Corey Sevier Returns to Hallmark, Directing and Starring In "Take Me Back for Christmas"

By Behind the Scenes in Hollywood Archives
Cover image for  article: Corey Sevier Returns to Hallmark, Directing and Starring In "Take Me Back for Christmas"

It's been a while -- five years, in fact -- since we last caught up with Hallmark Channel favorite Corey Sevier, and in that time the popular actor has been busy. He's about to welcome a new member to his growing family, and with the coming weekend's premiere of Take Me Back for Christmas, he again steps into the director's chair for the network. "It's been a very busy [almost] five years and I'm very appreciative of that," he laughed during an exclusive interview with MediaVillage. "I have to say, it's funny with the timing. When we spoke for Northern Lights of Christmas (2018), my wife and I had just had our first child and we are expecting our second any minute, so it's a full-circle moment. Our son is now four and a half, and here we are once again!

"This is the second film I've directed for Hallmark," he continued. "The first was Heart of the Holidays, and what's kind of fun is that one also co-starred Vanessa Lengies (pictured below with Sevier), our lead in Take Me Back. That came out at Christmas of 2020, and here we are teaming up on screen again for this, and with me in the director seat."

Beyond re-teaming with Lengies for this movie, there was an extra level of familiarity behind the scenes. "There's a family connection here," he revealed. "My wife Kate Pragnell is a screenwriter, and she wrote all three of the Christmas films I directed over the last three years. Then, Vortex produced all the films I've directed. I was chatting with them about acting in a project and mentioned Kate had written this Christmas script. They were looking for one, so it was all kind of right place, right time."

Having started in the business very young, Sevier has spent some 30-plus years on various sets, and as a student of film, was waiting for the perfect time to direct. "I've always loved the entire filmmaking process," he said. "I went back and forth for many years as to when is the right time, and what is the right project, to direct. I've done many Christmas films over the years, and they just feel comfortable both in front of, and behind, the camera. I love being a part of the whole process. Everything from surrounding yourself with a great crew, to the technical stuff, and even down to editing. I love acting, but after directing a few times it has whet my appetite for more.

"Loving [the] script, and having a personal connection made it easier for me to go, 'This feels right!' and dive in," he added. "The producers gave me an incredible opportunity to both act and direct, and Vanessa and I have known each other forever. I did a '90s version of the iconic series Lassie when I was 12 and Vanessa guest starred on that when she was 10. So, my wife has been involved in all the scripts of the films I've directed, and I've also been able to bring in actors I've worked with or have a previous relationship with. All of that really helped me feel confident about the material I was working with."

Take Me Back for Christmas tells the whimsical tale of Renée (Lengies), who after wishing for a different life at Christmas, awakens to find herself in one. Her happy marriage to Aaron (Sevier) is no more, and while there are pluses to her new existence, the minuses far outweigh them -- especially not having the love of her life by her side.

Sevier appreciates the fact he was the one chosen to bring his wife's words to life. "Trying to do justice to her stories was a major motivator in me choosing to start my directing career," he revealed. "I know how much she put into those scripts, and I want to do my best to deliver on that. I count myself lucky; we're building our family and we get to spend a good part of our professional lives working together and collaborating. I'm biased, but she tells really beautiful stories. I'm a fan of the Christmas genre as visually you have all the beautiful decor and settings. There's a good deal of emotion in this particular project, but we also wanted humor. There's the magical element of a 'wish' (that propels the story), then you have Vanessa, who is such a comedically gifted actress and perfect to give people a wild ride.

"Kate brought in so many powerful emotional elements between the mother/daughter relationship in the film, too," he added. "Vanessa and I play husband and wife in the beginning and get to show the complexities of that relationship. There was a real maturity to that relationship, then we see a sort of classic high school love that had been stripped away. All those things excited me. There's the magic, and the comedic aspect, of 'What would you do if you literally got dropped into a new life?' It all presented a lot of good, fun opportunities."

One of those opportunities that fans are sure to enjoy is Sevier displaying his ice-hockey skills for one of the film's comedic moments. It's somewhat surprising when you consider one fall may have resulted in the film losing both its star and director. "That was the last day of shooting," he laughed. "Everything else was in the can, so we convinced the producers to put in an ice-hockey scene. I grew up playing, and so did my wife. It's perfect for a Christmas movie, and I'd been trying to get her to write [an ice-hockey] scene into a movie for a while. Vanessa had never played before, but she's a natural athlete and picked it up really fast."

As Sevier prepares for the film to premiere, he admits when starring in and directing a project, it comes with mixed anticipation. "As a filmmaker you hope, even more than when you're just acting, that people like it and respond," he said in closing. "It's two-fold -- nerves and super-excitement!"

Take Me Back for Christmas will be telecast Saturday, July 15 at 8 p.m. on Hallmark Channel as a part of its annual Christmas in July programming event.

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