David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty
Kristoffer Polaha is helping jumpstart the holiday season.
The actor, 45, stars in The Hallmark Channel's We Wish You a Married Christmas with Marisol Nichols (Riverdale), which premieres Saturday, and the actor describes as a "funny" holiday TV movie.
"It's a different little film for Hallmark in the sense that we [the couple in the film] are already married," he told PEOPLE. "Ninety percent of the charm of these movies is watching young love bud. So when I read the script, I was like, 'Okay, Cupid's done. They've already consummated their love. How are we going to do this?'"
Polaha, who has starred in nearly 10 original movies for Hallmark, as well as his ongoing series Mystery 101 on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, says he was excited to explore a story with different challenges for the two main characters.
"This is a movie about a couple that's on the brink of divorce, and we made it funny," he explains. "So there's a lot of comedy in it and there are a lot of moments where you really root for these people. Marisol Nichols is the leading lady, and she and I shot the film back in June in Winnipeg. It's a fun little movie."
Eric Zachanowich/Hallmark Media
Although Polaha works regularly in TV and film outside of Hallmark Channel projects, including recent small roles in Jurassic World Dominion and Wonder Woman 1984, he enjoys working for the feel-good network because of the community within and built around it.
"It's the most collaborative experience I've ever had in my life," he says. "I think everybody knows what the score is. They show up without their egos, and they're ready to work and they know what they're doing. They know the thing that they're making. It ends up just being a really cool, again, fun three-week collaboration. You get 15 shooting days and it's like camp. It's a Hallmark camp."
The actor has fond memories of his first-ever Hallmark movie, in which he co-starred with Meghan Markle.
"We did this movie called Dater's Handbook. It was like six months before she met [Prince] Harry," recalls Polaha. "We were good friends. She texted me when she met him, she was like, 'I just met somebody.'"
The last Polaha heard from her was right after Markle's engagement to Prince Harry.
Liane Hentscher/Hallmark Channel/Everett
"I literally got a text that said, 'I'm engaged. I got to bounce.' That was it. That was all. That's the last I've spoken to her."
Lately when Polaha is not acting, he's been co-writing a series of romance novels with author Anna Gomez. Where the Sun Rises, the second book in their "From Kona with Love" series, was released Oct. 11. "It's like A Star is Born on a surfboard," the co-author says of Rises.
The writing duo was initially introduced by Polaha's neighbor and share a similar goal with their storytelling. The authors hope to eventually turn their series into movies.
"With the ['From Kona with Love' series] we created a universe," he says. "Each book is a standalone, but it's a family saga. So everyone you meet in book one, you'll meet in book two, three, four or five."
They're definitely not ruling out a future Hallmark Channel adaptation, but Polaha says they are going to try for a spicier adult romance that gets a theatrical release.
"We're going to push it up a little bit. I think that if we can make a romance for adults, I would love for it to be released in theaters, and then it'll have a life on streaming as well," he says. "I just love the idea of creating a universe, so there would be a trilogy. So while we'll have five books, the plan right now is just to have three films."
Polaha says he's grateful to his fans for embracing all of his artistic pursuits, especially his Hallmark fans.
"The people watching Hallmark are the greatest fans on the planet," he says. "They're so passionate and supportive. And that is why we can write books because there's this audience that's wanting to know what's this story going to be about. Moments has this beautiful fan base already and people are waiting to read Where the Sun Rises. It's really exciting."
We Wish You a Married Christmas premieres Saturday on The Hallmark Channel. Polaha and Gomez's novel Where the Sun Rises is now available.