Here's Why These Popular Hallmark Stars Look So Familiar

Can you believe it's almost Christmastime again? As you binge-watch your way through the holidays, you may notice some familiar faces in the annual Hallmark lineup. No, you're not going crazy — you've probably seen these actors and actresses in your childhood favorites, or in other holiday movies for that matter.

According to Lacey Chabert, a Hallmark Christmas regular, the supportive, family-first atmosphere of the channel is what keeps the same talent coming back for more (per Glamour). "I did a movie when I was seven months pregnant, and they hid me behind Christmas trees and presents. I went back to work right after the baby, and they allowed me to have the baby on set and travel with my family. They've been very supportive," Chabert shared.

As for what makes these movies so profitable year after year, actress Candace Cameron Bure has said audiences love the predictable formula (per Variety): "You know that someone's going to fall in love, you know that there's going to be a kiss at the end. You know it's just going to be happy, warm, and heartfelt. People run to that, especially at the holidays." Hallmark movies appear to be a self-supporting ecosystem of their own, which isn't surprising considering the viewership numbers.

So where have we seen these faces before? Read on to find out what other roles your favorite Hallmark actors and actresses have had over the years.

Candace Cameron Bure

She's probably the most famous person on this list, and for good reason. In case you didn't recognize her instantly, Candace Cameron Bure got her start as D.J. Tanner in "Full House" as a child. If you've watched the show, you know it's hard to forget the snarky, baby-faced little girl who danced around her room singing into a hairbrush or the stunning teen model who debuted a memorable off-the-shoulder black prom dress in Season 6. Thankfully, her return to the 2016 "Fuller House" series brought more fun D.J. moments.

If you weren't a "Full House" fan, you may recognize Bure from one of her other appearances as a young actress. She had cameos on a number of popular television shows from the '90s and early 2000s, including "Bill Nye the Science Guy," "Boy Meets World," and "That's So Raven" (via IMDb). Her Hallmark legacy includes dozens of movies, many of which are Christmas favorites like "Let It Snow," "Christmas Under Wraps," and "Christmas Town." She loves making seasonal, family-friendly films so much that she was dubbed the "Queen of Christmas." She has since moved to the Great American Family channel (GAC) to continue making content as an actress and executive (via Variety).

Lori Loughlin

Like Candace Cameron Bure, Lori Loughlin starred in the 1990s "Full House" series, but she wasn't a child actress at the time. Prior to her time as the perfectly stylish and hilariously dramatic Aunt Becky, Loughlin appeared in the crime drama "The Edge of Night," CBS' 1988 "Summer Playhouse," and "The Equalizer." You may have also seen her in "Summerland," "90210," "Garage Sale Mysteries," and, of course, "Fuller House" (via IMDb). 

Though she's kept busy with a few television shows, Loughlin hasn't starred in a movie since 2018 (likely due to her involvement with Rick Singer's college admissions cheating scandal). Here's some good news for her fans: Loughlin has a new movie coming out in 2023. "Fall Into Winter" is slated for a January premiere on the Great American Family channel. According to People, the film will be an enemies-to-lovers style rom-com, which sounds like the perfect entertainment for a cold winter's eve.

Danica McKellar

You may have seen her in "Crown for Christmas," "Christmas at Dollywood," and "Matchmaker Mysteries," but Danica McKellar has been in many other movies and television shows. Though she's best known for her Hallmark movies, the show "Young Justice," and the TV series "The Wonder Years," she's got over 100 filmography credits to her name (via IMDb). 

Like Candace Cameron Bure and Lori Loughlin, McKellar also made the move to the Great American Family channel in 2022. She told Us Weekly why she made the switch: "I had the opportunity to do a multi-picture deal, which I hadn't done at Hallmark. Also not just multi-picture, but also really being a producer, really helping to develop these stories from the beginning."

At the same time, the actress has made space in her life for different kinds of opportunities. During an exclusive interview with ET, McKellar shared what it was like to live with the pressures of fame while trying to get an education, and how that led her to explore a career as a mathematician. "I needed to find out how I was valuable outside of Winnie Cooper, and math was challenging and I did well at it," she said. Aside from her ongoing work as an actress-producer for GAC, McKellar has written 11 math-focused books.

Lacey Chabert

Yes, it's Gretchen Wieners from "Mean Girls." When we say Lacey Chabert is everywhere, we mean everywhere. You've probably seen her in the early 2000s movies "Not Another Teen Movie" and "Hometown Legend," as well as the Hallmark movies "A Royal Christmas" and "The Christmas Waltz" — but did you know most of her work has actually been voice acting? Whether you're a '90s kid or a Gen Z teen, she's likely worked on at least one of the shows you grew up with. From animated series like "Family Guy" and "Young Justice" to "Star Wars: The Old Republic" and the "Bratz" video games, Chabert has done a little bit of everything (via IMDb).

Despite all the voice acting in other genres, Chabert has continued to star in popular holiday rom-coms. If you loved her Hallmark movies, you'll be excited to hear she's got another one on the way called "Haul Out The Holly." Based on the official trailer, it looks like it will be a hilarious, Christmas-spirit-fueled television special sure to hype viewers up for the holidays.

Heather Hemmens

Heather Hemmens started out as an extra in movies like "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "Glory Road" before scoring her breakout role as Alice Verdura in "Hellcats." During a 2013 podcast interview, she described what drew her to "mean girl" type roles: "For me, those are the interesting roles. I don't just look at it as someone who's mean. Someone who's mean is usually someone who's unhappy, and that's what I like to find the reason for. Why is this person unhappy? ... That's the fun for me with acting, is building that character as more than one-dimensional."

Though she's relatively new on the scene as far as starring roles go, Hemmens already has several Hallmark movies under her belt, including "Christmas In My Heart" and "Love, Take Two." She also appeared in "Grey's Anatomy," "Yellowstone," and "If Loving You Is Wrong" before scoring a spot on The CW's "Roswell, New Mexico" series in 2019 (via IMDb). Seeing as the show was unexpectedly canceled in 2022 (via Variety), we are likely to see Hemmens in more holiday hits in the future. Props to this actress for bridging the gap between genres so well!

Trevor Donovan

You may have seen Trevor Donovan on "Marry Me at Christmas," "The Engagement Plot," and "Aloha with Love," but let us not forget his humble beginnings. Five years before he set foot on Hallmark property to film "Strawberry Summer," he played Jeremy Horton on the award-winning show "Days of Our Lives" (via IMDb). As a new actor at the time, he apparently had trouble with stage fright. "I finally got a job as a working actor, but I would get in front of the camera and just panic," Trevor told while discussing his departure from the show.

In the mid-to-late-2000s, he played a reoccurring character on "90210" and had cameos in shows like "NCIS" and "Melissa & Joey" (via IMDb). Post-COVID, the actor has done quite a few television movies and even snagged a spot on "Dancing With The Stars" in 2022. As far as major roles go, he's been credited for his screen time in the upcoming release "Reagan." In the film, he portrays John Barletta, the former president's top secret service agent and friend.

Carlos PenaVega

Any "Big Time Rush" fans in the house? Carlos PenaVega sure has grown up, hasn't he? In case that 2010s boy band teen series doesn't ring any bells, you may have also seen him in "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide," "Life Sentence," or "The Casagrandes" (via IMDb). In between shows and new "Big Time Rush" music videos, the actor has kept himself busy with various direct-to-television movies, series, and even competitions like "Dancing with The Stars," on which he appeared in Season 21. In 2022, he's been busy working on "The Loud House," a television series short that's been popular with audiences.

Since his start in 2004, PenaVega has also put out a pretty good string of Hallmark films. Since his success with "Enchanted Christmas," he's worked on at least five other projects for the network, including "A Midnight Kiss," "Love at Sea," and "Picture Perfect Mysteries" (via IMDb).

Holly Robinson Peete

With a name like Holly, we're not surprised this actress gravitates toward holiday films. All jokes aside, Holly Robinson Peete has been in a ton of Hallmark Christmas movies: all the "Christmas in Evergreen" movies, "Angel of Christmas," "A Family Christmas Gift," and many more. If she looks familiar to you, it's probably because you recognize her from "21 Jump Street," "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper," "For Your Love," or "Love, Inc." (via IMDb). Fun fact: Peete also did some voice acting for the 1986 film "Howard the Duck," a Marvel cult classic. When the movie started trending in October 2020, she joked about how poorly it did at its premiere. "To say it wasn't well received would be ... generous, " she wrote on Twitter. "But low key, our group Cherry Bomb had some bops!"

Among some of Peete's bigger accomplishments are her appearances on "Chicago Fire," "The View," "Entertainment Tonight," and her reality show "For Peete's Sake," for which she also has executive producer credits (via IMDb). She currently has an upcoming film, "Runnin' with Johnson," on the docket.

Jonathan Bennett

He looks all grown up now, but eight years ago, this actor played high-school heartthrob Aaron Samuels in the super popular, overly quoted (even to this day) "Mean Girls" movie. Like his co-stars, Jonathan Bennett was quickly launched to fame, where he capitalized on his typecasting to snag all kinds of rom-com roles. Even if you haven't seen "Mean Girls," you might have seen him in "Awkward," "Veronica Mars," "The Dukes of Hazzard," "Slightly Single in LA," and Hallmark's first LGBTQ holiday romance, "The Christmas House" (via IMDb).

While speaking to NBC News prior to the film's premiere, Bennett shared why the film was important to him on a personal level: "Representation is important, but correct representation is more important, not just for viewers ... but it's also important for LGBTQ people to see themselves in media. ... Being on set and experiencing this couple navigating the adoption process, ... you start to feel the warmth and unconditional love of family, and it starts to inspire you to consider sharing that experience with your partner in real life, too." If you're ready for more heartwarming speeches from Bennett, we're happy to tell you he's got at least five more movies in the works, per IMDb.

Cameron Mathison

Cameron Mathison is best known among Hallmark fans for his time on the miniseries "Murder She Baked," "The Christmas Ornament," "The Christmas Club," and "Very, Very Valentine," but he's been making a name for himself since the late '90s. If you're old enough, you may remember seeing him on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" in the early 2000s or "All My Children" in 1998 (via IMDb). Most of Mathison's work has fallen into the reality TV category, so you may have seen him on "Entertainment Tonight," "Good Morning America," "Dancing With The Stars," and "I Wanna Be A Soap Star."

If working from home next to your partner feels like a lot, try acting side by side with them! Mathison's wife, Vanessa, joined him for one episode of "General Hospital," in which he has appeared since 2021 in one of his bigger, long-running roles. Apparently, the couple psyched each other out by accident. "I was nervous; I can tell Vanessa was nervous," the actor told Entertainment Tonight. "Then I started getting even more nervous." He later joked, "She's the new soap star in the house, I can't take it."

Chris McNally

Chris McNally is relatively new to the Hollywood scene, but he certainly has a memorable face (and a warm, yet piercing gaze). He got his start with "Killer Instinct" in 2005 and has managed to make a name for himself with only a handful of roles. McNally has had cameos in a number of notable shows since the 2010s, including "Supernatural," "Altered Carbon," and "Riverdale." You've likely seen him in Hallmark's "Snowkissed," "A Winter Princess," or "Rocky Mountain Christmas," where he has frequently played the love interest (via IMDb).

Outside of his holiday movie appearances, McNally has been busy with "When Calls the Heart," a historical drama in its 10th season, and "Firefly Lane," a buddy series starring Catherine Heigl (via Deadline). In 2022, he also finished working on "Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies," a spinoff of the original "Grease" plot.

Chad Michael Murray

Chad Michael Murray is the king of early 2000s content. We immediately thought of the dashing Austin from "A Cinderella Story" and the leather-clad bad boy Jake from "Freaky Friday," but you may also recognize him from "One Tree Hill" and "Dawson's Creek" (via IMDb). He also appeared in 11 episodes of "Gilmore Girls" — apparently, it's no secret that he prefers acting in teen dramas. 

When asked about the "Riverdale" series' similarity to the other films he's worked on, Murray replied: "A lot of the underlining stories are all very similar, right? We're all human, we're all flawed, and we're going through this journey together. That's what made ... all these shows stand the test of time. People could really identify [with] them." Though he got to enjoy being a baddie cult leader in the popular 2019 show, he's since swung back into making movies. 

Since 2018, Murray has made five Hallmark films, three of which are holiday-themed. In case you're wondering what's up next for the actor, he's been working on a new series, "Sullivan's Crossing," and a film sequel, "Fortress 3."

Alicia Witt

You'll never guess Alicia Witt's first role: As it turns out, she was a child actress in the 1984 version of Dune. It took her about 10 years to earn her first steady role as Zoey Woodbine on "Cybill," but fans best remember her from "Twin Peaks," "88 Minutes," "Urban Legend," and "Vanilla Sky" — some of which are pretty gritty (via IMDb). According to Glamour, she decided that light Hallmark content was a better fit for her because "it's fun to come out with a movie where every day you have a happy ending."

If you can't get enough of Witt, there are plenty of Hallmark Christmas movies to binge-watch this year: "Christmas Tree Lane," "Our Christmas Love Song," "Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane," and "The Mistletoe Inn" are a few of our favorites (via IMDb). The actress, who just recovered from cancer in 2022, told Media Village that "Christmas Tree Lane" was a big deal for her and the studio, since it was her idea and was the first major project to come out during the early days of the pandemic. "We're so grateful we were able to make this movie and put joy out into the world," she added.

Jesse Metcalfe

We'll give you a hint on this one: Imagine him without the facial hair. Jesse Metcalfe is none other than the cheating high-school hunk John Tucker from the 2006 teen dramedy "John Tucker Must Die." In case you haven't seen this one, it's a cult classic comparable to most "Mean Girls"-era teen movies. Apparently, Metcalfe totally hated the iconic character, as he explained during an interview with Glamour: "His sense of entitlement, his misogyny, his dishonesty — where do I begin? ... John Tucker's definitely not the type of guy I'd want my future daughter to be dating."

Before this famous role, Metcalfe was a regular on "Passions" and "Desperate Housewives," per IMDb. Despite having fewer acting credits than most of the people on this list, he's kept pretty busy since the early 2000s, especially in the reality television circuit. In addition to his later roles in "Cover Me," "Chesapeake Shores," and the "Fortress" movies, the actor has five movies currently in progress.

Jill Wagner

With the 2022 release of "A Merry Christmas Wish," we've all had Jill Wagner on our minds. Starring alongside Cameron Mathison in the new film, this self-described "country girl" told Us Weekly that she looks forward to any filming opportunity that puts her on a farm: "I am a country girl. I live on a farm, so anytime I get to be in a big barn like this, it's heaven." It's no wonder Wagner loves filming holiday classics like "The Angel Tree," "Hearts of Winter," and "Christmas Cookies" (via IMDb).

The actress has been in quite a few made-for-television movies since the late 2010s, but before that, she was in some favorite early 2000s shows like "Punk'd", "Blade," "Stargate: Atlantis," and "Teen Wolf." For those of you who watch a lot of reality television and live entertainment, you may remember Wagner hosting "Inside the Vault," "Wipeout," and "Handcrafted America" (via IMDb).