Dermot Mulroney is onboard Hallmark's "The Christmas Train"


As part of Hallmark Channel's bounty of five new original films airing over the Thanksgiving holiday, the crown network proudly presents its latest addition to the prestigious Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise in Saturday night's "The Christmas Train."

David Baldacci's beloved book comes to life when globe-trotting journalist Tom Langdon (Dermot Mulroney) travels via train from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles. "He's got what he sees as kind of a dumb assignment -- to write a story on taking a train across the country at Christmastime," says Mulroney. "Of course, like any good story, it turns out to be exactly what he wasn't expecting." The journalist gets caught up in a caper and finds himself westbound with a quirky variety of characters including a renowned movie producer (Danny Glover), the producer's protégé (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) and an eccentric woman (Joan Cusack) who seems to know Tom's business better than he does. "It becomes a story about how communities are made and second chances at love. How to pull together and make something happen out of teamwork. It's about solving a mystery and making it to the end of the line in time for Christmas," says Mulroney, calling the charming tale "warm, hearty holiday fare."

And when Mulroney discovered who'd be accompanying him on his cinematic journey, he was overjoyed. "I learned, one after the other, Kimberly Williams-Paisley was joining and then Danny Glover, and then Joan Cusack. I really couldn't believe what was happening as day by day, the film took shape and turned from what would have been a terrific throw at a classic Hollywood film into a sure thing."

The actor reveals that he's a fan of each of his costars and shares that The Christmas Train is the fourth time he and Glover have appeared in the same project; he's followed and admired the career of Williams, a fellow Northwestern University alum; and his time on Showtime's Shameless overlapped with Cusack's. "The humor ratio when you're working with Joan Cusack is extremely high. She's exquisite at what she does," Mulroney gushes. "I haven't had this much fun on a movie in as long as I can remember."

Mulroney explains that part of what made The Christmas Train a treat to film and a joy to watch is that the tale contains classic storytelling and characters whose personal journeys mirror their literal ones. And Mulroney felt that kismet on the set of The Christmas Train. "Every once in a while, you get a movie -- you never know which it is, sometimes it's one you don't even want it to be -- and everybody is perfectly cast and it comes together and has this, like, 'ping' of magic," Mulroney shares. "And I've done enough of them now that I know this is one of them."

Mulroney also muses that a holiday story about train travel is a perfect metaphor for slowing down and enjoying the moments of the holiday season. "You've got a slow, long weekend," he says. "It's a great time to sit down and watch a movie."

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