The Way Home Executive Producers On The Show's Family Dynamics - Exclusive Interview

If there's one word to describe Hallmark's new series "The Way Home," it's "family." But the family dynamics aren't only relegated to the screen, making the series feel that much more authentic. Heather Conkie and Alexandra Clarke are a mother-daughter duo who've partnered at various points throughout Clarke's career. While Conkie was the showrunner for the series "Heartland," Clarke wrote 10 episodes for the show. Now, they're co-showrunners on this series pitched by Marly Reed.


Reed came up with the idea for the show early in her career and oversaw the development since its inception. She went from relating to the teenage character to becoming a new mom — and she even brought her baby to the series' red carpet premiere.

The List spoke to Alexandra Clarke, Heather Conkie, and Marly Reed during the red carpet premiere of "The Way Home," where they discussed how their own families inspired their work on the show and how the final product impacted them. They also touched on the time travel elements of the series and why this particular cast was the perfect choice to bring this story to life.

Mother-daughter duo

What was the moment that you knew Chyler Leigh and Andie MacDowell were the right actors to take on [these] mother-daughter roles? And what have been some of the joys of working with them on set?

Alexandra Clarke: We found out quite early on that Andie had read the pilot and was interested in [it]. For both of us, it was such a moment of, "Wait, are you kidding — Andie MacDowell?" Then, when we found out that Chyler was also interested, it just made sense. The two women together love each other on set, [and] it was incredible to see them play mother and daughter because they really did fall into it. It was easy. It felt right. We were so lucky to have both of them, and we were pretty much in awe every day on set watching these two incredible actresses do their things. It was amazing.


Heather Conkie: It was incredible because now we can't imagine anybody else in the role[s] at all. They are Del and Kat.

Were there any moments [when] what they were doing on-screen made you tear up or have memories from your childhood?

Clarke: I think I teared up every day. It is a pretty emotional show, but these two women, Chyler and [Andie] — oh my goodness. They took those words and made them real and made them even more emotional than we thought they could [be]. As a writer, when you're writing those words, you start to tear up, and you're going, "This must be right because it's getting an emotional response." But then having the opportunity to be there to see them say them was just [as] important.


Conkie: And they added a lot too.

Clarke: They do.

Conkie: They became the characters, and it happened very quickly. They lived and breathed them. You can't even do that with dialogue. They took that dialogue and made it completely their own.

Clarke: So true.

What aspects of the series do you think will resonate with [fans] the most? And why do you think right now is the perfect time to tell this story?

Conkie: I think [the series] will resonate [with people] because everyone's gone through some things in the last few years that we've never gone through before. It's certainly not war, but being apart from their family with no choice about that has made them value what they have and adds value to them. That's what this show is about. It's learning to value why you need to be close [and] how it adds to your life.

Clarke: As you say, everyone's gained a new perspective in these last few years about what family means to them, and even if there are problems — and of course family comes with problems; it's inevitable — I hope that our show shows people that you can fix those problems if you really do listen to the other person's perspective and open a door for people the way Kat opens the door with her mom and also with her daughter. People [can] do the same.


Conkie: And find their way home.

Clarke: Exactly.

The evolution of relatability

I am most interested to hear if you can tease anything about the time travel elements of the show.

Marly Reed: I'm not sure what I'm allowed to say. There's time travel. It is a version of time travel that I don't think many people have seen before, so I think that will be really interesting for viewers. It's not "Back to the Future" or "[The] Terminator" or anything like that. It's its own version of how time travel might work.


Speaking of that time travel aspect and the heavy family [aspect], what was it like marrying those two concepts and having a sci-fi-meets-family kind of show?

Reed: In the creation of it, it was a little bit of wish fulfillment for me. It was always, "What if you could meet your parents when they were your age as a teenager?" It was always a little bit of fantasy and a little bit of magic — getting to walk in your mom's shoes and be able to relate to her a little bit better.

What were some of your favorite moments from set, either working with the actors or seeing it all play out?

Reed: I don't think anything specific stands out. It was so cool as a writer [to see] the things you write [play out as] the actors bring their craft to the table. [It's] amazing [how there are] some things that maybe you weren't so sure of in the script, and the actors pull it off so beautifully and make it so real. That was really exciting for me as a writer.


[Has being] a new mom affected how you see this very heavy mother-daughter scenario?

Reed: Yes. When I first started developing the show, I related a lot more to the teenage girl. And over 10 years of development, I'm now the mom, so that definitely played a role. [Between] the different generations [of] me and my own mom and now my daughter, [I understand] those bonds a little bit more deeply than I did 10 years ago.

"The Way Home" premieres on Hallmark Channel on Sunday, January 15 at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.

This interview has been edited for clarity.