Home #Hwoodtimes Renaissance Man Evan Williams Helps Us Find ‘The Way Home’

Renaissance Man Evan Williams Helps Us Find ‘The Way Home’

By Debra Wallace

When it comes to family drama and all of the angst that it brings, Hallmark’s The Way Home is keeping us in rapt attention throughout Season 2.

The Way Home Season 2. Photo Credit: Courtesy Of Hallmark

This is due to the compelling relationships past and present, especially Elliot Augustine (Evan Williams) and his unrequited childhood crush, Kat, (Chyler Leigh), two of the show’s most compelling characters.

The multigenerational family drama is about three strong, willful, and independent Landry women; matriarch Del, (Andie MacDowell), her daughter, Kat, and her granddaughter, Alice (Sadie Laflamme-Snow), and how they deal with love, romance, loss, grief, and complex family dynamics.

After being estranged for nearly two decades following the unsolved disappearance of Kat’s eight-year-old brother, Jacob, and the untimely death of family patriarch Colton Landry, Kat and her 15-year-old daughter move back to their Canadian farm town of Port Haven at a crossroads in her life.

Shortly after moving home, Kat discovers that she can time travel between the past and present via a pond on the family’s land. Soon, mother and daughter become determined to discover the truth about past family tragedies and attempt to change the course of events.

Elliot is there in the present to help guide Kat and Alice in their journey, and in this season he finds his relationships with both of them in a state of Flux. Season 2 continues through Sunday, March 31, on Hallmark.

Evan Williams In The Hallmark Series, The Way Home. Photo Credit: Courtesy Of Hallmark

Born and raised in Calgary, Williams realized he loved performing when he sang in the church choir at the ripe age of eight years old.  A Renaissance man, he has performed in TV, film, and stage, and is also a gifted musician.

Among his accomplishments are his highly praised performance for three seasons on the period drama series Versailles, his role as Eddy Robinson Jr. in the ambitious project Blonde for Netflix., starring in the feature film thriller The Escape Room, and will be seen next as Jack in the independent film 1 Million Followers.

In addition to his love for acting, Williams is a musician and visual artist. Writing and directing many of his music videos, pioneering animation techniques, and creating all original album art, Williams enjoys experimenting with creation across mediums. His solo music project, Bright World, has recently released a celebrated full-length studio album entitled Cloud Parade, which can be heard on any of the major streamers.

Currently, Williams is in Mexico City recording new music for a project called Bright World. Blending his passions, one of his covers was featured in Season 1 of The Way Home at the end of last year.

The following is an exclusive interview with Evan Williams for THT.

I love Elliot for a lot of reasons. His vulnerability, his good heart, and more Why do you love Elliot?

Evan Williams: I think the thing that just drew me to Elliot in the first place was to be able to play both sides of the divide between comedy and pathos. I love the opportunity to sort of sprinkle a little bit of flavor on either side, especially when it’s unexpected.

How else do you see this character?

I always feel like Elliot is the kind of guy who falls down the stairs a little bit. He’s not a winner, some might say he’s a beta male. I don’t prescribe to those sorts of titles anyway. He’s not the one that you’re innately assuming is going to be the knight in shining armor. I like to play a character who fails and has to pick himself up and dust himself off.  I think something is compelling about that because that matches the way that our lives are.

My heart just goes out to Elliott and it was immediately a very easy fit for me to sort of meld the topography of my life and my trauma and my dreams and experiences. That’s what’s juicy when you’re acting you get to find the poetic metaphor within yourself. I feel like there’s something beautiful that Elliot is standing for and trying for, even if he doesn’t know how to do it.

Evan Williams And Chyler Leigh In The Hallmark Series, The Way Home. Photo Credit: Courtesy Of Hallmark

With all of their history, do you want Elliot and Kat to live happily ever after, like I do?

For sure. Who doesn’t believe in love? Especially with this show since we get to see the kids at 16, we get to see the young Elliot pining and loving.  I don’t know about you, but I had those experiences, too.  You know the person who for whatever reason just wouldn’t see you, and you felt like you would give them your entire heart, your entire life.  I think it’s aspirational. I think that kids – they call it puppy love, but I don’t know, maybe that’s the truest, fiercest kind of love, too. That first one. As the song goes, ‘The first cut is the deepest, right?’ I want justice for the love between Kat and Elliot. I also love that the show doesn’t make it easy.

What’s your take on time travel?  I lost several beloved family members over the years, and if I could go back and see them again, I would love that!

Well, it depends on how deep down the rabbit hole you want to get. A lot of people forget that in regular life every passing moment we’re time traveling.  We are traveling through time. It’s interesting because the illusion actually that we’re not time traveling is what’s happening when we meditate or when we’re in our dream state, for example. I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely learned things in my dreams that have been about the past or the future. Things that I didn’t know. I’m like where’s all that coming from?  There are so many layers in existence.

I think that time travel is especially evocative for people because we’re stuck inside this narrow time, so it seems.  But the question is are human beings responsible enough to handle that kind of power?  If we look around the world, we’re having a hard time even just handling our timeline.  I’m happy that this show is really through Elliot sometimes asking those bigger questions about just because we can, does that mean we should?  And how can we be responsible?  I’m hoping there’s an allegory there with our characters struggling to figure out how to be responsible for multiple timelines, maybe we can begin to reflect on how we can be responsible for our timeline.

Without giving me spoilers, are there broad things, teasers, or broad strokes that you’re looking for during the rest of the season?

It’s really hard with this show because I don’t want to say something that’s going to rock the boat. I will say that audiences have come to know by now that they can expect the unexpected.  And there are twists and turns that nobody will see coming. Which is so exciting. It’s like every Sunday’s Christmas morning for us and we are just so excited to unwrap this gift for people. Especially since we know that they’re so hungry for it.

What has the phenomenal fan response been like for you?

We get messages all week from people saying, “Is it Sunday yet? Many viewers have been watching the episode multiple times. That’s so cool to be part of a project where people are watching multiple times to make sure they get it. That’s such a departure from what I think some of the other Hallmark material has been like.  So, not only is it exciting for us, I think it’s exciting for Hallmark. And it’s especially exciting for audiences because this is a level of storytelling that people are finding evocative and wanting to dive into, forgive the pun.

Sadie Laflamme-Snow, Chyler Lee, and Andie MacDowell In The Hallmark Series, The Way Home Photo Credit: Courtesy Of Hallmark

Please talk about working with these three formidable women.

Well, it’s gratifying working with these three powerful actors because they’re from three different generations, which means they see the world in three different ways. I have the great pleasure of getting to connect with each one of them differently.

Working with Andie MacDowell; she’s an icon, she knows exactly what she’s doing and she knows exactly what she wants. She’s so generous and beautiful and just a powerhouse of a scene partner. When we were shooting Season 1 that scene with the calf where we had to deliver a calf, she came in there and she knew more than anybody about delivering a calf.  She rolled up her sleeves and said ‘This is how it’s going to go.’ I ended up leaving that exercise having been schooled by her.  I think maybe in the wild if there was a calf to be born, I would be of some service.

What about Chyler?

Chyler has an emotional availability that I aspire to.  She, for whatever reason, can just play her emotional scales like a fiddle.  It’s just awe-inspiring and we just get along. We spend so much of our time in between takes we are laughing. We have the same sense of humor and it’s all these little dumb inside jokes that sprang up immediately.  I think after our first day of shooting I texted her and I said, “Wow, this is going to be so fun.”  She texted back in all caps, “I couldn’t agree more.”  I feel like we lucked out with our chemistry.

And Sadie?

Sadie has the Gen Z vibe coming into this. She has the same sort of training that I have. She went to a conservatory theater school system, like I did.  She’s coming onto this show relatively fresh in her career, but so well trained and so disciplined and with so much intensity and focus that she’s forcing all of us to up our game because she is just on it.  I’d love the opportunity to sort of be on the other end of the mentorship relationship.  I’ve never really played one of the older generations. It comes with its hard times.  A lot of those quips about when she says you’re so old and stuff, art imitates life a little bit.  I’m always trying to catch up to Sadie.  If I ever get close I feel like I’m doing a good job.

How do you relate to the romance of the show?  Are you romantic at heart?  When you’re looking at unrequited love, I think that’s also another big appeal besides the grief and the loss is the romance.

Absolutely. I think that the show does a really good job of showing a bunch of different versions of romance. It’s not sort of one-size-fits-all all. There are a lot of different modes represented, which I think is exciting.  There’s something evocative about also knowing that someone could be lost in time at any moment. There are a few episodes where Kat hasn’t come back when we thought she would. So that idea that you’re on the precipice of the unknown also lends an immediacy to it that I think ratchets everything up in terms of the stakes, which makes it just that much more romantic.

When you have love and loss in this sort of tango together where you don’t know how it’s going to shape up there are great narrative possibilities. We love keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.  We don’t want to make it too obvious or too easy for them. We also want to try to represent the way love happens in the real world.

I know you don’t have any screen time together, but have you spent any time with the young actor who plays young Elliot?

Yes, David Webster. He is a truly talented young actor. I adore him and I think that we love to just chill on set. He’s an interesting type of artist because he’s always paying attention. Even after copying that we’re just sitting and chatting sometimes, I’ll watch his next work and he’ll have picked up something. He’s watching closely, and that’s a cool benefit of a time travel situation where you can be splitting the portrayal of a character.

By the same token, I’m also watching his work, and every little nugget of gold he puts in there I’m like ‘Ooh, yes, I’m going to take that and I’m going to develop that in the 20 years interim and see how it plays on the other side.’  It’s awesome to do this back and forth.  It’s almost like a game of telephone we’re playing with each other through the television.

Tell me about your music.

I could talk about music forever. I’ve been writing music since I was a little kid and it’s always been my way of alchemizing my experience.  If I ever had a very difficult nut to crack, I would always find my way gravitating to an instrument and dashing it out. I always start with the sound.  I’m kind of a melodic-based artist. And then I’ll sort of free associate and then the lyrics will come over time and they’ll slowly crystallize and will eventually teach me what the song was about.  It’s almost like the seed of the song is in the vibration in the first place.

I had an acting teacher in LA probably 10 years ago now who I made the mistake of playing music for once.  She took me to task and she said, “What are you doing?  You were hoarding.  There’s something that your heart wants to say and this is the avenue.  How dare you think that it’s about you enough to hide this away?” That admonishment hit home.  It’s been a labor of love I think to bring the music up and out and let it out into the world.

That’s why it’s my great privilege to be an artist. I couldn’t be more grateful, honestly.  It’s always been my dream and to feel like I’m living my dream is so – I truly couldn’t ask for anything more.

Chyler Leigh And Evan Williams In The Hallmark Series, The Way Home. Photo Credit:
Courtesy Of Hallmark

Lastly, do you want there to be a Season 3?  I know nothing’s been decided so I’m not asking you to predict the future.

Yes, I would love to do a third season of this show. I’d love to do a sixth season of this show, Hallmark, if you’re listening. I think that the narrative possibilities of this show, especially since we’ve set up that the pond is an unreliable device, meaning that the pond takes you where you need to go, which means you can go anywhere and sometimes you can go and sometimes you can’t and where can you go and who can go and all these things. There’s so much latitude.

Now that we’ve cemented through one and a half seasons the core of the show and the heart of the show and found that audiences not only are into it but they’re clamoring for it, I think that the engine can go and there’s no limit to the type of storytelling we can do. Also, because we have been given such freedom by the network to tell the type of story that we want to tell, that’s been gratifying and exciting. We know that they’re just as excited. As long as they want us to do it I can speak for the whole cast when I say we are down for it.

The Way Back airs on Hallmark Channel  Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.

About The Way Home

The Way Home tells the story of three generations of women – Kat Landry (Chyler Leigh), her teen Alice (Sadie Laflamme-Snow) and Kat’s mother Del (Andie MacDowell) – who are all strong, willful and independent. More than 20 years prior, life-changing events prompted Kat to move away from her small, Canadian farm town and she remains estranged from Del to this day. At a crossroads in her life, Kat moves back with Alice to her family’s farm though the reunion isn’t what Kat envisioned. When Alice and Kat unwittingly discover the ability to travel between the past and present, mother and daughter are determined to unearth the truth around the earlier tragedies as they try to change the course of events. Kat’s childhood friend Elliot (Evan Williams) is there for them in both eras as they navigate their journeys across time, helping the three women find their way back to each other.

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Hallmark Channel, owned by Hallmark Cards, Inc., is Hallmark Media’s flagship 24-hour cable television network. As the country’s leading destination for quality, feel-good entertainment, Hallmark Channel delivers on the 100-year legacy of the Hallmark brand. The network’s lineup of signature original content includes movies, primetime scripted series, and specials. Dedicated to helping viewers celebrate holidays, seasons, and life’s special moments, Hallmark Channel is home to a host of annual programming events, including the highly successful Countdown to Christmas, which has become a pop culture phenomenon and a beloved holiday tradition for millions of viewers. Rounding out the network’s slate are some of television’s most classic comedies and series, including The Golden GirlsFrasier, and Reba.