Interview: Hallmark Channel star Tyler Hynes talks Roadhouse Romance

Country music fan Callie is determined to continue her late grandfather’s legacy. While TV director Luke is in town, he teaches her that sometimes it’s best to look forward instead of back. Photo: Tyler Hynes Credit: Copyright 2021 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Luba Popovic
Country music fan Callie is determined to continue her late grandfather’s legacy. While TV director Luke is in town, he teaches her that sometimes it’s best to look forward instead of back. Photo: Tyler Hynes Credit: Copyright 2021 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Luba Popovic /

Roadhouse Romance is the all-new Hallmark Channel original movie set to kick off Fall Harvest 2021. Featuring Lauren Alaina and Tyler Hynes, it’s the heartwarming story of a woman who returns home from a tour of duty to discover her family’s restaurant is in trouble, and a Hollywood director passing through town who helps her to get some perspective on what’s important. I talked with Hynes about his role and why this movie is so special.

This was the first time I’ve had a chance to speak with Hynes. We fell into conversation easily, talking about his recent appearance at the Roma Drama fan convention in Tennessee where he stayed late to make sure every fan had a chance to say hello. Though he missed out on the late-night Hallmark jam fest, he’s excited about the prospect of being about to connect with more fans.

There’s no question he’s passionate about his work and in our interview we talk about what he looks for in scripts, whether he prefers holiday movies and what keeps bringing him back to Hallmark.

Tyler Hynes opens up about Roadhouse Romance, working with Hallmark

(Sarabeth Pollock): A lot of people say that Hallmark Channel movies are basically all the same, but I really think they’re each very individual and unique and Roadhouse Romance is something special. And it’s even more special because it’s debuting on September 11th and given the movie’s themes, it’s a very special story.

(Tyler Hynes): Yes, it’s obviously September 11th, a date that will live in infamy. And I feel like it really does speak to the audiences that watch these movies and even to the place where this movie takes place. I think the timing is kind of nice, you know, so that hopefully it provides some comfort and some warmth on a day that may be filled with both pride and somber thoughts.

What can you tell me about Luke, and how Luke fits into the story?

Essentially the movie is about a woman who is coming home from the military and she finds out that the family restaurant, the Roadhouse, is in a bit of disrepair and needs some help. At the same time, my character Luke shows up. He’s a TV director from Hollywood who has recently found some success, after which he finds himself in a sort of high profile celebrity relationship.

I think Luke is a bit uncomfortable with the position that he’s found himself in currently, even though he’s got everything working out for him. He comes from humble beginnings. And when he meets Callie (Lauren Alaina) I think he’s reminded of that and she sort of provides a bit of a moral compass for him and a reminder of perhaps who he is and who he was and who he wants to be, despite being in the eye of the storm of his career and this sort of success.

So I think that’s a really beautiful thing in the story, that dynamic with that character finding in [Callie] something that he desperately kind of needed, but maybe wasn’t aware that he [was missing it].

This movie kicks off a new season of programming, Hallmark’s Fall Harvest, and as soon as this movie was announced everyone was so excited that Lauren Alaina was going to be your co-star. Did you know her previously, or was this the first time getting to know her?

We met on set and she’s obviously a very talented singer and has a big career in that world. She’d done some acting before, but not too much. So she was hoping to sort of find her feet in this process. And it was lovely, you know, she couldn’t be sweeter with her Southern accent and her positive vibe. So I just tried to make it a comfortable experience for her, and make it a place where she could feel creative and free to be able to do it, and try to support her in that regard. And I think it worked out pretty well. I hope she had a really nice experience.

It’s always nice when you can relate to an aspect of your character and in Luke’s case you have a few things in common. You’re a prolific actor, director, producer, writer and musician. Was it fun being able to pull from personal experience in bringing this character to life?

That’s very kind of you to say. “Prolific” might be an overstatement, but I really appreciate you saying it. As soon as I saw that [connection] I tried to find ways of making it so it wasn’t just a guy trying to say these things and instead try to emulate some of the feelings I’ve had, or I’ve seen other directors have, and some of the rhythms of their conversations and bring a little bit of reality, a touch of it at least, into that aspect of the character. So yeah, it’s always fun when you see something like that and you go, “Okay, yeah. I know how to take these lines and maybe approach him this way. That makes it fun, even if it’s just for me.

You’ve done so many different types of Hallmark movies across all of the seasons. Are you drawn to any particular type of movie over the other? Like Christmas over non-Christmas? And what do you look for when you’re looking at scripts? What makes you know that it’s the right script for you?

It’s a good question. I don’t know if I’ve ever thought about if I have a preferred season or a preferred sort of genre within a genre. That’s a good question. Do I have a preference? I don’t know that I do. It doesn’t jump out at me, at least, but what I do like about all of these movies is that they’re different.

I like the fact that despite the fact these movies are all existing in a certain rhythm and a certain genre, almost like a subgenre of romantic movies. And then there are Hallmark romantic movies and they’re like their own sort of world. I like the fact that each one of them is a new clean slate. It’s a new character, new movie, new story and new qualities about that story or character that you might be able to approach in a different way. That gives you the opportunity to approach it fresh.

I’ve been able to go to Roma Drama and talk with all of the fans, and hearing with all of the people I’ve worked with, and hearing their points of view and listening to their experiences that you’re not always privy to when you’re an actor on set, it all allows you to sort of start fresh and keep it fresh.

My thought has always been that I don’t want these things to become too redundant. I want each movie to feel special in its own way. I can’t make big sweeping gestures like I perhaps do in other genres where I can make big sweeping changes to these characters. Inevitably, they do have to be charming and kind of handsome in some regards – although I would love to just gain a bunch of weight and be a different guy. I think, in all seriousness, I think there’s a whole avenue there that we may one day explore, in the genre and in the network.

I would really love to explore unique stories and unique ways of falling in love. I would love to really show them and all of their diversity as much as I can. And so I think I’ve tried to do that over the course of these movies and I think I’ve had the opportunity to do it ever so gently, because every movie is its own movie and it’s a different season. I think I’ve just always liked the fact that it’s all different, and that’s something I enjoy about this process.

These movies shoot on a really tight schedule, so you could be bouncing from a fall movie to a Christmas movie within a couple of months. That’s got to be fun as an actor to just jump into a different role so quickly. 

It’s a couple of weeks, yeah. I did Sweet Carolina [earlier this year] and then a few weeks later I did Roadhouse Romance. They’re different biomes entirely, and that’s fun. You’re absolutely right. And it’s a blast to be able to find something different about the story that’s different from the last.

We’ve kind of addressed this already, but with all the experience you’ve had and after starring in all of these Hallmark movies, have you considered maybe writing scripts or directing or doing more producing? 

Yeah, I’ve been having conversations with some of the folks at Hallmark and the executives and I always tread carefully and lightly with regard to these things. I always want to try to be a student for a while and see what other people are trying to do and what their goals are. Far be it for me to come in here and reinvent the brand. I just want to understand what it is and what the fans find beautiful about these movies and I think at this point I’ve gotten my head around it quite a bit. And it certainly helps me be able to exist in them as an actor.

But yeah, inevitably as a filmmaker or a storyteller or from the position of an actor, you can only do so much. And so there is definitely, I think, a lot to be had if I were to perhaps wrap my arms around some of the other parts of the process. But I’m just going to be at the service of the people I work with and the fans who watch it, and if that’s something that they want to see then perhaps it will materialize. And if it’s something the network would like to have happen, then we can have that conversation and broach it. I try not to impose my own creative self-indulgences. I do that elsewhere. I’ve got other movies and projects and things that I work on with other folks that can serve me creatively in all kinds of ways.

And these [Hallmark movies] serve me creatively in all kinds of different ways. But as for right now, I want to just help people do what they’re trying to do. And you know, I think Hallmark is evolving as a brand and they’re telling diverse stories and maintaining the quality and joy that they bring to people’s lives. And I can’t think of a better goal than that. So I’m happy just to help.

That brings me to another question I love asking Hallmark actors. You’ve done so many different kinds of projects, but what keeps bringing you back to Hallmark?

I think I love the romance genre. Notting Hill was an incredible movie and I think Hugh Grant is an incredible romantic actor. I loved that whole era when we used to have that kind of genre and it’s something that was loved and they became blockbuster movies. Our culture has evolved, those kinds of films fell away and we see more superhero films or big event type films, whereas [romantic films] used to be event type films. I think Hallmark picked up the baton that no one else was and ran with it, and I think that’s incredibly smart and admirable to see the resurgence of that. And they were really the ones who did it. There’s a lot of other places doing similar things because they see the success of it.

But [Hallmark] is the OG. They’re the original gangsters who are coming in and revitalizing the job. I think that’s a beautiful thing. And the reason why I keep coming back and doing them is because everybody on this side of the fence is lovely. It’s literally as simple as that. I’ve left projects where I don’t like the vibe or if I don’t think people are approaching me or working in a sincere, genuine way. I think the folks at Hallmark and the fans are as pure as it can get in this world and as sincere as one might hope, and so for that reason alone I’m there for it.

I think loyalty is dying, and that kind of purity. I think it’s a beautiful thing. It should be supported. So I’m here for it. As long as the fans and folks will enjoy it and it doesn’t get too stale, I’ll be there.

If Hallmark were to come to you and ask you to do a movie but give you the choice of where it’s set and what season it’s in, do you have a dream movie or destination movie in mind?

Interesting. I had an immediate reaction to that, but now that you’ve posed it I’m trying to think…yeah, maybe I’ll go with my initial instinct and say Greece. Greece or Italy. I think Greece is one of the most beautiful places. I went there recently and it was unbelievably gorgeous. And Italy. I know Erin Krakow, who is a friend and co-star, she wants to do a sequel to  one of the movies we did and that would likely take place in Italy, I think. And paris. And I think that would be a really beautiful thing to explore that part of Europe. I think it’s been done before, Paris and Italy, but I think in the context of our story and being in that part of the world we could probably approach it in a way that would feel very nice.

I’m sure every actor is like sure, take me anywhere. But for me, I love Vancouver and I actually film a lot of movies here. I’ve been lucky to go to Calgary and Banff, in Colorado, in Vail…I’m happy wherever the people are good. I can always go on vacation in Greece and Italy whenever I like, so I don’t have to do a movie there. But of course it would be a beautiful thing and I’d be happy to go there if Hallmark was to desire such a thing.

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Roadhouse Romance premieres Saturday, September 11, on Hallmark Channel.