Interview With Actress Karen Kruper, “Chesapeake Shores” and More

By Ruth on October 15, 2016 in Interview, movie, television
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If you loved the new original Hallmark Channel series, Chesapeake Shores (that, by the way, is the most popular series in the network’s history), you may have noticed this particular actress, Karen Kruper. While she portrayed the role of Trace’s mother in season one of this charming show, she has also been seen in a handful of other network films. Thus, she is certainly no stranger to the network, and definitely no stranger to the art of acting. Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with her about her role in this series as well as some of her past and future endeavors. Although season one has come to a conclusion as far as Chesapeake Shores is concerned, we are all optimistic that a season two will be announced shortly, and that we will be able to continue to tune in for our weekly visitation of cheer with the O’Brien family and company for many years to come!

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RH: Why did you decide to become an actress?

KK: Oh, that’s such a good question. I actually was one of those kids that got all the neighborhood kids together. We had a garage on our house with a driveway that went down, so it was perfect to set up benches and chairs. And I’m telling you, all I would do is rush on home from school, make tickets, and we would just come up with something on the spot and drag every single kid available to our home, and therefore, their parents had to come. And we had shows all summer long. And I don’t know why that worked, but everybody that was in the play, was in the audience. So when we got up to say thanks, there was nobody in the audience. {laughs} But we started to write plays–my friends and I–when I was in grade six. And then you start to grow out of it as time goes on. You’re more aware of your school and peers and things that matter.

From there, I started in theater in Toronto about thirty years ago. I was dragged to my first theater, and I mean dragged! And I only went to support my friend Michelle, but at the end of the theater reading, I put my name down for an audition for the next day. And that’s where it started. I auditioned, got roles, and started acting in plays. And then I started winning awards. And I tell ya, even though I was concerned about getting on stage initially, it got to the point where they had to get the cane out to pull me off. {laughs} Anyway, I continued in theater, but I got a regular job, too, in advertising. And that became part of something that grew into a documentary production company that I was a partner in. So I started to learn about documentary filmmaking. My love of documentary filmmaking is so strong, and I just applaud how real and submittable that style of documenting events is. It was a natural for me to go from behind the camera to in front of the camera. And that happened in 1995.

fb_img_1476159076981.jpgI was looking through your credits, and I recognized quite a few things you had been in. And then recently, you’ve done all this Hallmark stuff. 

Yeah, and there’s quite a few indies that are not there. I’ve been doing this for twenty years now, and the thing is the first ten years honestly, Ruth, came so easily to me that I thought I never really would have to apply myself. I could just carry on. And I was a single mom raising my kids, and yet we were maintaining a reasonable lifestyle. And of course, you always think the film industry is gonna be just fine, but then you go through the writer’s strike, and there’s a dip, and then you go through another dip, and I realized I might really have to start applying myself. I was so intent on independent productions and small scale productions. So my resume is kinda spotty in places. But it’s been a marvelous run these last two, three years with Hallmark. Just a marvelous run. I’ve been so lucky. From one Lifetime or Hallmark show to the next. It’s been great. It’s been fabulous.

When I was looking at your credits, I was like, “I’ve seen that and I’ve seen that,” and I hadn’t realized all the Hallmark stuff that you had done. I’ve been trying really hard to make sure that I notice all the cast members, but it’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s not easy to track down who is playing the more minor roles in Hallmark productions. And now instead of doing all the reviews that I used to do, I do more interviews.

And I noticed that you retweeted something that Rick Ravanello tweeted out. I remember years ago, sitting at a restaurant with Rick. I think we shared an agent years ago. This restaurant spilled out onto the dock over the creek. I’m a little nervous about birds, and Rick’s like, “Just relax. The birds are not gonna bother you.” Well, of course they’re gonna bother us ’cause we’re all eating chips and mussels. Of course, they’re gonna bother us. And I couldn’t even carry on a conversation. I got hit by a bird twice. I was sitting right beside Rick, and I had bird stuff on each shoulder, and nobody else at the table was damaged. And Rick said, “I want you to keep all of that nonsense over there.”  {laughs} I just love that you’re in touch with him ’cause I just think he’s a great guy. A pretty deep, healed actor. I love to watch him. He’s got that guy next door face, but a very deep well to draw from.

Rick and I originally connected over the film Driven Underground since he was in it with my friend Sebastian Spence. I was watching the movie because of Sebastian, but then Rick played this bad guy who was a hit man. Rick always seems to play the bad guy. So that’s how I connected with Rick, and I almost met Rick earlier this year, but he was just too busy. But I’ve gotten to chat with Rick. Well, actually he did most of the talking.

That sounds like Rick.

He was able to talk circles around me. But Rick and Sebastian are the ones I go to if I need advice. Rick is really good about giving advice and saying things the way I need to hear them. Rick is very direct.

Yes, he is.

Chesapeake Shores is actually when I first noticed you. 

Like I was saying, this has been such a wonderful turn of events this last few years. I moved to Los Angeles about seven years ago or so to get out of the rain really. And I thought, “You know, I’ll give this acting career a chance.” But as you know, it takes longer than a couple years to get your feet in. I got an agent right away and started auditioning right away and totally fell in love with Los Angeles and the fact that everybody has a project. Everybody’s got something in their hip pocket; they’re passionate about something…whether it’s music or writing or an idea for something or a script or you know, whatever it is. It seemed as though everybody was involved and everybody was a part of a nucleus, right? Or at least they were in their minds. And I just love being part of that. It just seemed like I was getting to go out with an older brother for a change along with his friends as opposed to staying at home and watching them leave down the driveway. And the idea that I could work both sides of the border was fantastic because like we said, Vancouver is a small nucleus of people that’s obviously creating a huge economic boom. But the nucleus is still very small, and there are those who have been in it for twenty-five years, and just by being here this long, you know everybody. So it’s fabulous.

So this last couple of years, I’ve done a lot with Hallmark, and to me that was just wonderful ’cause I kinda knew what to expect. I knew what the Hallmark message was like. Earlier this year, I spent about five months in Vancouver. I had seventeen flights, and I would get home, and my agent would say, “Get on a plane and come back.” Or I’d be at the airport just getting on a flight home, and my agent would say, “You gotta book a return flight on Monday.” So in those seventeen flights, I was only home ten and a half days in those five months. And I would go from one to the next one and so on.

wp-1476158413292.jpgSo there was a Monday afternoon, and I had been on hold with the network for a show that I hadn’t auditioned for, and it was called Chesapeake Shores. And I didn’t know much about it. I don’t like to pay too much attention if they’re still deliberating, and I don’t really have an attachment to it. You know, you don’t want to really get invested. And so I looked at it and saw that, “Oh, it’s Jesse Metcalfe. Oh my gosh, Diane Ladd! Oh my gosh, look at these characters! Treat Williams! Oh my gosh, it’s great!” So I got a note from my agent on Sunday night, and she said, “You might have to get back here on Monday.” And I said, “Well, they go to camera on Wednesday, so we’re gonna need to know pretty soon.” Monday afternoon at 1:00, I still didn’t know. But then I got the call, got on a plane the next day, and by Wednesday was on set. So of course, on the plane, I’m scrolling through all this stuff and reading this lovely story about this family and this group of girls and all the subplots that I see happening in this, and I’m thinking, “Oh this is wonderful! Oh the cottage, the series!” It was fantastic. And I didn’t know Jesse Metcalfe from a hole in the ground. But the beauty of the whole thing for me was that I saw Anne Wheeler was gonna be our director. Ruth, I just about ate my hat. That woman, I’ve gotten to know her work since back in 1989, and I’ve been following her since then. And when I saw that it was Anne Wheeler, I just couldn’t believe it.

So ten to seven on Wednesday morning, I was going into my trailer, I dropped my stuff off, and I was just about to run off, and I heard an insistent knock. There’s someone at my door. I opened the door, and there’s Anne in this beautiful, glowing turquoise outfit and this great big sun hat, and she said, “Hello, Karen, my name is Anne. I wonder if I could talk to you about your character.” “Oh my gosh, yes! I was just coming to find you!” So she came into my trailer and said, “Thanks so much for coming on board and especially at such short notice. We’re thrilled to have you on board.” I was just gob-smacked! I couldn’t believe it. So she came into the trailer, and she’s right to business. “Here’s how I see your character. ” And then, “What do you think about this?” And I said, “Well, because of this, I think this.” And she’s like, “Good. And what about this?” We just had this marvelous, swirling meeting of the minds, and about fifteen minutes later, she said, “Okay, good. I think we’ve got it.” And she bolted out. And I thought, “This is fabulous. That’s exactly what I had in my head.” I was trying to solidify it, and I thought, “Oh my goodness, I have to go find Jesse now.”

wp-1476158382772.jpgSo I left the trailer, headed to hair and make-up. I knew they’d opened the door, and they were waving at me to come in, but I didn’t want to go into hair and make-up until I’d had a little face-to-face with Jesse. Because I didn’t want to arrive on set having never met him, without never having been nose-to-nose with him. So I was going about, and I couldn’t find him when all of a sudden, there’s this little entourage at a trailer, and we went whipping past each other, and I went, “Hey!” And he said, “Hey.” I said, “Jesse, this is Karen! Oh my goodness, I’m so glad to meet you.” And immediately, he said, “Um, okay, so I’ve been looking at your character, and here’s how I see the development of your character.” And I was thinking, “Oh no, no, no! He’s gonna try and tell me what he thinks my character should be, and Anne has already told me what she thinks my character should be. And I think I’ve got it cemented in my head.” I was trying not to make eye contact. My head was down, and my arms were folded, and I went, “Okay, okay,” and I was listening. But I was thinking, “Okay, all right, okay, I see what you’re saying. All right, I could try that.” And then I had to stop him, and I said, “You know what? I based this character on a relationship with a son that she has loved so much and tried to protect, and somehow she has become his lighthouse. For some reason, even though he’s adopted. Even though she has come between him and his father. Somehow she has been a bastion of strength for him.” And he looked at me, and he said, “Oh my gosh! My mother is one of my favorite people in the world, and I talk to her almost every day. This is just gonna be wonderful.” And we gave each other a big hug, and it was like, “Oh my gosh! This is so great!” And by the end of the second day of shooting, we were sitting there between setups, and everyone had been saying to me how Jesse is particular about how a scene should go. He’s very professional. He’s very particular. Well quite frankly, I admire that. Near the end of the second day, we were sitting back there in our chairs, and I said, “And I like you because…” And he said, “No, no, no, I like you because…” {laughs} So I just thank my lucky stars. I think he’s just wonderful to work with. I think he’s very gracious, very generous. He knows exactly what’s going on in every scene and actually allows you the space to do what you need to do.  And in my limited but lengthy but limited experience in episodics–you don’t have a lot of time on a TV show to take that moment or that pause, and yet I feel like we have such a wonderful chemistry that so much can be said between the lines. I think it’s just a wonderful thing that we got paired up together somehow. I can’t wait to get to set to see him again!

That’s great. I know all of us can’t see how there won’t be a season two. 

Me too!

I don’t see how they would not give us a season two with the way the numbers have been, with the response from the fans…

You know, I believe so too. Haven’t we had like 2.8, 2.9 million viewers consistently on every episode? It’s been pretty great. And the foreshadowing–you cannot not have at least a season two. Even with the little bit of information that they’ve given me about my character through other characters. I think the world’s gonna want to know what’s goin’ on.

fb_img_1476159141047.jpgI think so, too. So are you on one or two episodes?

I was on the earlier episode, and I’m on the season finale. Which is great ’cause there’s a couple little hints that are dropped in that one. And it was fabulous to have Anne Wheeler just walk me through what she thought my character should be. And then to get my ideas in there, too. And then Anne turned to me and said, “You sing, don’t you?” And I hesitated. She said, “The right answer is ‘yes.'” “Yes, I certainly do sing.” {laughs} And John Tinker–isn’t he wonderful? Isn’t he just the cat’s pajamas? {laughs} He is crazy! Crazy twitterer. So he sent me this really lovely email–they were editing one of my episodes–I haven’t actually met him yet. And so he sent me an email that said, “Dear Karen, Long overdue and I’m very sorry that we didn’t actually get to meet in person when you were brought on. It was such a flurry of activity, and I’m just now sitting in an edit suite in Vancouver, and it’s raining. And I just wanted to thank you so much for your skill and your craft and I look forward to developing your character and seeing more of you. And I will personally make sure that I meet you next time we’re on set.” So somehow, God willing, we’re going to have another season.

I think so too. 

It’s great. We’re in terrific hands. Martin Wood and John Tinker–oh my goodness. Couldn’t be better, right?

{We proceeded to discuss John Tinker and his name on Facebook, and this led to a discussion about David Winning.}

Do you know David Winning, the director?

Yes, I do.

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There’s such a great story about this. I was cast in a David Winning film this past spring, and it was overlapping with two other shows. So when I got onto set, it was like being shot out of a cannon. And the two people I’m having a scene with, they had both worked with David before. And they were like, “Oh my gosh, you’re just gonna love David.” And I went, “Oh good.” And all of a sudden, this big man comes over to us and gives me a great, big hug, and he said, “Karen, I’m David, and you can call me Mr. Winning.” I laughed and went, “Okay, Mr. Winning.” And he just continued to be lovely, lovely, lovely.

The second day on set–and there was a lot of activity, and it was a great crew, and it was a gift going to set every day.  And I hadn’t spoken to him since that first day–just little bits, right? And of course, the rule is, if no one talks to you, you’re doing a good job and you’re getting it right. You want that. By the end of day two, it’s all quiet, and he said, ” Karen, can I talk to you for a minute?” And I was like, “Yes, sure. What’s up, David?”  And he said, “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but I LOVE having you on my set! I love it! You’re on time! You’re prepared! You get along well with others! You play in the sandbox! You know what you’re doing! I just LOVE having you on my set! And I haven’t had a chance to come over and tell you that. I have so much I have to deal with.” And then he walked off. {laughs}

wp-1476158327394.pngSo then a couple days later, my agent said, “You have an audition. Can you put this audition on tape in your trailer?” And I said, “Sure.” Then I looked at it. “Oh my gosh, it’s another David Winning!” So I thought I had better google this guy and find out what’s going on. Well, I found out that he and I went to school in Calgary at almost the same time period. I found out about all of our mutual friends. So the next morning, I walked onto set, and he’s with a crew member at the kitchen island trying to get a shot. And I walked by and I didn’t make eye contact. I just walked by and went, “Hey, Calgary.” And he went, “Wait! Wait a second! Get over here. Calgary?” And I went,” Yeah.” And he looked at me and went, “What high school did you go to?” And I said, “St. Francis. What high school did you go to?” And he said, “Aberhart.” And we both looked at each other and realized we were football rivals, basketball rivals. So then it began. And from that point on, I was hearing stories about his mom. We were talking about the neighborhood. We were sharing tales. I did my tape audition, and then it went to network for approval, and he sent me a message and said, “I’m gonna be seeing you.” So it’s lovely to have another show coming out with him–it’s a Christmas one. The first one was Convenient Groom, and December Bride is the next one.

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Don’t you just adore this fascinating, gorgeous, enchanting, and talented lady? She is an avid storyteller–my paltry words could not do justice to the entertaining style she exudes when relating a story. She is vivacious, captivating, and very patient as she and I had more technological hardships than I have experienced before or since! In spite of all of that, I could have happily sat in her presence, rapt for hours while having incredibly pleasing conversation, and I am certain we would have barely scratched the surface on her experiences in this business and in life in general. I am greatly anticipating all of her upcoming works, and whatever I need to do to get the powers that be to grant us a second season of Chesapeake Shores, well, I’m game! Let’s get it done! In the meantime, be sure that you check out Karen via the social media links below. After all, with her talent, beauty, dynamic personality, and winning smile, don’t you want to keep up with her and her positivity? Furthermore, if David Winning and Jesse Metcalfe like her so much, she must be pretty cool!

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
42-year-old single mother of an active 13-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

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