Billy Eichner‘s upcoming gay rom-com Bros represents a major breakthrough moment for out gay actor Luke Macfarlane. But he’s no stranger to playing the romantic lead.
As one of the stars of Bros‘ historic, all-LGBTQ cast, Macfarlane finds himself in the limelight after working steadily in theater, film, and television for the better part of the last two decades.
Born in London, Ontario, the 41-year old, Juilliard trained (Jessica Chastain, Oscar Isaac, and Michael Urie were his classmates) actor’s biggest break came in 2006 when he joined ABC drama Brothers & Sisters for a multi-season arc. His character, Scotty, was part of one of network television’s earliest gay weddings—a moment which inspired him to come out publicly in 2008.
At the time, Macfarlane admitted he was “terrified” over how being out might impact his career. And while he prefers not to guess at the hypotheticals of “what might have been,” there’s no denying that he’s continued to book regardless—you just might not be aware unless you’ve been frequenting the Hallmark Channel.
Yes, since 2015, the actor has starred in a dozen Hallmark movies—many of them Christmas themed—playing the straight love interest.
Now, if you’ve seen one Hallmark holiday movie, you’ve basically seen them all: They usually concern themselves with a plucky young woman too wrapped up in her career to accept love in her life. But there’s something about the Christmas spirit that causes her to let her guard down, and she usually winds up falling for an old flame, or maybe even a business rival who—more often than not—is played by Luke Macfarlane. Good thing he looks great in red and green.
Ahead of Bros debut, let’s revisit Macfarlane Hallmark history to find out what our new favorite crush has been up to these past seven years…
Christmas Land (2015)
After inheriting a Christmas tree farm, a woman’s (Nikki Deloach) plans to sell it change when she falls in love with the townspeople and meets a charming lawyer named Tucker (Macfarlane).
Here it is, the Hallmark movie that started it all for Macfarlane! Christmas Land fits the holiday movie formula to a tee with its initially icy lead warming up thanks to a little hot cocoa and a whole lot of charm from Macfarlane’s small-town hunk. With a warm smile, affable ease, and a sparkle in his eye, it’s easy to see why Macfarlane knocks this out of the park—and why Hallmark quickly put his number on speed dial.
The Mistletoe Promise (2016)
Two self-confessed ‘Christmasphobes’ (Jaime King, Macfarlane) sign a contract which will mutually benefit them over the holiday season.
Our star returned the next year for this Yuletide spin on a classic rom-com set-up: A business arrangement between a pair of sexually compatible adults gets complicated when they start to catch feelings. We know how that‘s going to go…
The Birthday Wish (2017)
On her birthday, a woman (Jessy Schram) who desperately wants her boyfriend (surprisingly not Macfarlane) to propose to her wishes for the opportunity to see into the future, with surprising results.
Macfarlane’s not the boyfriend here, although he does play the dream man our protagonist surprisingly sees in the visions from her future. The Birthday Wish isn’t explicitly Christmas-y, though it has a distinct wintery vibe, showing that Macfarlane was already down to tweak the formula, just two years in.
Maggie (Jill Wagner), a single mom has to balance between her career and her son, Jordan. Jordan finds a tutor named Casey (Macfarlane) to help him at school, and Casey becomes like a father figure. Will the three of them find happiness and love once again?
Really, 2017’s the year this whole Hallmark operation becomes more than a hobby for Macfarlane, as he doubles down with two film roles for the channel. At this point, there’s no turning back for him!
A Shoe Addict’s Christmas (2018)
Noelle’s (Candace Cameron Bure) life stopped when her boyfriend broke up with her on Christmas Eve three years ago. A handsome fireman (Macfarlane) moves in above her. She gets locked in at work in a department store all alone save the ghost of Christmas past.
And, in 2018, Macfarlane enters the big leagues, starring opposite perennial Hallmark favorite—and JoJo Siwa-feuding Full House star—Candace Cameron Bure. (If that’s not enough, icon Jean Smart even shows up for a paycheck in a pre-Hacks role!) We’re genuinely unsure as to why Hallmark decided to make an entire, magical holiday movie about a shoe addict, but it does let us live out a bit of fantasy roleplay with Macfarlane in the part of a handsome, good-natured fireman.
Just Add Romance (2019)
When Carly (Meghann Fahy) and Jason (Macfarlane), exact opposites, compete on a famed cooking show for the chance at their own restaurant, what will matter more—their culinary careers or their potential love?
But Christmas isn’t the only time Macfarlane’s characters find love! In this clear riff on Top Chef and other cooking reality shows, his lovesick restauranteur sparks chemistry with a fellow competitor. Hijinks ensue, naturally!
Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen (2019)
Ella Dashwood (Erin Krakow) and her sister Marianne (Kimberly Sustad) are huge Christmas enthusiasts and own a party-planning business. One of their new clients is a toy company and they don’t see eye-to-eye with Edward Ferris (Macfarlane), the company’s C.E.O.
Oh, what a title! And you’ve got to love that Macfarlane plays the enterprising head honcho of a toy company—the kind of job that only seems to exist in movies just like this.
A Valentine’s Match (2020)
Fired from her job as a reality TV host, Natalie (Bethany Joy Lenz) returns home for Valentine’s Day only to find herself running the town festival’s auction with her ex-fiancé (Macfarlane) thanks to two scheming mothers.
Lest you think Macfarlane’s a one-holiday pony, here he is schmaltz-ing it up for a Valentine’s Day romance, once again playing the ex who our lead begins to look at in new ways after a fateful trip back to her hometown.
Chateau Christmas (2020)
World famous pianist Margot (Merritt Patterson) returns to Chateau Neuhaus for Christmas. While there she reunites with her ex-boyfriend Jackson (Macfarlane), who convinces her to headline their annual Christmas Concert.
Did you know Macfarlane could play the cello IRL? That skill came in handy for this musically minded Christmas feature.
Taking A Shot At Love (2021)
A former professional dancer (Alexa PenaVega) uses ballet to help an injured hockey star (Macfarlane) get back on the ice.
Even in the thick of the pandemic, Hallmark managed to churn out these TV romances, including this one where former Spy Kid Alexa PenaVega links up with Macfarlane’s hockey player. Honestly, the role doesn’t seem like much of a stretch for the athletic, Canadian-born star.
Christmas In My Heart (2021)
Violinist Beth (Heather Hemmens) returns home after the recent death of her mother and tutors the daughter of a reclusive country music star (Macfarlane) to prepare her for the upcoming holiday concert.
Music, Christmas, and Macfarlane go hand-in-hand-in-hand. Here he plays a country musician, which makes total sense considering the actor’s got some performance experience of his own: Back home, he used to front a band called Fellow Nameless (and, apparently, the group still plays without him, now under the name Cancel Winter).
Moira’s Lighthouse (2022)
Moriah (Rachelle LeFevre) is a woodworking artisan living in a French seaside town who dreams of restoring a local lighthouse. But Ben (Macfarlane), an American architect who comes to town may derail her plans.
Yes, Macfarlane is still starring in Hallmark movies, and his latest came out as recently as this June, believe it or not! Did Hallmark’s loyal audience realize they were watching future blockbuster star Luke Macfarlane in this one? No disrespect to the channel and the many actors doing honest work for them, but we have a feeling this Bros moment means his Hallmark days will soon be far behind him.
BONUS: Single All The Way (2021)
Desperate to avoid his family’s judgment about his perpetual single status, Peter (Michael Urie) convinces his best friend Nick (Philemon Chambers) to join him for the holidays and pretend that they’re now in a relationship.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t shout out Single All The Way, Netflix‘s very gay entry into the holiday movie canon from last year. Macfarlane gets to play gay—for once!—as a possible suitor to hapless protagonist Peter (played by his old Juilliard buddy, Urie). In retrospect, this one feels like a necessary step in the “straight Hallmark holiday movies” to “major gay studio rom-com” pipeline.