The Gift Of Peace Stars Say They've Been Waiting Years To Work Together - Exclusive Interview

When Hallmark fans turn on a Christmas movie, they typically expect a lighthearted love story between a small-town local and a jaded corporate city person learning to love plaid and hot chocolate. While those tried and true movies are a comforting break from reality, the holiday season is difficult for many people, and sometimes, we need movies to reflect that. That's where Nikki DeLoach, who plays Tracy, and Brennan Elliott, portraying Michael, come in with their new movie, "The Gift of Peace."

DeLoach (known for shows like "Awkward") and Elliott ("Curse of Chucky" and "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb") are both Hallmark Christmas movie staples. The duo expected the movie to fit the usual rom-com setup but were pleasantly surprised at the deep subjects of grief that many fans can no doubt relate to. Sometimes, you just need a holiday movie cry.

During an exclusive interview with The List, DeLoach and Elliott said they've been waiting to work together for years. DeLoach also noted that she'd love to do a Christmas movie with fellow "Awkward" alum Jonathan Bennett.

From horror to Hallmark

Brennan, you've been in an eclectic slate of movies from "Night at the Museum" to "Curse of Chucky." What are the biggest differences between those kinds of movies and movies like "The Gift of Peace"?

Brennan Elliott: You just took me totally somewhere else, which was great. I take every project, [and] I'm sure Nikki can attest to this. It's a job, and you want to make it the best it can be. The Hallmark Christmas movies are special because of ... not only the content but how they touch [and] affect people. There's that Hallmark universe and how they affect the fans and people that watch them, and they make people feel an escape from their daily lives. It sounds cliché, and I've said this a million times, but it's not. It's true. It's real. When you do a horror movie, there's a different type of audience —

Nikki DeLoach: That's a different type of escape.

Elliott: It's a different type of escape, and there's a place for everyone. That was a totally different experience. All of them are good in their own way, and I enjoy them all. The reason I keep coming back to doing a lot more of these is because I've met so many fans that can say even a, "Thank you, that got me through something."

In the end, what are we doing this for? How big does your house need to be? How much money do you need? How many people need to [watch your projects], and how many awards do you need? That's a reward when someone is maybe going through an illness and going, "That movie you were in, or that movie she was in, or the movie some of these other people are in got me through it."

Actually, we were on our movie, and there was a grip or crew guy who was a huge [fan] ... We're doing "The Gift of Peace," which is a Christmas movie, and he was a "Chucky" fan. I don't know. It's such a different world. It's very hard to say, but the experience is different. I love them all. This one is special to me for a myriad of reasons, but the Christmas movies are special. They really are.

A long time coming

Nikki, you were on "Awkward," and so is another Christmas movie staple, Jonathan Bennett. Do you want to do a Christmas movie with him at some point?

DeLoach: Oh, of course. I would love to do a straight-up comedy with Jonathan. That would be fun to do that with him. He's so funny too. We would have a lot of fun together coming up with bits and shtick and all sorts of things. It would be great to be reunited, because my character didn't get to work with him on "Awkward" because he was working with the younger kids, so ... We missed that opportunity.

Elliott: It'll happen.

DeLoach: Hopefully, we'll get it in our world.

Elliott: I want to watch that one night.

DeLoach: Are you kidding? When we first got the email that we [DeLoach and Elliott] were working together, we were at the Christmas convention in Pasadena. The second he came up and goes, "Hey, we got an offer. It's you and me," I thought it would be [a] comedy because both of us do comedy. The next day, he comes in and goes, "Did you read that script? It is not a comedy." I was like, "What?"

Elliott: We've been wanting to work together for a few years.

DeLoach: Forever.

Elliott: She's worked with friends of mine, and I've worked with people that she knows. That's the great thing about Hallmark, because you [have] a chance to work with a diverse group of people, but we had [done] passing projects, and [it] just didn't happen. When it happened, I didn't even read it. [Casting director] Penny Perry said, "Nikki's going to probably do it. We have in an offer to her." I go, "Well, then I'll do it — "

DeLoach: Same, both of us.

Elliott: — thinking it's going to be a rom-com because we both do a lot of humor. I went back that night, and it was a Friday night because we're at this convention, and I read it, and I went, "Oh, no." Because it's a different movie in its scope, and it's real. You cannot get through and be fake in this one. You got to come there. 

I came to her, and she hadn't read it. I go, "Did you read it?" She's like, "Not yet." I go, "Okay, well, if you still want to do it, I'm doing it." She was brilliant in the movie — everything she does, she's a genius. But she held my hand through the whole thing. She held my hand [and] got me through it.

"The Gift of Peace" premieres on Saturday, December 10, at 10:00 p.m. ET on Hallmark.

This interview has been edited for clarity.