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EXCLUSIVE TV Goodness Q&A: Erin Krakow Talks When Calls the Heart [INTERVIEW] 

Photo Credit: Eike Schroter/Crown Media
Photo Credit: Eike Schroter/Crown Media United States LLC

Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart wraps its freshman season tonight, and we had the chance to chat exclusively with Erin Krakow about bringing Elizabeth Thatcher to life every week, bonding with the cast and crew, and the support of the Hearties.

Krakow came to the series after the two-hour film had been shot and concurrent with her casting in Chance at Romance (aka Friend Request) for Hallmark Channel. “I’d heard a little bit about it, and I was really interested in the characters,” she says. “The opportunity to work with Michael Landon Jr. and Brian Bird was exciting, and of course, the Hallmark Channel. Who doesn’t love it? I expressed my interest and they were interested in seeing me. After a few really fun auditions, they cast me, and the rest is history.” While she hadn’t read the namesake book before she was cast, she’s read it since, and spoke highly of meeting the woman who created this world. “Janette Oke is the sweetest woman you’ll ever met…so nice,” she says.

A Julliard graduate just coming off a run on the final season of Lifetime’s Army Wives, Krakow says the transition from modern-day war veteran to early 20th century teacher was fairly seamless. “My background is theater-based and I’ve done a good amount of classical work and I had that to help me,” she points out. “From the start, I felt very connected to the character and the world.”

Krakow grew up watching Little House on the Prairie, and spending time with her family watching it. She’s happy that When Calls the Heart has picked up that mantle as family-friendly (and kid-safe) programming that everybody can watch together. “It’s been a while since there’s been a show that appeals to everyone in the family in the same way. I feel very proud to be part of something that has such a big heart and appeals to any age,” she says. “You can watch it with your great grandma or your nephew. There’s something for everyone and it’s an honor to be a part of that.”

Photo Credit: Eike Schroter/Crown Media United States, LLC
Photo Credit: Eike Schroter/Crown Media United States, LLC

Shooting on location in British Columbia and Vancouver helped the cast and crew bond on set and in their off hours. “I loved being in Vancouver. I had never been to Canada before, so it was a cool experience for me from go.” she says. “We film in the most beautiful, picturesque location. I think there was something to being away from home and wanting to get together on the weekends. We have the greatest crew and I made some really great friendships, going to the movies with Daniel and our wardrobe designers, getting to enjoy the town and enjoy getting to know each other.”

The young actors who fill Elizabeth’s classroom as her students found friendships from their time on set, too. “They’re all seated three or four [to] a table. They spend a good amount of  downtime talking to each other and playing hand games or creeping over to craft services,” she says. She says they also help her become Elizabeth. “They’re working long days and it’s exhausting to focus that long [but] they’re so cute and really so genuinely excited to be there and learn that they make it very easy for me.”

In addition to finding inspiration in the kids, Krakow tapped her memories of her own teachers. “I had so many influential teachers. I’ve been very lucky to have quite a few teachers who had something special about them and their passion for teaching came through and made me excited to learn,” she recalls fondly. “Some of my favorites were my acting and theater teachers. They got me excited about making a career out of acting. I draw on that when I play Elizabeth.”

Photo Credit: Eike Schroter/Crown Media United States, LLC
Photo Credit: Eike Schroter/Crown Media United States, LLC

Krakow couldn’t pinpoint one favorite episode, and said it’s more a case of loving every one of them as they get to air. “With every episode I watch, it’s fun to see [everything come] together,” she says. “Everybody works so hard. The most recent is my favorite every week.”

The first season was fairly mapped out from the jump, as far as where the producers wanted the story to go. “The [producers] had some very strong ideas of what our arcs would be and how the relationship [between Jack and Elizabeth] would slowly develop,” she says. “There have been a few surprises along the way, and luckily we’re working with a very talented group of people who are game to see where that takes us. It’s been exciting for everyone and I think everyone’s been very happy with how it developed.”

Like us, she’s not quite sure how much time has passed for the characters since Elizabeth’s arrival, but she suggested it could have been the term of a school year (nine-ish months). “I should know that,” she laughs. “We never really sat down and decided. It’s been enough time [for everyone] to get to know the town, and love Abigail, and for Elizabeth to care deeply for Jack.”

One of the things that’s been so special about the first season is the cast and crew’s embrace of social media, and Twitter, to engage the fans not only during the episodes, but throughout the season–while they were still in production. “The fans have been so supportive and so welcoming and loving. I didn’t have to deal with anything critical that made us want to change anything drastically,” she says. “More than anything, it’s been incredibly encouraging. We really appreciate their support. It feels special the way they’ve banded together as the Hearties. They can talk about the show and have created new friendships among each other and that’s been special, too.”

Chance at Romance had a great fan response here at TV Goodness, so we asked about that. “I love a good romantic comedy, and this one was to die for,” she says. “Getting to work with Ryan McPartlin, who’s so funny, and Pat Richardson, who we know and love, and director Bradford May, who has such a big heart [was really special]. I’m so glad it had such a great response.” For the commenters who asked us, Krakow says the film shot in and around Simi Valley California.

Looking ahead to next season (fingers crossed!), Krakow says they’ve talked a little bit about where the season might take them, but they didn’t get into specifics  as they wait to learn whether season two is a go. For now, she’s making a new home for herself in Los Angeles and is on the lookout for the next project while she waits for word on a renewal.

When Calls the Heart airs Saturday on Hallmark Channel at 9/8c.

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  1. CK

    I have watched this show from the start and absolutely love it! I have watched and repeated episodes, and I have come to appreciate the various characters and their effect on the plot and development of the story. But really…….. I can’t bear another episode of the whole Rosemary story…. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE no more Rosemary!

  2. Sonya Williams

    My family is thrilled with the Hallmark Channel’s new series, When Calls the Heart. We absolutely love this show!!! We all can sit down and enjoy Saturday night television together. We love that it is family friendly, faith based, character building, and a wholesome love story. When promoting WCTH to my friends, I describe it’s like Little House on the Prairie plus Anne of Green Gables with a touch of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. Thank you Erin Krakow and all of the other wonderful actors and actresses who have given their talents to bring to us When Calls the Heart!!! Hallmark Channel and Crown Media: Please renew for many more seasons!!!

  3. Ron Martin

    I started watching this show only recently and have found it to be refreshing to see how prim and proper everyone is. It is Definitely family show and harks back to the day when people had manors!

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