‘Christmas Sail’: Katee Sackhoff on Joining the Hallmark Family With a Missed Opportunity Story

Terry O'Quinn, Katee Sackoff, Patrick Sabongui, Emma Oliver in Christmas Sail
Q&A
Kailey Schwerman/Crown Media

You may know Katee Sackhoff because of her trips through space on both Battlestar Galactica and Another Life, but she’s recently taken on a more down-to-earth role: a member of the Hallmark family. Sackhoff makes her debut in one of Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” films, and what makes this one “pretty special,” she notes, is that Christmas Sail was written by her husband, Robin Gadsby. (Both also serve as executive producers.)

Sackhoff stars as single mother Liz who returns home to help after her estranged father, Dennis (Lost‘s Terry O’Quinn), is injured. There, she reconnects with her childhood best friend, Luke (The Flash‘s Patrick Sabongui).

“I don’t remember a Christmas in my life without Hallmark Christmas movies. I absolutely adore them, and it’s just been a matter of finding the right one — and in this case, creating the right one,” Sackhoff tells TV Insider. “My husband and I went in and we pitched the stories together and we’re hoping that this is the start of a very long and beautiful relationship with Hallmark because it was such a wonderful experience and it is such a family atmosphere over there. And he’s more than happy to keep writing [movies].”

The star tells us more.

Introduce Liz. How’s her life going when we meet her?

Katee Sackhoff: Liz’s life is going great. She absolutely loves her life. She’s living in the city, she has a great job, she’s got a wonderful daughter and a good group of friends and she is truly happy. I don’t think that she would tell you that anything is missing from her life. She’s experienced loss in her life, of course. But she’s definitely not looking for anything.

Talk about her and her father’s relationship and how her being back for the holidays might fix things.

It’s interesting. I don’t think that Liz would have gone back home had her father not needed help. And so she finds herself back in the place where she has incredibly fond memories of childhood and spending time with her family and her mom and her dad. I think that sometimes you have to go home in order to right the ship, so to speak. Liz and her father’s relationship has been estranged because they both chose to mourn the loss of her mother in a very different way and individually. They couldn’t hold space for the other one at the time. The fact that she’s going home for Christmas gives her the opportunity to open her heart and speak her mind, which I think is required for the relationship.

Terry O'Quinn, Katee Sackoff in Christmas Sail

Kailey Schwerman/Crown Media

Speaking of her heart, there is, of course, a romance, with Liz reuniting with her best friend. What was the relationship like before? And what’s it like now?

The relationship before was very close. It’s very much a missed opportunity story. She and Luke were inseparable when they were children. They went away to college together and because of Luke’s own loss in his life, he ended up going home after his freshman year of school and didn’t go back. There may or may not be a misunderstanding there, which caused them to drift apart, and they may find their way back to each other at Christmas time. At its heart, this story about Liz and Dennis and Luke is truly just a story about missed opportunities and things left unsaid. That’s a very important lesson in this very heartwarming story: We need to make sure the people that we love know we love them.

And Liz is fixing up the family’s boat for the town’s annual Christmas Eve Sailboat Parade of Lights.

Part of the reason why Liz takes on the project of the boat is twofold. She wants to give her daughter Hannah [Emma Oliver] a phenomenal Christmas. Christmas is important to Liz, and she really wants to make sure that Hannah has a special Christmas, and what better way than to experience the thing that Liz has such fond memories of from her own childhood at Christmastime? But I also think another reason she takes on the boat is a distraction. She’s not very comfortable being around her dad. A lot of time has passed and they’re not really connecting anymore. It’s easier potentially for Liz to just continue to do what she’s been doing over the years, which is just ignore the problem.

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Especially since her dad and Luke are getting along. They’re closer than she may be to her dad.

Yes, absolutely. I spoke about Luke’s loss as a child. His own father passed away when he was in school, and he ended up coming home to take care of his family. I think that Dennis became a surrogate father for him during that time, and he might be looking out for Dennis a little bit as well. But they’ve definitely formed a friendship which may or may not make Liz a little uncomfortable.

Christmas Sail, Movie Premiere, Sunday, October 31, 8/7c, Hallmark Channel