There came a point when Erin Krakow knew she wanted to work with Tyler Hynes, a charismatic fan-favorite among the Hallmark set. So when it came time to find the perfect leading man for her to play off of in Hallmark Channel's latest romance, It Was Always You, the When Calls the Heartstar had one person in mind. "People really love Tyler and they're excited to see him. I was excited to work, then actually requested him for this movie because I thought he'd be so great in this part," Krakow told ET, which Hynes confirmed. "She expressed that to me, which, I'm not sure exactly why she did that," he humbly said. "I'm very thankful she did because we had a very nice time. Erin's an incredible human being and a very, very talented actor."
In the movie, which closes out Hallmark's "Love Ever After" slate this weekend, Krakow plays Elizabeth, a Type-A planner and career woman whose engagement plans are thrown into disarray when her fiancé's nomadic, well-traveled, free-spirited younger brother, David (played by Hynes), returns home. As these things usually go, Elizabeth's minute-by-minute list of to-do's is upended when her buttoned-up fiancé, more interested in tending to his patients than to wedding planning, leaves midway for a minor medical emergency. Left with no choice but to recruit David's help, his unexpected influence on all things big and small forces Elizabeth to question her life choices and if she's ultimately making an irreversible mistake.
ET exclusively premieres a sneak peek from It Was Always You (watch the clip above), in which Elizabeth approaches David, moodily strumming a guitar at the treehouse she was once banned from as a child, to ask for a not-so-tiny favor. Cue all the warm and fuzzy feelings as the two innocently flirt their way through the conversation. Fun fact: The script called for Hynes to whistle, but because he can't in real life ("Erin's going to feel pretty uncomfortable watching me pretend to whistle," Hynes deadpanned), they had him playing the guitar instead in this particular scene.
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Filmed during the holidays in Victoria, British Columbia, Hynes recalled receiving a text message from Krakow soon after he joined the movie to break the ice. Since they never met before, it was that initial text conversation that established their rapport, which helped bring their chemistry to life in front of the camera. "I think she said, 'Hi,' and something nice. Then I think I sent a photo of my dog and told her that this was the look I was going for, which she got that I was joking luckily. And she replied with a GIF of myself answering me. We started right into the ridiculousness on the texts," he told ET over the phone, adding later of their seamless connection, "I'm sure you've had this where you just meet somebody and it's super easy. Like, right away you just skip all the B.S. and you get into it. I love that."
Krakow echoed that sentiment, marveling over her time working with Hynes on this movie. "I don't think I could narrow it down to one thing," she said when asked what she enjoyed most about her co-star. "But I'll just say, you work with some people and it feels very natural and like you’ve known that person or have been working with them for a long time. And that was the case between the two of us. Tyler is an incredible actor. He's very collaborative. He's always wanting to elevate the work."
Both were drawn to the script by Kathy Kloves, crediting the way in which the unique story organically unfolded and the meandering road to love their characters -- who have known each other since they were kids -- find themselves on over the course of the movie, adding a degree of unexpected suspense. Add in the idea of following dreams, abandoning five-year plans and finding that elusive spark (or "zing," in this case), and It Was Always You has all the ingredients of a great romance. (Plus, it's not a Hallmark movie without all the twinkly lights, swoon-worthy declarations of love and stolen glances your heart can muster.) "There is so much heart, so much focus on family and love, and discovering your true sense of self and following that path," Krakow said. "It was a love story that I really believed and I felt like I understood the characters right from the beginning of that first read. Putting it on its feet and actually bringing this story to life, it just got better and better."
But It Was Always You has an added layer of complexity woven into its DNA, with its unconventional love triangle between two brothers who are in love with the same woman. It helped that Krakow and Hynes worked out script kinks and the characters' journeys, as well as discussed their own personal life paths, during a cliffside walk Hynes frequents in Victoria to help memorize lines. "I was curious to see how they were going to navigate [the main romance] and [Kathy] did a really great job of walking this line that made it feel like, 'OK, this could really go sideways if we do this the wrong way. But if we do this the right way, it can be a really beautiful love story that is earnest and possibly reflective of some unique circumstances that real-life people have experienced," Hynes said. "I've been lucky to have people message me and say, 'Yeah, this is my story. I'm with my first husband's brother and it's beautiful and it's great. And we're all happy and comfortable with it.' I find that with these movies, the more sideways the movie can go, the better it ends up."
In the movie, there's chatter about finding that "zing," the unexplainable, sizzling energy between two people that -- in a Hallmark movie at least -- translates to true love being in their midst, even if they're not aware of it at first. For Hynes, he got that "zing" feeling during one of his first scenes with Krakow, where her character, Elizabeth, is busy picking out a wedding cake and settles on vanilla. His character, David, can't help but chime in that vanilla is safe and, for all intents and purposes, boring, implying that she's not. At least, not the version that he knew back then. "I start rambling on and I was doing my thing, and then at some point Erin started dying laughing because somewhere along the way, I decided to start making myself sound like Christopher Walken. And the director didn't understand why she was laughing, and she was like, 'He's doing a Christopher Walken impression. What am I supposed to do with this?' Sometimes I get bored halfway through these scenes and I start going off to try and get a reaction out of Erin or make her break. That scene, I was like, 'Yeah, this will be fun. She's game for some fun.'"
Though picking a favorite scene seemed to be a near impossible task for Krakow and Hynes, who says David is "pretty close to" who he is in real life, both picked crucial moments that happen near the end of the movie, one of which came to them on one of the last days of filming. (Krakow and Hynes also added an extra element into the story -- hint: a handwritten note that stands the test of time -- which plays a key role in how the characters come together in the end.)
"There's a moment at the end of the movie where my character asks Tyler's character if he could picture [his brother] at the Colosseum [in Rome]. And I think he says, 'Yeah, sure.' But it's a moment where both characters are trying to convince themselves that that's the case. And maybe it isn't, but it's really the moment where we get to see Elizabeth navigating that path toward self-discovery and who she really, really is underneath what she's trying to be or who she's been trying to convince herself she has been all these years," Krakow said.
"My personal favorite was maybe the very last scene in the treehouse," Hynes hinted of the movie's coda, which wasn't originally in the script. Without revealing too much about what the actual scene entails, just know it involves lots of popcorn (and it's not too far-fetched to say it's a happy one; it is Hallmark after all). "That was something that we added. Erin and I thought, 'This is a little bit short, maybe we just stick this in here'... Everybody else got on board and was like, 'We like that idea.' Nothing was written. We plopped down and it was at the end of another day, and we said, 'Let's do this real quick,' and we did a few different versions of it and the movie could've ended in a lot of different ways with all the different versions that we did.'"
Krakow expressed a desire to continue working with Hynes on future projects, Hallmark or not. "I would love it so much. I'm already trying to convince everyone that we need to shoot the sequel," Krakow teased. "I've found a great collaborator in Tyler and and we really liked working together, so hopefully there will be more projects in our future." And a Christmas movie, Hallmark's bread and butter, isn't out of the question. ("We gotta make Christmas in a room," she quipped.) Hynes, for his part, may be gearing up to make at least two more Hallmark movies in the coming months, one he was supposed to film right before the pandemic hit and another one "a friend of mine asked if I could join her on and I think that might be a possibility," as well as a new season of Letterkenny, the Canadian series where he plays a tattooed bad boy (the antithesis of a Hallmark leading man), sometime in May. "Hopefully, time permitting, that takes place and we can go on and make some more fun content for everyone."
Both hope that when viewers sit down this weekend to watch It Was Always You, that it strikes an emotional chord.
"My mom called me because she watched the link to the movie, and she called me crying a couple of days ago. She went on to explain that it was the idea that these two characters, who were sort of separated, and he felt this way this whole time and that they ended up together that was so nice. And the characters seemed earnest and [they] really earned it," Hynes shared. "I'm always in pursuit of someone having a visceral reaction to something, either it turns you off or on, and I hope that this movie gives you that sort of reaction of something. Something emotional that gets triggered a little bit. And hopefully that thing is hope because I think the movie is very hopeful and romantic."
"I hope that they are reminded to look within and really get in touch with who they really are and follow through on some of those dreams that they put on the shelf for a while," Krakow said. "And I hope that they're swept up by the romance and the heart of the story. I hope that they love it as much as I do because I really loved this one. I can't wait to share it."
It Was Always Youpremieres Saturday, Feb. 27 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Hallmark Channel. For more on the movie, watch below.