‘Tis the season for Christmas movies and holiday spirit, and Great American Family is celebrating with a Thanksgiving weekend full of romantic premieres. Nestled between My Christmas Hero with Candace Cameron Bure and A Christmas for the Ages with Natasha Bure and Cheryl Ladd (See 11 Photos of Cheryl Ladd Today That Prove The ‘Charlie’s Angel’ Star Doesn’t Age), Danica McKellar and Damon Runyan get into the holiday spirit with A Royal Date for Christmas.
Woman’s World sat down with McKellar in an intimate interview and in addition to previewing her onscreen romance with Runyan, she got personal about why she loves making feel-good movies like A Royal Date for Christmas, how she handles holiday stress and what helped her find herself after The Wonder Years. Plus, she reveals she’ll be live tweeting Saturday’s premiere and offers two stocking stuffer ideas!
Danica McKellar has herself a Royal Date for Christmas
Having starred in ten Christmas movies and countless rom-coms on the Hallmark Channel, Lifetime and now Great American Family, 48-year-old McKellar understands why so many of us need our fix of holiday romance — and family-friendly romance, in general.
“We live in a very challenging time,” McKellar tells Woman’s World in an interview on November 21st. “In some ways, the world seems to have lost its mind. It’s nice to help create this safe haven for people. I love these movies, and I love putting positivity into the world.”
The actress — who is also delighted to be an executive producer, involved in everything from scripts and props to editing and music — adds that films like A Royal Date for Christmas offer more than pure escapism.
“I believe we are modeling aspirational behavior,” McKellar maintains. “A lot of the stuff on television is pretty dark. These movies show struggles and dilemmas, and even frustrations, but everyone is trying to solve them in earnest. You don’t see people just trying to take advantage of each other. Nobody wishes evil or harm on anyone else. Everyone’s just trying to do their best. It’s so refreshing.”
What we can expect from A Royal Date for Christmas
In her newest holiday flick, McKellar plays Bella — a stylist who stumbles into a fairy tale romance without even realizing it. The holiday tale begins when Bella agrees to not only dress a handsome Brit who’s lost his luggage (Runyan), but also be his “official plus one” for the highbrow events he’s attending while in town. After Bella accepts with good humor, she’s stunned to realize her demanding new client “Stefan” is actually Stefan William Francis Brown, the Duke of Tangford!
Like Bella’s coworker, most viewers will immediately recognize the chemistry between these two strangers. Bella and Stefan, however, can’t see past their own histories and drama.
“This movie is about healing each other and how the holidays can bring up stuff that you can either ignore or you can look at and face,” McKellar teases. “I love seeing healing and redemption onscreen. It’s such a gift.”
While Bella must learn to trust again, her leading man faces a much deeper journey — which is exactly why McKellar wanted Runyan for the role.
“I felt like this movie would only work if we found a costar who is emotionally available,” says McKellar. “That’s not so common for the guys in these movies! But when we were talking about casting, I remembered working with Damon [in 2018’s Very, Very, Valentine, alongside General Hospital’s Cameron Mathison]. He was the guy I didn’t end up with and in the breakup scenes, he got emotional. So I said, ‘He’s tall, with this very royal look. And he’s the guy because he can go there, emotionally.’”
McKellar adds that once she and Runyan reunited for A Royal Date for Christmas, “it was easy to connect with him because of how big his heart is, and how he just wears it on his sleeve.”
McKellar’s secret to a merry blended Christmas
While the holidays are about cheer, we can all face challenges during this time — just like the characters in A Royal Date for Christmas. For McKellar, one of those challenges has been balancing her real-life blended family.
“My son’s father and I are divorced, I’m remarried, and we all celebrate Christmas together,” McKellar shares. “It’s going pretty well these days, but there were a few years where it was not. I had to kind of get over myself and say, ‘My ex’s wife is one more person to love Draco.’ If you keep your kids in mind, you can have a nice holiday. It’s a challenge… but it’s worth the effort to keep reminding yourself!”
During the hectic season, McKellar reveals her secret to maintaining her calm is her solitary, late-night gift-wrapping ritual.
“I don’t want to be around anyone else when I’m wrapping presents — and not just because what I’m wrapping might be for them,” she shares. “I line up my Great American Family Christmas movies and wrap my presents. It’s a meditative time for just me. It’s my quiet time.”
Danica McKellar reflects on graduating from The Wonder Years
For some fans, McKellar will always be tied to her The Wonder Years character Winnie, not to mention Fred Savage’s character Kevin — and the beautiful brunette admits that after the show wrapped in 1993, it wasn’t easy to find herself. At the time, she was a teen eyeing a degree in film. Instead, she graduated from UCLA summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, in 1998.
“I’ve always loved solving puzzles and anything that’s a good challenge,” McKellar reveals, and after one college-level math class, she was hooked. “It didn’t come easily but I loved it. And I found this new identity.
“As a child actor, when your show is over, you’re trying to figure out who you are and you think your value is attached to this thing that doesn’t exist anymore,” McKellar continues. “That’s hard for an adult, but for a teenager, it becomes, ‘Am I worth anything?’ Math was my answer to that. It made me feel strong, capable, and glamorous.”
Even as McKellar has continued to build her career in Hollywood, she’s also released 11 math books for kids of all ages – and today, that educational work feels even more important to her. “Because of the pandemic and a lockdown, kids have fallen behind,” she explains. “I like to be part of the movement to help them catch up and get back on track.”
While her books may be the perfect holiday gift for the little ones in your life, the Daily Dose of Dharma DVD that McKellar made with her mother could just work for the adults in your life. “They’re 20-minute yoga and meditation segments, and they’re just so healthy for you,” McKellar says. “They’re great stocking stuffers for women any age!”
How to watch McKellar in A Royal Date for Christmas
A Royal Date for Christmas premieres Saturday, November 25 at 8/7c on Great American Family.
Candace Cameron Bure’s My Christmas Hero is set to premiere same time, same place on Friday, November 24, and A Christmas for the Ages will close out the holiday weekend on Sunday, November 26.
“I’ll be live tweeting for the premiere of A Royal Date for Christmas on Saturday, starting at 5 pm PT/8 pm ET,” McKellar previews.
To find Great American Family in your area, you can check your cable/satellite provider or text CHRISTMAS to 877-999-1225. You can also stream Great American Family, Hallmark Channel, Lifetime and more with a subscription on Frndly.com.
For more of our favorite actresses, read below!