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Hallmark Channel is making history this month with its newest holiday film The Christmas House, marking the first time the network will air an original movie featuring an LGBTQ+ storyline.
The film’s stars Robert Buckley and Jonathan Bennett spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the importance of highlighting an LGBTQ+ relationship in the movie, as well as the inspiration behind the film.
The two actors play brothers Mike (Buckley) and Brandon Mitchell (Bennett) who, in the film, are summoned back home for the holidays by their parents Phylis (Sharon Lawrence) and Bill (Treat Williams), to relive a family tradition of turning their house into a Christmas wonderland.
While Buckley’s storyline as Mike revolves around reconnecting with his high school sweetheart, Bennett’s focuses on his character Brandon and his husband, played by Brad Harder Arychuk, attempting to adopt their first child. For Bennett, the film feels like progress.
“I just think back to what it would be like for a younger me to see a movie like this at the holidays with his family on Hallmark channel,” said Bennett. “And to see someone who looks like me and looks like a relationship that I want to have on-camera in the movie. It’s an honor to be able to make history on Hallmark Channel.”
As for Buckley, the film was also very sentimental for the actor considering it was loosely based on his own experiences growing up.
Speaking with THR, the actor explained that turning their home into a ‘Christmas house’ was a tradition his family started when he was very young, calling it an “extreme Christmas makeover.”
“We became known in our town and the local town as ‘The Christmas House,’” said Buckley. “Elementary schools would take field trips to our house. It was a proper attraction. When I mentioned this to someone, I said, ‘You know what, that could be a movie.’ And then a Hallmark executive heard about it and was like, ‘That actually is interesting, you wanna talk about it?’ And that was sort of the beginning of the process.”
Buckley also revealed why incorporating an LGBTQ+ storyline in the movie was important to him, saying he wanted to tell a meaningful story.
“When I got this opportunity, I thought, I may never get another chance to tell an original story, so I don’t just want it to be fun and entertaining I would like it to actually mean something,” said Buckley. “And what immediately jumped out to me was, I want my brother to be gay and, here’s the big idea, we’re going to treat them exactly the same way we treat a straight couple. And luckily I was met with, ‘Yes and let’s do more with that.’ It felt like it’s about time.”
Watch the video above for more. The Christmas House premieres Sunday, Nov. 22 on Hallmark Channel.
Additional reporting by Tiffany Taylor
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