In the age of Netflix, merrymaking before a Christmassy romcom is as festive a tradition as enjoying a steaming cup of eggnog or decorating the halls with holly sprigs.
Ever since the streaming platform started producing festive original movies like The Christmas Prince or The Princess Switch, millions have tuned in to swoon from the easy-to-watch Christmas romances they offer, and celebrities have taken notice taken.
Long gone are the days when only debutants or struggling actors got starring roles in those upbeat but somewhat predictable Christmas specials.
Instead, celebs who have seen their star power wane a little since their heyday in the ’90s and 2000s are turning to these festive low-budget productions to breathe new life into their careers.
This year, Freddie Prinze Jr., who rose to fame on the hit ’90s rom-com She’s All That, will be starring in Netflix’s Christmas With You, out November 17.
Meanwhile, Falling For Christmas, which released last week, starred Lindsay Lohan, who topped the list as the most popular teen movie star of the 2000s before a slew of drunk tickets and intoxicated nights put a damper on her rising star.
Speaking to Femail, brand and culture expert Nick Ede explained why Netflix is turning to these stars for its holiday products, and why the likes of Lohan, Prinze JR and even Brooke Shields are taking the bait.
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’90s stars use Netflix Christmas movies to find new fans. This year, Freddie Prinze Jr., who rose to fame on the hit ’90s rom-com She’s All That, will be starring in Netflix’s Christmas With You, out November 17
Lindsay Lohan will also star in Falling For Christmas, a sweet romantic comedy in which she plays a demanding heiress who suffers from amnesia
’80s and ’90s legends Brooke Shields and Cary Elwes starred in the Christmas romance ‘A Castle for Christmas’ last year.
Nick said: “Netflix has cleverly jumped on this bandwagon to bring nostalgic stars like Lindsay Lohan and Freddie Prinze Jr. back into the mainstream.
“This clever way of replicating Hallmark’s TV model is a great way to appeal to new audiences, as well as create simple Christmas classics that can be watched again and again.
“We feel we are in good hands with stars like Lindsay Lohan, Chord Overstreet, Aimee Garcia, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Justin Hartley. They’re not megastars, but they have the quality that befits a film that’s fun and frivolous and is perfect for the festive season,” added Nick.
And while some stars may balk at the idea of starring in a low-budget TV movie, Nick said the demand for Christmas movies is so great that “these stars know it’s going to be good for their profile, in those movies to appear. ‘
Kristin Davis starred in Holiday in the Wild alongside Rob Lowe, who played her romantic interest in 2019
Vanessa Hudgens has a lucrative contract with Netflix and has starred in four of her Christmas films between 2019 and 2021, including The Knight Before Christmas Pictured
Pop culture and branding expert Nick Ede told Femail that stars like Freddie Prinze Jr. know they can be more relevant by starring in celebratory Netflix films
“The nostalgic element makes them relevant for today and they also know that being seen by millions of streamers will build their own brand equity,” he said.
“Either they get more work or they get hired to do more Christmas movies like the typical stars, which is extremely lucrative now,” he added.
Freddie Prinze Jr. returned to his romcom roots in the first trailer for the new celebratory Netflix film Christmas With You.
Fans were over the moon to hear that Lohan would be starring in her own Christmas movie this year
Lohan plays an heiress who meets a lonely widower in the Christmas movie, which released last week
Prinze Jr., 46, who rose to fame in ’90s classics like She’s All That, stars alongside Aimee Garcia in the film, which tells the story of pop star Angelina, who escapes her everyday routine to make a wish for a young small-town fan meet New York.
Christmas With You marks the star’s second feature film appearance this year, following Clerks II – but before that he hadn’t appeared in a film since 2012’s TV movie Happy Valley.
Ladies’ Night director Gabriela Tagliavini directed the film, which is due to hit Netflix on November 17.
Meanwhile, in October, the announcement that Lindsay Lohan would star in her own Christmas movie caused quite a stir.
The former child actress stars alongside Chord Overstreet, 33, in the romantic comedy about an heiress named Sierra who falls in love with a widower. The film will be released on Netflix on November 10th.
The project is Lindsay’s first with the streaming giant and is part of her two-picture partnership with the streamer.
Lindsay told Tudum, “It’s such a refreshing, heartwarming romantic comedy and I miss making films like this.”
Last year, 1990s star Brook Shields was one of the familiar faces in one of Netflix’s celebratory films.
She was the centerpiece of A Castle For Christmas, which tells the story of Sophie Brown, a best-selling author who hits a snag in her career and decides to travel to Scotland, where she falls in love with a castle for sale.
Nina Dobrev starred in the Christmas comedy Love Hard, the title of which was inspired by Love Actually and Die Hard
Vanessa Hudgens also starred in Princess Switch in 2019, which was followed by a sequel in 2020 and another in 2021
And it turns out that not only does she have family ties to the castle, its owner is a grumpy Duke (Cary Elwes) who has no intention of selling it.
And High School Musical graduate Vanessa Hudgens refreshed her career with a long association with Netflix that saw her appear in their celebration films for three straight years thanks to her role in the Christmas romcom The Princess Switch, in which she plays not just one, but two main characters.
Hudgens also starred in Netflix’s The Knight Before Christmas in 2019, the same year Sex and the City star Kristin Davis played Rob Lowe’s love interest in Holiday in the Wild.
And fans of Nina Dobrev were thrilled to see her star in Love Hard, a romantic comedy with a catfishing twist that was released for Christmas last year and was set on the themes of Love Actually and Die Hard.