Interview: Ryan Paevey talks playing a dad in Hallmark’s Coyote Creek Christmas

While throwing a "Christmas Around the World" party at her family's inn, an event planner discovers Christmas magic with a charming father-son duo whose presence brings about tension and joy. Photo: Ryan Paevey Credit: Copyright 2021 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: David Astorga
While throwing a "Christmas Around the World" party at her family's inn, an event planner discovers Christmas magic with a charming father-son duo whose presence brings about tension and joy. Photo: Ryan Paevey Credit: Copyright 2021 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: David Astorga /

As Countdown to Christmas 2021 rolls on, we had a chance to talk with Hallmark Channel star Ryan Paevey about his new holiday movie Coyote Creek Christmas with Janel Parrish. This is the first time Paevey plays a dad in one of his movies, and there’s no question he had a lot of fun with this role.

Coyote Creek Christmas premieres Saturday, October 30. Paevey plays Dylan, a real estate developer and single father who arrives with his son (Azriel Dalman) at Coyote Creek Inn for the holidays. Paige (Parrish) has volunteered to organize the annual holiday celebration at her family’s inn and she chooses a “Christmas around the world” theme.

Paige has no idea that her parents are planning to sell the inn, and Dylan isn’t just a guest. He’s interested in buying the inn, which makes things complicated.

Paevey has been a familiar face around Hallmark Channel since 2016 after appearing in Unleashing Mr. Darcy. He recently starred in A Little Daytime Drama with Jen Lilley.

Interview: Ryan Paevey talks playing a dad, dream Hallmark movie sequels

(Sarabeth Pollock) As soon as I saw that you were starring in Coyote Creek Christmas, I had to laugh because it seems like your sweet spot, especially with the location and enjoying so much of the outdoors. 

(Ryan Paevey) Yeah, it had a lot of stuff in it for me but the unique feature was that I got to be a dad in this one, which was kind of cool. I wish we’d gotten to do a little more of the dad stuff but it’s more of a romance than a single family drama. But it was cool and it was unique. It was the first time I’ve ever gotten to do that in my career.

It is really nice seeing so many types of families represented in Countdown to Christmas so far. It’s great seeing the different types of families that exist out there so that people can relate to these movies even more.

I agree with that. And it’s nice to see them branching out into stories like this that are representative of some people’s reality.

Absolutely. And with Hallmark movies there’s always so much magic in them, and now more than ever people can look at them and see themselves in it. Like the single dads or the children of single parents.

My parents got divorced when I was very young, so I lived with two single parents, really. Obviously there was some collaboration there, but you know when I was at mom’s house, I was at mom’s house. And what was that. And when I was at dad’s house, I was at dad’s house. And that was that. They both felt like very unique situations, but I still had great birthdays, great Christmases and stuff like that. It was fine. But that was my reality.

It looks like you were having a lot of fun on set having a child around. And for the child to be your kid in the movie, and this being the first time playing a dad, it seems like it would be even more fun.

It was my first step into fatherhood television. So that was kind of cool. And the kid they hired, Azriel [Dalman], he’s great. He’s like a savant, like a 40 year old man trapped in a nine year old’s body.

He was a blast. We had a great time almost the entire time I was in Canada. So that was pretty fun. We had a good time. We went to the movies together, hung out a bunch. It was cool.

The last time we talked, we talked about your love for video games. Did you two bust out some video games while you were shooting?

We talked about video games. I became his Pokemon sage, or consultant, if you will. When we went to the movies we spent a fair bit of time in the arcade so we got some video game time in.

I love it! One of the things that really stands out about Coyote Creek Christmas is that even though the inn is in the middle of Colorado, the theme of the Christmas celebration is “Christmas around the world” with all of the different celebrations. What a great idea. 

Yeah, I liked that. I think it’s important and that’s a thing Hallmark is really getting into these days is this level of representation in this multifaceted world that we live in, you know? So I loved that about this film.

It’s one of the things that makes this movie stand out, especially when there’s the argument that so many of these movies feel like the same thing over and over. We haven’t seen this kind of movie and that’s what makes it special. 

I’ve been doing this a good long time now and in past interviews my response to that has always been, cool. If the worst accusation that can be leveled against you is that your films are repetitively nice then you’re probably okay. In all of Hollywoodland there’s such a multitude of programming. There are channels where you can get the action films, where the car blows up and there are gunfights and gore and all of that stuff. And then there are horror films. And there’s all of those things if that’s what you want.

But it’s very rare to find one place in Hollywood that you can go to that consistently serves up nice stuff. You know, things the family can watch together. The kid’s not going to die. The dog’s not going to get sick.

If you know that the two people are going to end up together, there’s a certain level of comfort and predictability. But it’s also nice to see [Hallmark] mixing things up a bit. They are breaking walls and changing the way they do films. It’s not so formulaic anymore, which is nice because life isn’t formulaic. So I’m really pleased to see them pushing into areas that they have not gone to in the past. I think it’s definitely moving in the right direction. And it’s certainly more fun to make movies that feel much more real.

It’s also nice that there are different ways to relate to the movies. They provide a level of comfort, but there’s also a level of realism in there, and conflict. There are issues, but they get worked out in the end.

I think that it’s important to include that, even in happy ending stories. It’s not always going to be sunshine and rainbows, but it might end up that way. And I think that’s an important thing to show people.

What’s it like when you walk onto a Christmas set for the first time? Every set is so ornate and every movie’s location is so different, does it hit you when you arrive at a new holiday movie?

It’s definitely not lost on me. One thing I can say about this thing I do for a living is that it’s never boring. No two sets are the same. The air is different. It changes you when you’re there. It’s fun, it’s fresh, it’s different. There’s endless variety. It’s a unique feeling.

Honestly I didn’t see myself becoming an actor when I was younger, but now that I’ve been doing it for as long as I have, I don’t know what else I would have done. That feeling on a set doesn’t ever go away and I don’t want it to. It’s a really lovely feeling.

And the casting in this movie is great.

I had a blast doing it. Working with Janel [Parrish] was awesome. I’ve never had a negative experience working in the Hallmark universe but two times I’ve had absolute magic. The first time was with Erin Cahill on A Timeless Christmas. That was my dream team, I knew everybody on set and it was like me and my buddies got to hang out, but it was a job.

I had a similar experience on this movie. Janel and I were instant friends. Me and Azzie were instant friends. It was great. It was a blast. Janel and my chemistry was great. Azzie was magical. Getting to play a dad with a kid actor that you really get along with. We didn’t have to fake it. We were buddies. It was a blast.

This year’s Countdown to Christmas features a few sequels. Of all the movies you’ve done, are there any that you’d want to come back for a sequel?

Absolutely. A Timeless Christmas. There was chatter when we were on set that we might do another one, where we might go to Europe. Of course, “might” is a slippery slope, but I would love to get the gang back together. Or maybe this movie. Janel and I had a blast and I’d love to hang with Azzie again.

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I want to thank Ryan Paevey for taking the time to chat about Coyote Creek Christmas. Be sure to tune in for the premiere on Saturday, October 30 at 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel.