If you think it’s only Marvel superheroes that get to enjoy a multiverse of interconnecting movies – as showcased once more in the studio’s latest smash-hit Spider-Man: No Way Home – then let us introduce you to Hallmark’s character Kenny.
A popular cable channel that produces its own film and TV shows, Hallmark’s calling card is a good ol’ romance, and come Christmas time they pull double duty and, it turns out, like to nourish working relationships with many of their actors.
Enter Nelson Wong, who has – to date – appeared in a staggering 27 movies for Hallmark, and each time played the character of Kenny, after making a good impression on director Ron Oliver, when he played sidekick detective Kenny Kwon in 2005 mystery movie Third Man Out.
The majority of his films have also been festive movies, too.
Speaking to CBC News, Wong explained: ‘As Ron started working for Hallmark, Kenny started working for Hallmark. It’s just grown into a thing. The fans seem to respond to it and 27 movies later, here we are.’
The actor, who has also appeared in TV shows Riverdale and Arrow (not as Kenny), has previously said that he didn’t really celebrate the holiday season until he started working for Hallmark, having been raised a Jehovah’s Witness.
In his trademark part as Kenny, the character has displayed a vast array of skills and appeared in various roles including a concierge, a father, a wedding planner and a kitchen TV show director.
Wong joked: ‘The whole time, I’ve been thinking Kenny is still undercover as a detective. He’s just got these identities that allow him to go to these different universes.’
Step aside, Doctor Strange and Loki…
Films in which Wong has played Kenny include A Timeless Christmas, Christmas at the Plaza, The Christmas Train and Every Christmas Has a Story.
Just this year, Hallmark has released 41 holiday and Christmas-themed movies, most of which are shot around Wong’s hometown of Vancouver, where he moved with his parents from New Zealand at the age of six.
The actor is also firmly against the criticism of Hallmark movies as ‘too schmaltzy’, as he sees actors ‘struggle’ with the genre in his role as an acting coach and ‘always want to play the drama… like The Bourne Identity’.
‘These Hallmark movies are actually more true to real life, I’d say — nice people trying their best given their circumstances.’
Wong also praised the movement he’s seen in the company in recent years to become more inclusive and move away from the solely representing its characters as majority white and exclusively straight couples.
As he puts it, ‘people are not satisfied with homogenous depictions of families’.
Lat year, Hallmark debuted its first LGBTQ holiday movie with The Christmas House, which prominently featured a gay couple played by Mean Girls star Jonathan Bennett and Brad Harder.