Hallmark actors can make or break a Hallmark movie. Whether they are the hometown ex-boyfriend or the prince hiding his royal identity, the Hallmark leading man can single-handedly draw many viewers to a movie (or drive them away).
I have compiled the ultimate list, ranking the best Hallmark actors from 25 all the way up to the number one, best actor. Some of the criteria I used include their general likability, leading man good looks, chemistry with their costars, and a heavy dose of personal bias.
So buckle up, and let’s get going.
#25 Brett Dalton
If you think Brett Dalton has superhero good looks, it is probably because he spent five seasons on Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. The San Jose native is a talented actor, having honed his skills at Yale’s David Geffen School of Drama, where he received a Master in Fine Arts.
Many will be surprised by his 25th rank based on his classic acting skills coupled with great looks, but with only three Hallmark movies to his credit, he is still on his upward trajectory.
But considering his three are Cooking with Love, Once Upon a Christmas Miracle and Just My Type, I would not be surprised if Dalton skyrocketed into the top ten when this list is updated. The only thing more impressive than his acting chops is his agent ability to get him such quality roles.
You can catch him on Chicago Fire as Lieutenant Jason Pelham when not on Hallmark these days.
#24 Jesse Metcalfe
John Tucker Must Die, and so should Jesse Metcalfe’s career at Hallmark. Much like Candace Cameron Brue on the Top 40 Hallmark Actress list, I just turn sour whenever I see him on screen. I don’t have a good reason other than he just annoys me.
Metcalfe got his big break on Desperate Housewives at the beginning of the century, then really hit it big with the teen classic John Tucker Must Die.
These days he has a recurring role as the former big-town detective with a secret on Hallmark Movies and Mystery’s Martha’s Vineyard Mysteries. He also has a role in Hallmark’s soap opera Chesapeake Shores as Trace.
Yea that sums it up. He is such a Trace. And that is simply not a good thing.
#23 Brennan Elliott
Brennan Elliott is a very popular Hallmark actor with over fifteen Hallmark flicks to his credit. He isn’t the worst actor, nor is he overly annoying like #24 Jesse Metcalf.
Unlike many other actors on this list, he doesn’t have the same versatility to match up with any actress. He does a pretty good job opposite Lacey Chabert in the All My Heart flicks and The Crossword Mysteries, but just doesn’t generate believable chemistry with others like Maggie Lawson in Christmas Encore or Autumn Reeser in All Summer Long.
UPDATE: I just watched the Flower Shop Mysteries where he starred opposite Brooke Shields, and he was FANTASTIC! He was great in his role as an ex-military, current restaurant owner. He was downright hilarious, especially the one-liners around his ongoing sexual frustration with Brooke’s character. And lastly, he showed some real acting chops with a great sense of timing and delivery in his repertoire with Brooke.
He was also pretty charming in The Perfect Pairing which was an early 2022 release.
Expect a big jump when the next rankings are released.
#22 Niall Matter
Niall Matter is one of the many Canadian actors that frequents Hallmark with 13 movies to his credit. We may never have known him had it not been for a severe accident on an oil rig that led to him taking up acting,
Niall seems more like a character actor than a dashing Hallmark lead actor. While he rarely delivers a bad performance, he also never elevates a script. He is better suited for roles like the college professor, Nick Miller, on Aurora Teagarden Mysteries than when called upon to be the main romantic interest. In 2021’s Christmas flick A Christmas Together With You, Matter just falls woefully short. Laura Vandervoort shines while Matter is in way over his head trying to keep up with her.
#21 Eric Mabius
It may seem like 21 is too high a ranking for a guy that has only starred in two Hallmark movies, but he has been outstanding in his role in the Signed, Seal, and Delivered series on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries that may actually have him under-ranked.
Mabius is a versatile actor with roles in such varied moves as Cruel Intentions and Resident Evil.
Mabius makes a mail detective sexy and exciting. Enough said.
#20 Jack Wagner
OK, I am a kid of the 80s, and I remember watching Frisco and Ana on General Hospital during lunch breaks in college. So Jack Wagner was going to make the list; it was just a matter of where. So #20 seems a pretty good spot.
Don’t expect to see Wagner in a variety of movies. He has two gigs on Hallmark: Mick Turner in the Wedding March series and Bill Avery on When Calls the Heart.
I admit I have not gotten into the WCTH craze, so I can’t critique his role there, but he consistently brings charm and effort in all 6 Wedding March installments. A lesser actor would probably be dialing it after 3 or 4.
#19 Christopher Russell
Christopher Russell is a classic case of an actor you think should be ranked much higher but just can’t be. So far, he has been in eleven Hallmark movies as both a lead and in supporting roles.
He has all the looks a Hallmark lead actor needs, he oozes charm and is a pretty decent actor.
So why #19 and not higher?
Because the dude has a lousy agent.
His best movies are pushing average, but way too often, he is in flops like the first release of 2022, Where Your Heart Belongs. Like so many others, this movie wastes his looks and talent with a terrible script.
#18 Paul Green
Like Christopher Russell before him, Paul Green is also a Canadian with eleven Hallmark movies under his belt. Unlike Russell, Green brings an everyman quality with his looks.
Green also has a better agent than Russell. He hasn’t been in any really great Hallmark movies (though fans of When Calls the Heart would probably disagree), but he also has avoided too many stinkers.
His best is from way back in 2016 when he started as the empathetic nurse in Anything for Love opposite Erika Christensen. The worst is his most recent when he played the grumpy toy inventor in Christmas CEO.
I would say Paul Green is a dependable forest green. Not exciting and vibrant like a kelly green but not blah like an olive green.
#16 Cameron Mathison
Cameron Mathison has appeared in a dozen Hallmark movies. It is a surprise he is an actor since he graduated from the prestigious McGill University in Montreal (yes, he is yet another Canadian) with a degree in civil engineering.
He is also a darn good basketball player, captaining the McGill’s Red Men basketball team and even tying Terrel Owens in a celebrity dunking contest.
But this is about him being a Hallmark actor. And he is a pretty darn good one. This is the point of the list where actors could be ranked higher and lower, and it just came down to how I was feeling today.
He is excellent as Detective Mike Kingston in the Murder She Baked (now Hannah Swenson Mysteries) opposite Alison Sweeney. He hasn’t really had a very disappointing role, and his best is Love, of Course. Of course!
#16 Brandon Penny
Brandon Penny’s career has gone from Teammate #1 in John Tucker Must Die to the leading actor in a baker’s dozen Hallmark flicks.
A look at 2021 sums up his Hallmark career. On one end, he was outstanding in Time for Them to Come Home for Christmas. But on the other hand, he was in the dismal Beverly Hills Wedding.
Penny also has a knack for being a chef. A Dash of Love and The Secret Ingredient are two of his best.
When you plan your Hallmark Channel viewing choices and see Brad Penny in the cast, you know at worst you will get an above-average movie, with the odds it will be pretty enjoyable.
#15 Travis Van Winkle
Travis Van Winkle may not have starred in as many movies as most of the actors on this list, but he makes the most of his appearances. He has four flicks to his credit and four good performances.
Van Wiinkle has the rare ability to provide charm and wit in Project Christmas Wish and Tis the Season to be Merry. He delivered lines that no other actor does. He made me laugh multiple times in Tis Season to be Merry. His performance was a big reason this was the best Countdown to Christmas.
In addition, he was also in Christmas Getaway, which is a fan favorite, and Adventures in Love and Babysitting.
Let’s hope he gets the opportunity to star in more movies soon!
#14 Luke McFarlane
When you think of the stereotype of what a Hallmark actor looks like, you imagine Luke McFarlane. He is good-looking, charming, and has a great smile. And he looks as dashing in a suit as the smalltown boyfriend in flannel driving a pick-up truck.
McFarlene, another Canadian, is outstanding playing a professional hockey player with anger issues in Taking a Shot at Love. Then he crosses over crushing it as a college music professor in Chateau Christmas (sidenote, Merritt Patterson’s dress for the Christmas performance is the best dress in Hallmark history).
And of course, what Hallmark actor isn’t a chef at some point in their career? Once again, he is excellent in Just Add Romance, competing in a TV cooking contest.
#13 Samuel Page
Samuel Page is the genuine All-American guy. He grew up in Wisconsin, lettering in football and baseball. He then went on to attend Princeton, earning a degree in ecology. Then Page told his parents he was heading to Hollywood to make movies.
Page quickly found success with roles in hits like Mad Men, House of Cards, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
He has been equally successful as a Hallmark actor starring in nine films.
Some of his better work is A Godwink Christmas: Second Chance, First Love, My One and Only, and the super cute, Walking the Dog. His best is Christmas in Rome, opposite Lacey Chabert.
#12 Ryan Paevey
Ryan Paevey is the busiest American Hallmark actor, with fourteen movies to his credit. Like Jack Wagner, Paevey is a veteran of General Hospital. But maybe his most infamous role was Robin Thick’s body double in the “Sex Therapy” video.
He has progressively improved over the years (Coyote Creek Christmas withstanding), with Don’t Go Breaking My Heart and A Timeless Christmas being among the best.
UPDATE: Ryan Paevey starred opposite Ashley Williams in the June 2022 Two Tickets to Paradise, and he took his Hallmark career to a whole other level. He let his real personality shine, and it was utterly fabulous.
The talent ahead of him on this list is strong, but he is certainly making a case for being one of the elite Hallmark actors, especially if he can follow this performance with another great one.
#11 Dylan Neal
Dylan Neal may have been born in Canada like many other actors on this list, but he holds dual Canadian/American citizenship. His range of roles is quite broad, with Fifty Shades of Grey on one end and Christmas She Wrote (abysmal, by the way) on the other hand.
Neal is so high on this list is simply Hallmark Movies & Mysteries The Gourmet Detective series he wrote and produced with his wife. They are clever, suspenseful and the chemistry with costar Brooke Burns is sizzling and believable. The Gourmet Detective is even better than the outstanding Mystery 101. That says a lot.
UPDATE: Hallmark has sadly canceled The Gourmet Detective. Only time will tell if Neal does any future projects with Hallmark. He seems to be enjoying his time over in Portugal for the time being.
#10 Chris McNally
We are in the top 10, and Chris McNally definitely deserves his lofty rank. He is one of the up-and-comers on Hallmark transitioning from supporting roles to leads.
While he has starred in some average movies like Snowkissed and The Sweetest Heart, his role as Lucas on When Comes the Heart is his calling card. He has created a legion of Team Lucas pulling for him to win Elizabeth’s heart over Team Nathan.
#9 Trevor Donovan
Ninth-ranked Trevor Donovan has California snowboarder good looks. He first gained fame as Teddy Montgomery, that came out as gay in the reboot of 90210.
Expect him to fall off the list in 2023 since signing an exclusive deal with upstart GAC. But for the time being, he is being recognized for some outstanding work in flicks like USS Christmas and Two for the Win.
But his best work is with Ashely Williams in Love on a Limb. The pair were handed a horrible script but made the movie enjoyable solely on the onscreen relationship they crafted. To turn that stinker into a watchable movie justifies his rank.
UPDATE: Donovan is headed over to GAC for an exclusive deal, so don’t expect to see him on the list next time it is updated. It is a shame because he was poised to be Hallmark royalty.
#8 Wes Brown
Wes Brown got his start in sports movies like Glory Road, and We are Marshall with his athletic good looks. He has since parlayed that into a successful Hallmark career starring in eight movies so far.
He charms his way through most of his roles. You can almost count on his smile to carry a movie. But when his acting counts, he was at his best in the 2021 Check Inn to Christmas. He was also fantastic in Christmas Cookies.
#7 James Denton
James Denton was destined to be a TV star, having earned a degree in Television from the University of Tennessee. He started out selling advertising for some local radio stations and doing community theater.
He then made his way to Hollywood and stayed active, landing bit roles in various movies and television shows. His big break came as Mike Delfino in Desperate Housewives.
He only has a few Hallmark movies under his belt. His debut was the horrible Stranded in Paradise. His next effort in For Love and Honor was better, but it was when he landed the role of Sam on The Good Witch that catapulted him to the Hallmark elite.
With The Good Witch canceled, Denton delivered another fantastic performance in the delightful A Kiss Before Christmas.
#6 Kevin McGarry
Kevin McGarry is on a meteoric rise at Hallmark. The 6’2” Candian actor combines looks, charm, and the deft ability to deliver a comedic line perfectly. The best part of his career is that it started by accidentally walking into a theater class in high school.
Most Hallmark fans recognize him immediately from his role as Mountie Nathan Grant on When Calls the Heart. Like Chris McNally, McGarry has his supporters pulling for him as Team Nathan.
Don’t be mistaken, the guy isn’t just good-looking, he can act.
#5 Andrew Walker
If Lacey Chabert is the queen of the Hallmark Channel, then Andrew Walker is the King. He has a whopping 22 films to his credit so far. In April of 2022, he will be diving into the mystery genre with Nikki DeLoach in Curious Caterer: Dying for Chocolate.
His popularity is due to his relatability. He is handsome but not too handsome to be intimidating. He truly seems like the small-town boyfriend that he portrays in so many of his roles.
His crowning achievement is Bottled with Love, one of the five best Hallmark movies of all time. My Christmas Family Tree and My Secret Valentine are two notable Hallmark movies starring Waker that should be seen.
#4 Tyler Hynes
Many think Tyler Hynes is a Texas native, but he is yet another Hallmark actor hailing from Canada. He brings an even-keeled demeanor that comes across as old-school cool to his roles.
Hynes comes in so high in the rankings because the guy just doesn’t make a bad movie. What may be his worst movie, The Mistletoe Secret, is an above-average movie.
Most of his work is really good, like On the 12th Date of Christmas and It was Always You. Roadhouse Romance is an all-time favorite for many Hallmark fans.
#3 Paul Campbell
We are at the serious point of this list. A strong case could be made for Paul Campbell to be the top-ranked Hallmark actor on any given day. But here he sits at #3.
Charming is used frequently when describing Hallmark actors, but calling Campbell merely charming is an understatement. His comedic skill even eclipses McGarry’s or Van Winkle’s.
With 11 films, a great weekend would be binging all of his movies. Make sure to build up to the fantastic Surprised by Love and the terrific Christmas by Starlight.
Save A Wedding Every Weekend for the finale. Kimberly Sustad and Campbell deliver performances that land this flick on the Mount Rushmore of Hallmark movies.
#2 Victor Webster
Victor Webster was honestly a couple of spots lower when I started writing this post. Then The Wedding Veil Legacy came out, and his performance was so good that he leaped up to second place on this list.
While A Wedding Every Weekend and Bottled with Love are among the best ever made, Summer Villa with Webster and Hilarie Burton sits atop as the best Hallmark movie of all time.
While he has many great performances, The WeddingVeil Legacy and Summer Villa are his best, and he coincidentally plays a chef in both flicks.
#1 Kristoffer Polaha
Here is what you have all waited for, the number one, numero uno, the big cheese, the leader of the pack. Kristoffer Polaha is the best actor on the Hallmark Channel.
He starred in two of the best Holiday movies Hallmark has made. Double Holliday is a cute movie that combines Christmas and Hanukkah smoothly and effectively. A Dickens of a Holiday shows the range of his skills.
His best performance is in the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries series, where he stars opposite Jill Wagner in Mystery 101. This series combines quality screenwriting, strong acting performances, and off-the-charts chemistry between Polaha and Wagner.
Since Polaha is such a good actor, he has been getting more roles outside the Hallmark Universe, limiting his availability to make as many Hallmark movies as his fans wish.
UPDATE: With Hallmark seemingly pulling way back on the mystery genre, it seems that Mystery 101 has been canceled. At the very least, there are no plans for another episode after ending on literally an explosive cliffhanger.