The Accident That Changed Hallmark Star Niall Matter's Life

Hallmark used to be known just for its greeting cards, but, at some point, the Hallmark Channel became must-watch television, especially for those seeking an escape during the last few years of pandemic-induced stress and strife. Hallmark holiday movies are the perfect dose of feel-good television, where COVID-19 doesn't exist, the lead characters always fall in love, and the endings are always happy.


Niall Matter has built a career out of finding love in Hallmark films such as "Finding Father Christmas" (and its two sequels), "A Christmas Together with You," and "Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Sweater" (per IMDb). 

He scooped up a 2019 Leo Award — the Canadian equivalent of an Oscar — for his role as a bad-boy professional hockey player who falls for a bookstore owner in "Frozen in Love." Born in Edmonton, Alberta, he has also appeared in TV series such as "Arctic Air," "90210," and "Melrose Place."

But Matter's own happy ending in the entertainment industry was far from a sure thing. In fact, at one point, a horrific accident left him uncertain if he'd ever walk again.

Niall Matter started out working on oil rigs

"Raised by wolves on oil rigs." That's how Niall Matter describes himself on his Twitter profile.

"I'm a third-generation oil rigger," he explained in an interview with My Devotional Thoughts. "My grandfather took me out to the rigs when I was seventeen. I was a little bit of a wild child, and my parents said, 'You either move out of the house or you go work on the rigs with your grandfather.'"


Doing this type of exhausting work while still in high school helped Matter figure out what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. 

"I worked every single day for three months, like non-stop, and I missed the first little bit of my Grade 12 year because I was still on the rig," he told the Chicago Tribune. "And when I came back I was a completely different person and I knew then that I wanted to pursue film."

The ultimatum issued by Matter's parents clearly paid off. Newly motivated, Matter became an exemplary student who graduated high school with honors, and then he moved to Vancouver to study acting at Vancouver Film School.

The actor suffered a horrific accident

Because Vancouver is the least affordable city in North America (per Vancouver Sun), Niall Matter struggled to pay his bills as a student and then as a fledgling actor on the West Coast. His solution was to keep working on the oil rigs periodically.


"I kept a place in Vancouver the entire time and flew back and forth until I turned 25," he told the Chicago Tribune. It was at age 25 that disaster struck. 

"I was crushed inside the cab of a drilling rig," he said, explaining that it weighed 17 tons. "They had to rip me out of there. It was pretty awful. It was horrific actually. I got to the hospital and the doctor immediately wanted to amputate my right leg."

Fortunately, the doctor was able to save the limb, but Matter had to endure months of physiotherapy before he could walk again and, eventually, get rid of his limp.

He described the injury in more detail: "Because basically what had happened is I ripped my quad muscle off my femur, and I had something called compartment syndrome. My muscle had to slowly re-attach to my femur and I had to train my muscle again."


How he finally left the oil rigs forever

During his months of grueling recovery, Niall Matter spent a lot of time contemplating what the future might hold in store. "When you have that amount of time to think about it, you realize how short life can be," he told ET Canada. "And you might as well spend your time doing what you love to do."


But the horrific accident and long recovery period still weren't quite enough to get Matter to abandon the oil rigs permanently.

"It took me about six months to learn how to walk again. And when I got back to the rig, my very first week I saw a terrible accident," he told the Chicago Tribune. "I actually witnessed a guy leave his legs on the rig and then the next day I quit." 

He returned to Vancouver, devoted himself to creating a career in movies and television, and soon started booking acting gigs.

Niall Matter loves his career as an actor

After leaving the oil rigs behind, Niall Matter quickly landed roles in "The Best Years," "Stargate: Atlantis," and "Eureka" (per IMDb). Since 2016, he's also appeared in more than 20 Hallmark movies — a feat made possible (at least partially) by the fact that it takes very little time to film a typical Hallmark movie.


Now a dual Canadian-American citizen, Matter credits a high school drama instructor with encouraging him to give acting a try in the first place after seeing him perform in an air-band competition. The Hallmark star told My Devotional Thoughts, "He asked me to come and sit in on a couple of his classes, and I did. He got the bug in me, and I've been hooked ever since."

Matter is pleased with how his career has turned out. "I'm very happy every single day that I get to go to work," he said to MediaVillage about working with Crown Media, which owns the Hallmark Channel. "I have zero complaints and am a very fortunate guy."

It seems the actor did find his own happy ending after all.