At TV Fanatic, we've been fans of Lucas Bryant for a long time.
Best known to most of you as Nathan in the Syfy series, Haven, he's starring in a new Christmas movie on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
In support of that upcoming film we had an opportunity to jump on the phone with him all the way from Australia, where he's temporarily relocated with his family for a little normalcy in this world gone crazy.
Things may be a little of for a lot of us, but nothing has stopped Lucas from being a fun and entertaining guy. By the time we got off of the phone, my cheeks hurt from smiling so much.
When asked how he got involved with The Angel Tree, Lucas used his sense of humor for the answer. "Good question. It was one of those angel tree moments where I just put my wish on a tree. I was walking in Santa Monica one day, and there was a Christmas tree, and there was a piece of paper, and a pen, and I said, I want to do one of those movies like NOW. And it came true!"
He laughed. "Pretty much, though. That's how it works. You put it out there into the universe, and thankfully, Hallmark has come through for me like that over the last couple years."
Whether poking fun at himself or bursting into song, silly moments like that shine through in his new movie, in which he's costarring with Jill Wagner.
Matthew is a man who has put his own dreams on hold to run the family business and care for his nephew while his sister is deployed in the military. He's got a lot on his shoulders.
"He's got a couple of things that he's juggling, and he's just trying to figure it out. I think he's feeling a little overwhelmed because as much as he absolutely loves his nephew and does not feel burdened to take care of him, he does feel rather ill-equipped.
"He doesn't necessarily know that he is capable of doing the right thing, but with Rebecca coming back to town, who was one of his childhood best friends, he's reminded of a certain joy that's been missing in his life and that encourages him and reminds him that he is enough, and he can take on more."
Lucas had never worked with Jill Wagner before, "and I will never work with Jill Wagner again," Lucas joked. "No. I hadn't worked with Jill, and I would work with Jill any day. She's amazing. I really, really, really had a great time with her. She's hilarious, and she's terribly talented, and she cares so much about what she's putting out there. She's an absolutely pro, and it was a blast working with her."
That said, it seemed like a great time to remind Lucas that Emily Rose, too, has a lot of Hallmark productions under her belt, and he agreed that he would not be against the possibility of reuniting with her like that.
"We've been talking about such a thing, but Hallmark doesn't let me call the shots just yet," he laughed.
The Angel Tree has a beautiful message about connecting with others during the holidays. And while this year is trickier, Lucas says he's easy to please with simple desires. "I just like being with family and hanging out," he said.
Spending Christmases in Australia in recent years, Lucas said things are upside down from his childhood memories. "You've got Santa hats at the beach. Everyone bringing their new Christmas surfboards out for a surf. You have Christmas Carols in the park, and everyone is running around with sparklers in swimsuits, so it's kind of a weird combination of Christmas and July 4th."
He laughed, "The first couple years I was here, I found it sort of strangely absurd. I've gotten used to it, and now that is my favorite kind of Christmas. I cannot think of anything better than going to the beach at Christmas.
"The nostalgia of my youth has me trudging through the snow, and tobogganing, and snowball fights, and I won't give up those, but it is nice to have warm sand between your toes on Christmas, too."
He does have an entirely new set of traditions he's gotten from the cross between his nostalgic Christmas and those his family has embraced in his wife's home country of Australia, and he laughingly calls the Australian people strange and weird for some of them.
"One of the classic Australian Christmas songs, which I would encourage everyone to learn, is Six White Boomers," he said. When I said I was unfamiliar with the tune, he said, "No, I wouldn't expect you to. It's about white boomers, which are male kangaroos that pull Santa's sleigh on Christmas."
In his best Aussie accent, Lucas launched into a rousing rendition of the soon-to-be US Classic, and while I can't share it here with you, I'll give you a full taste of the song Lucas hopes you will all embrace.
"The whole country is very familiar with this Christmas song," he said, "and it gets shouted at every Christmas event. That's just a little introduction if people want to start learning about the Aussie Christmas ritual. There are some other ones, but you can start by brushing up on Six White Boomers."
Promoting a Christmas movie made it an ideal time to learn a little more about the traditions down under, and even though it shouldn't be a surprise that Santa comes to town via kangaroos, Lucas said, "Yeah! Santa comes via kangaroo in a rusty old Ute. A Ute is an Aussie version of like a little truck.
"Santa lives in a beach shack, brushes off his Hawaiian shirt, and puts on this thongs, which are flip flops, OK? Get your mind out of the, uh huh. You can make a mistake pretty easily there when talking to Australians about thongs," Lucas laughed.
"So, Santa puts on his thongs and jumps in his Ute, and six white boomers pull him across Australia through the blazing sun. Although I don't know how he did it through the blazing sun because I thought he did it at night. See, the Aussies still have some holes in their story, but they're getting there!"
And if you're interested in what might delectable treats might make their way to the traditional Aussie Christmas feast, Lucas said, "Have you heard of Balmain Bugs? Well, just Google it, people!"
Lucas doesn't only sing on the phone during interviews, by the way. He's beginning to make a name for himself in Hallmark productions for that particular talent, too.
"I guess it's my thing now. It's my third movie now. Everyone's got a trademark, I guess that's mine. It wasn't in the script, initially. When I first started talking about doing the movie, I had a conversation with Alex Coscas, one of the executive producers, and he said, 'I know you sing. Would you be OK if we had some music in this?'
Lucas jumped at the opportunity, and when the song choices were revealed, one was Oh, Christmas Tree aka Oh, Tannenbaum.
"During the course of quarantine, I was just thinking and playing around on guitar, and I sort of wrote some of my own words to it, lyrics that were appropriate to the story, and sent them around to Alex and Jessica Harmon, the director, thinking they'd probably think they were ridiculous.
"But they really liked it and said, 'go for it,' and I did."
He continued, "It was supposed to be like silly and fun. Hopefully, it comes across that way. It wasn't supposed to be like [lowers voice] 'and now a musical performance from this guy who is now a musical performer' -- out of nowhere. So it's just supposed to be playful and silly, and not like he's the greatest singer or guitar player or anything."
He also recorded a more polished version of the song that is used elsewhere in the film that ties it all together. Now you'll have two new songs to add to your Christmas holiday this year.
Overall, the movie is light and festive. "There were some silly, personal things we tried to inject into the movie as much as possible. In the script, the character of Matthew had some Christmas puns or some coffee puns, and those were pretty bad, so we leaned into that as hard as possible and tried to do even more, even worse ones, so I'm happy that Jessica was on board with that, too.
"If we're going to do some puns, let's just do a lot of puns, and I don't know how many made it into the movie, but I had a lot of fun with those dumb groaners."
When asked if he would have interjected anything else into the movie to make it more personal, Lucas didn't think so. While he didn't think doing any more music would have been silly "unless he was a closed songwriter," Lucas said, "With the pun thing, I was so on board. I am a fan of bad puns. I am a fan of bad dad jokes.
"My daughter and my wife are perpetually rolling their eyes at me, and so, yeah. That felt a little strange. It felt like there were some cosmic things happening when I read the script and saw those stupid puns in there ins the first place -- and I say stupid puns with the highest, highest respectful intention.
"When I saw those in there, I thought, 'this is right up my alley, so if we can take this further, I would love that. And usually, when I have those instincts, like if I want to go further with this, often the response is, 'uh, no.' But in this case, thankfully, Alex and Jessica were totally into it."
And any conversation with Lucas would be remiss without discussing Haven, a show that was excellent throughout its run. The good news is that he misses, it too.
"I miss Haven so much, too," Lucas said. "I miss all those people. If you can get those people to come back, I'm all about it. I'd go do it."
He admitted that he's been thinking about it a lot lately, most likely due to extended quarantines he's been in to film The Angel Tree in Canada and for his trip to Australia.
"I think the quarantines have allowed me a certain nostalgia, and I've been thinking about all my friends in Nova Scotia and all my friends who traveled to Nova Scotia," he said. "It was a great show with lovely people."
Now, you know what you have to do next. Mark your calendar for Saturday, November 21. The Angel Tree premieres on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries at 10/9c. Don't miss it!
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, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.