Hallmark Actors With The Best On-Screen Chemistry

It's hardly a secret that the Hallmark Channel has attracted legions of devoted fans who keep on tuning in for an ever-expanding array of holiday flicks and romance movies. As viewers can attest, when two actors recreate the experience of falling in love, the chemistry between them is the key element in the equation. 

Chemistry, though, is somewhat ephemeral; it can't really be measured or quantified, but it's readily apparent when it's there — or isn't. When the folks who run the Hallmark Channel recognize it, they'll often reunite those actors for another project, sometimes several. Interviewed by The Guardian, Hallmark screenwriter Julie Sherman Wolfe explained that the plots of those movies, as formulaic as they may be, are actually crafted in such a way as to organically spark chemistry between the actors. "One of the most important things that we try to do is make sure that where we have a relationship, each one of them helps each other in some way to grow," Sherman Wolfe explained, revealing that it was a Hallmark Channel tradition that the leads in a romantic movie didn't actually kiss until the final act (that, she conceded, was no longer a hard-and-fast rule). 

Yet even within the Hallmark universe, the chemistry between some make-believe couples is stronger than others; it's for this reason that certain actors continue to be paired in movie after movie. With that in mind, read on to find out all about the Hallmark actors with the best on-screen chemistry.

Lacey Chabert and Brennan Elliott's 'unique connection'

Brennan Elliott has been a member of the Hallmark Channel family for more than a decade, since making his Hallmark debut in 2009's "The Nanny Express." In 2015, he partnered with "Party of Five" alum Lacey Chabert in "All of My Heart" — which appropriately debuted on Valentine's Day — in which the pair played, respectively, a Wall Street trader and an ambitious caterer. Sparks flew between the two on-screen; later that same year, they were partnered once again for the Hallmark holiday flick "A Christmas Melody." 

The actors' chemistry was so undeniable that, in 2017, they reunited for a sequel to their first movie, "All of My Love: Inn Love," and again in 2018 for "All of My Heart: The Wedding." Hallmark Channel programmers were clearly keen to keep that chemistry flowing and partnered the two again in 2019 for the first of several films in the "Crossword Mysteries" movie franchise.

According to Elliott, he recognized immediately that he and Chabert had a good thing going. "This kind of on-screen chemistry doesn't happen often," he told My Devotional Thoughts. "I've worked with many leading ladies who are friends that I know and we're still good friends, but I don't know exactly what it is that has made this unique connection between Lacey and me. But we're very blessed to have it."

Holly Robinson Peete, Rick Fox, and their Hallmark movies

Holly Robinson Peete and former NBA great Rick Fox can credit their successful Hallmark Channel partnership to a seemingly unlikely source: "Today" show weather guy Al Roker, creator of the duo's Hallmark film series "Morning Show Mysteries." The first film debuted in 2018, introducing Peete as Billie Blessings, a celebrity chef who appears on a TV morning show. When a dead body is discovered stuffed into the trunk of her rental car, she turns to police detective (and ex) Ian Jackson, played by Fox, to find the killer. As of this writing, the two have starred in a total of five "Morning Show Mysteries" movies, most recently 2019's "Death By Design."

Speaking with TV Insider, Peete admitted she'd like to see what happened with Billie and Ian in an environment that didn't involve a grisly murder. "I always envisioned that Billie and Ian go to the Bahamas," she said. "It's just a little dream, that they go to the Bahamas, and maybe they're not solving crimes, but they're doing some kind of Bahamian love story."

Sadly for fans, the chemistry between Peete and Fox that propelled those movies may not be seen again. In 2021, the Hallmark Channel debuted the sixth film in the franchise, "Murder Ever After" — in which Fox didn't appear; instead, Peete was partnered with Colin Lawrence. Fox would have returned, he tweeted, had it not been for a scheduling conflict.

Josie Bissett and Jack Wagner's decades-long friendship

Josie Bissett's association with Jack Wagner predates their joint Hallmark projects by decades, given they co-starred in "Melrose Place" back in the day. More than 15 years after "Melrose Place" was cancelled, she and Wagner reunited for the 2016 Hallmark Channel movie "The Wedding March." Viewers loved the chemistry between the two, with Wagner as Mick, a singer booked to perform at the wedding of Bissett's character, Olivia — who had been his college sweetheart decades earlier. "The Wedding March" was so successful that it spawned several sequels, all anchored by the on-screen relationship between the lead actors. 

"Chemistry is chemistry, you know, in life [and] in general, and to be able to work with him and having the history that we have on 'Melrose Place,'" Bissett said in a Hallmark Channel interview promoting "Wedding March 2: Resorting to Love," trailing off before confirming that the chemistry viewers see on-screen comes from the off-camera friendship they've had for years.

That sentiment is mutual. "I can't even tell you how much fun it is to work with Josie," Wagner said in his own interview with the Hallmark Channel, revealing he's nicknamed her "Toad" because she turns each day on the set into her own version of Disneyland's "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride." "She loses her phone about four times a day, her glasses, she doesn't know where her bag is ... she's the most fun person in the world," he added.

Playing siblings is easy for Robert Buckley and Jonathan Bennett

Having previously starred in their own respective projects for the Hallmark Channel, Robert Buckley and Jonathan Bennett first teamed up in the 2020 holiday movie "The Christmas House." The actors portrayed two brothers who return to their parents' home for the holidays; understandably, the sibling chemistry between the two actors is at the very core of the film. Luckily, Buckley and Bennett proved to be an inspired pairing, and viewers loved what they saw so much that a sequel — "The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls" — arrived the following year. 

"Robert and I have such amazing brotherly chemistry that you don't really get as an actor more than once or twice in your whole career," Bennett told The Advocate (via Yahoo! News) of acting alongside Buckley, who also co-wrote the screenplays for both movies. Noting that the two share "an instant chemistry that's undeniable," Bennett told Decider, "From the moment we met, we had this brotherly competition to us that just was organic."

In fact, as Bennett similarly revealed in an interview with ET Canada, the brotherly vibe that viewers see in the movies was something that they both experienced immediately. "We teased each other and got along just how real brothers do," Bennett said of their first meeting. "It really comes across on-screen."

Nikki DeLoach and Andrew Walker had 'instant' chemistry

Andrew Walker and Nikki DeLoach are Hallmark Channel veterans and have acted together in numerous movies for the network. The actors were first partnered in 2016's "A Dream of Christmas," reuniting the following year for "The Perfect Catch," and again in the 2020 flick "Sweet Autumn." In 2022, the actors co-starred once again in the film "Curious Caterer: Dying for Chocolate," followed by 2023's "Curious Caterer: Grilling Season."  

In fact, DeLoach told People that when casting was underway for "Sweet Autumn," she immediately suggested Walker. "I had been wanting to work with Andrew again for a really long time. ... It was so meant to be," she shared. When they first worked together, the actors bonded over the fact that they had each recently become first-time parents, and DeLoach recalled the "instant connection" they experienced. "I felt like I had known him my entire life," she marveled. "There's just such an ease with Andrew. I do think that there is something that happens, and it doesn't happen for everyone." Walker shared a similar recollection, admitting, "I think just immediately, we were two peas in a pod. We're very similar in a lot of ways."

As Walker told ET in February 2023, acting with DeLoach continued to be a joy. "The beautiful thing about working with Nikki is that we could work together 20, 30 times, but I feel like we both come into it with fresh eyes constantly," he said.

Taylor Cole and Jack Turner landed a hit franchise

Taylor Cole first teamed up with Jack Turner in 2016 for the Hallmark Channel rom-com "My Summer Prince," in which Cole played a PR exec hired to rehabilitate the public image of a scandal-plagued British royal, portrayed by Turner. Their chemistry was so strong that they were cast as co-stars a second time in 2018's "One Winter Weekend," and again the following year in the sequel "One Winter Proposal." In 2021, the actors reunited yet again, for the third and final film in the trilogy, "One Perfect Wedding." 

"I think we just really enjoy working with each other. She's super fun, she listens really well (in acting terms, chemistry is really just when two actors listen to each other and enjoy the process), and she's also really wonderful on set," Turner said of Cole during an interview with My Devotional Thoughts. "I love working with her, and I think that helps the chemistry on-screen. Hopefully, she enjoys working with me too!"

According to Cole, she absolutely does. "We work really well together," Cole told TV Goodness of Turner. "We're family at this point." Explaining that it helps to know, when going into each project, that working together on set will be a fun experience, Cole added, "It's a bit of a sigh of relief. You're not going to have to wonder if you're going to be compatible. We already have our flow and chemistry and [it's easy] to get back into it."

Jen Lilley and Ryan Paevey share a background in soaps

Ryan Paevey has been leading man in numerous Hallmark Channel movies, and he's co-starred twice with Jen Lilley. In fact, Paevey co-starred with Lilley in 2017's "Harvest Love," his second film for Hallmark. The two reunited in 2021 for "A Little Daytime Drama," in which Lilley played the head writer of a soap who tries to save the show from cancellation by convincing the soap's former star (played by Paevey) to return, a gambit that's complicated by the fact that they were once a couple, and didn't exactly end their relationship on good terms. 

Adding an extra layer of meta to the movie, both Paevey and Lilley are former soap stars themselves (Paevey via "General Hospital," Lilley from her roles on both "GH" and "Days of Our Lives"), while their co-star in "A Little Daytime Drama" is soap icon Linda Dano, who played the creator of the movie's fictional soap.

"This is my favorite movie I have done, hands down, bar none," Lilley declared in an interview with Michael Fairman TV. "We both come from daytime," Paevey told interviewer Brad Everett Young. "It was easy-breezy," he said of working with Lilley. "Super good chemistry, it was just kind of like hanging out with a pal on set." Meanwhile, in that same interview, Lilley described Paevey as "very grounded and down to earth. I just felt like I was meeting an old friend."

Alison Sweeney and Cameron Mathison love working together

Like the aforementioned actors, Hallmark Channel co-stars Alison Sweeney and Cameron Mathison also come from the world of soap operas. The actors first appeared together in 2015's "Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery," with Sweeney playing Hannah Swenson, who owns a popular bakery in a small Minnesota town. She channels her inner investigator, however, when her delivery driver winds up murdered, leading her to team up with a big-city cop, Det. Mike Kingston (Mathison). The sparks that flew between the characters clearly ignited Hallmark Channel viewership; the network went on to greenlight several more movies in the "Murder, She Baked" franchise, which underwent a bit of rebranding with the 2021 entry, titled "Sweet Revenge: A Hannah Swenson Mystery."

"I just adore working with Cameron," Sweeney told Fansided's Culturess of the chemistry she experiences with her co-star. "He's such a pleasure to talk to and such a great guy and he's so talented. So I just knew it was going to be so easy and natural to fall back into scenes with him," she added, describing the experience of returning to the franchise after an extended pandemic-related delay in production. 

Appearing with Sweeney on "Good Morning America," Mathison sang a similar tune. "Alison and I have known each other for years and years, through the soap world," he declared. "... And honestly, just coming back and working together, we get along so well, we trust each other so much." 

Hallmark's Alexa and Carlos PenaVega are real-life spouses

The fact that Alexa and Carlos PenaVega have chemistry on-screen shouldn't be surprising, since the two are married, having tied the knot in 2014. They first appeared together in the 2017 Hallmark Channel holiday flick "Enchanted Christmas," and then the following summer in the rom-com "Love at Sea." The couple followed that with three movies in their "Picture Perfect Mysteries" series, in which Alexa played a photographer who enlists the help of Carlos' police detective when she discovers the body of a dead actor before the opening night of a new play by a famed mystery writer. Then, in 2022, they co-starred once again in "Love in the Limelight." 

Meanwhile, their association with the Hallmark Channel won't be slowing down any time soon; in October 2022, Deadline reported that the couple had signed a multi-picture deal with the network. Clearly, these two don't have to do a lot of heavy lifting to demonstrate their chemistry, but they also appreciate how the wholesome tone of the Hallmark Channel's productions reflects their own personal values.

"Carlos and I want to be able to do films that our families are proud of and everybody can watch," Alexa PenaVega explained in an interview with Glamour. "They just feel good, and Hallmark has been that place for us. They're all about family, and they want to keep [me and Carlos] working together. They really do walk the walk. That's what separates them from other networks."

Sparks flew as Danica McKellar and Victor Webster solved mysteries

Danica McKellar had built up quite a résumé before coming to the Hallmark Channel in 2015, starring in the movie "Perfect Match." After several more, partnering her with such Hallmark Channel regulars as Cameron Mathison, Andrew Walker, and Brennan Elliott, she teamed up with Victor Webster in 2019 for the first of their "Matchmaker Mysteries" movies, "A Killer Engagement." The following year, the actors reunited for a second, "A Fatal Romance," and a third — "The Art of the Kill" — in 2021, resurrecting their roles as professional matchmaker Angie Dove and Det. Kyle Carter.

"I love the evolution of the relationship between Angie and Kyle," McKellar told MediaVillage of the characters' budding romance while promoting "The Act of the Kill." "It definitely moves to a new level in this one. In the second movie, there was a scene where I had dinner with my murder suspect ex-boyfriend and Kyle arrests him during our date. I always thought he enjoyed that a little too much. At the end of that movie he says, 'I owe you dessert,' which is sort of provocative itself."

Off-screen, McKellar revealed in an interview with Monsters & Critics that the two actors have become great friends and keep in touch even when they're not working together: "A lot of times through Instagram we'll DM and see like, 'How you doing?' and talk about hopefully getting together soon."

Chemistry is key for Andie MacDowell and Dylan Neal

Andie MacDowell was a Hallmark virgin when the "Four Weddings and Funeral" star signed on to star in "Cedar Cove," a heartwarming family drama based on a series of bestselling novels by Debbie Macomber. In the series, her character — small-town judge Olivia Lockhart — fell for local newspaper editor Jack Griffith, played by Dylan Neal. During the course of the show's three seasons, the relationship between Olivia and Jack remained the linchpin of the show.

As Neal confirmed during an interview with PC Principle, his chemistry with MacDowell was key to the success of "Cedar Cove," bringing authenticity to the Jack-Olivia relationship. "It would be a big problem if the audience didn't like us together and fortunately they really do," Neal said. "I think Andie and I do have great chemistry and we have fun with it. She's such a great actress. You throw the ball at her and she's going to throw it right back and that makes it fun."

For MacDowell, her chemistry with Neal is just one part of the equation in the greater whole of what makes the show work, and why viewers connected with it. "Sometimes all the pieces come together and it's the right people, and the right place, and the right time, and the right material, and it works," she told Reel Life with Jane. "You just have to be grateful when that happens."

Brooke Shields and Brennan Elliott's adorable flirty banter

Lacey Chabert isn't the only Hallmark Channel co-star who's sparked chemistry with Brennan Elliott. In 2016, he co-starred in a trio of "Flower Shop Mysteries" movies opposite Brooke Shields. In the films, the "Suddenly Susan" star played Abby Knight, a one-time hotshot lawyer in Manhattan who left the Big Apple for a quieter life in a small town to run her own flower shop. Abby was also an amateur sleuth, and solved crimes with the help of Elliott's character, Marc, a former private investigator and owner of a local bar. 

As viewers of the series well know, Abby and Marc flirt their way through investigations, maintaining that will-they-or-won't-they chemistry that's driven so many TV show relationships. "We want to keep them right on the edge of almost kissing," Shields explained in an interview with TV Insider. "I don't know how much longer the writers are going to be able to keep that up. It does feel like the kiss of death whenever couples end up getting together. Look at 'Moonlighting' or 'Grey's Anatomy.' People think they want it, but then it doesn't work."

Catherine Bell and James Denton have fun on Good Witch

As co-stars on the Hallmark Channel's long-running series "Good Witch," the question of whether Catherine Bell and James Denton have great on-screen chemistry is best answered by the umpteen TV movies and seven seasons in which they co-starred. Bell, of course, played titular sorceress Cassie Nightingale, while "Desperate Housewives" alum Denton was Dr. Sam Radford. It's also a question answered by no less an authority than Bell herself. "Sam and Cassie have got some chemistry, let's just put it that way," she declared in a Hallmark Channel interview.

"He's the best!" she gushed to Reel Life with Jane. "He's got an awesome sense of humor. He cracks me up. And he's just a total pro. He's a good actor, too. He's elevating my game because he's just so good and so real and has all his little moments and nuances. I think, 'I want to put more of that in my acting, too.'"

For Denton, the evolution of the characters' relationship over the course of all of those seasons and movies has led his chemistry with Bell to deepen even further, particularly as their characters' backstories unfolded. "It's always fun because the chemistry is fun," he told the Knoxville News Sentinel. "I love Catherine. We have a great time, and it's fun to play that 'cause it's a fun stage of a relationship."

Hallmark loves Jill Wagner and Kristoffer Polaha's chemistry

Jill Wagner and Kristoffer Polaha first partnered for the 2018 romance "Pearl in Paradise." Playing a travel photographer and a best-selling author seeking a rare pearl in Fiji, the actors' chemistry was so electric, it practically leapt off the screen. "Kris and I work really well together," Wagner told TV Insider. "And ever since audiences saw us in 'Pearl in Paradise,' wanted to see more of us together."

The audience response did not escape Bill Abbott, former CEO of Crown Media Family Networks (parent company of the Hallmark Channel). "And then Bill Abbott was like, 'You know what? I like them. I like their chemistry. Let's give them a mystery,'" recalled Polaha in an interview with My Devotional Thoughts. That led to the "Mystery 101" movie series, in which Wagner played an English professor with a deep knowledge of mystery novels who teams up with Polaha's police detective to solve crimes. "I loved working with my friend Kris," Wagner told My Devotional Thoughts. "He is a real talent and I think because of our chemistry, they chose to pair us up again. Smart people over at Hallmark!"

Over the course of those movies, Wagner explained, she and Polaha have deepened the on-screen rapport that was so evident from the beginning. "Through working together so much we are able to build our chemistry from episode to episode and that's really rewarding as an actor," she told Parade.