It was the surprise seen around the world – millions of times, as a matter of fact.
Actor Benjamin Ayres was in town to film one of Hallmark’s Christmas movies this year, “Long Lost Christmas.” Recently, he posted a short video on social media surprising some onlookers checking out the decorations along Pioneer Avenue. The spectators immediately recognized him, much to the delight of everyone involved.
Ayres said the video has since received more than 2 million views on TikTok and nearly as many on Instagram.
“That was a really wonderful video,” Ayres recalled. “I had just broken for lunch. I knew that we were going to be filming for another 10 to 15 minutes. I walked across the street walk past them, and I was like, ‘That’s so cute that they’re watching.’ I put my phone on and I walked up and just said ‘What are you filming?’”
Ayres said he wasn’t sure how the onlookers would react.
“That could have gone the way that I thought, which is they turn around and go ‘Oh, it’s a Hallmark movie,’” he added. “I would have said was like ‘Do you know who’s in it?’ and they would have been like,’ I have no idea’ and I would have just played along. I’ve never done that, just turn my camera on and walk up to somebody.”
Ayres’ “Family Law” co-star Jewel Staite (“Firefly) convinced him to join TikTok. While his videos drew in a few thousand views, the Agassiz encounter with fans, in his words, “blew up.”
“I think it’s such an honest reaction,” Ayres said. “It’s super quick. What I love about it is it’s really brought all these Hallmark fans from all over. I wish I would’ve kept it going because even the husband was like, ‘Oh, I know all your movies!’”
Kamloops-born Ayres has been in about 13 films in the Lower Mainland. He now lives in Toronto.
“(Agassiz-Harrison) has been one of my favorite locations to film, to be honest,” Ayers said. “People are so kind here; everyone is so nice.”
Ayres said there are many Hallmark fans in the area and the cast and crew have been welcomed with open arms.
While he’d been to and filmed in Agassiz before, Ayres had up until recently never been to Harrison Hot Springs.
“Of course, I’ve known about it my whole life and I didn’t realize kind of what it was, or just the natural beauty of this whole location and this quaint little (community), Agassiz included,” Ayres said. “They work splendidly well, for a Hallmark film, because there are so many locations we can use between the two. The backdrop is magnificent.”
“Long Lost Christmas,” which also stars Taylor Cole (“Surrogates,” “Making Spirits Bright” is among the more dramatic of Hallmark’s offerings this year.
“It’s about a girl who lives in a big city and she just lost her father,” Ayres said. “She discovers that there might possibly be an uncle that she didn’t know about, and she kind of decides to do some sleuthing and drives to the small town where she thinks potentially this uncle might live.”
While unraveling the secrets of her long-lost family, the protagonist might just find love along the way.
“Long Lost Christmas” premieres on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Nov. 18 at 10 p.m. EST (7 p.m. Pacific).
Check out highlights from the video interview with Ayres on our website, www.agassizharrisonobserver.com.