Freddie Prinze Jr. Recalls Falling in Love With Sarah Michelle Gellar After 3 Years of Friendship (Exclusive)

The actor chatted with ET about his upcoming Netflix rom-com 'Christmas With You' alongside costar Aimee Garcia.

Freddie Prinze Jr. has officially ended his decades-long hiatus from romantic comedies. The 46-year-old actor stars opposite Aimee Garcia in Netflix's new holiday movie, Christmas With You. The seasonal flick follows Angelina (Garcia), a pop star who's grappling with career burnout and escapes to a small town where she finds not only inspiration but a shot of love. 

Inspired by an Instagram video from a young fan named Cristina (Deja Monique Cruz), Angelina decides to visit the young girl at her school as a bit of a publicity stunt. However, thanks to a fierce winter storm, the singer finds herself snowed in with Cristina and her father Michael (Prinze Jr.), who just so happens to be a music teacher and songwriter. The two inevitably begin a musical collaboration, but their bond might also grow to become something more intimate.

 Ironically, Christmas With You's story is a coincidental example of art imitating real life. Much like Angelina and Michael connect while working together, Prinze Jr. met his wife, Sarah Michelle Gellar, while working together on 1997's iconic slasher film I Know What You Did Last Summer. It's certainly not as jolly as working on a holiday hit together but it worked for the couple who recently celebrated 20 years of marriage

The couple didn't start dating until three years after working together, with Prinze Jr. admitting that he "didn't think she ate enough so I made sure I cooked for her."

"And she didn't have a driver's license so I was her chauffeur, and I would drive her to the gym every day and then go to the store, go get myself some lunch and then drive her back and we would just have an hour drive," he recalled. "We shot in this tiny little crazy town called South Fork. I would drive her to Wilmington every day that we had off, every day during rehearsals and we would have you know 55 minutes -- if I drove the speed limit -- to get to know one another. She was from New York City and I am a SoCal kid, so we were night and day, and it was just our philosophies on life just never clicked."

"Then one day everything clicked, and it was about probably three years later, and we started dating and she's been my girlfriend ever since," he added.

Directed by Gabriela Tagliavini, Christmas With You marks Prinze Jr.'s first feature film role in roughly a decade and his return to the rom-com genre that fans have been waiting for since the aughts. 

"My daughter is starting to have an interest in acting and so my wife and I both kind of said we want to be examples for that," Prinze Jr. told ET's Denny Directo of his motivation to join the holiday film, referencing his daughter Charlotte, 13, and son Rocky, 10, with Gellar. "My son could care less. He just wants to race cars, go fast and punch people. [So] that was the one part of it."

"But the main thing was I don't get to play Latinos very often in this business unless I create and write the show," the actor added. "Otherwise, it's always an after-the-fact studio thing, where the character's name is Mike Smith and [then] they cast me it's Mike Ramirez, and all of a sudden, they're like 'look we hired diverse people.' And it's an afterthought, so I don't count any of those."

The She's All That star noted how difficult it is to find opportunities when the people behind the camera are "all sort of in this world," pointing out that there aren't many Latinos "at that level that can get movies made, a lot of them are just trying to get in a position where they can assist one another."

"I've met a lot of resistance over the last twenty years," Prinze Jr. revealed, adding that his manager and agent don't get it as much. "So, when I get that opportunity, I promise I'm ready. Because I've been ready for twenty-three years. I take it very very seriously and when I saw [Christmas With You] come my way and I saw the last name and the first name, when I saw that script, I was like 'oh this is before the fact.' Normally his name would be Mike and then they would change it. I'm like 'I'm reading this tonight, tell 'em we'll talk tomorrow.' And we did."

Prinze Jr. said he loved the "father-daughter stuff" that went the extra mile when it came to connecting him with his character.  

Garcia, who flaunts her singing chops in the film, noted how rare it is to not only find "a classic Christmas American film made here with a Latino family" but also have said film written, produced, and directed by Latinos. 

"That is real trailblazing to me and it's very exciting because we really had a phenomenal team," the Lucifer actress said. "We had the DP of Batman Returns and Edward Scissorhands, we had the choreographer of Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, J. Lo and Beyoncé. We had the editor of Old School who came out of retirement after having done most of Will Ferrell's movies, to edit this film. And we have Latinos behind the camera and headlining the movie so it's really nice to have this all-star cast of teammates coming together."

The actress revealed that she even convinced Netflix to let her translate the final verse of Angelina's song into Spanish, which she did with the help of her mother. "I call my mom. Spanish is my first language and I only speak to her in Spanish. We translated it together and we sent it to Netflix, and they are like 'we are keeping it," she recalled. "[So] Angelina is going to sing it in Spanish without it being shoehorned in or inauthentic, so that is what I think really makes this film special, is that Freddie and I are all American actors, but we are bicultural, and the captains behind the camera were also Latinos."

Christmas With You premieres on Netflix Nov. 17


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