As Hallmark’s hit series The Way Home heads into its second season, fans have been anxiously awaiting answers to the questions brought up in the Season 1 finale. (What did happen to Jacob? Why are Del and Kat still on such bad terms? Are the Landry women witches?) The show’s stars have been out and […]
Actress and mental health advocate Chyler Leigh has joined the cast of the new Hallmark series The Way Home. She joins Andie MacDowell, who starred in Hallmark’s Cedar Cove, and Sadie Laflamme-Snow in the cast.
“Took time off to work hard on myself,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “It’s not been easy. Letting go of the past can be quick or a lifelong journey. But it’s a journey that is so so worth the climb. My thanks to those who have helped me along the way. I’m standing on a new mountain top and am so excited for what’s on the horizon. @hallmarkchannel #TheWayHome #KatLandry … here we go.”
Leigh, who played Dr. Lexie Grey on the series Grey’s Anatomy, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 29 after voluntarily checking herself into a hospital.
“I was so terrified because of my past,” she said in an interview with Prevention. “I was so worried about turning into all of the things I hated when I was growing up, but it was life or death. I was going to make a change, or I wouldn’t be here anymore.”
About 7 million Americans live with bipolar disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. A person going through a manic episode may feel elated, energized, and reckless, while a depressive episode can result in total loss of energy, trouble concentrating, and feelings of hopelessness.
Leigh said she first noticed the signs as an adolescent when the sound of clinking dishes filled her with rage. She also experienced recklessness, mood swings, and trouble sleeping. She said she suppressed her feelings for years.
“I closed off and developed a shell around me,” she said.
The actress threw herself into her work and into the responsibility of raising three children. Eventually, she became overwhelmed.
“I was constantly hiding layers of myself, trying to come off as pretty and palatable,” she says. “I wanted to pass off as ‘I’m doing fine,’ but when I went to the hospital it was very clear that I was not.”
Leigh has been an outspoken advocate for people affected by mental illness. She has also kept busy as an actress, starring in TV shows such as Supergirl and The Flash.
The Way Home
Filming has already begun on The Way Home. In the series, Leigh plays Kat Landry, who has been estranged from her mother (played by MacDowell) for so long that she’s never even introduced her to her daughter, Alice (played by Sadie Laflamme-Snow). According to a synopsis from Hallmark, the three women are thrown together by unforeseen circumstances and “embark on an enlightening journey to find their way back to each other and learn important lessons about their family’s past.”
The series will premiere in 2023.
Andie MacDowell will headline a new series on Hallmark Channel. The actress, who previously starred in the Hallmark series Cedar Cove, will star as Del Landry in The Way Home. The show will begin production in Ontario over the summer and premiere in 2023.
“We’ve found our perfect Del Landry in Andie MacDowell,” began Lisa Hamilton Daly, executive vice president of programming at Crown Media Family Networks. “It was crucial to cast someone with the ability to handle the nuances and depth of the role and we can’t wait to see her bring Del to life.”
“Our viewers loved Andie MacDowell when she starred in ‘Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove,’ our first original primetime series,” remarked Laurie Ferneau, senior vice president of development at Crown Media Family Networks. “We couldn’t be happier to welcome her home to Hallmark Channel and we know our fans will fall in love with her all over again.”
Hallmark Channel series
From 2013 to 2015, MacDowell starred as Judge Olivia Lockhart on the Hallmark series Cedar Cove. Based on the books by Debbie Macomber, the show followed the residents of a small town on Puget Sound in Washington State. The ensemble cast also included Sarah Smyth, Dylan Neal, Teryl Rothery, Brennan Elliott, Barbara Niven, Cindy Busby, and Jesse Hutch.
Fans who were devastated when Cedar Cove was canceled were thrilled to hear about MacDowell’s return to Hallmark.
“Love her so much,” wrote one fan on Hallmark’s Facebook page. “Great news!”
“One of my favorite women!!” wrote another. “Classy, Sassy, and Southern! Have loved and seen her in everything through the decades!”
But one fan replied to the news with, “I stopped watching anything on Hallmark that was a series. They get you hooked then cancel it.”
Hallmark has canceled three series in the past 12 months. The series finale of Good Witch aired in July 2021. Home and Family aired its final episode in August 2021. The sixth and final season of Chesapeake Shores is currently in production.
The Way Home
In The Way Home, MacDowell plays the matriarch of the Landry family and a pillar of the community in her small Canadian farming town. According to a synopsis from the network:
“She and her daughter Kat have been estranged from each other following tragic events that left their family forever changed and prompted Kat to move away. When Kat unexpectedly returns many years later with her teenage daughter whom Del has never met, the three generations of women embark on an enlightening journey to find their way back to each other and learn important lessons about their family’s past.”
The series is being written by the mother-daughter team Heather Conkie and Alexandra Clarke. The pair, who wrote the script for the Disney Channel movie Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars, have also collaborated on the award-winning series Heartland.