Jonathan Bennett’s seventh movie on Hallmark Channel, set to premiere on December 11, 2022, is already getting lots of buzz — and some backlash — over the fact it’s the network’s first film to feature two male leads. But Bennett says that while “The Holiday Sitter” is groundbreaking in many ways for the network, he hopes viewers approach it as just another fun Hallmark Christmas movie.
Jonathan Bennett Says ‘The Holiday Sitter’ is a Christmas Movie ‘Made for Everyone’
Bennett came out publicly in 2017 and married his longtime beau, Jaymes Vaughn, in March 2022. The couple recently moved from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, California.
The actor, who rose to fame in the movie “Mean Girls” opposite Lindsay Lohan and Hallmark Channel mainstay Lacey Chabert, is thrilled by the steps Hallmark has taken in recent years to reflect more diverse and inclusive casts and storylines, including having him appear in 2020’s “The Christmas House” as the network’s first gay lead character.
Bennett still also plays straight characters, as he did in “Wedding of a Lifetime” earlier this year, and in the new cover story for Palm Springs Life magazine, the 41-year-old actor says he’ll keep appearing in Hallmark projects “as long as they’ll have me.”
The network clearly believes in Bennett’s star power and ability to help Hallmark achieve its mission of ensuring its products and programming are centered “around love of every kind and love for all,” as Hallmark Media president Wonya Lucas recently said. He’s about to star in “The Holiday Sitter,” which is Hallmark’s first-ever movie featuring two male lead characters.
That fact makes it a groundbreaking film for the network, but he believes it’s important for fans to know the storyline also simply makes it a warm, funny Hallmark Christmas classic that all holiday movie lovers can enjoy.
“It’s not an LGBTQ+ rom-com,” Bennet told Palm Springs Life. “It’s a Christmas rom-com that happens to have two males as the leads. That’s the difference. It’s making history, but it’s a movie made for everyone, not just one specific audience.”
Bennett compares his role in the film to “a gay Uncle Buck,” harkening back to John Candy’s Christmas classic. In the movie, Bennett plays Sam, a bachelor who suddenly has to take care of his niece and nephew over Christmas. Hijinks ensue and he asks their neighbor Jason, played by Canadian actor George Krissa, for help — and the two forge a connection as they care for the kids.
Bennett’s favorite scene in the movie is what he calls a funny “fish-out-of-water” moment.
“Uncle Sam, who has no kids and is the eternal bachelor, doesn’t know how to cook and burned down the kitchen the last time he tried,” he explained. “Now (he) has to make these two kids breakfast without blowing up the house. It’s such a fun moment.”
Bennett Says He Knows New Movie Will Make Important Impact
Though the storyline is classic Hallmark fare, Bennett is well aware how important movies like “The Holiday Sitter” are for representation and inclusivity in the media, both behind and in front of the camera. It’s why he was so proud to serve as an executive producer.
“I know all the little Jonathans out there in the world that are watching this with their families are going to see themselves on the screen,” he said. “Our other executive producer, the entire creative team, the director, and the writers are all LGBTQ+. We had a whole family of people on board to tell this story accurately.”
As for the most emotional moment of filming? Unexpectedly, he told the magazine, it was a scene in which Sam has to literally fall into neighbor Jason’s arms. Filming it, both Bennett and Krissa suddenly recognized the magnitude of the moment, as the scene normalizes having two male leads in a sweet, romantic exchange during a Hallmark movie. He said both were brought to tears over recognizing the importance of that.
In a December 5 interview with Slice, Bennett said it’s especially meaningful because this is a Christmas movie.
“The holidays, for queer people, is something that no one will really understand unless you’re a queer person,” Bennett said. “For me, I was lucky enough to have a family that supported me, but I know that’s not the case for a lot of queer people. The holidays can be a sticky situation because everyone’s going home to their families and having these traditions and moments. There’s a lot of queer people that don’t have families to go back to, or don’t have their places they grew up that they can go home to. So that’s why I think representation and chosen family are so important.”
In an Instagram post on September 22, Bennett thanked Hallmark executives for getting behind and promoting “The Holiday Sitter.”
He wrote, “A HUGE APPLAUSE to @hallmarkchannel and all the leadership and executives, they not only believed in this story but took such good care of it championed it wholeheartedly the entire process. Dec 11 will be a very special day.”
“The Holiday Sitter” premieres on December 11 at 8 pm Eastern on Hallmark Channel.