The season finale of “The Way Home,” starring Evan Williams and Chyler Leigh, airs Sunday. Photo courtesy of Hallmark
NEW YORK, March 26 (UPI) — Evan Williams says he regards Elliot, the character he plays on Hallmark’s time-travel drama, The Way Home, as the “bannerman” for three generations of extraordinary Landry women.
“He’s there for support and it’s not necessarily by choice. He sort of has just been thrust into the fray with the Landrys,” Williams told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.
“But he doesn’t begrudge his responsibility and I think he is doing everything he can, just out of a real genuine love.”
Season 1 wraps up Sunday on the Hallmark Channel and Peacock.
Already renewed for a second season, the series follows American Alice Dhawan (Sadie Laflamme-Snow) and her divorced, unemployed mother Kat (Chyler Leigh) as they move into the Canadian farmhouse of Alice’s grandmother Del Landry (Andie MacDowell).
Tension is in the air because Alice didn’t want to leave her home and her father Brady (Al Mukadam), while Kat and Del’s relationship has been strained since the disappearance of Kat’s younger brother Jacob and subsequent death of her father Colton in a car crash decades earlier.
Shortly after Kate and Alice arrive, Alice discovers a portal to the 1990s via a magical pond where she meets teen versions of Kat (Alex Hook), Brady (Siddharth Sharma), and Kat’s best friend Elliot Augustine (David Webster).
Williams plays present-day Elliot, a kind and funny science teacher still in love with Kat after years in the friend zone.
He has been looking after Del and her farm since her estrangement from Kat. He also helps Alice unravel the Landry family’s mysteries when she goes back and forth through the pond because he remembers meeting her when he was a kid.
“This one guy has three different love relationships with the family. The way he relates to Kat is potentially a romantic love. The way he relates to Del is more of a maternal love,” Williams said.
“We don’t know too much about Elliot’s family life at this point, but we know that he says the Landrys were always like a second family to him, so they were filling some kind of void that he wasn’t getting at home,” the actor added. “With Alice, he’s trying to don a new hat, which is something that is a little bit ill-fitting, but he’s doing his best to try and be this guru as an adult and as a young man.”
Williams enjoyed playing a pragmatic man called upon to navigate seemingly implausible circumstances, the mechanics of time travel and the impact it might have on the future.
“It was a great intersection and it’s something that I think our society treats very dualistically. It’s got to be one or the other and Elliot is really splitting that divide very nimbly,” the actor said.
“While he does want to understand everything, he is also operating with a lot of faith, a lot of belief from when he was a young man,” he added. “He had to believe what Alice was saying was true [in the past] and is holding on to hope that he is going to be able to solve this riddle.”
The two actors who play Elliot form a seamless portrayal that makes it easy for viewers to accept they are the same person at two different ages.
But Williams and Webster didn’t spend much time together before shooting began to coordinate their takes on the character because Williams was in Los Angeles and Webster was in Canada.
“We got to do a little bit of Zoom meeting, putting our heads together and figuring out mannerisms for Elliot and energy centers in his body where he lives and where he moves from. Things like that are really helpful in creating a character,” Williams said.
“From then on, it was a leap of faith from both of us,” he added. “I was working on the first few episodes before I had even seen any of David’s work and likewise and, so, when I got to see him in person and we could shake hands, it was more about celebrating the fact that the casting process had done its job so well.”
That synchronicity between the younger and older performers makes for a more satisfying experience for audiences.
“They see the differences in our performances as growth, not inconsistencies,” said Williams, who has never played the older version of a younger character before. “So, this has been fascinating and lots to learn.”
Working on a show about time travel made Williams think about the pros and cons of visiting the past and seeing our younger selves or loved ones from completely new perspectives.
“It gets very complicated very quickly,” he said. “I’m not sure that going back in time would be a good thing for an individual because, if you can’t change it, what’s the point? And that’s a question this show really asks and does a good job of illuminating.”
Another big question at the center of the show is whether grown-up Kat will ever be able to set aside her obsession with the past and give the adorable Elliot the chance he deserves.
Williams is aware that fans are rooting for them.
“It’s been shocking actually the pro-Elliot movement that is sweeping my DMs right now,” he laughed.
“People are really moved to witness a love that not only has stood the test of time, but seems unconditional. That’s what was really interesting to me about where Elliot is coming from. He has clearly held a flame for decades and it doesn’t appear like he is trying to get anything out of it and I think that kind of love is rare in the stories we see told these days.”