There’s no denying that the Hallmark Channel has been very good to Niall Matter, one of the network’s busiest and most popular stars. The 43-year-old actor has starred in 25-plus movies for the channel — most recently in Holiday Hotline — and he’s had the opportunity to play a slew of engaging characters, ranging from Rip Van Winkle to a country singer to “the bad boy of professional hockey” to a fearless crime-solving college professor.
“Anytime I get to jump in front of a car and save somebody, I’m all for that,” Matter has noted about his stint playing Nick Miller on the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries. “I love playing a character that is just so driven and so selfless and just throws himself into the path of danger. It’s always exciting.”
The 43-year-old actor from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, has certainly lived a life of both danger and excitement, so he comes to that type of role easily — and honestly. “The old me, the young me, I was really wild, like uncontrollable, always getting into things I shouldn’t be getting into,” Matter has shared. “I discovered the worst of the worse when I was quite young, like 14, 15.”
Niall Matter, the wild child
As the drummer of a band, he’d often be out to all hours of the morning. And when he wasn’t banging away with his sticks and providing backing vocals (“I would call it backup screaming,” he admitted in 2020, “because I was in punk bands”), he’d make his own horror films. Matter’s folks were, well, a bit worried. “When I turned 17, my parents couldn’t deal with me anymore.… I was quite a bad kid actually, [so] my parents actually forced me to go work on the oil rigs with my grandfather.”
While that hard, honest work did Matter good, he couldn’t deny his theatrical dreams, so he eventually headed off to study at Vancouver Film School, though his parents weren’t quite sold on the idea.
“My dad, he tried bribing me. [He] said, ‘Now hold on. I’ll offer you the dairy,’” the actor, who grew up on on a dairy farm, told Hallmark’s Home and Family host Debbie Matenopoulos in 2018. Matter declined, but the “massive student debt” he incurred while at school forced the third-generation oil rigger back to the fields, “until I had a really bad accident at 25.”
Crushed in the cab of a rig he rolled over in, Matter was severely injured. “I got to the hospital [and] they wanted to amputate my right leg, initially. Luckily, I kept it,” he shared, and after roughly six months relearning to walk, he headed back to his risky job.
But within his first week back, “I saw a terrible accident. I actually witnessed a guy leave his legs on the rig and then the next day, I quit. I came back to Vancouver, lied my way into a bartending job, and after a month of working as a bartender I ended up booking my very first lead role…a Syfy original called Beyond Loch Ness, opposite Brian Krause.”
Niall Matter becomes a star
That was two weeks before his 26th birthday, he noted, and his calling card has been pretty much booked solid since then. Other credits have included playing Trent on the Canadian series The Best Years, and recurring roles on Syfy’s Eureka and Primeval: New World series, as well a stint as ER doctor Peter Cutler on Remedy, a Canadian medical drama. In the U.S., he’s had parts on Melrose Place and The CW’s 90210, and has done guest spots on Constantine, Rizzoli & Isles, The Good Doctor and Magnum, P.I.
“I think I made the right call,” he joked on Home and Family about deciding to pursue acting full-time, though he loves going back home to visit the family farm as often as he can.
The rewards of his entertainment career have certainly been plenty, even including a prized position on our top 15 Hallmark hunks list earlier this year! His projects for the popular cable network have included Love at First Dance, Frozen in Love, Stop the Wedding, Come Fly With Me, Christmas at Dollywood, Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Sweater, and many more, including at least 10 Aurora Teagarden Mysteries alongside Candace Cameron Bure before her split with the network.
At times, Niall Matter was starring in other projects while simultaneously working on his Hallmark movies. This was the case when he was filming the network’s Marrying Father Christmas while also starring in action king Shane Black’s 2018 feature The Predator, alongside co-stars Sterling K. Brown (NBC’s This is Us), Olivia Munn, Thomas Jane and Keegan-Michael Key. “My wife is a saint, she’s amazing,” Matter admitted on Home and Family of his better half, Sara Matter (formerly Sara Bradley), holding down the fort at home while he shuttled from one shoot to the next, all while they had “two tiny kids” at the time, a daughter, who’s now 7, and a son, who’s now 5.
In fact, it was while filming 2016’s Finding Father Christmas that Matter had one of his earliest awww moments as a soon-to-be first-time father, as he and Sara were expecting the arrival of their daughter. As two twin boys started roughhousing by a piano on set in between scenes, “I immediately ran over there and broke up the fight,” the actor recalls. “So I separated the boys and as soon as I was done, I walked back over to [co-star] Wendie [Malick], and Wendie was, like, ‘You are going to be an amazing father.’ So that was a nice moment for me to have with Wendie.”
For 2020’s Country at Heart Hallmark movie, in which he plays an aspiring songwriter named Grady, Matter was even able to revisit his childhood passion of music and improve upon that “backup screaming” he used to do as a teen.
To get pumped for the role, he tapped into some earlier musical memories that he shared with his father. “As a kid, I would sing with my dad, because he’s a great country singer. He’s a truck driver [and] when I would go with him in the truck, he would be singing and I’d sing along,” Matter shared in an interview at the time, adding, “I clearly have a country voice because of how my vocal cords were trained as a kid. I guess that was doable and workable for [Hallmark].”
Niall Matter living the dream
A big career highlight awaited Matter in 2019, thanks to his ongoing partnership with the Hallmark Channel. At that year’s prestigious Leo Awards in British Columbia, he became a hometown hero and won the Best Lead Performance Male in a Television Movie for 2018’s Frozen in Love, in which he played a hockey player — a hallowed role for his countrymen up north!
“I find I work a lot with my friends at Hallmark,” he noted last year of yet another perk of being a respected, recurring player on that network’s roster. “As an actor, an artist and somebody that’s always very happy working with Hallmark as a company, I’m excited about the scripts I see come through,” he added, noting that the channel is “evolving, and the brand is something I’m excited to be a part of. I like the direction these scripts are heading in, and it’s been great getting the opportunity to sink my teeth into different types of work within the company.”
For an oil rigger who was able to walk away from a disastrous and potentially life-changing accident, Niall Matter is nothing but grateful as he looks back on all he’s been through and all he’s accomplished. As he’s explained to ET Canada, “When you have that amount of time to think about it, you realize how short life can be. And you might as well spend your time doing what you love.”
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