Hallmark Actors Who Are Completely Different Off-Screen

The Hallmark Channel is known for creating that "perfect" life, and there's no doubt that the creatives behind the network are artists. They have mastered the meet-cute, created timeless Christmas classics, and orchestrated the most tender and romantic moments our screens have ever seen. Thankfully, we'll be experiencing even more Hallmark magic on our screens in 2023, but it's important to remember that the lives of the real people behind the cameras aren't always so magical.

It can be difficult to distinguish the character from the actor, especially when their lives in Hallmark's most popular movies and TV shows seem so perfect. However, many of the Hallmark actors we've fallen in love with over the years are forced to leave their trials and tribulations in their dressing rooms to bring these perfect lives to the screen. In reality, some Hallmark actors' lives are raw and turbulent. Some have struggled with their health, others have secret partners, and all of them are totally different in real life.

Danica McKellar is a well-respected writer and mathematician

Danica McKellar needs no introduction. As one of Hallmark Channel's most celebrated actors, she starred in nearly 20 Hallmark productions before she jumped ship (like many of her fellow Hallmark alumni) and signed a multi-picture deal with Great American Media. While you may know her acting prowess, McKellar is also a math whiz.

By the time McKellar attended college in the mid-90s, she'd already completed a six-season run as Winnie on the coming-of-age comedy-drama, "The Wonder Years." In 2022, Danica told "Entertainment Tonight," "I went to UCLA, but when I got to school, everywhere I went, people all over campus would shout across campus, you know, 'Hey Winnie!'" In an effort to separate her true self from her past role, she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. 

These days, McKellar divides her time between acting and her work as an advocate for math education. She's used her passion for mathematics to pen several books that aim to make math fun and accessible for all children. Some of her books include "Hot X: Algebra Exposed," "Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape," and "Kiss My Math." Speaking with USA Today about her writing, McKellar confessed, "Today's young women need to realize they don't have to choose between being smart or the one who takes great selfies. They can absolutely be both!"

Candace Cameron Bure's had beef with a famous youngster

After starring in more than 20 movies over the course of her Hallmark Channel career, Candace Cameron Bure earned the title of the "Queen of Christmas." In 2021, she made the shocking decision to leave the Hallmark Channel, telling Us Weekly, "I always try to make it the best that I can, but I let the pressure [of being the Christmas queen] go last year." Since then, however, talk has revolved more around her personal life than her professional one.

In July 2022, she found herself in the midst of a public feud when former "Dance Moms" star JoJo Siwa called out the actor as the "rudest celebrity" she'd ever met (via Entertainment Weekly). Although Bure later apologized to the teenager in a lengthy Instagram post, their spat was reignited in November of that year when Siwa, who came out as pansexual in 2021, learned of Bure's comments to The Wall Street Journal. When asked if same-sex couples will be portrayed in GAC holiday films, Bure told the publication, "I think that Great American Family will keep traditional marriage at the core."

In response, Siwa wrote on Instagram, "Honestly, I can't believe after everything that went down just a few months ago, that she would not only create a movie with intention of excluding LGBTQIA+, but then also talk about it in the press. This is rude and hurtful to a whole community of people."

Luke Macfarlane has immense musical talent

While Hallmark Channel fans know Luke Macfarlane as the romantic lead in the Hallmark movies "A Valentine's Match," "The Mistletoe Promise," and "Just Add Romance," the conversation around this actor has exploded ever since he starred alongside Billy Eichner in the groundbreaking gay romantic-comedy "Bros" in 2022. Talk of a sequel to this movie is ongoing, as of this writing, with Macfarlane telling Variety, "The only thing I told Billy is, 'I want an opportunity to sing, too.'" Yes, Hallmark's favorite heartthrob is a singer.

As a graduate of both the Lester B. Pearson School for the Arts and Julliard, Macfarlane has immersed himself in every facet of the arts over the years. In eighth grade, he even fronted a band with his classmates, which they called Fellow Nameless. As if that weren't enough, Macfarlane is also a classically trained cellist and trumpet player.

When he learned that his character in the Hallmark movie "Chateau Christmas" played the violin, he made sure to take his cello with him to Canada for filming. He told TV Goodness, "I had that 14-day quarantine, so I wanted my cello in my room with me so I'd have something to do. ... The original script was having [my character] play the violin, and I said, 'Let's change it.'" In the end, the production team used Macfarlane's talent to their advantage.

Niall Matter is a third-generation oil rigger

Niall Matter is a huge fan of the tropes that come with the festive Hallmark Channel creations. From those cheesy near-miss kisses to dramatic tree-lighting scenes, Matter knows and loves them all. However, when Us Weekly asked him about his favorite trope, his answer was instantaneous: "Oh, my gosh. It's got to be the hot cocoa lines." Drinking steaming cups of hot chocolate on camera is a far cry from where he could have ended up, though.

The Canadian-born actor spent his early years living on his family's dairy farm. He developed a love and passion for acting when his teacher encouraged him to take drama lessons. However, he told The Chicago Tribune, "When I turned 17, my parents couldn't deal with me anymore. I was quite a bad kid actually. ... My parents actually forced me to go work on the oil rigs with my grandfather."

He eventually decided to use his job on the oil rigs to fund a career in film, but then a life-changing rig accident saw him reevaluating everything. After suffering a crushed leg, he said, "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. ... The next day I quit. I came back to Vancouver ... after a month of working as a bartender I ended up booking my very first lead role."

Alicia Witt secretly had a lot going on behind the scenes

With several Hallmark Christmas movies under her belt, Alicia Witt has certainly proven her acting talent over the years. In 2021, she also wowed fans across the globe when she released her emotional single, "Talk to You." As Witt told People, "This song really is about connecting. It's about that longing to learn everything there is to know about someone, to check in and find out how they're truly doing." However, what fans didn't realize was that she wasn't doing so well herself at this point.

Just a few months after her emotive power ballad was released, Witt suffered the sudden loss of both of her parents. Then, in June 2022, the "Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane" actor announced on Instagram that she had been undergoing treatment for a cancer diagnosis while grieving for her parents. In the post, she explained why she decided to keep her health a secret: "I did deeply wish to keep my diagnosis private until it was 100% healed, God willing. I'm so grateful to all those along the way during treatment who honored me by protecting my privacy during these months."

By December 2022, Witt was thankfully celebrating the regrowth of her hair and her new sense of purpose on Instagram.

Chris McNally had a surprise baby with another Hallmark star

Fans of "When Calls the Heart" are undoubtedly familiar with Chris McNally. The Canadian actor has been walking in the shoes of Lucas Bouchard for years, and it seems as if he won't be stepping out of them anytime soon. However, while many fans feel as if they know everything about his character, McNally himself has been more of an enigma.

Despite living in the limelight, the actor is super secretive about his personal life. In January 2019, he slyly confirmed to Media from the Heart that he had a girlfriend, stating, "Right now, I am mostly focusing on the puppies. My girlfriend and I each adopted a puppy, so I'm looking forward to being home with them when I can." Although he didn't name his girlfriend, fans managed to put two and two together when they noticed that McNally and fellow Hallmark star Julie Gonzalo posted pictures of the same dogs on their respective Instagram feeds.

Fans were surprised once again on June 5, 2022, when Gonzalo updated her Instagram with a photo of a baby captioned, "Our hearts are full ... Welcome, baby M." Although the "Supergirl" actor didn't reveal any other information, McNally is reported to be the father of the little girl, according to People. Congrats, Dad!

Ryan Paevey has his own jewelry business

Although Ryan Paevey had no plans to become famous, the stars aligned for him — and now he's the brightest star of them all. The Californian has since found his home on the Hallmark Channel, and put his name to holiday favorites such as "Hope at Christmas" and "Coyote Creek Christmas." Unfortunately, the actor suffered a blow while filming "A Timeless Christmas" in 2020, when he discovered that his Canadian hotel room had been robbed (per Heavy).

Taking to Twitter to share the news, Paevey wrote, "If you're thinking of staying at the @SuttonPlaceHtl ... do yourself a favor, and don't. Take my word for it. They've lost me for life." He was particularly upset about the robbery as thieves stole thousands of dollars of his handmade jewelry. After all, the actor has been making jewelry for his lifestyle brand, Fortunate Wanderer, since 2016. He sells jewelry, photographs, and outdoor gear on this website, and has built up quite a fan base.

Paevey doesn't just make jewelry for his fans, though. While speaking to Parade, the actor's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" co-star Italia Ricci said, "Ryan Paevey is a force. The man does everything. On top of acting, he makes the most beautiful jewelry by hand. My wrap gift from him was this beautiful silver necklace with an aquamarine gemstone charm. He's so impressive." He really does seem like a man of many talents.

Nikki DeLoach was in the Mickey Mouse Club

Hallmark fans will know that Nikki DeLoach is a regular face on the channel. As an actor, she's starred in many Hallmark Channel classics, including "The Perfect Catch" and "Love to the Rescue," but she also put her producing skills to good use when she executive produced and starred in "Reunited at Christmas." Considering she's just landed herself an exclusive multi-picture deal with Hallmark, it's safe to say that she's impressed executives with her talent (via Deadline). However, that's not all she's had to offer.

Before she became a Hallmark legend, DeLoach got her start with another small-screen icon, Mickey Mouse. In 1993, she joined the likes of Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, and Christina Aguilera on "The All New Mickey Mouse Club." Although she only starred in a few episodes of the show, DeLoach reportedly hit it off with one clubhouse member in particular.

She told The Hollywood Reporter that she and Justin Timberlake "became best buddies, like brother and sister, and we have been brother and sister ever since. His mother has been like a second mother to me, I've lived with her for chunks of time in my life. We're just chosen family, and I'm so honored because he's always been there any time I've needed him, and I've always been there when he needed me." She even shared a throwback picture of herself with Justin Timberlake on Instagram for his birthday in 2019.

Jodie Sweetin is an addiction recovery advocate

With her blond hair, bubbly personality, and impressive acting skills, Jodie Sweetin was once the all-American girl. However, her life behind the scenes was anything but sweet. As her biological parents were both out of the picture when she was born, Sweetin was raised by adoptive parents (per Today).

Nevertheless, life seemed to improve in 1987 when she was cast as Stephanie Tanner in the comedy series "Full House." And while this show gave her an on-screen family unit, she found herself struggling with substance abuse when the show ended. She wrote in her memoir "unSweetined" that she started drinking when she was just 14 years old, and she later moved on to harder narcotics such as methamphetamine and cocaine (via E! News).

However, when Sweetin joined the Hallmark Channel, she was sober. The actor has since used her experiences to become an advocate for addiction recovery. In her eyes, talking about addiction as a disease can help others who are struggling, and help those around them to better understand their struggles. She told People that her own experiences have allowed her to appreciate her life, stating, "It's a story with a message of second chances and turning things around and being able to overcome some adversity."

Alexa PenaVega wrote a book with her Hallmark star husband

Today, Alexa PenaVega is a fully-grown adult with a career on the Hallmark Channel. But no doubt many fans will always remember her for her claim to fame as Carmen Cortez in the "Spy Kids" movies. What many people don't realize, though, is that PenaVega has ditched her spy days for a life full of acting, religion, music, and family.

In fact, the actor met her now-husband Carlos PenaVega (who is perhaps most famous for being a member of the Nickelodeon boyband Big Time Rush) at Bible study. They've since built an impressive empire as a family, and both are now busy actors on the Hallmark Channel payroll. In 2016, they even got the chance to star alongside each other in "Love At Sea," but they're not just in the business of rom-coms. They're also in the business of books.

In June 2022, the couple released their book, "What If Love Is the Point? Living for Jesus in a Self‑Consumed World." They chose to open up about their own marriage in this publication, and they told Us Weekly, "Because we value our marriage, and want to keep it as healthy as possible, we also try our best to make it a priority." PenaVega also went on to suggest that too many couples lose the fun in their relationship, which is why they "keep laughing."

Eric Mabius once competed in the luge

After taking on a major role as Daniel Meade in the popular comedy-drama series "Ugly Betty," Eric Mabius was picked up by the Hallmark Channel. Since then, he's starred in almost 20 different Hallmark movies — including 13 from the "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" franchise. But while we all know Mabius as the handsome and endearing Oliver O'Toole, it seems as if he's been hiding a rather sporty secret from us.

When he was younger, Mabius was actually a member of the U.S. Junior National Luge Team. He's kept pretty schtum about his experience as a competitive luger, but his previous experience landed him a prestigious honor in the run-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Although he wasn't competing himself, the Team USA luge team named him as their honorary team captain, alongside famous astronaut Scott Parazynski. Mabius announced the news on Twitter, writing, "This is the time of the Olympics season wherein I get most fired up. Everyone coming together. Years of unyielding, immeasurably hard work and endless commitment."

His former coach has also spoken out about the actor's former sporting glory. He told Team USA that Mabius "was a good slider and had talent to achieve national team status. Eric was fearless, and I think he could have done something in luge. But he had a calling and returned home to pursue acting." Thankfully, this worked in his fans' favor.

Ashley Williams is a certified doula

Ashley Williams has been a Hallmark regular for almost 10 years, and she's known for playing lighthearted and lovable characters like Allie Shaw in "Christmas in Evergreen" and Peyton in "Holiday Hearts." However, this American actor isn't quite as carefree in real life. She's made it her mission to deal with some hard-hitting topics, which is why she's heading up a new Hallmark initiative. Make Her Mark: Hallmark's Reciprocal Mentor Program will reportedly debut sometime in 2023, and Williams' main aim is to give female writers and directors the chance to succeed in Hollywood (per Forbes). However, this isn't the only thing she's working on.

As well as acting, directing, and serving as a mentor, Williams is also a certified doula. She reportedly underwent training after witnessing the pain and torment that her sister Kimberly Williams experienced during labor. She told Country Living, "I was completely unprepared for what happened and I'm so protective of my sister that when she was in pain, I just wanted to scoop her up and run out of there."

Thankfully, her doula status came in handy when fellow actor and friend Shiri Appleby went into labor. And while Williams was in a bar drinking with Zachary Quinto when Appleby called for help — as you do — she was only one glass of wine deep when her phone started ringing. So, Williams sprung into action and made her way to the hospital to help with the delivery, according to People