Mercy: can you share a little about what your 2020 was like? What was one good thing in that year for you?
Kristoffer: Due to my sons doing school over zoom my family was actually able to travel with me while I was filming movies. In June we were in the UK. Then from the middle of October until December we were in Vancouver for Mystery 101 and got back to LA around December 18th. We had a very different experience than a lot of people did, which I was humbled and grateful for. In the middle of this awful thing that was scary and changed everybody's lives; I was blessed enough to work and stay busy and I was doubly blessed to have my family there with me the whole time. Everyone knew I would bring them with me, when I was working.
Mercy: that must’ve been cool, being able to have your family with you. Was the UK for Jurassic World?
Kristoffer: Yes, it was! And yes, It was a really unique and neat experience.
Mercy: Do you know when that will be releasing? Can you share anything about your character?
Kristoffer: it will be releasing in June of 2022. My characters name is Wyatt Huntley and that is all I can say. Everything is under wraps on that.
Mercy: Nice. I know it’s already released but can you share a little about Wonder Woman 1984 and what that experience was like for you?
Kristoffer: I portray a character named the Handsome Man “laughs” and without giving away any spoilers to the people who haven’t seen it yet - you meet my character and then he kind of sticks around although you don’t see me again until the end. What I did not anticipate was how much attention my character was going to get in the Twitter-verse and social media. It kind of became a hot button topic there for a second. The film itself was a real, absolute joy to make. Anybody who knows my work on Hallmark will know that during filming of A Small Town Christmas with Maclain Nelson and Ashley Newbrough I had to leave for a week and a half to film more of Wonder Woman. I literally left set for Wonder Woman and then came back to finish filming Small Town Christmas. Which is wild.
Mercy: Wow! My family watched that when it first released and my sister actually saw your character before I did and pointed you out. “laughs” It was really neat seeing you on there.
Kind of switching topics here for a little bit but your first book Moments Like This is set to release next month. Can you share a little bit about it?
Kristoffer: Sure, I’ll give you a brief synopsis. The book is the first in a series, the From Kona With Love series. In this book we meet a woman name Andie Matthews who is a high-powered business woman in Chicago who is burnt out. She has sacrificed a lot of her personal life for her professional one. She gets an opportunity to help her best friend out, to reconnect and go to Hawaii and take over a coffee shop which she thinks is going to be an in-and-out thing. While she’s there she realizes the coffee shop is attached to a giant coffee plantation that is a part of her best friend's family's legacy. The coffee shop is in trouble and needs saving and then all of a sudden she meets this mysterious guy named Warren. And both of them make this agreement. They don’t want to talk about who they used to be. They want a fresh start. They don’t have to ask questions, they don’t have to share anything they don’t want to. And he tells her he wants to take her on a Grand Moments Tour. Every Friday he’s going to pick her up and take her to this beautiful place on Oahu and they are just going to share these beautiful moments together. Over the course of this they both fall in love, but they do both have baggage they have to deal with. I don’t want to ruin the ending for you, but I do want to tell you that it is a good juicy ending.
I had never written a novel before. I’ve written journal entries, I did the Polahakus on Twitter last year, screenplays etc. I’ve never had something like this where I’ve just been able to find a flow. It’s weird; the characters will start talking for themselves and start making decisions for themselves. I think the chapter is going to go one way and then something beautiful and unexpected happens and I’m like, "Alright, just go with it." And all the sudden, it goes a completely different direction. It’s funny how the story kind of tells itself. Working with a partner (Anna Gomez) has been such a treat. Not only has she been endlessly encouraging to me and the perfect writing partner, but she gave me this opportunity. She invited me to go on this adventure with her. I said, “Yes, are you sure?” and she said, “I’m sure”. It’s been the most pleasurable collaboration I’ve had artistically. We bounce ideas off each other. We talked about the cover and had a completely different idea for that at first, different font, etc and then changed it. We want it to be that when people hold this book, it feels like something. To have creative control over something that people are going to bring into their homes and have on their bookshelves, coffee tables, nightstands etc. it’s really a huge deal for me and a big honor.
Mercy: So was writing something you knew you wanted to get into or did it just kind of happen?
Kristoffer: My father-in-law wrote novels, my brother-in-law is a novelist, we have a friend Ace Atkins who writes. I always loved English. My major in college was theater but I minored in religion and English. I've always been an avid reader and like I said, I write constantly. When I'm on set, I keep a journal. I have a journal from literally probably every era of my life. They are filled from cover to cover. I've always loved writing as a way to express myself and to clear my thoughts, to create characters and character descriptions. I think writing is a lot like singing for people. Like, some people sing amazing in the shower and just never take in out into the world. I think that's what writing was like for me. I had always written but I never thought anyone would want to read what I had to say.
It was at the beginning of the pandemic, I had opened up a shingle to start producing movies - namely, I was targeting Hallmark. I wanted to start producing movies for them that I act in and that I bring in the writers and directors, that sort of thing. I've made I think eleven Hallmark movies at this point, so I think I could do a good job getting them made. I know the audience and what they like. I had already started taking ownership over wanting to have a say in telling the stories and Anna had written eight books, so our first zoom call (which was last March) was a conversation about those books. They were all a little too dark for Hallmark, a little too complex. About grief, loss, and forgiveness in some cases. Love stories, but love stories with an edge. So I said that they might be great for Netflix or Apple+ but I don't know that I would be of use for you with these. I told her though, one of the things I was running into wherever I went was that I needed to have IP (which is intellectual property, which is basically-- say there was an article written in the New York Times, if I can get the rights to that article and take it into a pitch meeting, that is goin to help me sell an idea or if I have a book that I own the rights to). And I said to myself, "Hey Kris, what is the best way to have the rights to a book? Write it yourself." *laughs*
I literally asked Anna, "Would you be willing to co-author a romance and then we can take that into Hallmark?" The genesis of this thing came from wanting to sell Randy Pope a movie, and it turned into something totally different. Anna said she had a series that she was writing that all take place in Hawaii on a coffee plantation. She asked, "Would you want to write those with me?" This was all on our first call by the way, Mercy. I told her she needed to think about it over the weekend to make sure it's what she wanted to do. I wanted to, but I wanted to make sure it was what she really wanted to do. She said she was pretty sure. We got back on the phone the following Monday and sealed the deal, signed the contracts that following Wednesday, and then started writing. She had already written about five chapters and had Andie and she knew Warren Yates was coming into the picture. I didn't have much work to do where the story started, and where it changed was she had titled it Moments Like This. We didn't really have the Grand Moments Tour and when I came into the picture, I brought that concept. For me, it became this experience of writing a chapter about an adventure they went on and Anna formatted it and put it all into place. It became a genuine collaboration as we got deeper and deeper into the book and then we started playing this game called chapter tennis where we would swap back and forth writing chapters. As we were finishing book one, we started asking what the following books were going to be about. Most series would follow Andie and Warren all the way through the series but we thought, "Wouldn't it be more interesting to create a universe with people who you briefly meet in book one and then they get an entire book to themselves?" I'm not going to tell you who the people are that we'll write about in the future but as you're reading, you are meeting everybody that you're going to meet in the whole series. It's really become a family saga. It's multi-cultural. We deal with people across different socio-economic boards. It is a really beautiful smorgasboard of our society. I'm really proud of it. I just want it to sell like hotcakes because the better it sells, the more people that buy the book, e-book, and the audio book that I'm about to lay down (I have a little studio in my house. If I could show you a picture right now, I would. I hung a blanket and I'm going to put my head in this little tunnel I created and there is a microphone.) The more we sell it, the quicker we can get it onto the screen for people to watch. I really think it's going to make for some amazing movies because we are going to take viewers to Hawaii and show them what most people don't get to see. All the while watching two people fall in love, which is fun.
Mercy: Any chance you and your wife would ever be the leads on one of these movies?
Kris: *laughs* Not Moments Like This. She's retired from acting but we have actually very loosely tossed around the idea of her, the kids and I doing something in the future. We'll see.
Mercy: You started the Polaha Chautauqua last year, can you share a little bit of the inspiration in doing so?
Kristoffer: If you haven't seen the Chautauqua, then join us! Every Sunday at around 4:00 on my Instagram at @polahaha, I go live. The idea is that stories, what we say about our lives, those stories shape our lives. If you can shape your narrative to be one of victory and survival, if you can tell a story of yourself that paints you in a good light, it's amazing how that starts to become the truth of your life. Like the Christian narrative. You believe in something because you believe in it. You believe in God because you choose to believe the story you've heard. This gets really deep but this is what the Chautauqua is about. I can tell you a story about what it means to be joyful and your perspective about joy could be totally different than my perspective on it, but when you come and tell me -- it's about cross-pollenating ideas and shaping healthy narratives. It started because of the pandemic. It started because people were dying, sick, and scared. Liz Tigelaar, the creator of Life Unexpected, she posted something on Instagram that said the Indigo Girls were going live. This was like the first Tuesday of the shutdown and I remember going and watching these two women playing their guitar in the living room and that brought me a lot of happiness. I wondered if I went live on Friday if I could make it like a party and anybody who wants to show up, can. I went live, didn't really have an agenda, and just started talking to people. The next week, people gave me a quote, something that was inspirational to them. The next week I had people read poetry, the next time I had people sing, and then I started having people like Nikki DeLoach on, Tim Tebow spoke on hope during hopeless times, Rainne Wilson gave a commencement speech to the class of 2020. Every week it started growing.
The name came from an article I read back in high school. In this article, the author talks about how back before television and movies, there were these roving almost the equivalent of a circus or like a tent preacher, but these were non-denominational, adult education. And they talked about high ideas and what it meant to be a member of society, what that looked like to be a decent human being. They talked about art and poetry. And back before it was assimilated into white, northern culture, the Native Americans used the Chautauquas as a place to gather once a year and they would talk about the best hunting grounds, news from each others' tribes. It was this one place all these tribes would meet and share ideas about art, trade, etc. I've always had a love/hate relationship with social media but it's essential these days. But I thought, wouldn't it be interesting to talk about real stuff in a public way? And what greater tool to use than social media? To my surprise, this little thing has had a life of its own and taken off. I get anywhere between 5,000 to 13,000 views a week on certain topics. I get people joining me live every week. Since the new year, I've had Gabby Reece (the famous volleyball player, model, and spokesperson). She talked about staying physically active and positive. I had the soon-to-be governor of Arkansas, Tim Griffin. We talked about leadership. Every Sunday, you can come and join us. It's like an educational, inspirational hour. It's not me as an actor at all, it's me as a human being. Part of that is my faith. I'm a Christian, so I can talk about what that means to me, especially in the face of death, fear, and anxiety. I can talk about art and how healthy that is. I'm a bit of a goofball, so I start every episode off with a song that my son and I wrote. I sing and sometimes it sounds really good and then other times, like last Sunday, I forgot the words. *laughs*
Mercy: In an industry that appears to be making it harder and harder, how do you stay true to your Christian values?
Kristoffer: I think that's the fine line. I think Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is at hand because he intended us to love one another. The whole of the Chautauqua, and when I'm on set, my life...it's to be a reflection of what God's love would look like. That means no matter who I meet, I'm going to try and show them what it feels like to be loved by God. I'm going to have extraordinary patience with people that I would otherwise lose my patience with. It doesn't really exclude me from much. It might exclude me from taking jobs that may not fall in line with my beliefs. But I have taken jobs where my characters have done really rotten things. I've killed people on TV shows. That's my job, to pretend. And I can separate those things. I hope the audience can too. I think these books, they are going to have things in them that aren't Christian at all, but hopefully people will realize there is a separation. I'm still human and I think one thing to remember as a person of faith is that everything human is a part of the tapestry of what it means to be human. I don't get political. For me, Hollywood has never been an issue. I love Hollywood and the people here, but most of them are not Christian. I have the greatest conversations about God with people who would normally never have those conversations with me or would never have the chance to have those conversations because they are in Hollywood. I'm getting to have these amazing conversations about God with people who may never have that conversation with anybody else in a way that they are like, "You aren't a freak and you aren't a bigot. I kind of dig you. I'm interested in this conversation, what else you got?"
And at the end of the day, Mercy, regardless of if you are a Christian or not, we are all broken people and there is only one place to tell stories to a global audience and that's Hollywood. It's an industry just like any other where there are all kinds of people. This one just happens to be in the limelight.
Mercy: And lastly, the latest Mystery 101 airs next month, can you tell us just a little bit about it?
Kristoffer: Mystery 101 #6, Killer Timing. The audience will finally meet Travis Burke's ex-wife, played by the incomparable Erin Cahill. Will she or won't she put a wrench in Amy and Travis's brand new relationship? That is the question. The other cool thing about this episode is there is a podcast called That One Audition and if your readers look up that podcast, they will hear about an experience I had with a window blasting when I lived in New York City. I told that story to an executive at Hallmark and she loved it so much that they asked to incorporate it into this story. You'll see Travis Burke...he might die in this episode. I don't want to spoil it for people, but this could be the last one.
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