Winning smile! Kristoffer Polaha got his start on Hallmark Channel in 2016 — and he’s been stepping up his game ever since.
The 46-year-old actor portrayed Robert in Dater’s Handbook and Matt Crawford in Hearts of Christmas, both of which aired in 2016. The following year, he appeared in his second holiday film for Hallmark Media, Rocky Mountain Christmas.
Polaha then formed a bond with his Pearl in Paradise costar Jill Wagner, which led to the duo costarring in the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries franchise Mystery 101. The series follows Professor Amy Winslow (Wagner) as she helps Detective Travis Burke (Polaha) solve crimes. The actors debuted four drama films in 2019 and later worked together on three additional sleuth movies between 2020 and 2021.
It’s been two years since Polaha and Wagner graced the screen together, but the Nevada native teased in March that he would happily make another Mystery 101 movie if the network had one in mind.
“We love telling those stories and whatever the network decides … it’s inconclusive,” he revealed during an interview with Just Jared. “There’s always been conversation about No. 8, [but] there’s no, like, official word. I know that some of those shows were officially canceled, but there’s been no official word on Mystery 101.”
Polaha continued: “I do know that the mystery audience is a really awesome one and I want to continue telling stories for that audience in one way or another. I’m excited to see the future brings.”
While Wagner did a few projects for Hallmark’s main competitor, Great American Media, in 2021 and 2022, Polaha has stayed committed to the original TV home of all-things Christmas. (Neither Wagner nor Polaha currently have an exclusive deal with either network.)
The Beneath the Leaves actor appeared in two festive films for Hallmark in 2022: We Wish You a Married Christmas and Haul Out the Holly. Now, he’s helping kick off the spring movie lineup with his sports-themed project, A Winning Team, which premieres on Saturday, March 18.
“It was perfect timing for me to get to work. I haven’t done a lot of non-Christmas movies other than the mysteries,” Polaha told TV Insider on Wednesday, March 15, about the rom-com. “I was like, ‘I do want to do more throughout the year. I would love to extend that.’ I’d love to tell more stories in the way that they do on Hallmark. So for me, it was just a real treat to be able to push into that again.”
In A Winning Team, Polaha plays a small-town soccer coach named Ian, who is paired up with former pro soccer player Emily (Nadia Hatta) to coach her niece’s team.
“When they come together, they strike this balance that mellows her out a little bit and gives him courage and brings that competitive fire back into his life, which he was needing. They find this really beautiful, even balance, and they complement each other in a way I think that is really good to see,” the A Dickens of a Holiday! actor told the outlet. “It’s that kind of encouragement that speaks life into people who are watching it in a way that is, I think, essential, which is what I love about Hallmark and doing movies for Hallmark. Because some stuff, you watch it and it makes you feel bad, and then there’s the stuff that you watch that makes you feel good, and everything on Hallmark makes you feel good.”
A Winning Team premieres on Hallmark Channel Saturday, March 18, at 8 p.m. ET.
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