Anyone who’s lived in the central San Joaquin Valley knows that a “white” Christmas means fog, not snow. That’s why a warm holiday is nothing new for Clovis High School grad Aaron Hill.
But no Christmas here came close to the high temperatures he faced trying to get into the holiday spirit for the new ION Television made-for-cable movie “The Perfect Christmas List.”
Hill plays a small-town doctor/handyman who gets pulled into the efforts by a family to put together a perfect holiday. As a last wish, a recently hospitalized grandmother gives her daughter and granddaughter a list of things to do together before Christmas, in hopes the experience will repair their relationship. While the family works to make everything right, Hill’s character gets romantically involved with the granddaughter.
The light-hearted, family-friendly film also stars Ellen Hollman, Marion Ross, Beth Broderick and Richard Karn.
The film, which debuts 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14, was shot during some very hot August days.
“I had one scene with Marion Ross where it was so hot, sweat was running down my head and back. They can’t run the air conditioning because of the sound. I really don’t know how much of the scene they are going to be able to use,” Hill says.
Hill hopes that the warm weather didn’t throw off the holiday spirit. He’s always loved the holiday — Christmas has always been his mother’s favorite holiday. Even though he’s a working actor in Hollywood — and scheduled to become a first-time dad in June — Hill and his wife, Chelsea, will be headed to Clovis for the holidays along with all of his other family members.
One of Hill’s most vivid memories of Christmas is connected to his acting career, which started in 2001.
“The company my father was working for went under, and so a lot of my elementary, junior high and high school years were tough. One year, it was the worst and I had just done my first commercial,” Hill says. “It was the biggest Christmas we had ever had. My dad had gone out and gotten gifts that even my mother didn’t know he had gotten.
“Christmas has always been family together time. And it’s even more special now.”
There’s a good chance that the family will watch “A Christmas Story.” That was Hill’s favorite holiday movie as a child. When he was 5, he had blond hair and wore glasses, making him look a lot like the hero of that film.
“My dad would always tell me I was going to shoot my eye out,” Hill says.
“The Perfect Christmas List” is the first of what might be a holiday film tradition for Hill. He can be seen this time next year in a theatrical release — only being referred to at this time as “Untitled Christmas Eve Project” — that also stars Lizzy Caplan, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Hill started acting in a church production when he was 4. The holiday films are the latest in a long list of acting jobs that include the TV shows “NCIS,” “Castle,” “Glee,” “Greek” and “Hannah Montana,” plus the films “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and “Lost on Purpose.”
He played one of the Cleveland Browns football players in the Kevin Costner movie “Draft Day,” but his scenes didn’t make the final cut. They are included in the outtakes featured on the DVD release.
Hill enjoyed working on “The Perfect Christmas List” because it’s a holiday movie and because he was particularly excited to work with Broderick and Karn. While growing up in Clovis, Hill was a huge fan of the “TGIF” comedies ABC aired that included Broderick’s “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and Karn’s “Home Improvement.”
Karn shared stories with Hill about how long he struggled with small roles until “Home Improvement” came along. It was one way to pass the time while dealing with a very hot Christmas movie shoot.