[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
Erin Krakow swaps her petticoats and corsets for blue jeans and boots Saturday night on Hallmark Channel with the premiere of A Summer Romance, which pairs her for the first time with Ryan Paevey. I spoke with Krakow this week on the eve of heading back into production for the seventh season of When Calls the Heart.
In the film, Krakow is Sam, a ranch owner who’s agreed to hear a pitch from Paevey’s NYC real estate developer Richard even though she has no intention of leaving her long-held family home. When an ill-timed arrival forces Richard to bunk at the ranch, he learns to let go of some of his polished ways and she sees beyond the city slicker façade.
WCTH producer Vicki Sotheran came up with the concept for the film, which was adapted by writer Robert Tate Miller. The film reteamed Krakow with director David Winning, who directed the second and third Father Christmas movies and directs her upcoming Sense, Sensibility, and Snowmen. He also directed Paevey in Unleashing Mr. Darcy. Working with him and Garage Sale Mystery alumni Sarah Strange and Kevin O’Grady and fellow Heartie Ava Grace Cooper was an added treat.
“I love work with David. He’s a great collaborative director. He always shows up with a smile on his face. We have a great working relationship, so it was very comfortable showing up to set knowing each other really well. I knew Kevin and Sarah fairly well. I knew how wonderful, funny, and talented they were. I got along with them great,” she says.
“I’ve worked with Ava Grace Cooper several years now on WCTH and am very close with her and her family. It almost made our lives a little bit easier to have those connections when we started. Often times as actors we have to fake history, so it was nice to have that work done for us.”
“Vicki is dear friend and very creative and a fantastic producer. She grew up riding horses. She was three when she started riding horses on her grandmother’s farm. She drew a lot from those experiences. She partnered with Robert to write the script and really created a beautiful story. She remembered those real city clickers who showed up and had no idea what to do with horses. It came very naturally to her. She was very generous letting me chime in with ideas and add my little touches to it.”
Krakow enjoyed her character’s independence, not to mention the wardrobe. “I remember the first time I got on the horse feeling such freedom in the way I mounted. When I’m mounting on WCTH there’s a fan kick I almost have to do to not get tangled up in my skirts. There was so much freedom in a pair of Levi’s,” she points out.
Throughout the film, Sam stands her ground, and while she challenges Richard and isn’t happy that he’s there, she never shifts into mean-spiritedness. Krakow loved that balance. “It was fun for me to get to play that arc for Sam. At first glance, she is going to keep him at arm’s length because she doesn’t trust him and by the end of the movie she’s come around quite a bit,” she explains.
“The meet cute was little different. We don’t spend a lot of time [discussing romantic pasts]. Her not wanting to be rescued was an important element we wanted to tell. She was a strong, capable woman and she wanted to save her ranch on her own. She had no expectation of a man riding in and making that happen. That speaks to her work ethic and her passion for the ranch and the cowboy code [that we talk about].”
As Hallmark is wont to do on many of their romances, there’s a fair in this one, and Krakow enjoyed shooting those scenes. “There were so many fun moments. As scary as it was, I loved getting to ride the Ferris wheel. I’m not super confident when it comes to heights,” she laughs. “I didn’t remember how fast Ferris wheels go. I did say to Ryan before we get on, ‘Please do not rock it,’ and he was very respectful. I loved the carnival day.”
The film shot just outside of Vancouver, which is also the home base of WCTH and Krakow was thrilled to head back up there on her hiatus. “We got to film in some beautiful, beautiful locations. Those vistas are not visual effects,” she shares.
“British Columbia has so much beauty to offer. There’s so much spectacular nature and beautiful sights to see. That and the people. I’ve made so many friends. I ended up working with a good number of these crew members on three projects this year and I just adore them. Vancouver is full of really good people.”
In a treat for our Killjoys fans (and me), this winter, you can catch Krakow on Hallmark Channel starring opposite Luke Macfarlane in Sense, Sensibility, and Snowmen, which follows last Christmas’s Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe in Jane Austen-derived holiday movies. Krakow and Macfarlane were classmates at Juilliard but hadn’t worked together professionally. The movie also stars Kimberley Sustad, and she and Krakow often shared fun behind-the-scenes pics and videos from the production.
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“I’ve known Luke for a very long time, but we’d fallen out of touch. I didn’t know him very well in college. I was a freshman and he was a senior. I remembered how talented and kind he was, not to mention beautiful. I was so happy to get to work with him again,” she shares.
“My love for him has grown even more after working on this project. He’s such a great guy and so talented. We just had a lot of fun. We had a lot of laughs. Getting to work with Kimberly and Jason [McKinnon]…the whole cast was made of super fun, positive, prepared people and again that great crew. We all just got along very, very well.”
Earlier this week, one of Krakow’s fans did a composite video of her co-stars chopping wood, and it dawned on her that she unintentionally broke the streak. “I was actually thinking about this movie, and I realized there’s no wood chopping scene and the fans will be so disappointed,” she laughs.
Filming is about to begin on Season 7 of WCTH, and it’s the second season Krakow has also carried the title of co-executive producer. She is deeply appreciative of the show’s longevity and the fans who have embraced it and carried the fandom into their own lives. And she appreciates Elizabeth’s philosophy, which is close to the one she learned at home as a young girl.
“Not a day goes by where I’m not aware of how lucky we are. I love our show. I love our family that we’ve built and I am so, so grateful for our fans being so supportive and loyal to our show, and passionate,” she says.
“I was optimistic during season one that this show would go on for a long time. I don’t think I had any sense of just how passionate the fan base would become. And I’m thrilled and so honored to be part of a project that makes people happy and brings people together.”
“Some of our fans have gotten married and named their children after characters. We’ve helped create friendships all over the world and it feels very special to be a part of a show that has that kind of effect and brings people together.”
“From the beginning, I’ve always been vocal about wanting to make sure we’re honoring the characters and storylines in a way that feels authentic to the world we’ve created. It’s never fun to be an audience member and [see things that don’t make sense for a character].”
“I’ve felt very protective of that from the beginning. I like to be a part of the creative process, to make sure we’re staying true to the world we’ve created. I’m very happy to have that title and honor and to feel that my value to the show goes beyond my services as an actor.”
“Working on this show, entering or seventh season, I’ve learned that it takes a lot of endurance, making sure I’m strong and healthy and ready to go is a good thing to have. I’ve learned that you never know what a person is going through. That’s a lesson my Mom taught us as kids when we’d come home complaining about a friend.”
“Her lesson was, ‘You never know what’s going on behind closed doors with someone and what their family’s like and to try have patience.’ And that’s something that Elizabeth is pretty good at doing, so that reinforces that wonderful lesson my Mom taught us as kids. Both of my parents were great role models.”
A Summer Romance premieres Saturday at 9 pm/8c on Hallmark Channel, and Krakow intends to live Tweet the East Coast airing. Here’s a sneak peek, plus the full summer preview special that Krakow and Paevey co-hosted.
Photos and Videos courtesy of Crown Media.
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