Actor Ryan Paevey visits Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family" at Universal Studios Hollywood on November 10, 2020
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Hallmark Star Ryan Paevey Is Not Your Usual Romantic Lead [Interview]

Just as the sun rises in the east, The Hallmark Channel delivers its annual Countdown to Christmas, an ooey-gooey slate of 40 original holiday films — each one featuring any combination of the network's beloved (and relentlessly good-looking) stable of actors and actresses. Whether it's a classic boy-meets-girl Yuletide love story or a family-centric holiday romp, Hallmark's Christmas movies are consistently some of the most-watched programming on cable TV. And one of the network's most successful in-house hunks is Ryan Paevey

Most recently, Paevey starred alongside Hallmark sweetheart Brooke D'Orsay in A Fabled Holiday, a sugary romance about two childhood best friends who experience some Christmas magic in a mysterious storybook town. You might also know him as the grumpy-but-adorable Donovan Darcy in Hallmark's Jane Austen-inspired film series, which began with 2016's Unleashing Mr. Darcy. Or perhaps you recognize the handsome city slicker Richard, who wins a cowgirl's heart in A Summer Romance. Or maybe you're partial to Port Charles Detective Nathan West, General Hospital's resident good guy from 2013 to 2018. 

But Paevey isn't only a completely charming, square-jawed, take-home-to-mom dreamboat — although he certainly is all of that. Part man's man, part nerd (his words!), more San Diego than L.A., Ryan Paevey lives a little off the beaten path.

Of all the Mr. Rights he's portrayed on screen, Paevey's own sensibilities align most closely with those of hunky botanist Will from the 2017 Hallmark film Harvest Love — if only for the guy's obsession with nature.

"I'm that really obnoxious guy that has to stop every 25 feet on a hike because I saw a mushroom or a leaf," Paevey said.

He's Adventurous On Set and Off

The admission is characteristic of Paevey's unique sensitivity. He's warm and thoughtful, with a zen-like calm about him. Some might describe him as an old soul, and they wouldn't be too far off. But make no mistake: Alongside a scientist's quaint attention to flora and fauna, Paevey has an abiding thirst for adventure. One look at the California native's Instagram says as much: His profile is packed with rock climbing videos, photos from his travels and "glamour shots" of his beloved Harley-Davidsons (he has two). 

It's no surprise, then, that Paevey is perhaps the first actor ever to have done intense stunt work on a Hallmark movie. He went surfing in this year's Two Tickets to Paradise, a serendipitous rom-com about two strangers who, after being stood up at the altar, decide to go on their Hawaiian honeymoons alone. The film was shot on location in Hawaii — a dream scenario for dogged adventurer Paevey. He's itching to get back, and to bring some steel with him.

"Let's go back to Hawaii and shoot one where he takes a motorcycle that's got one of those little rigs on the side — so I can put my surfboard in it — down to the beach and we go surfing," Paevey mused. "I can do both of those things. I'd love to do both of those things. I volunteer as tribute." 

Paevey never set out to be an actor. He "came into it in a weird way." Long story short: A one-off modeling gig led to an early break in 2013 on ABC's long-running soap, General Hospital, which celebrated its 15,000th episode earlier this year. He played Police Detective Nathan West, the straight-laced son of GH supervillain Cesar Faison, for nearly 300 episodes. 

He's Used to the Fast-Paced Nature of Hallmark

Daytime TV is notoriously fast-paced, even by Hallmark's breakneck standards. It's a pressure-cooker work style that probably suits Paevey's restlessness. Besides, it's really the only way he knows how to work. 

"My introduction to it was fast, long days, lots of pages. I had never really done anything before [General Hospital], so I was just like 'Okay, well, that's what this is, so I'll learn how to do this.' And Hallmark movies, by comparison, are actually a much more relaxed pace than a soap day." 

How "relaxed" are we talking? Generally, an entire Hallmark movie is filmed over the course of just 15 days. So, yeah. Positively sluggish. 

Paevey admits to feeling "really spoiled" when working on projects outside of daytime and Hallmark. (He's appeared in episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Client List, among others.)

"You get on a show like this and they've got nine, 10 pages [to film] and everybody's losing their mind. I'm like 'I did 76 once. I'm sure we can handle 10,' said Paevey. "That's just the pace that I'm used to. And then me as a person — I don't sit still very well."

His Creativity Extends Beyond Acting

When he's not off making movies, Paevey's at his San Diego digs tending to his other passion: his handcrafted jewelry line, Fortunate Wanderer. From his home metalworking shop, Paevey hammers out all sorts of beautiful baubles: rings set with Australian blue opal and amber, turquoise pendants on sterling silver chains and bracelets beaded with marbled tiger's-eye stones. 

He took up the craft while working on General Hospital, to fill the downtime on set. The women in the cast often knitted during filming breaks. Paevey's chosen hobby is a little more ... involved. 

"Now I've got a whole shop with sharp stuff and hammers and anvils and chemicals and rotary tools and carving things and etching stuff," he gushed. "I don't know how I got to this point in my life where I'm a jeweler, but I kind of am."

He Loves Connecting With Fans

It's a recurring theme with Paevey. A jewelry business and an acting career are things he kinda-sorta just stumbled into. But, evidently, when fate hands him the cards, he plays them well, and with purpose. The Hallmark star doesn't watch his own films ("It's kind of like the visual version of hearing your voice on the answering machine"), but he's always down to interact with the large, devoted fan base his movies draw. Paevey is a regular at RomaDrama Live!, a collection of usually yearly events for fans of the romance genre — and of Hallmark romance movies, in particular. 

This year's RomaDrama Christmas in Chicago event, held Dec. 2-3 at the Windy City's iconic Drake Hotel, featured a preview screening of A Fabled Holiday, followed by a Q&A session. RomaDrama is the sort of fan convention that Paevey's been attending since his days on General Hospital. And since attendees tend to be repeat convention-goers, Paevey feels right at home among the devoted flock. 

"Some of these people I've been seeing since I started on the soap opera. That's almost 10 years ago now," Paevey said. "So it's just good to catch up. Because you really do kind of develop friendships with them over time. And it's always fun when you remember a face or a name or a chat that you had at the last one."

The stars of Three Wise Men and a Baby, Hallmark's latest holiday movie sensation and the most-watched cable TV movie of 2022, were also in attendance. According to Paevey, the network's troupe of actors is close-knit, but they don't often get the chance to meet up outside of filming. And Three Wise Men is a veritable Hallmark bro-fest, led by Paul Campbell (who co-wrote the script), Tyler Hynes and Andrew Walker

"I feel like there's kind of a weird misconception sometimes that there's a gently competitive or adversarial nature. Like 'Ah, he took that role from me.' No, we're all buddies, you know?" said Paevey. "So I was super jealous that they all got to hang out in [Three Wise Men and a Baby]. I'm secretly hoping that maybe if I just hang out with them long enough I might be able to jump in on the next one."

No doubt the Hallmark fanbase has already petitioned the network to cast Paevey as the long-lost fourth Brenner brother.

Despite his extensive work across holiday and romance films, the genres are not Paevey's first choice when it comes to plopping down on the couch and putting something on. His tastes trend more toward Halloween than Christmas, but David Harbour's beer-guzzling Santa Clause in the new action comedy Violent Night is firmly on his watchlist. 

So what comes next for Ryan Paevey? Unlike the rest of us, he won't be glued to the TV screen watching his Hallmark movies. Not one to sit still, the actor will hammer out one final Fortunate Wanderer collection in time for the holidays. When his work in the shop is done, he'll ship the items himself, dragging his wares to the UPS Store like some Southern California Saint Nick.

"No sleigh. I show up in my Jeep. Green army bags. But they're still presents. I worked hard on them."

Paevey as a hunky, outdoorsy Santa Claus? Someone call Hallmark.

READ MORE: How Are Hallmark Christmas Movies Made? We Asked Screenwriter Karen Schaler