A Christmas Carousel is a new royal-themed holiday moving starring Rachel Boston.
Rachel took time out of her busy schedule to chat with us about the movie and her Christmas plans.
Known for her kindness, Rachel is warm and generous of her time, which is at a premium these days. We caught up with her just after she filmed a segment for Hallmark Channels Home & Family.
Rachel was part of a cooking segment, promoting Christmas with a dish featuring apple and fennel. Yum!
"Promoting Christmas right around Christmas has been remarkably exciting because you're already in the mood," Rachel said. Very often, filming for Christmas entertainment is done when the weather is anything but a chill in the air.
Not with A Christmas Carousel, though. "Actually this was the closest to Christmas I filmed so wearing the winter coats, it was actually winter," Rachel said. "It was really fun to be truly in the spirit."
Rachel gets a kick out of the whole process of filming a holiday movie. "What's the most fun to me is that we decorate towns. We'll be shooting in a community and then we have to turn the whole street into Christmas.
"What I find so hilarious is when people that live in that community that are working in these businesses walk down their street and it's July and it's covered in snow and they have Santa on the window and Christmas trees everywhere. They can't figure it out at first. It's like, 'What is... Oh, it's a Christmas movie!' That's really fun."
Rachel is thrilled to be working in 2020, especially with entertainment that rouses the spirit at a time we need it the most.
"I was so grateful to be doing uplifting stories. To be in a romantic fairytale right now, it was... I just had a whole different perspective on my gratitude for that. We shot in Canada so there was a two-week quarantine period that was really interesting, that stillness before filming.
"It got me very focused on the script and I had a lot of time to prepare so... But it's just a Christmas miracle that we were able to pull everything off, and I'm just so happy that it's bringing comfort to people in 2020," Rachel said of her Hallmark-related Christmas activities.
So what can you expect from A Christmas Carousel? Rachel said, "I play an artist. Lila is an artist, and my father runs a carousel restoration company and it was started by my great-great-grandfather, so it runs in the family.
"I've been understanding how carousels are built and restored for years, and we get sent on an assignment to a far-off land called Ancadia where I connect with a prince, and I have no interest in anything romantic. I'm there to do my job, and then things change. It's a beautiful romance."
Rachel hadn't worked with her costar, Neal Bledsoe, before, but he had worked with some of her friends. "My friend, Danica McKellar, had done a movie with him, and she was so excited that this was my first royal movie.
"It was the cutest call. She's like, 'Is this your first royal?' It's like a rite of Hallmark passage when you've become a princess, but it was nice to have. He had so many questions about the script, and we were really enjoying creating where Ancadia is and what that town, if it's a made-up land. It was really fun to live in that world."
Yes, they took their time in quarantine to fully immerse themselves in that made-up land before they ever began filming. "We picked where it was, where we thought, like outside its own little island in Europe, and you'll see a few drawings when you're watching of where it is, but it was fun for him, I think, of how big is this community?
"Clearly being a royal being in the public eye, it was fun for him to explore when you're out in the world, are people... How many people recognize you? Just creating his back story of what it's like to go through life as a prince. It was fun just to watch him go through that.
"We shot one week in a beautiful hotel in Ottawa that was a castle-looking hotel. I didn't leave the hotel. When I went to work, I just pushed Lobby because we lived there when we were filming.
"It was really interesting to go from filming in this royal palace to then going up to my room, which felt like I lived in a castle because I worked all day, and then I would go home in a castle," Rachel laughed.
She and Neal talked a lot about what it must be like to be royals in our real world, too. "We talked about that a lot, just being born into a job and the responsibility of it and finding his own voice.
"Then when he meets someone that truly is looking for someone -- she connects with his heart and his passion and his talent and is not impressed with anything surrounding it. It's when he can really be himself, and that's when he starts to thrive.
"I think it's an interesting journey in that way, too, where maybe there's an expectation to marry someone from a different family or be with someone who was raised more like you, but when they have this real connection, you see that both of their lives are transformed."
Royal romance movies seem to have an everlasting appeal. Rachel thinks it's much more than just the fantastical element of their lives in the public eye.
"It's something that is so different than what most of us experience in life that you get into the humanity of who somebody is and seeing him struggle to make that choice of following his heart. That was really interesting to see."
Rachel's mother traced their family history to discover that they have royal connections of their own. "I am super distantly related to Kate Middleton, so my mom was excited. She's like my second cousin, 20 million thousand times removed.
"So you think about how quickly your life can change. But what I love about Lila is that's not what she's looking for. That's not at all anything she's even interested in, and it's the person that she really connects with and falls for and starts to see how their lives improve when they're together."
Rachel grew up on a mountain and spent a lot of time with horses, so one of her favorite scenes highlights the lengths Lila goes to with her artistry to ensure the carousel horses really look like they're galloping.
She finds the artistry behind carousels fascinating. "When I was growing up, my brothers and I used to ride a carousel in Nashville, Tennessee, and my grandparents would take us to the theme park that had one. There is a wonder, and now that I understand how much goes into every single piece, I have an even deeper respect for the artistry."
Rachel embraces art in her own life, too. She grew up painting, singing, dancing, and riding horses. Her father was an artisan, too, having built the house she grew up in, keeping a basement filled with woodworking materials.
Those memories and her artistic sentiment came out while filming A Carousel Christmas. "I play an artist, so I spent a lot of time in these scenes painting. I would get so immersed in it, they would cut, and I didn't even know they cut. I was still painting my horse. I was in my zone. I really enjoyed that too."
Rachel appreciates her fans and remains active on social media, always upbeat and positive. She recently asked her Twitter followers a question which I, in turn, posed to her -- What was the most recent thing that brought you pure joy?
Rachel didn't hesitate. "Oh, being with my boyfriend's nephews a few weeks ago. We drove around to see Christmas lights, and I think seeing Christmas through their eyes and just how excited they were getting, on whose side the lights came up on when we were driving.
"It's just the innocence, I think, when the lights first started going up, like the innocence through a child's eyes, I think that's a lot. That really brought me a lot of joy."
And it's Rachel's idea that surrounding yourself with as much joy as possible is the key to enjoying what is sure to be a much different holiday season than most of us have experienced.
"You know, our traditions are going to be different, so if it's connecting with people through FaceTime, I know it's not the same as in person. But I did a drive-through light show recently in Los Angeles. There's a drive-through park where you can just sit in your car and look at lights, which was amazing and very socially responsible.
"So I think anything that can find that magic. And watching Christmas movies! Last night, I was going through my list of recordings, and I have so many of my friends that I can't wait to see their work this year. So I think that and then connecting with people you love. That always makes me feel comfort."
Honestly, a call with Rachel wouldn't be complete without mentioning her gone but not forgotten TV series, Witches of East End, which she misses as much as we do.
"We loved making that show. We've talked about doing a reunion of some sort, even if we just record it on our iPhones, just because we all want to work together again."
While that might not be happening any time soon, Rachel has had the opportunity to work with her costar, Daniel di Tomas again when they recorded an audiobook, a teleplay, actually.
Melissa de la Cruz, who wrote Witches of East End, as well as Rachel's holiday movie, Angel Falls, had a book available for Rachel and Daniel to record, and they both jumped at the chance.
"We had an acting reunion through this book, and it was wonderful. Working with audible was a great experience. The producers were fantastic. I'm excited to see it, to hear it, I guess. It comes out close to Valentine's Day."
So Rachel has our winter holidays all wrapped up with warmth and surprises.
A Christmas Carousel airs on Saturday, December 19 at 8/7c where you can find Rachel live-Tweeting while watching her in her first Hallmark royal-themed film.
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.