‘Christmas in Harmony’ marks Hallmark Christmas movie debut for star Ashleigh Murray
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Actress Ashleigh Murray (”Riverdale”) makes her Hallmark Christmas movie debut on Oct. 29 in Wilmington-filmed “Christmas in Harmony.”
Murray said the story is about long-lost love, family and connection.
“Harmony hasn’t been home in many years and returns home to spend the holidays with her family and ends up coming face-to-face with a past love,” she said. “Not just is she face-to-face with him, she also has to work with him, unknowingly set up by her mother.”
Award-winning actress Loretta Devine (”Waiting to Exhale,” “Dreamgirls,” “The Preacher’s Wife,” “Crash”) plays Murray’s mother in the film.
“The moment that I met her, it felt like family,” she said. “She just feels like home to me and I don’t say that lightly. From the second that we first spoke to the moment that we all said goodbye, it felt like I was just at home with her. She’s so, so funny and so honest and so giving. She’s everything that you would imagine someone that you grew up watching would be like. We just we literally spent the whole shoot laughing all day and all night. She’s so so wonderful.”
Michelle Williams, who skyrocketed to fame when she joined the girl group Destiny’s Child in the 2000s, also stars in “Christmas in Harmony.”
Murray, who is a huge fan, said she made a special trip to set to meet Williams.
“We only got to work together for one major scene in the film and the day that she landed to start shooting we broke for lunch and I made a point to run back over to set just so I could meet her and say hi,” she said. “I knew we were not going to get a chance to really hang out. Also, I didn’t want to creep on her like that. I did not want her to know how excited I was that she was there.”
Filming “Christmas in Harmony” marked Murray’s first visit to Wilmington.
“I’ve never been to North Carolina before and I am not familiar with such a tropical climate,” she said. “I didn’t really understand the gravity of the thunderstorms that you guys have for, like, 20 minutes and then it’s back to suffocating heat.”
The cast and crew shot the movie in August, one of the hottest months of the year, which posed a challenge.
“I was walking around in a wool coat, in long sleeves and long pants and scarves and hats...it was very, very hot,” Murray joked. “They did very good job of keeping us in the AC when we would get a moment. When we had to be outside, we tried to move as quickly as we could because it was, it was intense.”
However uncomfortable it may had been in a wool coat in the summertime, Murray said she couldn’t be too cross.
“This being my first Christmas film experience, it was really exhilarating to come to work and I could never be mad going to work because it’s always Christmas!” she said. “There are trees everywhere and fake snow and garland and presents wrapped.”
Murray said she enjoyed eating seafood at Wilmington’s restaurants while in town. She raved about a spinach, artichoke and crab dish she tried at Circa 1922 on Front St.
Filming locations for Christmas in Harmony included locations along Front St., St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church, St. James Church, Bakery 105, Bespoke Coffee & Dry Goods, Latimer House, Better Basket and a home at 2606 Mimosa Place.
Murray said she hopes audiences find joy in the film.
“I think it’s going to be to be really fun to watch,” she said. “I love the familiarity of it culturally. There’s something to be said about what it’s like being in a church that is run and attended by black folks and what that family unit is like and that experience in the way that we jab at each other, in the jokes that we have and the love that we share. That’s something that I didn’t really get to see a lot growing up watching Christmas movies. So, there’s so many touches of that and the way that you can feel how at home we felt with each other while we were shooting it, you’re absolutely going to feel that watching it. It’s going to be so uplifting and such a joy to experience during a time that we are still trying to find the joy every day.”
This year, Hallmark is celebrating 12 years of Christmas with 41 all-new original holiday movie premieres.
The first weekend of movies kicks off Friday, Oct. 22 with Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ “Miracles of Christmas.”
“Christmas in Harmony” premieres on Friday, Oct. 29.
The film marked a return to the Cape Fear region for Hallmark, which also filmed “U.S.S. Christmas” in Wilmington in 2020 for its Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel.
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