Alison Sweeney is the queen of holiday movies, and she told Fox News Digital why the season is all about love and family.
Sweeney stars in the new Hallmark Christmas movie, “The Magical Christmas Village,” as Summer, who finds herself living with her mother during the holidays. With the help of her daughter and some mystical Christmas village figurines, Summer’s mother -played by Marlo Thomas – finds herself in a magical romance.
“It’s a nice perfect combo between a realistic relationship between a mom and her own mother, and her daughter,” Sweeney told Fox News Digital. “It’s three generations of women living together during the holidays, which is always a difficult time of year, and then a little Christmas magic comes into play and connects her with a potentially new love interest that walks into her life, so she needed a little magic to push her in that direction.”
Alison Sweeney was excited to work in a movie with Marlo Thomas, calling every day on set with her a masterclass. (©2022 Hallmark Media/Photographer: Pooya Nabei)
Sweeney was thrilled to have Thomas acting as her mom, saying working with her was “a dream come true,” and every day on set with her was a “masterclass” in comedy. Thomas is most well known for her role on the sitcom “That Girl” in the 60s and 70s.
“She is a spectacular human being,” Sweeney says. “Totally professional, totally inspiring, and then also, on top of everything else, she is hilarious. She is the queen of comedy for a reason. There would be moments where she would break down a scene or sort of restructure a moment and everyone (is) just watching her work like we’re getting a masterclass in how to be funny…I’m so grateful that she agreed to do this movie.”
Prior to partnering with Hallmark, Sweeney had been on the popular daytime soap opera “Days of Our Lives” for 21 years, officially leaving the show in 2014. Her first movie with the Hallmark network was released in 2013, and she has since appeared in 20 movies for the network.
After leaving “Days of Our Lives,” she was happy to “take a break from that and be at home with (her) kids” and take the time to “develop the content (she) want(s) to be a part of.” Since Sweeney works from project to project now, she has more ‘downtime’ she is able to enjoy.
Sweeney has been married to her husband for 22 years and credits their lasting marriage to the fact that he is a “fantastic guy” who has a “completely different career” than her. She also explained that they both make their kids a priority.
Alison Sweeney advises young couples not to always expect grand gestures and also enjoy the smaller things in life. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
“We came into the marriage really honest with each other about what we wanted from life and who we were as people, and even though we were both really young, we sort of grew up together, and grew together, and learned together and have always been respectful of each other and our differences and our different career paths,” Sweeney explained.
One tip she shared for new couples is to not always look for grand gestures from their partners and to also appreciate the smaller moments.
“I would say to people who are newly married or in a relationship is appreciating the little stuff,” Sweeney advised. “It’s not ‘The Bachelor.’ You don’t have to have some big romantic date with twinkle lights and a limo and whatever, that’s not what marriage is, it’s not what a relationship is.”
Sweeney is happy to have more time with her kids since leaving the soap opera world, saying “the most rewarding part” of being a parent, “is seeing your child succeed” in anything, whether it be in school or something they were struggling with for a while.
Despite wanting to help her children through the hard times in their lives, she says “seeing them work through something and get to the end of it,” is “the proudest (she) could ever be.” She added that when her kids are happy, she is happy, but when they are sad, she is 10 times sadder.
Alison Sweeney says watching her children succeed at something they have worked hard on is the most rewarding part of parenting. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)
“I heard someone once say the range of emotions quadruples once you have kids,” Sweeney explained to Fox News Digital. “They are the highest highs and the lowest lows you’ll ever feel, and you don’t even know you were missing anything until you have kids and I feel that’s certainly true. When you have kids it’s the best you’ll ever feel, and also the worst.”
Additionally, although she enjoys having more time with her family since leaving the world of daytime drama, Sweeney is still so grateful to her fans.
“I’m just so lucky every day I meet a ‘Days of Our Lives’ fan, and how loyal they’ve been and how much they’ve enjoyed the storylines and the characters, not always my character, but other people’s characters,” she said. “The same is true for the Hallmark fans. They are so loyal. They love watching these movies. They love watching them again and again.”
The enthusiasm from the fans is something that keeps Sweeny working hard and determined to continue to release quality content for them. This work ethic is something she learned while working on “Days of Our Lives.”
“I work to make these movies the same way I used to work at ‘Days of Our Lives,’ thinking about the fans, thinking about the audience, what is it that they’re gonna see, what can I do to make this moment better for them as a viewer, and that motive is really seeing me through to hopefully making movies people enjoy,” Sweeney said. “I love working, I love being busy, I love having a character to work with and concentrate on and the work ethic you learn from being on a soap like ‘Days of Our Lives,’ it’s just really healthy and good for you.”
The enthusiasm from her fans is what keeps Alison Sweeney working hard and always looking for ways to make better content for her audiences. (©2022 Hallmark Media/Photographer: Kailey Schwerman)
In addition to starring in “The Magical Christmas Village,” as part of a new deal with Hallmark, Sweeney is also acting as executive producer, something she found challenging because she had to think about so many other details while also focusing on doing a good job as an actor and getting the story across to the audience.
While she felt she was constantly “juggling a bunch of different thoughts at the same time,” she credits her co-star, Luke MacFarlane for keeping her in the moment.
“I was so lucky to have Luke MacFarlane work with me on this movie to play my love interest, and so I could really focus on the acting when I was with him and concentrate on that, but literally every other waking moment of the day I was thinking about the producing and the other nine jobs I needed to be doing,” Sweeney said.
Executive producer may be a relatively new role for Sweeney, but she says it is something she has wanted to do since she was the 4-year-old girl who stepped onto the set of her first commercial for Kodak.
She recalls telling her dad at a young age that she wanted to produce movies because she always “felt like a storyteller” even as a little girl. She told the story of putting on “little shows” with her brother when her dad brought home his first camcorder.
Alison Sweeney knew from the time she was 4-years-old that she wanted to be an actress as well as a producer. (©2022 Hallmark Media/Photographer: Kailey Schwerman)
“I have wanted to act, I have wanted to make movies ever since I was a little kid,” Sweeny said. “I’ve wanted to do it my whole life and when I was on set of the first movie I produced for Hallmark, I called my dad, and I was like, ‘here I am, I’m really doing it pop,’ and he was so proud of me. I’ve always known this was for me, but I never knew it would really happen! I still pinch myself.”
“A Magical Christmas Village” premieres on Hallmark Channel on Nov. 4.
Lori Bashian is an entertainment production assistant for Fox News Digital.