Luke Macfarlane is sprinkling a little romance into his life.
The Brothers & Sisters alum and Killjoys star leads the latest Hallmark Channel original movie, Just Add Romance, about two competitive chefs, Carly (The Bold Type's Meghann Fahy) and Jason (Macfarlane), who meet in culinary school and have ambitious dreams of one day owning their own restaurant. After years apart, they have an unexpected reunion on a Chopped-lite cooking competition show, where they show off their food smarts while also sparking up a romance.
As Macfarlane tells it, the Hallmark vet -- he's starred in a handful of original films in recent years -- was particularly intrigued by this story, in that it took the tried-and-true Hallmark formula of a meet cute-turned-innocent romance and turned it on its head, by having (spoiler alert!) its two romantic leads exploring a relationship midway through the story.
Ahead of Saturday's premiere, Macfarlane, who is openly gay, spoke to ET about his latest Hallmark project, the chances of an LGBT rom-com on the network and the final season of Syfy's Killjoys.
ET: You've been in a couple of Hallmark movies over the years and this one is different in that it felt like it was a meta take on competition shows like Chopped and Top Chef. Was that the draw for you?
Luke Macfarlane: There are all these ways that we've come to understand Hallmark movies and what was interesting to me is this seemed to break a couple rules, including that there was an upstairs, downstairs, inside TV quality to it that I thought was really, really, really unique. I particularly loved filming the stuff where we actually had the TV set there, the [competition] show. I remember walking onto that set the first time and being like, "Wow, they built this?!" Because they rarely actually build sets on Hallmark movies, so they did such an incredible job. But, yeah, I think what was so appealing to me is that in many ways it was a little outside their normal kind of movie, which I hope the fans really like.
You mentioned Hallmark broke a couple of rules with this movie. Can you elaborate on that?
I think we've often come to understand that the couple gets together at the end of a movie on Hallmark. And this, I remember turning to the director and saying, "I think we've broken a cardinal sin. We have a kiss and there's still 20 pages left in the script!" It's really interesting because I think fans of the movies love them for the expectation of them, and "What are we gonna get this time?," but I also think it's a fine line of how do we challenge it just a little bit? Just make it a little bit different so we can still surprise viewers? I think that that is really the challenge of a lot of the Hallmark films. And I think this one did it really well.
Your chemistry with The Bold Type's Meghann Fahy really leapt off the screen. How quickly did that come together for you guys?
I will be perfectly honest with you, it's always that funny thing when you start off. And so much of acting is just listening to what your partner's doing and giving back. I remember very early on doing a scene with her and being like, "Oh, she's really good and she's really real." And that all of a sudden makes you go, "Oh, I can actually just really listen to her and try to match her and be really good and really real too." I love her style because it always comes from an authentic place. It's never the math, if that makes any sense. Sometimes people go, "If I just say this like this and this and this, hit this with this right inflection...," but she always came at everything with a real truth. I just adored her from the beginning and we seemed to become friends.
Were you as competitive as your characters are in the movie when the cameras weren't rolling?
The competitive thing, not so much, but friendly, totally. When you film these movies you're often in a city you're not familiar with, so every night it was like, "Hey, do you want to get dinner?" "Sure, let's get dinner." I remember joking two weeks into the movie, I was like, "It is weird that we spend all day with each other and now we're having dinner." So we definitely couldn't resist each other's company in our down time.
I've been talking to a lot of Hallmark talent over the past year and I always ask one question: Why do you embrace the Hallmark family? Why do you keep coming back?
There's a couple ways to answer that. I'll start off by saying when you find yourself looking for a company, and I imagine this applies to your life, and you're treated very well by your employer, it makes a world of difference. There's nothing worse than being in a work environment where you feel like you're not being respected and heard or allowed to grow. I will say, the way they treat their talent is... at every point they help you, they nourish you, they make you feel supported, and that's a huge reason I come back, because I really like the people that run that. The second part of it, whatever that combination is is hitting with the viewers and people are watching. To be able to do a movie that you know people are going to get to watch really makes a big difference for you as an actor. And Hallmark is crushing it because people are continuing to watch our movies in record numbers.
Do you feel like it's time for them to have a gay romance at the forefront of a Hallmark movie? Is that the next phase?
It's interesting. As I'm developing my relationship with them, I'm always paying attention to what they're doing next and because I have so much faith in the brand, if they feel like that's something that's on the horizon for them, sign me up. Absolutely. And I know they're really smart and I know that they are changing, so that is definitely a possibility. And I would support it.
You're also wrapping up a five-season run on Killjoys this year. Is it bittersweet for you to close that chapter in your life?
I've been a series regular on five shows and it's the first show that has wrapped up on its own terms, and that's really a dream. So it is sort of bittersweet. The thing that I keep reflecting on is that is the show that literally took me from being a young man to a guy who's entering middle age. It's definitely strange to look back at those five years and go, "Wow, where did the time go?" And in so many ways, it journeys the arc of D'avin, my character, who went from being a hotheaded former Marine to a father. So, as an actor, you always look at these parts and wonder, What is this telling me about my own life? So definitely after Killjoys, I'm like, "Yep, I'm entering my middle age. A few gray hairs are starting to pop up."
Are you done or are you in the middle of filming the final season?
We filmed the seasons back to back, so season five is, as they say, in the can. And it will air this summer.
How would you describe the final episodes?
This show was always fun and sexy, and right up to the very end, it's fun and sexy. The final mission is not so much an end, but a continuation of what we've come to love about these people.
Just Add Romance premieres Saturday, March 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Hallmark Channel.