Interview With Actor Mark Humphrey, “When Calls the Heart”

By Ruth on February 15, 2017 in interview, movie, television
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I have watched Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart from its inception. While the characters were always a fascination for me, it wasn’t until the second season of the series that I began to pay careful attention to the actors who brought these roles to life. I remember Pastor Frank coming to Hope Valley, and once he began to make a play for Abigail, I made the decision to dislike this newcomer. I didn’t even know who Mark Humphrey was, but I was determined to ensure that Abigail and Bill would ultimately be a couple. Interestingly enough, I remember the time Mark won me over as the third season came about, and before long, I decided it was time to examine the person who has portrayed this intriguing character. In spite of extreme jet lag, Mark agreed to chat with me recently about his journey to become an actor, how he landed this pivotal role, and even a glimpse into the world of the man who infuses Pastor Frank with such simple grace.

RH: It is so great to talk with you today, Mark.

MH: Great to be here, Ruth. I got to read your interview with Kavan Smith, and I learned that he was a cook. I didn’t know he liked to cook. That’s good because I like to eat. {laughs} I’m going to have to get together with him and see if he can make me a lobster bisque or something like that.

Oh, that would be awesome! 

I was a cook in New York. I moved to New York after high school in Toronto, and that is one of many things I did. I think I did a little bit of everything. I worked as a cook–particularly short-order stuff–but it’s a creative outlet. Kavan has really taken it up a notch. He’s got a real passion for it. So that was fun to read that in that interview.

Where are you from originally?

I was born in Vancouver. I moved to Toronto with my family when I was seven. Then after high school, I went to New York and then California. For about the last nine years, I have been going back and forth between LA and Vancouver. I have residences in both places.

That sounds like that works out pretty well for you. Well, I will tell you that you have a lot of fans. Once I said I was interviewing you, the questions started pouring in.

That’s great. I’m happy to hear that I have fans. It’s hard to tell sometimes. I’m not one of the more dominant characters on the show, but I really appreciate the support. Of course every actor does, right? Just confirmation that you’re doing a pretty good job.

They had some very nice things to say about how you built the character up and do such a great job portraying him. Now, with me, I’ve been watching since the beginning, so when your character appeared second season, it was a hard sell for me because your character was like the interloper. I wanted Abigail and Bill together. And when your character showed up, I was like, “What?” It wasn’t against you, but it was the character.

{laughs} It was the writers. What were these guys doing?

Right! But during season three, I think your character got cemented, and a lot of people had felt the same way I did. It wasn’t that we had anything against you.

Right, you just wanted to see Abigail and Bill together. And I get that. They were really developing that relationship with Abigail and Bill. But I guess they decided to take things a different direction. And then they played around with it for a little bit. And now Bill’s a partner in the cafe, so you still have this story between the two of them on the periphery. You never know what’s gonna happen in these TV series, right?

A lot of people wanted me to ask if Pastor Frank or Bill was going to get together with Abigail, but I’m not going to ask you that question per se because that could potentially spoil the season . 

Of course. I know what I’d like to do. Working with Lori {Loughlin} is a lot of fun. I like it when they write that relationship stuff between our two characters. I can’t tell them what to write, but when they write the romance stuff between us, I really like it. Lori is great to work with. When I’m working with Lori, and I’m Frank, I’m in love with her. I like feeling those feelings, and I would like to explore that. Maybe it’s part of the reason people become actors ’cause you get a chance to have all of these different feelings that you don’t always have in your day-to-day life. Not that I haven’t felt romantic love before, but you get to explore all these different emotions. I know they’ve got a lot of cast members to write for, and I don’t know what they’re going to do with the relationship between Abigail and Frank. I just hope they support it and move forward with it. Things do move around a lot, and you never know, but right now, it feels pretty strong. We’ll see what happens if the show is picked up for season five. Maybe they will develop our relationship more. I’d be in favor of it.

My entire family watches the show together, and my daughter even watched the Christmas one. My daughter is thirteen, and she did not like the kiss you had with Lori. {laughs}

And why is that? I haven’t seen it.

Oh, she said it was too much and too heavy. That’s just her being a teenager. 

I don’t even remember. Was it a really long kiss?

It was, actually. There was a discussion about it online. 

Was there? I’ve been out of the loop for a long time. Well, I guess that’s good and bad. Some people probably feel that it crossed the line, but others will really enjoy it.

For me, I didn’t find it offensive. It was like, “Man, there really is something between these two.” It made it very clear what the pastor wanted. 

Frank is definitely into her, that’s for sure. You know, I read the script. And the day of filming, I talked with the director to find out what he and the network were looking for. And that kiss definitely has significance. You will have to watch this season to see what happens with Pastor Frank and Abigail.

For this season, of course, everyone is focused on whether Jack and Elizabeth are going to get engaged. In fact, the only real criticism I heard from the Christmas one was not about the kiss between you two. It was that Jack and Elizabeth still didn’t get engaged. People have been pushing so hard for that since season one, but then if it goes too fast, there’s the possibility that interest will be lost.

There’s a fine line, isn’t there? People can get fed up because it’s not going fast enough, but then they can also be inclined to stay watching because they want to see how it plays out. The big question is, “When will it happen?” What I can say is there is stuff that will be shown this season that will potentially answer that question. But I’d better not say any more about that.

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KWIK KWOTES

From the Fans

Kathy McCleary Vaughan: “Mark, you are doing a fantastic job as Pastor Frank! It was so much fun meeting you at the HFR2 and hopefully will see you at HFR3 (keeping my fingers crossed!) Looking forward to seeing my favorite handsome pastor in Season 4! #TeamFrank”

Monica Cobine: “I think he’s a wonderful addition to WCTH. Really enjoy his character and I hope he has a long run on the show.”

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So, Mark, why did you decide to become an actor?

My parents were actors. I guess I could say I come from a show biz family, Soon after they were married, since my mother was quite religious, she started having babies right away. My father had to get a “real” job. He was a very creative person. He started working for an insurance company, and although he didn’t want to do it, he became vice-president of this big company. My mother raised us kids, and my father was always working.

My father eventually decided to get back into show business. He started writing for radio, and he had a radio series. And then he started writing for TV, and then he became a creator of some of the top Canadian TV comedy series. He got back to his roots, so to speak. So that kind of energy was always around our house.

My mom would keep us up late if there was a great movie on. There was always great music and great movies on in our house. She also would read to us, and she turned us onto the classics. All my family are professional musicians. I was a drummer for years. I started drumming when I was six. I played in bands all my life, and I made a living out of it when I first went to New York as a pit band drummer for theaters.

While the rest of my family was involved in music, I wanted to do something a little more expressive. I was a good drummer, but I didn’t feel that was expressive enough for me.  I was a pretty quiet kid. I think I wanted to speak out. I had stuff that I wanted to say through other characters. For me, acting was a challenge, and I wasn’t as naturally gifted as I had been with drumming.

Sports was also something I enjoyed. I had wanted to be a football player for a long time. I was a quarterback in my high school, but the opportunity for that career didn’t really exist in Toronto. I tried my hand at acting. I was a cute kid and did some commercials. And then I got into TV and started working my way up.

After five years in New York, I went back to Canada to visit the family. I got a job that took me down to Los Angeles. And that’s how I got down to LA.

When I was looking over your list of credits, that is when I realized you did a couple of things with my friend Sebastian Spence.

Yes, I was in his series, First Wave.  A long, long time ago. Gosh! He was really great in that show. He’s a great guy, and I loved working with him. And I was just thinking about him the other day. It’s almost motorcycle season, and I know that he rides motorcycles too. I don’t always get to see him, but I was thinking about him and hoping he’s well.

In fact, I think you were on an episode with William DeVry, if I remember right.

I think you’re right.

When I was down in Los Angeles, I got a feature that seemed to come out of nowhere. I came to LA to work with Dick Van Dyke and Cloris Leachman on an episode of American Playhouse for PBS. That was fun to meet them ’cause I had grown up watching The Dick Van Dyke Show. He was like my surrogate father. My mom and dad broke up when I was eleven. Working with Dick Van Dyke was a lot of fun.

Then I got this feature film with Louis Gossett {Iron Eagle II}, and it took me to Israel for nine weeks. After that, things started opening up, and I got an offer to do a series back in Canada. They relocated me back to Toronto, and I was on a Canadian series there for five years. It was called E.N.G., and it was a big hit in Canada. It was shown all over the world, but not in the States. So I didn’t really have the experience of having a U.S. career at that point.

After that, I went back to LA and went back up to Vancouver on occasion to work.

I do not understand why there are all these Canadian series that don’t make it to the U.S. And of course, it’s the same trouble with things filmed in the U.S. that don’t make it to Canada. It is sometimes really annoying because I want to watch something to support one of my friends and I can’t because the show doesn’t air here. 

You mentioned that you live with your family out in the country. I am glad you get to live with your parents. My father passed away in 1987. He was fifty-four years old. He died too young, and I didn’t have the greatest relationship with him ’cause he had left my mom to raise us five kids on her own. They lived in the same city, and he would provide financial support for us. We would see him on occasion, but I was looking forward to the time that he would retire and we could develop a closer relationship. But he passed away, so I didn’t get to. It was unfortunate. My mother passed away in 2008. So neither of my parents are around any more.

How did you get the role of Pastor Frank?

I was down in California. I got a call and did a self-tape audition, and I got the part. It was just a standard thing. It’s always great to get a booking. And I love the show. I love going to work on that set. I get to ride a horse every once in awhile, and I love that. Camaraderie with the guys in the cast and crew is great. I love to work.

You know, when I was on my Canadian series for five years, that was really like a family thing. You hear actors say that, and it’s true. I had a big family–five kids–and so I was used to that. Going to work with a bunch of people over the years is like a big family. I like developing that. It’s fun for me.

That set is just the best, and the location is great. I like the role. I really like Frank. He’s a good man.

Do the writers ever come to you for input about possible stories for your character?

The first year I was on the show, I had a meeting with Robin {Bernheim}, who is the executive story person. I had done a lot of work on my character prior to meeting with her. I had a lot of story ideas for Frank. We talked about a lot of those things, and she has incorporated some of that into his storyline. They haven’t talked to me since, but if they approach me, I have a lot of ideas that I could talk with them about. Robin is always just an email away, and I have corresponded with her about a couple things this last season. She’s always really cool with me.

With shows like this, there are never any guarantees. I have no idea if there will be a season five, and I don’t know if they will bring my character back if there is a season five. I hope they do, but there are no guarantees. But even if I don’t get to come back, it’s been a great experience and one I will cherish. I hope it does continue for me with Frank. I think there’s a lot that Frank would like to offer, but we will see what happens.

Some of the Hearties asked about whether we will ever find out what is locked up in Frank’s pulpit. 

At HFR2 {Hearties Family Reunion}, I talked to the Hearties about that. They asked me about what was in Frank’s pulpit. The first season I was on, they built the pulpit and I had them put a lock on it. You don’t want to give too much away, but I do have stuff in there. Not literally in there, but figuratively in there. It’s what Frank would put in there. If they ever want to do a show about it, it would be kind of interesting. I talked about having a couple of items in there that mean a lot to Frank.

One of them was the gun that belonged to his father. I keep it there and keep it loaded. In Frank’s backstory, his father died trying to load that weapon. He was killed when Frank was a young man.

There’s another item in there–a picture of Frank’s mother, who has also passed away.

I did put something else in there this season, and I already had somebody online guess it correctly. I don’t know if I confirmed it. Obviously it’s been exposed in the first episode. So there are three items there. I don’t know if any other items will be put in there, but it’s a safe space, and it’s a meaningful space for Frank to keep things that are utmost to his spirit. If you missed it, watch the Christmas episode again, and you should be able to figure out the third item. I don’t know if it’s a good idea to tell people or keep them guessing. But there might be another item in there that I haven’t told you about yet.

Several people spoke very highly of you coming to the Hearties Reunion. They were impressed with you, and they said it seemed like you were very much involved with the fans. So they wondered what you thought of the experience.

It was like being with family. Honestly, I felt that. I felt completely comfortable and at home, and it was like being with my own family. Very similar to my people. I think I mentioned that to them. It’s a nice feeling to have that. People come there, and they’re very kind and they enjoy meeting the cast, and you get a really good feeling from that. I hope that doesn’t sound too silly. It was fun for me. I had a lot of laughs with everyone. I was moved by the attention and the caring and the way they are devoted to the show and how they like my character. So it’s easy to give back.

None of that sounds strange. It sounds like the way the Hearties are in general. They are supportive of me and of the cast, and it’s really like being a part of a family.

How could it not feel like that? When meeting with a dynamic of people like that who are really happy to see it and they love the show and you put a lot of yourself into the show, you can’t help but feel good about it. It’s a nice energy that we share with the fans. I don’t know if it’s unique to our show, but it’s unique in my experience. Working in show business for so long and having this kind of interaction with fans who are so devoted to the show is truly an amazing experience. It’s affirming. It makes you feel good.

Your son is also an actor, correct?

Yes, my son Luke {Humphrey}. He just finished his first feature. It’s a WWI movie. He studied and got a degree at New York University at the Tisch School of the Arts. He did fifty little movies while in school, and then he went right into theater. He went right from school into working at the Stratford Theater Festival, which is one of the premier theater festivals in the world.  He worked his way up over four years. He worked with Christopher Plummer and some good people there. His last season there was starring roles. He played William Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love. He’s got his chops. He’s really got it together, and he’s truly capable. He decided not to go back to the theater because he wants to cultivate more of a film career. He’s in pilot season now, and we’ll see what happens with him. He’s doing really well, and he’s super talented. He did it the right way. He got to know himself as an artist working in theater. He’s very confident, capable, and talented. He’s not just like a pretty face. He’s got the right stuff, and he knows it. I’m really proud of him. I don’t have to worry about him. He’s got his head on straight. He’s very kind and loving.

A lot of people asked about the traveling that you did this past summer. 

I worked on an IMAX feature film. I worked as a production assistant. I like to work behind the camera. It was a huge production, and we got to travel all through the States. Fifteen different states. It’s about trains and freight in America. It’s about the history of America through the train system. When it’s an IMAX movie, you know it’s gonna be off the hook. Everything is huge, and you’re going to learn a lot about American history.

I also just finished shooting a short film here in Vancouver. I was working with my company–the company I put together. I worked primarily as a producer, but also an actor. I put together a crew and got it funded. We have another one we’re going to shoot in March–a short. And then we’re going to shoot a feature. This is something that is taking up a lot of my time now. When I’m not acting, I am working as a producer in my company to make films. I’m excited about it. We have a nice little company started. I love being a creative producer. Not just the money producer. I like being a part of a company where I can put the right people together and help make a great creative endeavor to bring out a great product. It’s not just about the end product. It’s about the collaborative effort. I love putting all the pieces together, and I love working with people. Even if nothing comes from it, I love working with my collaborative team.

So right now, I’m looking for my next acting project. I’m still hoping to book some more really cool jobs.

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KWIK KWOTES

From the Fans

Wendy MacInnes: “He is just so delightful on and off the set. One of the friendliest people you could meet.”

Mary Jo Vincent: “I wish to convey a big thank-you to Mark for being such a fine gentleman. I was quite impressed when he introduced himself and was complimentary of so many of us Hearties when we stepped forward to meet him.”

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Has this character of Pastor Frank affected you personally and made you think differently in your normal, everyday life?

If I am sometimes in a challenging situation–a relationship or whatnot–I have asked myself, “What would Frank do?” {laughs} If I follow what I think Frank would do, I am usually better off. So yes, the character of Frank influences me for sure. I respect him. I like what he stands for. I like his history. I like who he is as a man. You know, Mark makes a lot of mistakes. Frank makes some mistakes too, but he has learned a lot. Sometimes I can defer to Frank to help me make the right decisions in my life.

I’ve heard that from other actors who have played a certain role for awhile that it starts to affect them off the screen.

He’s a good character. If he were not such a good character, that could be bad for me. I don’t think there’s a way for your characters not to affect you in a certain way ’cause there is this transference of Mark and Frank. There’s this melding. You know, Frank is the best part of Mark. He’s an aspect of me. He brings out the best part of me. It’s hard not to be affected by the characters you play.

I have played bad guys, and I love playing bad guys too. We all have different aspects of our personal characters. We all have imaginations. I can walk around with a sort of edge for awhile when I’m playing a bad guy ’cause there is this transference of energy so to speak. I’m happy that Frank is a good example.

I know in the Christmas one, it was so neat to get his Bible from the peddler. And the Prayer of St. Francis–I loved that. And there were a lot of people who connected with that. I’ve been in church my whole life, and I was even in a choir that sang that prayer. 

It’s a beautiful prayer, isn’t it? I love that we can touch on stuff like that in the show. I really enjoy that aspect of Frank and the way the show is. I’m glad that Frank is there and can bring that up. Say prayers like that. It’s meaningful and moving and real.

One of the things Hallmark has going for it is these allusions to the faith element.

They don’t shy away from that. They embrace it. I think that’s a positive aspect for Hallmark. I think that’s why they’re having so much success. They’re not afraid of it. And I think that’s shown in the way Pastor Frank is written. And I think the fans enjoy it too.

I am compelled to state that from the moment Mark and I began chatting, his disarming demeanor put me at ease immediately. When I have only had minimal online interactions with a person, it can be a daunting challenge to decipher what to expect, but Mark was relaxed and took a genuine interest in me as a person and as a journalist. And he honestly has one of the quickest and heartiest laughs–something I cannot describe through the written word. We discussed things on a profound level, but with a kind of simple grace that seems to be lost in this instantaneous, frenetic, digital world in which we dwell. Talking with Mark was almost like taking a step back in time when people actually cared about those with whom they came in contact on a daily basis. He has that easygoing, affable, soothing way of speaking that causes you to believe that at that very moment, you are the most important person in the world. He actively listens, and even though we may talk in circles at times, at the end of the conversation, there is a veritable connection that is rare to find in this day and age. Although I may have been against his character in the beginning, I truly cannot imagine Hope Valley without this humble man who imbues Pastor Frank with an ingenuousness and guilelessness that very few actors possess today. And if the powers that be are listening, if there is a season five, please don’t forget to include this calm, sweet, talented man! What an honor to include Mark in my “countdown interview” today as we are but four days until When Calls the Heart returns to the Hallmark Channel. Please tune in on Sunday, February 19th. And while you’re at it, consider visiting each of Mark’s links below. A man of his sensitivity and capability deserves all the support that we Hearties can muster!

FOLLOW MARK

Website

Twitter

Facebook

IMDB

DON’T FORGET TO TUNE IN ON FEBRUARY 19TH TO THE HALLMARK CHANNEL TO WITNESS THE TRIUMPHANT RETURN OF WHEN CALLS THE HEART WITH MARK IN THE ROLE OF PASTOR FRANK!

Mark Humphrey Credit: Copyright 2015 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Eike Schroter

 

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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

7 Comments

  1. Debbie Welchert February 16, 2017 Reply

    What a great interview. Sounds like you had a great time talking with Mark. I wouldn’t mind interviewing him myself but I’m afraid my jaw would lock up and I wouldn’t be able to talk.

    • Author
      Ruth February 16, 2017 Reply

      Glad you enjoyed it Debbie. Thanks for your supportive comments.

    • Author
      Ruth February 16, 2017 Reply

      Glad you enjoyed it Debbie. Thanks for your supportive comments.

  2. tjsweeps February 16, 2017 Reply

    Nice interview. Very imformative. He sounds like an interesting person. I am sure his writing is as well. I will have to keep my eye open for his work.

    • Author
      Ruth February 16, 2017 Reply

      Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Millie Mahurin February 17, 2017 Reply

    I felt the same way about Frank Hogan at the begining , but I changed my mind as the story enfolds. He does have a calming way about him. Hope they continue to keep him on the show.

    • Author
      Ruth February 17, 2017 Reply

      Thanks for your comment Millie. I quite agree.

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