We’re only two episodes into Hallmark’s new family drama with a fantasy element, The Way Home, but we’re already eager for more.
We had the chance to catch up with Evan Williams, who plays the adult version of Elliot Augustine, a long-time family friend of the Landry family.
Elliot is a part of the family’s fabric and acts as Alice’s tether as she navigates the past and present of his and her family’s lives.
What are you most enjoying about playing Elliot Augustine?
That’s a good one. I think Elliot is a really multifaceted character, which always fires my imagination.
What’s really cool about this character is I get to play one dynamic with Alice, which is sort of the mentor, like the older generation in confiding wisdom and direction, and at the same time, a different dynamic with Kat, who is Alice’s mother, which is, hopefully, more of a romantic, a peer trying to work his way out of the friend zone.
So it’s nice to play that tension between having so much authority with one person and then really struggling to try to find a level ground with the other person. It’s especially interesting when those two dynamics flip, and he’s having trouble establishing authority in any respect.
Something I find really interesting about his dynamic with both of them is that he has managed to keep that secret about Alice for all of those years. How do you think he managed to do that?
Well, I think Elliot is a guy who cares. He cares deeply about the Landrys, and also I think about reality. And as soon as you’re dealing with anything time travel related, you start to recognize how precarious the space-time continuum is.
And Elliot is a smart guy, and I don’t think he wants to tear a hole in reality and have the entire experiment go up in flames. So I think he saw it as imperative to keep the secret so he could keep the variables under control.
Now, I’m trying to imagine young Elliot, who, of course, you are not playing, but you are the elder Elliot. And when Jacob disappeared, do you think it dawned on him that maybe he went through the pond?
I mean, that seems like a seminal moment to me where I can’t imagine how anybody could not want to try to rip that hole if it meant getting a child back.
Yeah. I think Elliot is a scientist, and so I’m sure he’s examined every possible permutation of what might have happened. But he’s also not the kind of guy who’s going to run with theories.
He needs to be able to prove things. And the fact that the pond is, as we’ve established, an unreliable mechanism, meaning that sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, I think that there’s nothing Elliot could do with any of that information because he had to keep it secret.
So whatever his theories are, I’m sure he’s got years and years of writing about it. You can even tell by the way he acts when he finally meets Alice. It’s all happening. It’s all like he’s now on the other side.
And so maybe some of the mysteries he’s been harboring internally and alone for all these years, he finally is going to have a chance to get some answers to. So I think that’s really exciting for Elliot.
Have you given him some backstory into what it must have been like for those two times in his life to suddenly be in existence?
Yeah, definitely. It’s fundamental to being able to play a character like that, to be able to fill in the lines. And for me, the most important was what were the years in between.
And in a way, he’s sort of been given a prophecy, and I’m sure in the interceding years, he had multiple opportunities to either try to test that prophecy or try to reverse it or any number of things.
And so I had to make some decisions about what the state of Elliot we see at the beginning of our show is and how it compared to the young Elliot so beautifully and pointedly played by young David Webster, a really talented Canadian actor who I loved getting to work alongside.
We never really got to be in the same scene together, obviously, because that would break everything, but we did get some opportunity to put our heads together and develop some backstory and mannerisms and things that we could use to unite our two performances.
I was going to ask that because I noticed a real similarity between the time that young Elliot realizes that he’s not Alice’s father and the time that you are reacting to Kat when she puts her head on your shoulder. There was a real longing on both of your faces at that time.
Well, that’s really gratifying to hear that it made it through the airwaves and into your eye holes, so thanks for watching.
[laughs] Yes, yes, it did. What’s he feeling now that Kat’s back in his life as he’s dealing with all of this stuff from the past that is coming together? I mean, you can see the hope on his face that he still harbors feeling for her. So yeah, he does want to get out of the friend zone, as you mentioned.
Yeah. Well, I think Kat and Alice represent to Elliot an opportunity to finally be free of the prophecy of living within a defined reality, which he’s been doing forever since he was 16 years old. So I think it’s exciting and scary.
And I also think there’s something to somebody who is living or figures out how to live comfortably within one modality, let’s say, as soon as it’s challenged, or there’s the possibility that everything could change, all of a sudden the question becomes, well, do I want it to change? And am I ready for it to change?
And so I think Elliot’s just working really hard to pay attention and, as always, see if he can be of service. Because yeah, he loves not only Kat but this whole family. They’re so central to his entire life in ways that they don’t even know, or most of them don’t even know at this point.
So yeah, it’s like all of a sudden, there’s a charge, and it feels like the wattage is amping up for Elliot, and he’s learning how to deal with the new current.
So I’m curious, if someone showed you a magical pond and then you could go somewhere, would you jump in?
Absolutely. Without hesitation. Well, I mean, the question is when, right? When would I want to land?
Right. Do you know when you would want to land?
Well, I mean, it’s a tough one. It’s tough to decide when because you don’t want to get in trouble for the things you know. So yeah, maybe something like 20 years.
Twenty years would be nice because it’s not so far back that you’re going to be accused of being a heretic, and you’re not going to become a snack for a Tyrannosaurus Rex or something like that.
So it would be really fascinating to be able to witness yourself making important choices. And I also think it would be really difficult not to want to get involved.
Right. And since we know that the pond has a mind of its own, I know where you’d want to go about 20 years. Where do you think it would take you?
Wherever I was needed, probably.
That’s a good one. Yeah. I would imagine it would take me someplace really awkward that I didn’t really want to go. Like my punishment for jumping in. [laughs]
Yeah. Or if there was something, like maybe in a dream, if there was some experience that I took to heart and had the opportunity to witness from the side and recognize the lesson that I had learned or how it changed me.
I came away with it thinking one thing, but [through the pond] I was able to find some reflexivity and see it from a different angle and maybe forgive myself or have some more empathy.
Because it’s hard to grow up. It’s hard to be alive. So I think it’s a wish fulfillment thing to be able to go back and learn more, knowing what we now know.
Which leads me to this question, if you could give Elliot advice, both young and old, what would it be?
Oh, hang in there. And also, you matter. Your heart matters, and how you feel matters. I think Elliot’s a helper, and sometimes helpers forget to help themselves.
And my last question for you is, how would you tease the rest of the season?
It just gets so much more exciting and complex and rewarding from here on out. Now that we’ve set up the show, we know who the characters are and what they want. Prepare for all of your expectations to be flipped upside down.
And I think folks are going to fall in love with these characters even more and hopefully see a little bit of themselves.
The Way Home airs Sundays at 9/8c on Hallmark Channel.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.