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Erin Krakow Talks Blind Date Book Club and When Calls the Heart Season 11 

Erin Krakow Talks Blind Date Book Club and When Calls the Heart Season 11

[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]

This weekend, Hallmark Channel brings us an Erin Krakow double feature with the back-to-back premieres of Blind Date Book Club Saturday night and the Season 11 premiere of When Calls the Heart Sunday night. 

In Blind Date Book Club, Krakow and Robert Buckley play Meg, the owner of a Nantucket bookstore, and Graham, a bestselling YA author trying to launch a one-off book that’s a passion project his publisher won’t release. When Graham hears Meg during a radio interview, waxing eloquently about the power of a good book and her community-building blind date with a book event that invites users to buy a book sight unseen and return for a book club conversation about it, he head to Nantucket in the hopes it will offer help him find an audience. 

A bit of a ruse at first, Meg soon learns the real reason Graham’s in town, and whereas that might be a late development in a standard romcom, here it opens the door for real talk (and romance, obvi) and some self-examination on Meg’s part to decide whether the bookstore that’s the legacy of her aunt and late mom is her lifelong plan. 

Season 11 of When Calls the Heart is setting up a new dynamic for Elizabeth as she explores her feelings for Nathan while maintaining a post-relationship friendship with Lucas. This week, I chatted with her about both projects. 

Blind Date Book Club

While Krakow hadn’t worked directly with Buckley, they had met, and that helped them jump right into the project. And as we’ve seen on social media, the pair had no fun whatsoever. “I had worked with his good buddy, Brendan Penny, last year on The Wedding Cottage. He just spoke so highly of Rob,” she recalls.

“Rob and I were working on a little kind of prank thing for Brendan, and so we were in touch throughout that process. It was such a fun surprise to learn that we’ve been cast opposite each other. He was wonderful and did not disappoint. We had an absolute blast.”

It was also her first time working in any capacity with Hallmarkies favorite Peter Benson, who directed the film. “I had heard such good things about him both as an actor and director. And he was all of that and more. It’s funny because sometimes when people say, ‘Oh, this person is an actor’s director,’ the takeaway is that that’s their focus, but they can’t necessarily do the other things that come with directing,” she explains.

“But Peter has it all and he does it all. Not only was he super prepared and knew all his shots, he also had some lovely locations and visuals in mind and wanted to elevate each scene as much as we could. He was really open to talking about play and was very present with everyone involved in every element of the production. Certainly yes with the actors, but he was also right there with the producers, with the DP, with props, with set dec, just making sure that every element of the movie was where it needed to be.”

The film shared some sweet similarities with When Calls the Heart, taking the time to slow things down and celebrate reading. “There is a focus on reconnecting with something that the world is trying to rush past. I’m certainly guilty of spending more time on social media than I do reading favorite books. I personally really do appreciate a hard copy of a book,” she says.

Blind Date Book Club

“I love taking a new paperback fiction to the beach. That is such a happy place for me. So for me personally I do feel connected to that desire to return to real books and things that we enjoyed in a simpler time.”

“The community certainly feels parallel to our community in When Calls to Heart, but it did resonate for me. One of the things that I love about this project is it did such a good job of celebrating that small town community where everyone knows each other’s names. There’s a beauty and a magic in that coastal living.”

Krakow also appreciated the work of the extended cast and crew. “The scenes in the bookshop are so charming, even though you’re not necessarily getting the magnificent Nantucket scenery outside of it. Our crew did such a fantastic job creating this bookshop within a little hotel in Langley. I’ve got to give them a lot of credit. Anytime I stepped into that set, I really felt like I was in a charming little small town bookshop,” she shares.

“Rob and I had a particularly good time despite the freezing wet rain.We had some gorgeous sunny days and then we had this freak snowstorm that just dumped like crazy. It was all over the map. And I’ve got to give a shout out to Peter and our camera team for finding a way to shoot around that madness to offer continuity of season.”

“I really enjoyed this scene where Graham and Meg are on a date at this little seafood place. And I was just so impressed by the way our ADs had orchestrated the background actors to just fly in and out. Because it’s a scene that was shot as one, despite taking place in several chunks. Between each little scene that time will have passed, our background actors were flying in removing plates, setting down new ones, and it was just seamless.”

Blind Date Book Club

“I found that to be really impressive. It was late, it had been a long day and we were just having a lot of fun giggling over lobster ice cream and trying to find the joy in that moment in their relationship. That was a really fun and silly scene to get to play.”

The Hearties fanbase has been staunchly loyal for over a decade, and their dedication is not lost on Krakow. I likened it to an oasis in the world across a particularly turbulent time, and she agrees. “I love hearing that. I’m not sure I’ve heard it put that way. But I really appreciate that. It’s meaningful to me,” she shares.

“Even though we are in the 1920s, we’re not necessarily rushing into rapid growth. I think part of why people love When Calls the Heart is because they can be swept away to a more rural community where they’re not inundated with technology. It’s just a simpler time, a simpler way of being.”

“Anytime our show is spoken of as it applies to joining the ranks of certain shows who have been around past 10 seasons, it’s a point of pride, for sure. We all work really, really hard and we care deeply about our show and the people who view it. We want to make it as good as it can possibly be.”

“There’s a lot of passion that goes into it from all of us. So to know that it’s well received and that we have the support and the loyalty of Hallmark, who have continued to keep us on the air all this time, it is so validating. I’m just so grateful to continue to have this opportunity because I happen to love my job and the people I do it with.”

When Calls the Heart

Those same Hearties have also been vocal about the twists and turns the show has taken, riding out the departure of Daniel Lissing and the death of Elizabeth’s first love, Jack, and the slow-burn love triangle of Lucas and Nathan as suitors. After establishing a dedicated relationship arc with Lucas that included a marriage proposal, and an easy friendship with Nathan, last season the show pivoted again, splitting up Elizabeth and Lucas as he pursued a political career and Henry put words to her growing feelings for Nathan. 

It was a lot to ask of fans who’d perhaps been rooting for one over the other across the multiseason arc, settled into the choice presented and then had the story change again. Krakow recognizes that some fans were flustered and says the show was never following some master plan with a misdirection or sleight of hand. It was simply a storyline that grew and changed over a period of years.

“It was never meant to be a bait and switch. It’s not as though those creating the show said, ‘Oh, I know, I know what’ll really catch the fans and really upset them. Let’s start with one and then switch to the other. There was truly nothing intentionally malicious about this at all,” she explains.

“And another thing to keep in mind is that this show and the creation of a series is an organic thing. And in some cases for a show, where it’s a limited series and it’s only going to run a certain number of episodes, maybe they know exactly where it is going to go or where it’s going to end. In our case, that isn’t the case.”

When Calls the Heart

“In fact, we’ve had several different showrunners over the years and different writers. We’ve had different network executives and different people in leadership positions. When Calls the Heart has continued to evolve with every passing year. And so I feel protective when people try to point fingers at only one person or only one team and say, ‘They’ve done this to the show,’ or ‘They’re choosing sides’ or whatever.”

“That is not the case. We never meant to bait and switch anyone. It’s not as though we’ve always known that it’s going to end up a certain way. Quite frankly, I hope the show isn’t ending anytime soon. I don’t know the true definition of the word ‘end game,’ but as I use it today, what I mean is I am really excited about the love story that we’re telling between Elizabeth and Nathan, and I think that they are meant for one another.”

“I’m really excited to get to tell that story now. But I am also so glad that we were able to tell the love story of Elizabeth and Lucas because I think it’s the love story that Elizabeth needed in that moment to show her that she was capable of love again.”

“And even though he didn’t prove to be the person she was meant to be with forever, he served a very significant purpose in her life. And I like to think she served an important purpose in his life, as well, helping him discover that he’s meant for the bigger stage and that he has the power within him to do great things for their community.”

When Calls the Heart

“It’s a complicated topic, but it’s important to me that people know we never meant to deceive anyone. And hopefully this new storyline means that there’s something that everyone will have an opportunity to enjoy.”

“I really hate to refer back to anything triangular or team-adjacent, but I will just say Lucas has an incredible storyline in season 11. And for those who have been wanting a love story between Nathan and Elizabeth, I think they’ll be really excited to see the promise of one to come. And hopefully we approach it in a very respectful way.”

Earlier this year, Krakow reunited with Lissing for a 2024 Christmas movie, Santa Tell Me, that will air on Hallmark Channel later this year. “I can tell you it is such a fantastic script. It is full of comedy. There’s a lot of fun oil-and-water energy between Daniel’s character and mine. It was great to reunite with him. It’s been years since we’ve worked together and I think the fans are really going to enjoy it,” she says.

“ It was lots of fun, lots of visual effects and magic and comedy. It’s going to be a delight. I loved getting back into the Christmas spirit. It has been years. It’s tricky with the When Calls schedule to squeeze one in, but I was grateful that we were able to make it work this February. And it was just a fantastic team. Ryan [Landels], who wrote it and directed it, is a super, super talented guy and I look forward to the opportunity to work with him again.”

Blind Date Book Club premieres Saturday at 8 pm/7c on Hallmark Channel in the U.S. and W Network in Canada. When Calls the Heart Season 11 premieres at 9 pm/8c Sunday on Hallmark Channel in the U.S. and Super Channel Heart & Home in Canada. Here are sneak peeks of both.

Photos courtesy of Allister Foster and Ricardo Hubbs for Hallmark Media; videos courtesy of Hallmark Media.

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