Interview With Actress Erin Krakow, “When Calls the Heart”

By Ruth on February 19, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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I readily admit to being a fan of When Calls the Heart from the moment the series was announced on the Hallmark Channel. I wasn’t familiar with any of the actors (except Lori Loughlin), but that made no difference to me. I was convinced this would instantaneously become a favorite show of mine, and as it prepares to officially enter the fourth season tomorrow (February 19th), I am ecstatic. For my final Hearties Countdown interview, I have truly saved the best for the last. Recently, I chatted with the woman who has breathed life into the character who is the absolute heart of the show–Elizabeth Thatcher. Though I have never had the opportunity to meet Erin Krakow in person, I invite all Hearties to pull up a chair and revel in the magnificent conversation she and I had about everything When Calls the Heart and much, much more!

Photo Credit: Jeremy Lee Photography

RH: Erin, I’m so glad that we finally worked out some time for this interview.

EK: Well, you were persistent, thank goodness.

Funny you say that, Erin, Kavan Smith told me the same thing when I interviewed him.

Well, persistence is a good quality to have, I think.

I agree. I think it’s a good quality for everyone to have. First thing I want to make sure to do is to tell you that all the Hearties had such wonderful things to say to you. I can’t even remember them all. I mentioned you, and suddenly the lovely messages came pouring in. They send their love to you. They think so highly of you. They are grateful for all the time and the effort that you put into the role of Elizabeth. 

Awwwww. That is really so nice to hear. I appreciate hearing that. Thank you so much for sharing that with me.

You’re welcome. It’s so neat to finally get the chance to talk with you. 

You know it’s funny. Whether it’s at Home & Family or Hearties Family Reunion or just online, there are some of you with whom I already feel I have a personal connection because of the interaction we have on Twitter or Instagram. It’s like there is already a friendship there, so it’s always fun to meet them in person or talk to them on the phone and get to know them a little bit better.

I wasn’t always active on social media. I watched When Calls the Heart from the beginning.

That’s good!

Oh yes, I got so excited because that was my favorite book series of Janette Oke’s. I was so excited that Hallmark was bringing this series to TV.

That’s an interesting point you bring up. Obviously, our show is not an exact translation of the books. We’re inspired by them. I know it can be very tough for people who are already attached to a book or series to then see it brought to life on the screen. So I’m glad that you’re enjoying it.

Oh yeah. I know it’s different than the book. At first, when I saw the pilot–and I know you weren’t in the pilot–but I thought that might be the direction they were going to go. And then when it came back and it seemed like you guys were going a different direction, at first I was like, “Do I like this?” But it wasn’t long before I said, “Yeah, I like this. I see what they’re doing.” Personally, I think it’s really interesting to see. My thirteen-year-old daughter loves the show, too. It’s one of the only Hallmark shows she will actually sit and watch. She watches you and she loves Lori Loughlin. And Lori Loughlin was actually a big reason I started watching the show too, because she was in the pilot, and I grew up watching her on Full House

We’re glad you love it so much and that it’s a show that you can share with your daughter.

Oh, and my parents love it too. My entire family sits and watches it together.

That makes me so happy. I’ve heard so many stories about how this show has brought families together, and that it’s a series they watch together as a family. It brings me a lot of joy to know that we can provide that. So I’m glad to hear it.

I know we know a little bit about your background, but what is it that inspired you to become an actress?

I was pretty young. My mom said that it was when my brother was born. I had been an only child for five years, and then I found out I would have to share the attention. And so that meant that I would either act out or be a bit of a ham at home. I also began participating in school plays. And it just developed from there. I guess I didn’t start taking it very seriously until high school. In eighth grade, I moved to a performing arts high school–it was called Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts.  I was very lucky that this incredible performing arts school was pretty much in my backyard. It was an incredible foundation for me. Up to that point, I had taken plenty of acting classes and gone to acting camps, but this was an experience that allowed me to obviously get the core curriculum one gets in high school, but I got to participate in school plays and musicals. They have an incredible theater there with some outstanding teachers who I still consider to be essential in my development and education and career. So that’s where my foundation is and how things go started for me.

I know you also went to Julliard, isn’t that right?

Yes, one of the things that Dreyfoos was so great about was preparing us for college auditions. It’s not like a normal application process like applying for colleges in any kind of academic program. When you’re an actor looking at going into any kind of conservatory or training program that specializes in acting, there’s auditions. I auditioned for Julliard my senior year of high school, and it ended up being a life-changing experience for me. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, but I knew having visited Julliard and learning a little bit about it that it was going to be the best education I could get. And I’m just so grateful that I had that opportunity.

That is just fantastic. I was a music major, and my voice teacher always thought I should go audition for Julliard. It never quite happened.

Oh no! I feel bad for you.

Well, it wasn’t meant to be. It was an idea out there, but I don’t think it was the path I was supposed to go. But for me, when I hear that someone has gone to Julliard, I see that as very prestigious. I don’t know if everybody thinks that, but I do.

Well, thank you.

If someone has trained at Julliard, I see them as someone who has had fantastic training and there’s really something special about them.

Oh, gosh, I appreciate that. And as I said, I am so fortunate to have had that opportunity. But one thing I will say is there are so many applicants every year, and I don’t know what their class sizes are now. When I went, I think we started with a class of nineteen and then ended up graduating sixteen. It’s very competitive. I’m actually bringing that up to say there are so many actors who are deserving of that same opportunity who are just as talented if not more so. They fell through the cracks or had a rough audition or maybe weren’t their particular taste on that day for whatever reason. I’m very grateful, but I also acknowledge that there are so many others who would have done wonderful things with that opportunity as well.

That’s really the same thing when it comes to any audition for any role. Just to kind of segue into When Calls the Heart, I am so, so happy to have the opportunity to play Elizabeth, and for so many reasons, I feel like it’s a perfect fit. But I know there are probably hundreds of girls who could have played this role and done an incredible job with it and found their own unique and special take on it.

That really gives me even more respect for you, with you saying that because that shows that all the things that I’ve always thought about you–being very humble and not being arrogant–all those things are true. 

Aww, thank you. That’s very sweet. Thank you.

from Chance at Romance

I was not sure whether When Calls the Heart  was the first thing you did with Hallmark or if you did a movie before that. I’m not sure of the timeline on that.

Yeah, it’s a little fuzzy, isn’t it? The first project I shot for Hallmark was Chance At Romance with Ryan McPartlin and Patricia Richardson. That was such a great experience. However, I think I actually started the audition process for When Calls the Heart before I started filming Chance at Romance. The auditions for When Calls the Heart  were pretty extensive. There were department meetings, chemistry readings and more. It was a very long process.

I’ve talked to some of those guys who were a part of the audition process with you. I have interviewed Andrew Walker. And actually I just met Jesse Hutch back in November, and he was telling me about being a part of the process. There were a lot of people I know who were being considered, so I can imagine that it had to be a quite a long process.

It was quite the process. They wanted to make sure that they got it exactly right. I don’t blame them, and I am just happy to get to work on the role every step of the way. But I loved reading with Jesse and with Andrew. Both great guys. And then as you know, we were lucky enough to have Andrew join us on the show in season one in a really interesting role. It was great to get to play with him then too.

Erin Krakow (Elizabeth) Credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Eike Schroter

What is it that initially attracted you to the show When Calls the Heart and the character of Elizabeth Thatcher?

It’s interesting. Every once in awhile, I will come across a role, and it just feels like a match.  And it’s usually those situations when I shoot an email to my agent just saying I heard about this project and I am interested. I actually first saw a description for When Calls the Heart back before they made the movie. This was really some time ago. I was in New York for whatever reason, and we couldn’t arrange an audition, and that opportunity passed. Then when it came up again just a few years ago, I was so excited to hear that there was an opening, and I jumped at it. I was thrilled to get to go in and read. I couldn’t tell you exactly what it was that attracted me. We did a lot of classical theater at Julliard. It’s fun to get a project like this that transports you to another time and place. So I think that one of the things that is really special about When Calls the Heart is it take place in the early 1900’s, and obviously the sets and the costumes and props and all that are very different from the world in which we live today. But the stories and the themes and the heart of the show are timeless. They are stories that you could really tell in any year and in any time.

Also, Elizabeth is a role that lets me work with children who I adore. There’s a little bit–there’s a lot {laughs} of romance at this point. There’s great friendships and great challenges for me and the opportunity to get to play a really strong, brave woman who has a very tender core.

You bring up the children. I have gotten to interview just about all the children in the cast. And I actually got to go to the Joey Awards, and I was there when they won. That was so cool and so exciting. I got to meet some of them. When they announced that the kids won, I was cheering. I don’t know if there was anyone else who was cheering–I didn’t care. I started yelling. 

They were so excited. It’s really nice that they have those awards shows to recognize the kids. It seems like there are so many projects for kids, especially in Vancouver. We have some remarkable talent on the show. It’s really nice to see these children get recognized.

And the kids love you. Every time I interview them, they always bring you up. The boys will sometimes mention Dan{iel Lissing}, but they always are bringing you up. And really everybody from the cast always says how wonderful Erin is and how sweet she is. 

Oh my. That’s nice. Thank you. You hear about all kinds of dynamics on some TV sets, and you’re spending a lot of time with these people. So why not try to make it an environment where everybody can have a good time? There’s a reason why I’m spending some of my downtime with these people. Why Pascale {Hutton} threw me a birthday dinner. Why we go to movies with Dan or the spa with Lori. I am choosing to spend my downtime with these people because I dearly love them and care about them and I’m so grateful I get to work with my friends.

Since you’ve played Elizabeth Thatcher for some time now, has that affected you in your personal, day-to-day life?

I think this question was asked of me at the Hearties Family Reunion this year. I don’t remember the exact wording of my answer, but I think I said something along these lines. I think the stories I get to tell through Elizabeth have helped remind me that you really have no idea what someone’s life is really like behind closed doors. You have no idea if someone had a bad morning or if they got into an argument with their loved one or if they just got fired. There’s really no way of knowing the struggles someone else has in their life. So I think Elizabeth continues to remind me to treat everyone with kindness and try not to judge because you never really know what that person has gone through. Dan’s response to that was very nice. He said that was a quality I already had. But that quality is something I try to continue to work on and make a priority in my life.

That’s quite admirable, and that’s a really good way of thinking. I didn’t go to the Hearties Reunion. 

Well, you missed quite the event. Maybe you’ll get to come next year.

That’s what I’m thinking. But that is a very well-thought-out answer. 

Thank you.

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KWIK KWOTES

From the fans (to read the comments in a new tab, please click on the box in the upper right corner)

Made with Padlet

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I think what I have noticed about Elizabeth and the way that you portray her…my mom used to say, “Well, I don’t know if I like Elizabeth much,” especially during season two ’cause she didn’t seem to know what she wanted from life, and she didn’t seem very genuine. And I remember telling her, “I think Elizabeth is trying to find out who she is.” The first couple seasons we see this woman who has come from this wealthy family and she is thrown into this prairie life and being out in the middle of the wilderness, and she’s trying to find herself. She doesn’t really know who she is. And I remember when season three began–and my mom agreed with me, which was good–we saw this change in Elizabeth and that she was starting to embrace who she really is. And I remember thinking how it was so cool that you were able to portray that maturing of this character. 

You’re touching on something interesting. In season one, there was a lot of showing Elizabeth as kind of a fish out of water. And in season two, we focused a lot on Elizabeth being torn between two worlds. I think she was definitely still trying to figure out who she was as we all do at any age. In season three, it seems like that’s when Elizabeth finally sees herself as a Hope Valley woman. She finally begins to put down roots in Hope Valley.

So that leads us to season four. Of course, we saw the Christmas movie, which was just fantastic. 

Oh, good. Thank you.

My whole family watched it and just loved it. I got to see it ahead of time, and there were points when I was just crying, and it was just so phenomenal. And now we’re ready for the premiere of season four. And I’m not wanting spoilers. What can we look forward to from Elizabeth for this upcoming season? Is there anything you can tell us?

{laughs} That’s such a hard question. It’s basically, “Don’t give anything away, but tell me what’s gonna happen.”

Right. Of course several Hearties wanted me to ask you if Jack and Elizabeth finally get married, but I was not planning to ask you that.

It’s funny. My mom will ask me what’s gonna happen in the next episode and what’s gonna happen between this character and that character, and I don’t tell her anything. She’s like, “What’s the perk of being your mom if I can’t find out what’s gonna happen in the next episode?” And I say, “Mom, I want you to be surprised.” And she’s like, “I don’t want to be surprised!”

So without spoiling anything, you get a little taste of what’s to come just from the little bit that Hallmark has already released. They’ve teased the idea that Elizabeth’s job is at stake. And getting to show this stronger side of Elizabeth as she fights to do the thing she’s really meant to do and is called to do…. that was a really powerful storyline to get to play. Lots of sweet, tender moments with the kids in the school and out. You’ll see in the season premiere that we’re actually spending a lot of time with the kids outside of the schoolroom, occasionally in uniform, so that will be fun. Some stolen kisses and romantic moments with some guy running around in a red coat. Lots of fun bits with Pascale as Rosemary where you think for a second she’s complimenting Elizabeth, and two seconds later, she’s turned the compliment around. Some really beautiful moments with Abigail as well where we see this friendship continue to blossom. These are two women who are always there for each other no matter what.

That’s perfect. That’s exactly what I was going for. I wasn’t going for actual storylines because I don’t want anything spoiled. Even when I get early access to them, I’m really careful about not spoiling the episode. 

I really appreciate that. It’s nice for people to be able to experience it without getting things spoiled.

From Finding Father Christmas

At Christmastime, you were in Finding Father Christmas. That was one of our favorites. And not just because you were in it. The story was fantastic. 

Good, I’m glad to hear it. That was a fun one to make.

I recently talked with another one of your co-stars from A Cookie Cutter Christmas. David Haydn-Jones.

Oh, Davy! Oh nice!

He’s got a recurring role in Supernatural now.

Oh wow! That’s exciting! Good for him.

He spoke very highly of you.

We had a really good time on that one as I recall.

With Alan Thicke from A Cookie Cutter Christmas

And that one was with Alan Thicke, who, of course, recently passed away. 

I know. Such a tragedy. That is really such a loss to this world. He was a really special guy. There are probably many others who knew him better than I did. I didn’t get to spend very much time with him. I think he came up for a week, shot all his scenes and then left. I just so enjoyed getting to know him. He had some incredible stories, and he had everyone laughing. He was also very supportive. I remember he wasn’t the kind of guy who was checking out or on his cell phone. When he was on set, he was incredibly present and there for anyone who wanted to chat. He was a kind man and a supportive player.

Well, I’m glad I brought him up because that’s something I haven’t heard put in just that way about him. What a loss, but what a legacy. He left a lot of good memories behind.

Absolutely. He sure did.

In addition to When Calls the Heart, do you have anything else upcoming you can mention?

I’m not sure if I can mention it, so I won’t. But I can say there will be some other projects coming up. Some other things are in the works right now that I look forward to sharing with you soon. But for now, the most important project coming up is on February 19th, and I’m so excited for season four to get started. We really love getting to watch with you guys and tweet with you guys and see what all the Hearties love and what they don’t love. {laughs} It’s just so nice to have that instant feedback, and it’s thrilling to go on this journey together with everyone.

I know the Hearties are also asking if you are ever going to release a CD with Dan.

Truthfully, we don’t have anything in the works. We both love music. Dan was a professional musician in Australia for a long time and continues to be musical. I did a lot of musicals when I was doing theater. My brother and I continue to write music together, and that’s really a passion for us. You know, I think it’s more of a casual thing for Dan and I. We like to play and sing together when we have the opportunity, but nothing in the works right now. Who knows? Maybe someday.

Do you ever see yourself writing or directing eventually?

Potentially, but just one at a time. I used to write a lot. It was never really a goal or ambition of mine to write professionally. I focus on acting. That’s my job and what I think I’m meant to do. I have the utmost respect for writers. I really don’t think I could jump in and create something with the skill and talent that our writers do. Not to put any walls or barriers up, but I’m gonna let the professional writers do the writing. That being said–watch me contradict myself, Ruth–I did give myself a bit of a challenge this past year to try to write something because I felt it would be a good learning experience for me. So I am doing some writing now. I’m really learning a lot from that experience. Gosh, I have so many incredibly talented writer friends that I feel if I ever create something I’m really excited about, I could go to them, and who knows? Maybe they could help me and polish it into something that could turn into something you see one day. You never know. So never say never, but at this moment in time, I am quite satisfied getting to do what I love which is acting.

Well, I think it’s great that you’re challenging yourself to do some writing. I think it can only help you as an actor, and even if it doesn’t go anywhere, I think that’s commendable. 

Thank you.

I think you are looked to as being a role model. I think a lot of the young Hearties look to you. How do you feel about being a role model? Does that put a lot of pressure on you personally?

First of all, it’s an honor to be called a role model. I really appreciate that. It feels like a compliment, and I just say “thank you,” and I appreciate it. I guess I didn’t realize I would be taking on that responsibility necessarily, and it’s not one that I take lightly. I work with kids. I was a nanny and I love kids. I think it’s very important to set good examples for them. So I do take that seriously.

That being said, it’s an interesting thing that I do being an actor, and not every role or job is going to feel exactly the way that everybody would like for me to behave or be. All I can do is be my true, authentic self, and I hope that continues to inspire and motivate those who consider me to be a role model. I will just conclude by saying “thank you” again, and as I continue to make decisions and choices based on who I am, I hope that you all will continue to come on this journey with me and continue to make the choices that feel right and authentic for who you are.

I think that is a perfect response–very well-put again. Some of your fans had some of the sweetest requests, and they all reach out to you very genuinely. But then you realize, you can’t respond to everyone–it happens to me too–and it’s that ongoing struggle that you want to reach out to as many as you can, but you can’t get to everyone. 

No, I know it’s hard. We do the best we can to stay in touch with as many of you as possible.

I do think that the way you’re handling yourself as a role model is the right way. Sometimes people who are role models start overthinking every little thing they do, and they stop being authentic. 

At the end of the day, as much as Elizabeth and I share a lot of these qualities, I’m not her. I’m going to make choices in my life that might not seem like something Miss Thatcher would do, but that’s because those choices are authentic to who Erin is. And I am more than okay with that.

That is a fantastic statement you made. I think some people forget that you are an actor portraying a role. While that is a compliment to you as an actor, sometimes people expect you to behave like your character instead of like you.

Absolutely. If I could give any advice, it would just be: “Be true to who you are.”

With Michelle Vicary & the Hearties at a taping of Home & Family

From the inception of the show, even before I knew who played Elizabeth, I have engendered nothing but the utmost respect for Erin. Once this interview was officially set up, I felt I had the responsibility to take the words and wishes of as many Hearties as possible with me, and I only wish I could have conveyed their love for Erin in a more tangible fashion. My role in this chat was merely ” a guide on the side” to encourage, highlight, and direct the conversation when necessary. But Erin is such a humble, benevolent, and well-spoken woman herself that I didn’t need to do anything but sit and drink in the insights she shared and pragmatic wisdom she imparted. 

Every once in awhile, an interviewee comes along that sparkles with an effervescence that transcends technology, the phone lines, and even the television screens. While some will attempt to diminish the genuine and pristine brilliance that radiates from Erin’s inner core, she is a young woman who is self-aware, but always puts others first, no matter the personal cost. She is one of the most giving actresses with whom I have come in contact. In fact, she is the first leading actress on any current, long-running television show on any network to grant me an interview. And that in of itself is a mind-blowing fact that leaves me practically speechless. 

My gratitude to Erin is absolutely unbounded for her time, her attention to detail, and the fact that she let me “waffle on” at times without complaint. I know it’s a part of my style, but it also adds precious time to the interview. Notwithstanding, I’ll acknowledge that conversing with Erin caused me to lose all concept of time because not only was she fascinating and entertaining, but she was so sweet and always careful to spotlight her co-stars and others she has worked with in various projects. If you could have heard the ingenuous enthusiasm that came through her voice whenever discussing her co-stars, it would have warmed your heart! I agree one hundred percent with Dan’s response to her at the Hearties Reunion back in December–she always exhibits the quality of not judging others and only demonstrating kindness to all, and if that is something she is always working on to improve, is there even hope for those of us who struggle with that particular courtesy? 

Be sure that you tune in today (February 19th) to the Hallmark Channel to watch Erin return as the beloved Elizabeth Thatcher in the season four premiere of When Calls the Heart. And I highly recommend that you check out the links below and follow Erin via social media because she does an exceptional job of keeping her fans abreast of her upcoming works as well as her works in progress.

FOLLOW ERIN

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

IMDB

DON’T FORGET TO TUNE IN SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19TH TO THE HALLMARK CHANNEL TO WATCH THE PREMIERE OF SEASON FOUR FEATURING THE INCOMPARABLE ERIN AS ELIZABETH THATCHER!

 

 

 

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

10 Comments

  1. Lisa February 19, 2017 Reply

    Well done, she’s a special young women and it’s great that she is what she seems on and off screen. Nice read.

    • Author
      Ruth February 19, 2017 Reply

      Glad you liked it Lisa!

  2. Debbie M. February 26, 2017 Reply

    Ruth, will you be giving reviews for season 4 like you did for season 3?

    • Author
      Ruth February 26, 2017 Reply

      At this point, Hallmark is not offering screeners for us to watch ahead of time, so I do not plan on it. At Christmas, they did, but at this point, they are not. Sorry.

      • Debbie M. February 26, 2017 Reply

        Thank you for your reply. I’m disappointed. I don’t have the Hallmark channel so I have to wait for Netflix and watch video clips and read summaries and reviews. I wish there was a way I could subscribe just to Hallmark and watch it online.

        • Author
          Ruth February 26, 2017 Reply

          Debbie–I think that you can buy the episodes on Amazon and other digital platforms. I know it’s hard to wait–I do understand. But a lot of people buy a pass for the season and watch the episodes that way. That should be available.

  3. Lori Thomas February 26, 2017 Reply

    Great interview, will be checking out more of her works

    • Author
      Ruth February 26, 2017 Reply

      Thanks Lori very glad!

  4. Laurie Mae Kidd August 1, 2017 Reply

    I really love this show. It is so well written. I love how Elizabeth is so great with the children,
    knowing how to help them, so kind and wise. As a high school art teacher for almost 30 years, I really appreciate the patience and love which is needed to work with kids. I have learned from her! I am so glad
    that there is a 4th season to enjoy – long live the show!!!

    • Author
      Ruth August 1, 2017 Reply

      Hey Laurie thanks for stopping by and your wonderful comments as well. Yes, there is actually going to be a fifth season as well! So glad Hallmark renewed it!!

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