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Exclusive: Hallmark star Chad Michael Murray’s best advice ‘Enjoy the journey because every moment is a gift.’

Aly Michalka and Chad Michael Murray on the set
Aly Michalka and Chad Michael Murray. Pic credit: Crown Media / Robert Clark

Ever since his roles on One Tree Hill, Gilmore Girls, and Dawson’s Creek, Chad Michael Murray has long been known as a dashing leading man with a twinkle in his eye.

With movie credits of Freaky Friday, A Cinderella Story, Fruitvale Station, as well as TV roles in Marvel’s Agent Carter and Riverdale, and most recently on the Hallmark Channel, he continues to step into the shoes of a wide variety of film and television characters. He also brings some of his charm and humor with him for the ride.

Sand Dollar Cove, Murray’s latest movie, premieres on the Hallmark Channel, Saturday, June 26. It’s about Eli (Aly Michalka), a developer, who wants to acquire property to build a beach resort in quaint Sand Dollar Cove, a Connecticut beachfront area, but instead, she falls for the charms of the property owner, Brody Bradshaw (Chad Michael Murray).

This delightful summer romance makes us want to kick off our shoes, head down to the pier for some fishing, and finish off the day with a picnic. We also yearn for the good luck that comes with finding a sand dollar while strolling on the beach on the way to a day of beachcombing, sailing, or heading to the local fair to enjoy the rides, games, and sweet treats.

Murray tells Monsters & Critics that he appreciates his character Brody for fiercely protecting his family’s legacy at all cost, and also because of his kind heart and sense of humor that translates on the screen in the heartfelt movie.

“Brody is truly a kind and giving soul,” Murray explains. “I like to fall in love with the character and I like to bring a bit of lightness, a levity, and also bring a bit of comedy.”

The father of two young children says he has many life lessons to share with them. “It’s about being present at work and at home. It’s about going after your dreams and taking action to reach them,” he says. “You have to have that drive and will. It’s about getting past the dark to get to the light. This is a very heavy and full question that I spend a lot of time thinking about.”

Monsters and Critics: Chad, your latest movie is about romance, picnics, dancing; many of the rituals surrounding falling love, so how is this similar to your current life?

Chad Michael Murray: I like to think I have a little bit of charm in the real world. I am a happy man, and my wife and two kids try to squeeze a lot in. We have two little ones in tow, who are connected by the hip, so that’s my pack.

M&C: How quickly did you bond with your leading lady in this movie?

Chad Michael Murray: I knew who she was, but we had never met before this movie. We bonded immediately. We were happy and comfortable early on, and once that happens, we can perform on set without feeling we are stepping on toes. It was a fantastic experience.

After this movie, Aly and her sister A.J. Michalka will be lifelong friends. They would come and hang out with my wife (Sarah Roemer) and our two kids (six-year-old son and four-year-old daughter), and all of us really bonded.

M&C: Please take me behind the scenes of Sand Dollar Cove.

Chad Michael Murray: It was New England in March, so not the greatest choice for a summer movie with wearing a sundress, we really came together as a crew, which has a lot to do with the closeness. We were constantly ducking into a restaurant to get a few ounces of warmth, and that bonding made sure we were on the same page. We care a lot about our work and we do it to make people happy.

M&C: How did you see Brody?

Chad Michael Murray:  We can relate to Brody because he’s the moral compass and the heart of the town and Sand Dollar Cove. He’s a guarded type of guy who is also very charming. I’ve been fortunate enough to step into someone else’s shoes many times, and when I do, I like to make it feel grounded.

Aly Michalka, and Chad Michael Murray
Aly Michalka, and Chad Michael Murray. Pic Credit: Crown Media /Photographer:Robert Clark

M&C: How do you approach a role like this?

Chad Michael Murray: Sometimes it’s not 100 percent on the page and I don’t want to feel boxed in, so we made it our own – focusing on the heart and soul of the story. Aly and I spent a lot of time talking on the weekends; we talked for hours about every aspect of the movie. I haven’t seen the final product yet, but I hope and pray it all came together in a nice tight package that brings a lot of joy to a lot of people.

M&C: Do you have your own favorite memories of a special place like Sand Dollar Cove as a child or adult? Any family traditions you would like to share?

Chad Michael Murray: Growing up we weren’t the travelers, but I do remember going to the State Fair as a kid. These days, camping is a big thing that my family does. I enjoy being able to get out in the water, head out on the dock and teach my children how to fish. We love being together as a family. We like building a campfire and making smores—all these happy things. We hope to go on new adventures again soon.

M&C: What is your take on the saying in the movie, “If you don’t grab life by the horns, it will pass you by?” Do you believe that?

Chad Michael Murray:  I think there is definitely truth in that. This wording can mean so many things. I do feel that you must seize the day and seize the moment; basically, it’s about remembering to enjoy the journey because each and every moment is a gift.

For me, it means being present when I am with my children. Having eye contact instead of being distracted on the phone. Some people phrase it differently, but there is definitely truth to it.

M&C: You are well known for your roles on several TV shows, One Tree Hill, Gilmore Girls, and Dawson’s Creek, that are currently getting a resurgence on streaming channels. Do you ever watch the re-runs?

Chad Michael Murray: Typically, I only see my work when I come across it because I am extremely busy with work and daddy duty. So, when I have a little downtime, I enjoy watching documentary specials, mostly on The History Channel.

In the future, when she is older, I think my daughter will be a fan of my movie Cinderella Story; my son, I don’t really know. There will be things I want them to watch later on, but it’s up to them. When One Tree Hill began streaming a few years ago, it was bigger than it ever blew my mind. It would be fun to share that adventure with them.

M&C: What is your attraction to making Hallmark movies?

Chad Michael Murray: It’s a great fit. It’s a perfect scenario for where I am in my life, having young children and creating wholesome content. I love the opportunity to bring joy to people. I know there is a strong community that loves Hallmark.

I have great memories of the Christmas event (in 2019) and I was astounded by the love and admiration for Hallmark and all the content they create. It was heart-warming to see that joy. I have been doing this for 22 years and I love being able to continue giving this gift.

Chad Michael Murray and Aly Michalka share a dance
Chad Michael Murray and Aly Michalka. Pic credit: Crown Media/Photographer: Robert Clark

M&C: What kind of dad are you?

Chad Michael Murray: I’m the bad joke dad; my daughter will laugh and my son will say I am not funny. My wife and I share the same insight on parenting and are on the same team, which lends itself to a calmer and teamwork philosophy. My wife is a fantastic teacher who has been homeschooling them; I am so proud of her. I am the one who says, ‘Alright guys, let’s get out there and throw the ball, go fishing in the wilderness and get some life development skills.”

M&C: Was there a favorite family activity during COVID-19?

Chad Michael Murray: One great thing we did during COVID-19, there are a couple of speakers outside in the yard. So, I’m the ‘cartoon dad’ and we played movies on a blow-up screen on Friday nights. We loved Raya and the Last Dragon, Spies in Disguise, and many other animated movies with our bubble of neighbors. The parents weren’t chit-chatting, they were also sitting back in our chairs immersed in the movies, with our kids cozy in their sleeping bags. It was a great memory for all of us.

M&C: What project s do you have coming up?

Chad Michael Murray: My slate is full. I just got back from making The Fortress with Bruce Willis and Jesse Metcalfe in Puerto Rico. And I have a few others in the can; all different genres, including American Boogeyman. I do have more Hallmark movies coming down the pike, such as ones in the Christmas space.

M&C: Why should we watch this movie?

Chad Michael Murray: We just got out of a year and a half long pandemic and we could all use a little nostalgia kick, with the wind in the hair, the fair, popcorn, romance, and kicking off your shoes, and enjoying some wine, snacks, chocolate, and make it a time to forget everything else going on in the world, and go to Sand Dollar Cove. It will be something we all will enjoy!

Sand Dollar Cove premieres on the Hallmark Channel on Saturday, June 26, at 9 p.m. ET

For more Hallmark check out Summer Romance is clearly in the air with four new Hallmark movies in June

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