actually lived in Chicago for almost four years of my life, and I just love both countries.
"For me, I really don't see a border myself. It's just really nice to be able to work in either place and be able to offer some of those different kinds of environments. I just love to work wherever it is. I'm just very grateful.
And Stephen suggests that fans don't be strangers. He embraces the opportunity to connect with fans across social media and urges you to reach out.
"I love connecting with people and getting feedback and informing them of what other shows are coming and just getting to know them."
And yes, he can be found live-tweeting when the opportunity presents itself. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with the @stephenhuszar handle.
The next airing of A Homecoming for the Holidays is on Saturday, December 14, at 7/6c. Be sure to check it out and share your thoughts with Stephen.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.