‘Candy Coated Christmas’: Molly McCook on the Meet-Cute & Working With Her Father John McCook

Aaron O’Connell as Noah Winters, Molly McCook as Molly Gallant in Candy Coated Christmas
Food Network/discovery+

The Food Network has joined the long list of networks with holiday movies, and its first, Candy Coated Christmas, premieres Friday, November 19 on discovery+ — and features a meet-cute, Food Network’s Ree Drummond, and a real-life father and daughter playing an on-screen father and daughter.

“It really surrounds the idea of food and the creation of things related to food,” Molly McCook, who plays Molly Gallant, tells TV Insider. “The Winters family has this beautiful business of growing mint and they work together to create different products based on that. That’s how they make money, and that’s how Molly comes along and starts this business proposition. And then with Ree Drummond there working at the small town bakery, you see a lot of really beautiful, delicious looking treats, and it just kind of pulls everything together. It’s not just about food, but it’s about the heart of everything that is the holidays. And that does include food for a lot of people. It definitely was that for all of these characters as well.”

Molly heads to Peppermint Hollow, Washington (the Peppermint Capital of the World) to sell her late mother’s childhood home with the family business — John McCook plays her dad, Fred — facing bankruptcy. The only problem? The current renters, including her love interest, Noah (Aaron O’Connell).

“I feel like a lot of times some of these movies start and these characters are all very sweet on paper and kind of wide-eyed, and the character Molly isn’t very much that way,” Molly McCook says. “She’s a little hard to like in the beginning of the film, which gave her a lot of growth and a lot of places to go by the end. So I think that the sweet, happy moments are really earned.”

Molly McCook tells us more about Candy Coated Christmas.

How does Molly and Noah’s initial meeting go?

Molly McCook: It’s totally a meet-cute — who doesn’t love one of those? Molly just get to Peppermint Hollow, really, with such tunnel vision to get this money and to get out and get on a plane to Hawai’i, which is her normal Christmas tradition with her father, and finds this sweet bakery where she gets a coffee, which is where she meets Ree Drummond’s character. And on her way out, Noah catches a snowball and bumps into Molly spilling her coffee everywhere. It’s definitely a meet-cute, but it’s not all sparkles and it’s not this beautiful moment where you know that they’re in love. She’s very annoyed by him, and I think that he can sense her kind of spoiled qualities.

Molly McCook, Ree Drummond in Candy Coated Christmas

Food Network/discovery+

What are we going to see from them as they grow closer? How do they help each other?

The more time that Noah and Molly spend together, Molly sort of puts her walls down of materialism and everything that she’s used to in her Los Angeles world and looks around and actually gets to see people for who they really are. And without all of the distracting glitz and glamours of LA, she really gets to see what’s important about the holidays.

And I think with Noah, it really teaches him not to judge a book by its cover as well because it teaches him to get to know Molly on a very personal level, which then just creates this really beautiful bond because it’s not what either of them are used to. So they’re kind of both forced to communicate and listen to each other, which develops this really special bond.

There’s the complication that he and his family are renting the house that she wants to sell.

As lots of romcoms have their big conflict, ours is that Molly is going to sell her mother’s old house in Peppermint Hollow and the Winters happen to be renting it and they don’t know that that’s why Molly is there. They assume that her intentions are basically to evict them unless they pay their rent. So they’re still kind of kissing her butt a little bit because they really want to make sure that she knows that they’re good for it and that they can pay it up, but they actually don’t know that deep down, it’s really to get rid of it for a very selfish reason on Molly’s part.

Aaron O’Connell, Lee Garlington, Molly McCook, Landry Townsend in Candy Coated Christmas

Food Network/discovery+

When that finally is discovered by Noah, he’s really, really hurt. And of course, it’s this big moment in the movie where Molly is just about to tell Noah the truth and he overhears it, which is one of those kind of just heart-wrenching moments where you’re just on the edge of your seat going, “Oh wait, but she was just about to tell him!” The conflict is really heartbreaking and hurtful.

Your dad plays your dad.

My dad playing my movie dad couldn’t have been more fun, I think just because we’ve never been able to work together like that before. But also we were playing different characters. We have a very, very special relationship in real life and we’ve bonded so closely over the fact that we’re both performers and he’s a best friend to me, and although Molly and Fred in the film are close, their relationship is quite different. So it was really fun and silly for us and very special to look at each other and do what we love at the same time. But also it was a little bit of a challenge to be playing these different characters that aren’t the people that we’ve been together for 31 years. It’s going to be something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

Talk a bit more about the onscreen father/daughter relationship. The fact that they go to Hawai’i for Christmas, it’s not the most Christmas-y of places — does that kind of reflect their relationship?

The tradition of the Gallants being in Hawai’i for Christmas is still very meaningful to them. But I do think the importance of that tradition kind of surrounds the idea of the money that they have and the resorts that Fred owns. And it’s a very kind of bougie tradition that they share that’s not snowflakes and Santa and singing around a Christmas tree. It’s still a tradition, which still means a lot.

Molly McCook, John McCook in Candy Coated Christmas

Food Network/discovery+

So when she’s stuck in Peppermint Hollow, yes, she’s stomping her feet and she’s miserable because she can’t go to Hawai’i, but it’s also sad for her because that is a tradition that she has with her father and she has lost her mom and that is all that she has left. But when she gets to this small town and sees the simplicity and importance of just family and love and working together, she sees what’s really important. And once Fred is mixed into that, I think it’s sort of the perfect scenario for the whole family.

What was your favorite scene to film?

I had a lot of stunts in this movie, which was awesome. I honestly begged them for it because I’m so obsessed with rom-coms, and I find that the best rom-coms always have like Cameron Diaz falling in the snow or Sandra Bullock falling out of frame. And so when I saw one fall in the script, I was like, “Let’s amp it up, I am down.” Because I happen to fall a lot in my life as well. So I just said, “Let’s do it. I will gladly do the stunts.” They offered up a stunt double so that I could stay safe, but I said, “Let’s try it out.” And nothing was too frightening. Maybe falling off a ladder was a little scary. But we had an amazing stunt coordinator who made me feel safe, so that was really fun.

We had a lot of group scenes, but when we were all sitting at the dinner table, any of those were just so funny. No matter where they were in the script, whether they were in the beginning or at the end, for some reason, those scenes always happened to be late at night when we were filming. So we were all just completely out of it and so giggly and nobody could keep it together. And even though that’s probably hard on the crew because we needed to get things done, it just makes things so much more enjoyable when we’re all laughing, even if we are loopy. So I think those were my favorite moments.

Candy Coated Christmas, Movie Premiere, Friday, November 19, discovery+