Michelle Argyris Talks Lifetime's Record Breaking Christmas - Exclusive Interview

The holiday season is here, and It's a Wonderful Lifetime is back with an entire slate of festive flicks for your viewing pleasure. Michelle Argyris is also returning to Lifetime to star in "Record Breaking Christmas," an adorable romantic comedy that's all about dreaming big during the holidays. Argyris is no stranger to starring in Lifetime Christmas movies, having previously appeared in "Homemade Christmas" and "Welcome to the Christmas Family Reunion."

In "Record Breaking Christmas," Argyris stars as Leah Hoffman, an adjudicator for The World Record Bureau who's forced to travel to a small town just before the holiday. The residents are all trying to break a number of records, and Leah immediately has chemistry with Devan Bancroft, the town doctor. But will Leah manage to help the town achieve its Christmas dreams in time? 

The List sat down with Michelle Argyris to discuss Lifetime's "Record Breaking Christmas," as well as her roles on "General Hospital" and "Shadowhunters," and whom she'd love to work with next.

Making Christmas magic with Lifetime

"Record Breaking Christmas" has such a cute premise. How did you get involved?

This is actually the third time I've been on a Lifetime lineup, which is awesome. I absolutely love working with that network. I made "Homemade Christmas" [in 2020] and then "Welcome to the Christmas Family Reunion" [in 2021]. This year, they asked me to do it again with "Record Breaking Christmas." I was really thrilled to be able to [work with them] again.

I always say art imitates life and that I get the perfect character for that particular moment in my life and in time. In my life, I had a company for 11 years, and I was closing it up at the same time as I was filming this movie. I was very structured, very rule-based, and I was getting tired of being the person that had to set up all the rules, which is hilarious because Leah is a rules-type woman who doesn't want to break them. She's very particular about that, and they call her the Scrooge of the movie. Eventually, she melts when she meets Dr. Devan [Andrew Bushell].

Around that time too, I was finding my own love finally, because I [had been] single for seven years. Different things pulled together for me in my real life and on camera. That was really nice. [My character in "Record Breaking Christmas"] spoke to me, essentially.

What a huge moment, to be shutting down a company and then taking on this role. You must have been busy.

I was. I was tired that month. When you take on these movies, we shoot them in a very short period of time. We have maybe 120 or 130 pages to memorize. Being shiny for 16 hours a day isn't easy. It was a big undertaking, and then I took a little break. I have had the best break ever. I had a moment where I was like, "I need to meditate and refill again because so much is going on." But like I said, every movie I've been handed is always the perfect movie for me. That's why I never take it personally when I don't get a role, because it wasn't for me; that [story] was for someone else to tell. I'm always very grateful when I land a film and the story really speaks to me.

Kissing her Christmas co-star

You had such great chemistry with Andrew Bushell in the movie. What was it like working with him?

Andrew is the sweetest, most prepared actor on set. Andrew knew all of his lines inside and out before we even started the movie. I had never had a co-star do that before, so I super appreciate that because I also have a lot of dialogue to memorize and learn on the fly. I learn mine a little more on the fly because there's so much, and I can't memorize 150 pages in a couple days 'cause there's a very short turnaround. We'll book a movie, and then it starts filming four days later, and you get handed the script and you're like, "Whoa, okay, how can I organize this?"

I re-read it over and over again to understand the character and what's going on in each scene. Then [I] take it day by day and literally moment by moment. It's all you can do, especially when you're in every scene and you don't have time. I would memorize dialogue for the next scene while I was in the hair and makeup chair changing, because nothing's done in order. I'd be like, "Andrew, can we run it once or twice before we run on?" Because we need that support. So the fact that Andrew knew his lines was very helpful.

Do you have any favorite moments from the set of "Record Breaking Christmas"?

Oh, gosh. The kissing days, of course! It's so funny because I was so single for so long, and I'd make jokes with Andrew, like, "Today's the kissing day. Get ready." And he would laugh. It's always so nice, whether it's a kiss or a hug or an intimate moment. It's nice to look into somebody's eyes and just be there with them. You don't even have to say much. Sure, we have some dialogue, but those scenes really pull me in because I get to feel like I'm existing in a space with someone for a moment. You can get lost and forget that the cameras are there and enjoy two people, characters, falling in love. 

As the viewer, especially with these Christmas movies, if there's no chemistry, then you don't have a movie. So even if you mess up lines, it doesn't matter. If we're a little sloppy with this or that, it doesn't matter if you can feel the joy and the love within characters. I call it the play where you can throw the lines away, look at your co-star, and be like, "Let's play and see what comes out." I don't like it to be too structured. I love it to be off the cuff and spontaneous because then you're really having a moment with your co-stars.

Joining General Hospital

Are you a fan of Christmas movies?

Of course, yes. I love Christmas movies. Even though every movie has the exact same formula and it's repeated over and over again, it always works. There's something about the Christmas formula they use which is so magical, and that little bit of cheese is everything during a time where we want to feel love and feel the sparkle. These movies are something I think we need right now. We've gone through a really tough three years, and [I love] bringing it back to love and bringing it back to joy and remembering all the beautiful things that we have in life, which is why I love Christmas. It's such a great time of year.

Do you have a favorite Christmas movie that you re-watch every year?

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Funn[il]y enough, I'm called "Scrooge" in "Record Breaking Christmas." I'm attracted to those Grinch-, Scrooge-type films. The Grinch would be my number one, with Cindy Lou Who. It's such a cute movie.

You were also on "General Hospital." What was it like being on such a classic show?

Oh my gosh. You get one take. At least in the Christmas movies, we get two takes, and maybe three if we're lucky. On "General Hospital," you get one take. 

When I first booked it, I was so excited to be on set with all these soap stars that have been on the show for 30, 40-plus years. I had my main storyline with Alexis, [played by] Nancy Lee Grahn. I was so intimidated at first because she would learn the lines and just spew them out. She was so carefree and so effortless, and I was an "airtight perfectionist" asking her to run lines with me, probably annoying her [by] asking too many times. But I wanted to make sure that I did a really good job, especially being the new person walking in. 

As you get going and you relax, you can start enjoying your character ... It's a really cool experience. And you don't work past eight hours. Often, I would do 15 pages in about two hours, which is crazy. Then you're done for the day. That was nice, because on Christmas movies you've got 16-hour-plus days.

Embracing her darker side

How about "Shadowhunters"? What was it like being part of that show?

If I could pick my ideal, full-time, ongoing series that I could ever do, it would be in the supernatural world, and it would be specifically the faerie realm. That would be the best role I could ever land because [of] that magic. Faeries are also very interesting, and we haven't [dived] into faeries that much on TV. We do vampires, and we've gone into other ones, but faeries are actually fascinating. 

I had an absolutely wonderful experience on "Shadowhunters." I wish it [had gone on] longer. It was sad that the show ended. Playing Kaelie on "Shadowhunters" was a dream. Then they turned her evil, which was hilarious because I don't think that was the original plan, because the series veered off from the books a little bit. Even on "General Hospital," I don't think I was supposed to be evil, and then we veered off again. So I don't know what I'm bringing to the table. I definitely have a dark side. I think people see my light side, but there's definitely a dark side, and I think everyone's got that.

If we just had a light side, life would be boring. The dark side is where our pain and our trauma [are, which] can help us connect to one another. I enjoy those characters, so I can express that. When I do, I feel the audiences can understand it because we've all got it.

What are you working on next?

I was writing a treatment for a series I'd like to do. It [has] the elements you were just touching on. It's very dark. It won't be a Christmas movie. It'll probably be more of a "Queen's Gambit" meets "Bates Motel" — very psychological. It will have a female, dominant character who is the anti-hero. Even though she's doing horrific things, somehow the audience is still rooting for her because they understand her. ... Without going into too much detail, it will be predominantly female-led. I would like to have an all-female team telling it because it's a very female story. I hope it will bring to light how women are viewed in the world, and [it] will hopefully give us a stronger voice.

Oftentimes, women don't get to play [darker characters]. Now, there's a push for us to be leads, but we can handle being the anti-hero as well. We can be the bad guy; we can handle that. I'm very excited about it, and I've sat down with the writing team, and we're getting that underway. 

I'd love to start producing. I've been writing, and I think I have another Christmas movie coming up in January, which will be for next Christmas, but I can't mention too much about that yet either.

Dreaming of Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron

Who are your dream collaborators?

If Angelina Jolie could do this part ... I know I'm dreaming, but if she could be involved in this treatment that I'm writing or if I could work with her and do something badass together where we can be two strong women empowered side by side, where there's no competition [and] it's like, "The stronger you are, the stronger I am, so let's do this!" — she'd be great. That would be a dream.

Charlize Theron is obviously the most badass actress, period. She has so much range, and I'm in awe of her work, especially in "Monster." She nailed that role. I would love to work with her as well. I'm sure [there are] many others, but those two came to mind.

Anything else we need to know about "Record Breaking Christmas"?

Anyone who loves a feel-good, magical, sparkly movie that brings some joy and happiness and Christmas spirit — it's the perfect movie for them. It was directed by Max McGuire, who did a fantastic job. We had a ton of fun on set, and hopefully that translates to people who are watching it, and I hope everyone enjoys it.

Watch "Record Breaking Christmas" on Lifetime on Thursday, December 15 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT.

This interview has been edited for clarity.