Justin Hartley and Director Charles Shyer Discuss The Noel Diary

Jan 9, 2023

Home Interviews Exclusive: Justin Hartley and Director Charles Shyer Discuss The Noel Diary

The This Is Us star Justin Hartley and Father of the Bride filmmaker Charles Shyer open up about their new holiday movie The Noel Diary.


Just in time for the holidays, The Noel Diary hits Netflix on November 24. Featuring some familiar faces, such as This Is Us star Justin Hartley, the Christmas-themed drama is helmed by Father of the Bride director Charles Shyer. Given his past filmography, The Noel Diary is certainly a fitting entry to his line of work. The storyline of this emotionally charged film follows best-selling author Jake Turner (Hartley) as he returns home at Christmas to settle his estranged mother’s estate. He discovers a diary that may hold secrets to his own past and that of Rachel (Barrett Doss), an intriguing young woman on a mission of her own. Together, they embark on a journey to confront their pasts and discover a future that’s totally unexpected.

We recently caught up with both Hartley and Shyer to hear about the behind-the-scenes production process.

Making “A Great Movie” With A Holiday Backdrop


MW: Tell us about what it was like to make a Christmas movie?

Charles Shyer: It was great because with this movie, it was like an added layer. The story worked without Christmas. [laughs] But Christmas gave us a tone. And it gave us fireplaces that were practical. It gave us things that were great. I love the crackling logs, and I love the snow. And to get to make a movie that you could curl up on yourself and pull a comforter over you and dig the movie, that for me was really important — and a movie that didn’t bore you, that had a story to tell.

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Justin Hartley: It was great. I dabbled in a Christmas movie a few years ago, A Bad Moms Christmas, but my character was a bit different. But this was great. And like Charles said, we didn’t set out to make a Christmas movie. We set out to make a great movie. And that was the bar. That was what we both agreed to do. We’re just going to do a really great movie. We’re going to do our damnedest to make this thing a masterpiece. And look, I mean, it’s up to everyone else what they think of it. I love the movie. I think we did a really great job. Charles is such a gifted director, and the roles were great. The script was wonderful and I think we pulled it off. But truthfully, we just set out to make a great movie, and it happened to have a Christmas backdrop.

Preparing For A Unique Project


MW: The movie is pretty emotionally charged. Did you guys draw on any personal experiences to help prepare for the shoot?

Justin Hartley: The prep work for me is always different. Every role is different, and you have to sort of cater it to whatever that role might be. Like, you’re not going to do the same exact prep work. When you’re doing an action TV show, you’re not going to do it during a show like this, necessarily. But that being said, the preparation and the time and effort that you put into it, and the focus, is the same. I always say that I don’t put the script down until the until it’s a wrap. Even if you’ve shot three-quarters of the movie, or nine-tenths of the movie, and you have four pages left to shoot, or whatever it might be, there’s still work to be done until Charles calls, “That’s a wrap.” So the prep work is just constantly working, constantly doing everything you can to try and get inside this guy’s head as much as you possibly can — because you blink, and it’s over. [laughs] You wake up and go, “Wait, what happened? It’s done.” It was so fast. Charles had a lot more work to do than I did, to be honest with you.

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Charles: One of the things that you have to have is, you have to be well-prepared. So I storyboarded the whole movie. And we rehearsed, and you don’t have time to experiment a lot. So the director of photography that I use, I worked on four movies with. And I just thought it was a very well-oiled machine. The actors were just top-notch. So you hit the ground running because you don’t have time to experiment. And you know, we shot in 27 days, and it’s a road movie, a lot of it, which is really tough stuff. And I like to do a lot of takes, so I have choices. So you just got to keep rocking. And so I was well-prepared. I’m always well-prepared on my movies, though. They don’t turn out this well usually.

The Noel Diary is available on Netflix.

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