Michael Rady Knew Hallmark's Unexpected Grace Was More Than A Simple Love Story

Certain Hallmark movies break the standard mold. One example is Hallmark stars Michael Rady and Erica Durance's drama-filled flick, "Unexpected Grace," which is easily one of the best Hallmark movies of 2023 (so far). The story follows Grace (played by Erica Tremblay), who finds a letter from a young girl looking for a pen pal. Grace writes back and the girl's mother, Noelle (Durance), receives it. 

Eventually, Grace and her father, Jack (played by Rady), discover that the girl has passed away. The father-daughter duo connects with Noelle since Jack's wife has sadly died as well. Soon, they create a bond deeper than the usual Hallmark romance. Rady spoke with Media Village about the movie, revealing that the original screenplay was more intense than the typical Hallmark fare. In that initial draft, Jack struggled with alcoholism. Even after being tweaked to fit the network's cozy vibe a bit more, the film still really stood out.

"I'd never seen anything like that before," Rady admitted. "There are so many beats along the way of this story that are unique. ... Romance isn't on the surface, and it's about a more profound connection. It was interesting for [Durance] and me to play with some of the scenes, and the material, involving close proximity. Whether it was a handhold or a head on a shoulder, it became very clear we weren't singularly trying to tell a romantic story here. More importantly, it's about humans helping each other along this path of grief."

The connection between Jack and Noelle is deeper than just romantic

In a livestream for Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, to promote the release of "Unexpected Grace," Michael Rady and Erica Durance discussed the film's deeper themes and answered questions about it too. Rady praised Hallmark for crafting a story that follows characters battling darker times, arguing, "It's beautiful and it's uplifting."

When the lead actors discussed their favorite scenes from "Unexpected Grace," Rady pointed to one sequence where his character simply helps Durance out. The actor expressed how important it was that the moment didn't feel overtly romantic at that point in the story. Thus, they had to find the right balance of grief and their love connection. 

"We wanted connection there, but it doesn't need to be, like a romance, lovey, swoony connection right now in this moment," Rady said. "It's a more beautiful connection, I think." Durance praised the writers and director, noting, "If you go along with the story, with the characters, and you're just connecting, it's the people that watch it that get lost in the romance of it, right?"

Durance related to Unexpected Grace on a deeper emotional level

Michael Rady's co-star, Erica Durance, was drawn to her role in "Unexpected Grace" as soon as she got the script. The Hallmark star deeply related to the themes of the film, telling Monsters & Critics, "I think things come to you in your life when you're going through your own stuff." She continued, "I'm going through quite a big change in my own life, and I'm managing my own level of grief. This movie came along, and I could identify with it."

Echoing how Noelle finds solace with Jack, due to their shared experiences of losing someone close to them, Durance shared: "I've been trying to balance my experience of how we walk with the loss of something, how we walk with our own grief and yet stay open to possibilities in the future of new experiences." The actor also feels that the film will help viewers feel less alone while tackling whatever they are struggling with in their own lives. 

Hinting at the central romance, which blossoms arguably more organically than in other Hallmark movies, Durance opined: "I truly hope that [the viewers] take away that life can bring us all sorts of miracles, it's not just one thing. If we can be gentle with ourselves and keep going around the corner could be something really, really beautiful for us."