They don’t swap bodies, just locations! In the first of two intertwined Sister Swap movies for Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas we meet the Swift sisters: Widowed restaurateur Jennifer (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) heads home in A Hometown Holiday to quaint Hazelwood and tries to create one more night of magic at her late uncle’s old movie theater—with help from her high school debate rival, fellow single parent Eric (Mark Deklin). In Christmas in the City, single Meg (Ashley Williams) comes to Salt Lake City and stays to help Jennifer’s staff prep for a Christmas party contest and sparks with restaurant staffer Joe (Keith Robinson).
“It started with us being [real-life] sisters,” laughs Kimberly during the interview above about how the films got their start. Adds Ashley, “We always wanted to work together, but then I had this idea that we could both have our own movie but have interlocking storylines where we could be in each other’s movies and support each other.”
The siblings put a lot of themselves into the films. Kimberly has done work to preserve the movie theater in Franklin, Tennessee. “To see the community come together and bring it back to life was wonderful,” she says. Their TV mom is played by Anna Holbrook, who was their late mother’s best friend for more than 30 years and inspired them to get into acting. And it’s a total family affair as Kimberly’s husband, Brad Paisley, contributes a new song. “I don’t know how we got him,” jokes Ashley of her country superstar brother-in-law. “He’s a fan of my work.”
As for their characters’ respective love interests, Robinson says both films are about more than love. “There is an underlying romance but I think the bigger picture is about family and community,” he says.
As for Deklin’s Eric, he and Jennifer have a past rivalry, but when they meet again in A Hometown Holiday, their relationship moves in a different direction. “I’m helping preserve the old family theater and I’ve got my daughter Madzie (Lila Clark) with me. Jennifer and I start working on it together and my old crush is rekindled.”
Though connected, filming both stories wasn’t simple, reveals Robinson. “We shot them simultaneously. So we would kind of shoot one scene from another angle and shoot it from an opposite angle and then they would end up in either movie. So it was a real creative approach.”
Watch the interview with Kimberly and Ashley above.
Sister Swap: A Hometown Holiday, Movie Premiere, Sunday, December 5, 8/7c, Hallmark Channel
Sister Swap: Christmas in the City, Movie Premiere, Sunday, December 12, 8/7c, Hallmark Channel