Starring in the Hallmark Channel’s first Christmas movie featuring a leading gay couple is personal to actor Jonathan Bennett.
“Growing up, I never saw a love that looked like my love in Christmas movies,” he told TODAY. “So to be able to create that and bring the story to the screen… there are no words for it, of how excited I am.”
Bennett, 41, stars in and executive produces “The Holiday Sitter,” in which he plays a gay uncle who lives in New York but returns home and suddenly becomes in charge of making Christmas happen for his niece and nephew. The movie airs on the Hallmark Channel Dec. 11.
“The nugget of the idea came from one of my favorite movies growing up, which was ‘Uncle Buck,'” Bennett explained. “I think so many queer uncles like myself, I’m a gunkle to so many nieces and nephews that are biological, and all my friends’ kids, and so I thought it was a really great premise to start a story.”
Bennett said his character Sam is an “eternal bachelor” who finally finds a serious love with Jason, played by George Krissa. Bennett said his favorite part of the movie is when Sam realizes he could date Jason.
“In the movie, right away, I don’t know that Jason’s gay. And you have me just kind of being nervous around this really attractive guy and then all of a sudden there’s a moment where I realize, ‘Oh he might actually be a potential date’ and it’s my favorite part of the movie.”
Bennett said “The Holiday Sitter” has all the elements of a classic Christmas movie.
“We never set out to make a gay movie or a queer rom com,” he said. “We set out to make a really good romantic comedy that’s centered around Christmas. It’s centered around love and family and is a classic fish out of water story, which I love. The only difference is both the leads are men.”
Bennett married Jaymes Vaughan, 39, in March and said the life they’ve created is not different from what other people create with their families.
“There’s no such thing as a traditional family,” Bennett said. “Your family is who you choose. As a queer person, a lot of us grow up with a different idea of what family is for may reasons, whether it’s acceptance or whether it’s just the idea that our families are different, but they’re not.”
Bennett became famous from his heartthrob role in “Mean Girls” and he gave an ode to the iconic movie in his Hallmark film.
“I wanted to put this little nugget for all the ‘Mean Girls’ fans in this movie,” Bennett said referring to the inclusion of Regina George’s line “stop trying to make fetch happen.”
“When I shot ‘Mean Girls,’ I was in the closet and I was living a different life because it was just a different time in Hollywood. And when I came out, the ‘Mean Girls’ fans embraced me and they supported me and they loved me. That little nugget was a little bit of a thank you to the fans and a little but of a closure moment and full circle moment in this movie.”
Bennett starred alongside Lindsay Lohan in “Mean Girls” and she also has a Christmas movie out right now. Bennett said he’d love to reunite with her onscreen.
“There’s nothing I want to do more in the world than shoot a Christmas movie with my Lindsay,” he said. “I’m so proud of that woman and I would do anything to be in a Lindsay Lohan Christmas movie.”
Not as a reprisal of their past love on screen, Bennett said, but in a new way of them playing siblings or best friends.
“We’d need to do something different than we’ve already done before. The audience has already seen us fall in love.”
As for Bennett’s Christmas plans, he and Vaughan are spending their first Christmas together as a married couple at Hotel Edison in New York City. It’s where Bennett and his parents used to spend Christmas before they passed and now he is continuing the tradition with Vaughan.
For more with Bennett, tune into PopStart Plus on TODAY All Day on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. ET.
This article was originally published on TODAY.com