If there's one name synonymous with a Hallmark Media Christmas, it's actor Ashley Williams. After completing her first movie for them in 2015 (October Kiss), it wasn't long before she moved to the holiday space with Christmas in Evergreen, her first in 2017 (which was followed by two sequels). There's a lot more Hallmark holiday fare in her credits, and this weekend she adds another with the touching Five More Minutes: Moments Like These, co-starring Lucas Bryant and Brady Droulis for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. After all these years, Williams is ecstatic that viewers still warmly welcome her into their homes each year. "I say this a lot on social media, but I truly have the best job in the world," she declared in an exclusive interview with MediaVillage. "I feel so lucky, and it just keeps getting better and better with Hallmark. It's just awesome and I still can't believe it.
"I'm sure the day is going to come when people are going to get sick of me at Christmas time," she added laughing. "But I'm grateful that it's not this year and they're giving me one more go at it. Doing my first Hallmark movie, I had never [shot] a film like it before. They said, 'We're going to shoot it in 15 days.' I thought that was insane! Now I can't imagine [making] them any other way. It's such a fun kind of deep dive with a co-star as the two of you are kind of thrown in together immediately, knowing you have each other's backs. We shoot in sweet places, like Vancouver; our supporting cast is always kind and grateful to be there, and the movies are more and more popular each year. It's just a win, win."
For Five More Minutes, Williams indeed takes a deep dive portraying Kaitlyn Morrison, a widowed single mother to Adam, whose increasingly withdrawn demeanor becomes a concern. To brighten his spirits, she accepts an invitation to spend the holidays with her late husband's family, and deal with the sale of the former home they shared. There, she meets contractor/developer Matthew Jamison (Bryant), a former high school friend of her husband, who offers his assistance in selling the house. As Adam begins to flourish in his new surroundings, Kaitlyn and Matthew grow closer. But when the pressures of life and parenting begin taking a toll, Kaitlyn makes a wish for "five more minutes" with her husband (who always had the right answers). With the aid of some holiday magic, her wish could be granted.
"I'm a mother to two little boys," Williams said of parenting. "The amount of fear I'm not doing it right as a parent is a huge factor in my life as a mom. I'm sure a lot of parents can relate to that. I saw that in this character; she's terrified of not doing it right. For somebody who's lost a partner, you do feel this pressure to maintain an amazing childhood for that child. That's pressure, and as an actor, I found it very compelling. I'm fortunate that I have a partner I'm raising my kids with, but I'm still riddled with fear. I want them to be happy, have their feelings, and not be afraid of them, so that was a big part of identifying with Kaitlyn.
"Both Lucas and Brady were amazing scene partners to have," she added. "I love Lucas; he's a genuine friend and so patient. It's truly a special relationship. I hadn't met him before, and suddenly we're acting so closely for 14 hours a day. He immediately became my best friend. I could relax with Lucas and Brady … what an amazing little professional. My favorite thing about Brady is the reason he did this movie is to pay for his hockey education. He's in this prestigious hockey school that's really expensive, so he auditions, and works, and I think he likes it, but he really likes hockey. He was always like, 'So where do I stand? I know my lines.' It was so funny."
On the subject of having "five more minutes" with a loved one, Williams has mixed feelings. "One thing that gives me anxiety is there'd be someone standing there with a stopwatch telling me when the five minutes are over," she said. "I'd be so nervous the whole time that time was running out. I think it raises an important thing to ask ourselves, for those of us who are still living with loved ones, in that it encourages us to say those things now. 'I love you.' 'I treasure you.' Sometimes it's, 'I'm so sorry' or 'I'm scared.' Whatever it is, having the authorship to be able to say those things now in life, is something important that the movie reminds us of -- live every moment like you [only] have five more minutes."
Williams is looking forward to watching the movie live when it premieres. While she gets to see her sister Kimberley Williams-Paisley often, most of the extended family is spread around the country, so Christmas is the time they gather in Tennessee. "There are 11 nephews, all boys, and having my kids get to be in that little troop is magical," she revealed. "I love getting to sit and talk as we decorate Christmas cookies. What's funny is my brother-in-law Brad Paisley has become this massive Hallmark movie fan.
"It definitely was not a prerequisite when joining the family," she added in closing. "But the truth is he genuinely enjoys them, so I don't think he's kissing up. He's seen more of them this season than I have, as he watches one every day. He's a monster fan."
Five More Minutes: Moments Like These will be telecast Saturday, December 17 at 10 p.m. on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries as part of their Miracles of Christmas programming event.
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