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Vancouverite Amy Goodmurphy shares everything you need to know about The Holiday Sitter.
Amy Goodmurphy grew up watching holiday classics like A Christmas Story and Home Alone—plus Serendipity, a slightly more niche film (“I keep trying to connect with people over Serendipity and everyone is like, ‘What is that movie?’” she says with a laugh). But neither those blockbuster movies nor her lesser-known favourites featured a queer love story… largely because queer love stories weren’t really shared on mainstream TV.
But with the 2020 release of The Christmas House, the first Hallmark movie to feature a queer couple, there was a spark of hope. And when actor and comedian Goodmurphy learned that 2022 would bring The Holiday Sitter, Hallmark’s first Christmas movie with queer characters as the leads—and that it would be filmed in Metro Vancouver—she put a role in the film on her wishlist, STAT. She landed a role as Ellie, the (gay!) best friend of main character Sam Dalton, played by Jonathan Bennet (who you’ll recognize from Mean Girls, Food Network’s Cake Wars and Hallmark’s aforementioned The Christmas House).
“As a person who identifies as queer, it’s extremely important for me to have been a part of something like this,” says Goodmurphy. “To know that younger queer people are going to be able to see themselves on TV in this way is amazing to me—I wish I had this growing up.”
Goodmurphy points out how common the “gay best friend” trope has become in more modern movies and TV, and how uncommon it is for both a movie’s main characters and the supporting characters to be queer. “When I found out that the character I was auditioning for was also gay, I was completely thrilled,” she remembers. She says that Jonathan Bennet (also the film’s writer) specifically wanted to have queer people working both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Director Ali Leibert and second AD Clayton Durie are also queer. “I felt like it was super authentic,” says Goodmurphy, “it’s a beautiful Christmas gay love story.”
Does “Christmas gay love story” mean it will have the same well-loved formula that Hallmark movies usually follow? “I think it’s going to absolutely hold the same charm, but on the flip side it’s going to be a fresher look that’s been a long time coming,” says Goodmurphy. The film follows Jonathan Bennet’s character, who struggles to babysit his neice and nephew until help arrives in the form of their (Hallmark hunk) neighbour. Christmas mischief ensues.
“It’s a true, honest love story that happens to be queer,” says Goodmurphy, who appreciates the film for not shying away from the intimacy expected from heterosexual stories (this isn’t one of those movies where the queer characters simply link arms to show affection). “Even if this isn’t everyone’s favourite genre of movie, I hope that everyone will tune in to support great change,” she says.
Goodmurphy herself was raised Catholic, and came out after high school. “My closested queer self in that Catholic private school would have never believed that I would be in a movie like this—and be part of a movement like this,” she says. “I’m just over the moon.”