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Hallmark Favorite Tyler Hynes on Why It’s an ‘Exciting Time’ to Be at the Network (Exclusive)

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What happens when you put three grown men in charge of a baby? A lot of mishaps and comedy gold!

In Hallmark Channel‘s latest holiday movie, Three Wise Men and a Baby, network staples Andrew Walker, Tyler Hynes and Paul Campbell team up to play brothers who unexpectedly find themselves babysitting a newborn over the Christmas holiday. What starts off as a trial-by-error experience for the trio, who all have distinct personalities and perspectives on life (one’s a firefighter, another’s a game coder and the third works with animals), becomes a journey of self-discovery and reconciliation as they rebuild their relationships as brothers, as well as the romantic and professional bonds that may have gone by the wayside. Margaret Colin plays their mother. 

The team-up of Walker, Hynes and Campbell, the latter of whom co-wrote the movie with frequent collaborator Kimberly Sustad, elated fans when it was announced several months ago. Hynes, who has become one of Hallmark’s go-to leading men for their films, shared that a similar concept had been bandied about with Walker and Campbell, two of his closest friends.

“Andrew, Paul and I were discussing this concept prior to Hallmark bringing it to us. We had already been talking about this exact thing and then Hallmark had brought it to us saying, ‘Did you want to do this?’ So it was a bit of a good timing,” the actor told ET recently over Zoom. And playing siblings was a bit of art imitating life for Hynes, who is related to Walker through marriage. (Walker is married to Hynes’ cousin, Cassandra.) “A chance to be able to spend every day with one of my close friends and one of my family members is as good as it gets.” (Watch ET’s exclusive sneak peek from the movie above.)

Before the film’s festive premiere this weekend, the actor — who also stars in the Blake Shelton-produced Hallmark Movies & Mysteries holiday film, Time for Him to Come Home for Christmas, airing Nov. 26 — talked to ET his experience working with his real-life friends, filming with babies and why he’s inspired by Hallmark’s move to expand the stories it tells to include any and all walks of life.

ET: What made this story different for you than the others that you have been in? 

Tyler Hynes: Yeah. It was a different rhythm than having the “boy meets girl, the person meets the person, fall in love.” It’s great. We do these movies and we do relive a lot of the same moments and try to find new ways to go about them. And that’s a fun challenge onto itself. But it did feel like its own thing. And I think Hallmark, I believe, is more interested in those kinds of stories from the conversations that I’ve had, just telling a more diverse palette of stories that are not just relationship-based, I mean, in your traditional sense. But more in all of its shapes and sizes. This one finds its way into a family that has ripped it apart a little bit. And finding this connection again over Christmas through this experience of this baby, I think, makes for all the same reasons why we come to Hallmark, just in a refreshing way.

One of the first scenes we did was the one with me, Paul and Margaret at dinner. There’s a lot of B-roll, blooper reel situation on that day and that scene. And Margaret was right in there in the trenches with me and Paul as we were pounding each other. I think I was barking at him at one point because he was a pet therapist. I was trying to communicate to him in a language that he might understand. So I started saying, “Wolf, wolf, bark.” And somehow Margaret was watching this take place and was right in there adding to the wrestling match that was happening between me and Paul. It’s just the best and it’s a dynamic that is refreshing for us to play as actors and refreshing for viewers to see, but to have the same thick heart at the middle of it all, which is intrinsic to Hallmark.

You’re all friends in real life and the characters you play in Three Wise Men and a Baby are very different from each other. Who’s most like the brother that they play?

It would be Drew for sure. Drew was typecast. Who’s going to play the hot firefighter who’s got the heart of gold and just makes everything magical and is a unicorn? It’s going to be Drew. There’s no one else to play that part.

The movie also opens with him shirtless, showing off his abs.

What do you think we’re doing here? We’re trying to start off running, sprinting out of the gate. We said, “Get Drew in a mirror, shirtless, talking to himself.” This is how we open the movie. Don’t give me establishing shots of Chicago. Show me naked Drew.

Was the dynamic between the brothers in this movie similar to the one you have in real life?

Well, different, right? Kimberly and Paul wrote a script that was unbelievable. I actually missed my flight reading the script to go shoot the movie. I was in the airport and I sat down and I was like, “I’m early. OK, I’ve got some time.” I sat down in front of the gate and I pulled out my phone and I started to read the script. Didn’t think I would get too far into it, but I started reading it and I couldn’t stop. And then at some point somebody texted me asking about my flight and how it was, and I looked up and I was alone. I immediately jumped up and called my travel agent that I had missed my flight. I fully looked down and started reading this thing and didn’t look up. So, the dynamics were in their script that they had written.

My character, I’m pretty grumpy throughout the movie. And Paul is very good at playing put-upon, sort of frazzled and so there’s definitely a lot of stuff that was born out of us mucking about. There’s a lot of under-the-breath lines that are stuff that we found on the day, but our dynamic in real life, maybe there’s a vision there. I could be a bit sarcastic, Paul can be a bit wound-up and Andrew’s a unicorn. So yeah, I suppose it’s kind of close.

What was the experience like working with a baby throughout this movie?

It was amazing. It was two babies, twin girls Katie and Callie, and their mother, Stephanie. I’m so grateful to Stephanie for allowing us to be able to be with her children as freshly born as they were and as lovely as they were. It takes a lot of faith to do something like that. I hope that they have nice memories to look back on and watch this movie in years to come. We had a situation where Katie was the non-crier and Callie was the crier. There’s a whole sequence near the beginning where I’m left alone with the child and swapping babies, depending on what was needed at the moment. Let’s bring in the Babe Ruth of crying and she would come in and cry. There was a time or two where I’m not a Daniel Day-Lewis type, where I was acting with a doll in that scene at the beginning and I was like, “There was something about when Katie was here, is it OK if the baby comes back just so I can look at her while I do this? There’s something that she was giving me just in the context of what we were doing.” They say don’t work with babies, don’t they?

And animals.

I disagree. I just played with a pug the other day on set and that was wildly fantastic. So babies and pets, I’m in. I’m all in.

Is there a favorite memory that you have from making this movie?

We finished the movie, we started drinking. I think someone who will go unnamed snuck in some alcohol and we were nearing the finish line, rounding home plate and Kimberly Sustad was there, who’s the writer with Paul. What was fulfilling for me, and I’ll probably remember it, is that last day, that last shot. We were at the ice rink and seeing Kim’s face and Paul’s face as they had materialized something that I could tell they cared a lot about and thought into, and truly they’re the MVPs of this whole movie. Drew is a unicorn as he is, but I’m absolutely just a pinch-hitter coming in trying to do what I can. Paul and Kim as the writers and then Paul as the performer, they really put a lot into it and I could see there was emotion and a lot of meaning for them behind this experience and that meant the most to me personally.

There were also times where Andrew kept getting broken into when he was going to the bathroom from one of the assistant directors, [who] kept accidentally walking in on him constantly. This became a theme where anytime he would go to the bathroom, I would try my best to attack that door, just to continue the theme that had been started. I’m trying to think what else of that ridiculousness? Let’s just stay with the nice emotional part. 

From everything that everyone has shared on social media, it does seem like it was a fun time on set.

I’m not one to be emotionally… I don’t display huge, extravagant displays of emotion, but certainly the three of us, as well as Kimberly, so the four of us, have really had an artistic and personal, touching journey throughout this whole process where it’s just been absolutely pure joy and focus and fulfillment. What we share on the internet is the absolute tip of the iceberg. Our group chat is lit every day, believe me.

You touched on this earlier. As of late, Hallmark diversifying the types of stories that they’re telling and this movie aligns with their continued move to expand from the usual “girl-meets-boy” romances. This film is heavily revolved around family, with romance not at the forefront of the story. What are your hopes as Hallmark continues to progress and open up the breadth of stories they’re tapping into?

Yeah, it’s funny because this is four years [at Hallmark]. It seems like yesterday that I was completely new and in the dark to all this. So I guess I’m becoming one of the staples now at this point or somebody who’s been around for a minute. And there has been a pretty clear evolution. For me, I just want to see, as filmmakers, a continual push to evolve the craftsmanship of what we do because I think within the bounds and budgets that we have on these movies, there’s still room for a bit of evolution in that regard and that is happening.

But of course the diversity of story, the inclusiveness of having people from all walks of life be represented, have their stories told. It’s just a more rich tapestry. It’s more interesting. It keeps things more fresh and more exciting, as well as more immersive. And I know that that’s what they’re interested in and I’m finding myself a little bit involved in that side of things as of late and I just hope we keep doing that. We keep pushing for unique and diverse stories that I can possibly help contribute to however I can and continuing to try to evolve the way in which we tell these stories so that they feel artistically fulfilling. All sincerity is the priority, which is a good pursuit. And I think that being our north star as to how we approach the filmmaking of these things, I think, is a good thing. It is an exciting time actually to be here.

More abs basically.

Yeah, more abs. Andrew didn’t wear a mic, I kept joking. Normally we have tape on our chest using our microphones, but Abs Andrew, he has a different method. He’s got such ab and muscular strength, he could just hold his microphone with his muscles and he’s got no need for tape.

What else is next for you?

A nap is on the horizon. This is what I’m most excited for. I just got home from finishing a project which will not be coming out anytime soon I don’t think. It’s an interesting thing that we’re doing, sort of a premiere after it’s premiered, which seems to be unique to this movie. So that’s very nice if people even ask for that kind of experience. But as far as work, I just wrapped and I have some other projects that we’re sort of seeing where they’ll land as far as where they’ll be visible to other people, but nothing concrete yet. And severely, naps are in my future.

There’s the Hallmark Cinematic Universe, right? Who is your perfect dream team for that next movie you would like to team up with, similar to Three Wise Men and a Baby?

If I told you, I might be giving something away. That will be something that will be to speak to diversity to what you’re saying, to speak to this sort of HCU that we have. There is something that I had a Zoom about yesterday and we’ll have a Zoom about tomorrow with the network regarding an idea that will be in the wheelhouse of what you’re talking about. 

What do you want fans to know about Three Wise Men and a Baby?

That Margaret Colin is an absolute gangster. That Paul Campbell and Kimberly Sustad deserve all the credit and accolades, that they are the force and talent that really is the drive behind what this thing became. And Andrew Walker is more muscular than you could ever imagine. 

Three Wise Men and a Baby premieres Saturday, Nov. 19 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Hallmark Channel.

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