Exclusive: Hallmark’s Erin Cahill offers a holiday love story to help us ‘ignite something real’

Ali Liebert, Erin Cahill, and Brittany Ishibashi.
Ali Liebert, Erin Cahill, and Brittany Ishibashi. Pic credit: Sam Lothridge/Hallmark

Being able to not only star in a Hallmark Christmas movie but also to be an executive producer has been a dream come true for Erin Cahill.

After the success of the time travel movie A Timeless Christmas, she is eager to talk about her latest Hallmark film, Every Time a Bell Rings.

It is the heartfelt story of three sisters who reunite in their hometown of Natchez, Mississippi, during Christmas after several years of being apart. They are surprised – and delighted – to discover that their late father had planned one last scavenger hunt for them to find the family’s wooden wishing bell. This was a beloved annual tradition when they were young.

While they revisit favorite childhood places that hold special meaning for them, and along the way, they rekindle their sisterly bond and each learns an important lesson about what they want in life…and love. The movie is about family, adoption, love, loss, and finding our place.

Erin Cahill, whose other recent Hallmark movies include Last Vermont Christmas and Sleigh Bells Ring, has forged close bonds with many of her co-stars. Her acting career was launched in 2001 when she was cast as Jen, the Pink Ranger in the series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Time Force. Since then, she has starred as regular or recurring characters in ABC’s Red Widow and TNT’s Saving Grace.

“I am interested in anything involving communication, connection, and joy,” Cahill exclusively told Monsters & Critics. “For me, it is about creating something that will ultimately end in more joy in the human experience. The holidays are all about escapism and fun and I love that, but if I can tell a story that truly ignites something real in people, that would be the greatest gift for me.”

Monsters & Critics: Erin, why did you want to make this movie?

Erin Cahill: I helped create it from the ground up and I got to make a lot of the decisions and weigh in on them, which is so exciting. It was so gratifying to tell a real love story about these sisters and family. Holidays are hard for a lot of people, because there is loss to deal with, and I wanted to address this, too.

M&C: You said there was a movie that inspired you to make Every Time a Bell Rings.

Erin Cahill: Yes, The Family Stone was one of my biggest inspirations and I hope that this comes close to that depth. If we can have it come near that tone and reality, I will be thrilled.

M&C: Did you know the other two actresses – Brittany Ishibashi and Ali Liebert before this movie?

Erin Cahill: I have known Britney for ten years and I knew she would make the most magnificent Emily. And I was pinching myself with Wes Brown and Dee Wallace. Everyone is so perfect in this. I am blown away by them.

Dee Wallace, Erin Cahill,  Brittany Ishibashi, and Ali Liebert.
Dee Wallace, Erin Cahill, Brittany Ishibashi, and Ali Liebert. Pic credit: Sam Lothridge/Hallmark

M&C: What did you enjoy most about producing?

Erin Cahill: I loved being part of the creative process and having more of a voice in the project. As the lead, I get some say, but I don’t get a say in the overall story arc. This was an opportunity to shape more of the story, and it is better than I could have wished for. I want to produce everything I am in from now on to help shape the story.

M&C: Had you ever explored the issue of adoption in a movie?

Erin Cahill: I haven’t. I have a couple of dear friends who have an adopted child. The husband of one of our executive producers was adopted; so, the theme just felt right tackling that storyline. It all kind of fell in step. I also wanted stories that represented my friends. I wanted them to have stories like them and have people who look like them.

M&C: We all love celebrating our holiday traditions. How do you enjoy watching Hallmark movies?

Erin Cahill: I really like to pop a bottle of bubbly for watching my movies because it is such a celebration. When I am cold, I like to bundle up in cozy pajamas and a warm blanket.

M&C: Hallmark has pretty awesome fans what is it like doing social media chats with them?

Erin Cahill: Honestly, our fan base is the most loyal, passionate, and loving. To be a Hallmark actor means to be embraced by this extraordinary community. I send my love to each and every one of them.

M&C: What do you hope my readers will get from this movie?

Erin Chill: I hope that viewers will feel seen by this movie, that they will feel moved, and inspired and that they will have a wonderful time.

M&C: Do you have sisters?

Erin Cahill: I have one sister, not two. I am madly in love with my sister, she is the light of my life. Family stories. This story is accessible and universal, even people without siblings will relate to it.

M&C: Talk about your charity work.

Erin Cahill: Thank you for asking. The charity Build On truly has a place in my heart. Since I volunteer a lot, I was asked by a fellow actor, Travis Van Winkle, if I wanted to volunteer to build a school in Malawi, with this organization that has been building schools in seven countries for some 30 years. I told him, ‘You don’t have to ask me twice.’

The mission statement is to combat global poverty from the ground up. It is truly one of my favorite things I have been part of. We have been working with kids in after-school programs, as well.

Cast of Every Time A Bell Rings
Pic credit: Sam Lothridge/Hallmark

M&C: What’s your next film project?

Erin Cahill: I don’t know what I’m doing next. I have a couple of projects pitched out in development in different places, so I’m hoping that one of them goes further. So hopefully, I can make another movie for the next holiday season. No, but right now, I’m just in various stages of development with different projects and I’m excited to see what’s going to happen next.

M&C: What are your favorite Christmas and holiday traditions?

Erin Cahill: As I’ve gotten older our tradition morphed. I fondly remember my sister and I waking up before our parents and sneaking downstairs and spending an hour or so unwrapping everything that was in our stockings that our mom wrapped with such care.

As an adult, one of our favorite traditions is to dress up on Christmas Eve, open one present and hang out. Then on Christmas day we eat scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, and toast, and watch Christmas movies together and open presents. Our tradition has morphed into the best lazy Sunday ever. We move kind of fast on our family, so this is the perfect time to chill at my sister’s house. She has taken over the holiday mantle.

M&C: Do you watch your Hallmark movies if you come across them on TV?

Erin Cahill: No, not really. I watch at the live premieres and I tweet about them. But my grandmother-in-law is Welsh and she was in the UK and so excited because they don’t get Hallmark over there. So she recently sent me the sweetest message that A Timeless Christmas was playing there and it was the first time she saw it. I was so happy that she loved it!

M&C: What takeaway do you see for this movie?

Erin Cahill: This movie was so filled with love from the minute we started creating it to the moment it was delivered. We were a family off-camera and I hope that people will feel that. The message is doing something you love with a community you love is something I am going to strive for the rest of my life. And I hope they have a wonderful time.

I think anything involving communication and connection, and joy, anything that will ultimately result in more joy in the human experience.  Not just fun, like I love telling fun, relatable stories.”

Every Time a Bell Rings is currently available to stream on Hallmark Movie Now.

For more Hallmark Christmas check out, Exclusive: Lea Thompson Travels Back in Time with Hallmark’s ‘Next Stop Christmas’

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