Alison Sweeney And Marlo Thomas Discuss A Magical Christmas Village - Exclusive Interview

When it comes to Hallmark Christmas movies, Alison Sweeney might as well be Mrs. Claus. Between movies like "Time for You to Come Home for Christmas" and its sequel, "Good Morning Christmas!," "Open by Christmas," and "Christmas at the Holly Lodge," Sweeney has more than a few Hallmark titles under her Santa belt. To boot, she's played Sami Brady on "Days of Our Lives" since 1987, clocking in over 3,000 episodes. Now, she's starring in and producing the new Hallmark movie "A Magical Christmas Village."

While Sweeney's co-star Marlo Thomas is newer to the Hallmark Christmas movie family, she did a Christmas movie in 1977 inspired by "It's a Wonderful Life" called "It Happened One Christmas." Thomas boasts a jam-packed resumé, playing Ann Marie in 137 episodes of "That Girl," Jennifer Anniston's on-screen mom on "Friends," and Vivian on "Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later." Thomas has had plenty of movie roles as well, playing Miley Cyrus' grandmother on "LOL" and starring in "Ocean's Eight" as Rene.

The List spoke to Sweeney and Thomas during an exclusive interview, where the duo discussed working together, (badly) ice skating with Luke Macfarlane, and how Christmas films compare to their projects like "Friends" and "Days of Our Lives."

Christmas friends

Marlo, you've been in some major projects, like "Friends" and "LOL." What were your favorite moments filming "A Magical Christmas Village," and would you ever want to do a Christmas movie with Miley Cyrus or Jennifer Aniston?

Marlo Thomas: I'd like to do another Christmas movie with this one [gesturing to Alison Sweeney] because she's the greatest. I loved doing "Friends," and Jennifer Aniston and I are friends now, and she works with me on the St. Jude Projects. 

But I think the ability ... I've never done a Christmas movie. Well, I did my own, which was [inspired by] "It's a Wonderful Life," but not one like this, about a family coming together [in a way] that's tense, and the magic brings them together. And I hadn't worked with Ali before, and she's magical in herself.

Alison Sweeney: Aww.

Thomas: She really is. I mean it. She really is. When somebody's a star and a producer of a movie, you don't know what you're going to get. [They] could be an egomaniac, or they walk all over you so that they can be the one to be seen, and she didn't do any of that. She opened the door and said, "Have fun."

And we had fun together. We collaborated. Before a scene, we would talk to each other about what we wanted [and] what our objective was, and that makes it fun. The good thing about working as an actor is [when you can] be free and come up with things on the spot and [do] enough planning so that it's fertile enough that you can do good work, and you don't get that all the time. I had that on "Friends." It was great. Ali produces that in the work, and I think we did good work because of it.

Ice skating with Luke Macfarlane

Ali, what was it like working with Luke Macfarlane, and do you have any fun stories from set with him?

Sweeney: Luke is fantastic and so handsome, but such a good actor too, and so funny. We had such a great time working together. Every day, he brings so much good energy, wanting to make the scene the best he can, having fun with the characters and the development. 

We had a really funny moment because our characters are supposed to go ice skating, and his character's supposed to be the one who really knows how to ice skate. But Luke admitted to me, "It's been a long time since I ice skated." And I was like, "Okay, well, we'll help each other through this." Then we staged this little fall sequence, and it was very realistic — let's just say that. That fall happened really naturally.

Thomas: It was cute. It was great.

Sweeney: It was really funny. We had a great time working together. He's so fun.

From Days of Our Lives to Hallmark movies

What are some of the biggest differences [between] working on projects like "Days of Our Lives" and a Christmas movie, and why do you keep coming back to this genre?

Sweeney: I love doing these movies because it is different because, first of all, I love Christmas. So [knowing I can be] celebrating Christmas in the middle of August, when we're dying, I'm like, "I could have Christmas twice, three times a year. It's perfect for me." 

I love the reaction I get. In some ways, it's similar to "Days." I love the reaction I get from fans who watch Hallmark Christmas movies. They come up to you. Wait until you see. They love it. They remember every part of it. They want to tell you how their whole family watched it or what their Christmas tradition is watching the movies. [It makes me feel] the same way that I feel I'm part of a family with the "Days of our Lives" fans. They're so loyal, so wonderful, and supportive, and the Hallmark fans are the same way. They make you feel like they're inviting you into their living room. You're part of their tradition.

Thomas: And at a most personal time.

Sweeney: Yes, that's right.

Thomas: Christmas is so personal to each family. They all have their own traditions, and they all bring to it the expectation and the hope that this is all going to be good, and I think the movie does that. It delivers on hope and love, and [the] reality of the tension between members of a family, and then coming together. And it's funny, and you don't see many Christmas movies that are funny. This is funny.

Sweeney: It has all those elements, and it makes me proud to know that we'll be part of people's Christmas tradition.

Thomas: For a while. Yeah.

Fans can watch "A Magical Christmas Village" on Sunday, November 13 at 2 p.m. ET. 

This interview has been edited for clarity.