With close to 30 movies under his belt, Walker has become one of Hallmark’s most prolific and beloved actors since his 2012 debut. While he still loves filming each movie he makes and hearing how much they matter to fans, some projects — like “Christmas Island” — wind up feeling extra special, he told Heavy in his first interview since the SAG-AFTRA strike ended and publicity restrictions on actors were lifted.
“I think that this is, honestly, one of my top three favorite movies that I’ve done,” Walker beamed.
From a script he loved to a cast he quickly bonded with, Walker said “Christmas Island” had all the right ingredients for creating the best-possible experience on-set. Now, he said, he hopes that behind-the-scenes magic translates onscreen for viewers.
Andrew Walker Says He & His ‘Christmas Island’ Co-Stars Forged a Special Connection, Which He Calls the ‘Secret Sauce’
Walker was relaxing at his in-laws’ cottage in Maine when he got the call that a SAG-AFTRA waiver had been granted for “Christmas Island,” giving him an opportunity to quietly film a movie during the strike.
In the movie, actress Rachel Skarsten plays a pilot who hopes to impress the wealthy family she’s been tasked with flying to Switzerland, thinking they might give her a full-time job as their private pilot if they like her. But when a snowstorm diverts the flight to Christmas Island, she works with an air traffic controller, played by Walker, to save the day and stay in the family’s good graces.
A big reason the project wound up being one of Walkers favorites, he said, was the easy and fun camaraderie with his co-stars. Walker said he had worked previously with some of the “great” cast members on separate projects, including Kate Drummond, Jefferson Brown and Peter MacNeill. He’d never met Skarsten, though, and was thrilled when they hit it off instantly.
“I think this movie might be up there in my top 3 because the actors were just so talented and high-level and just connected,” he said, adding that he thinks forging relationships with his co-stars is imperative to a movie’s success.
“I try to go into every project with an open mind, open heart, just very accessible,” Walker told Heavy. “That’s something that I’ve been trying to exercise my whole acting career. I think that the secret sauce in these movies is how quickly can you establish some sort of rapport, relationship, and play with your partner and with the other actors on-set.”
“Fortunately, Rachel was really down for the cause,” he continued, explaining that he and Skarsten had instant chemistry. “She’s a very smart actress. She knows how to deliver lines in a certain way that I think is very captivating when you’re watching her.”
But just as important, Walker said, was that Skarsten was “unbelievably accepting and approachable and just loved to play. She just kept things so light and fun on set.”
Andrew Walker Says the Script & Location Also Made ‘Christmas Island’ One of His Favorite Movies to Work On
It helped, of course, that the cast and crew of “Christmas Island” were all bringing a good script to life, written by frequent Hallmark screenwriter Samantha Herman, whom Walker coincidentally already knew. Herman recently told Heavy she rarely knows who’s going to star in movies she’s written, so it was a sweet surprise when Walker texted to say he was about to film her 11th movie for the network.
“The minute I read the script, I knew it was gonna be special,” Walker told Heavy, adding that he thinks Herman has a great gift for writing comedy.
Herman and Walker, who were both born and raised in Canada, each mentioned how meaningful it is to them the “Christmas Island” is set in Nova Scotia, making it the first Hallmark movie to be filmed in Canada and set in Canada. While the vast majority of Hallmark’s movies are shot there, they’ve always pretended, through set design and scripting, that the stories were taking place in American towns.
But “Christmas Island” breaks the mold, Walker explained, highlighting maritime elements and scenery authentic to the area. That includes a scene with the historic Bluenose sailboat, which is featured on the back of Canada’s dime, in the background.
“I hadn’t seen Nova Scotia for 30 years,” Walker said, recalling a vacation his family took there when he was 12. “So to spend a month there was really, truly special.”
‘Three Wise Men and a Baby’ & Movies With Nikki DeLoach are Also Among Andrew Walker’s Other Favorite Projects
When pressed to share the other movies that round out his top three favorite projects, Walker immediately said that last year’s smash hit “Three Wise Men and a Baby” co-starring Paul Campbell and Tyler Hynes had to be on the list.
“Three Wise Men for sure,” he said. “That has to make the cut.”
The comedy was a huge hit for Hallmark, becoming the most-watched movie of 2022 across cable TV, according to Variety. Walker said the connection he forged with Skarsten on “Christmas Island” reminded him of his rapport with Campbell and Hynes.
“Paul and Tyler and I were just so in tune with each other and it was like table tennis,” Walker said. “You know, we’re just throwing lines back and forth and ad-libbing and felt safe. You know, it’s like, we could say anything to each other and that’s the way Rachel and I were.”
Choosing a third movie to round out his top three proved difficult for Walker. But only because he couldn’t pick which project co-starring Nikki DeLoach, who’s become one of his dear friends and his partner in the “Curious Caterer” mystery franchise, was his favorite.
He said, “The third one’s tough, I don’t know. It’s gotta be one of my and Nikki’s movies — ‘Dream of Christmas,’ ‘Perfect Catch,’ I love doing this ‘Curious Caterer’ series with her. So let’s make Nikki number three! Yes, anything Nikki related!”
Walker said that he has a deep comfort level with DeLoach, who is playful and fun but also a skilled actor — something he was happy to also find with Skarsten.
“I’m a super sensitive actor in that way where I really…need my partner to give me something for me to be able to play it in return,” he explained. “I can’t just say lines.”
“Some people you just feel like you’ve known them in a past life,” he continued. “And Nikki and I always talk about that. We’re like, ‘I’ve known you in a past life. We were like brother/sister or something, you know?’ And Rachel and I have had that quick relationship.”
Walker will be in Nashville during the November 11 premiere of “Christmas Island,” supporting DeLoach and Ashley Williams’ dance party fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association. But he has a special screening planned when he gets home.
“I’ll be watching with my boys,” he said of his young kids, West, 8, and Wolf, who’s almost 5. “I promised them my Christmas movie when I get back!”
“Christmas Island” premieres on November 11 at 8 p.m. Eastern time and is scheduled to re-air on Hallmark Channel at least eight times before the end of the year.