Interview With Actor Liam Hughes, “When Calls the Heart”

By Ruth on March 18, 2017 in interview, movie, television
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Again, I tip my hat to the benevolent people over at Hallmark Channel who cast so many talented children in their show When Calls the Heart. In the four seasons in which this show has been in existence, that show has been responsible for launching the careers of an incredible amount of young Canadian actors, and Liam Hughes is no exception. While he did come to the show with some experience, this is his first big role in a series, and I was privileged recently to get to talk with him and his mother about his career thus far.

Before we began, Liam’s mom issued this statement:

I have to say that the day I spent with the Hearties at the Hearties Reunion was an awesome day. Liam had to work, but I was just hanging out. We are not a social media family. I was able to take a look at Erin’s {Krakow} Instagram, and I was so surprised and humbled to read all these wonderful comments. I feel bad because we don’t have a social media presence at all. My husband and I have never been on social media. We haven’t set it up for Liam either–he’s in fifth grade. We haven’t set it up for his older brother either. We are trying to keep them off the internet as long as possible. I don’t want his lack of presence to make it seem like he’s aloof or something like that. There is so much controversy out there when it comes to social media for kids. There’s a lot of negative which can affect or ruin their self-esteem, and so that’s why he doesn’t have a presence. I don’t want to make it look like we’re not interested. We just don’t think it’s a good time for him to be on the internet. 

RH: Liam, it’s so nice to get to talk with you today.

LH: Hi, it’s nice to meet you, Ruth.

Why did you decide to become an actor?

Last year, we started doing a summer camp that was connected with an acting school–Vancouver Young Actors School, and one of my teachers was Johannah Newmarch. She told me I should take the courses the school was offering during the fall term. At the end of that fall term, there’s a showcase, and that’s where I met my agent–who was suggested by Johannah. And basically, that’s how I got into acting.

My mom and I really like Johannah, and even though she’s so busy, she’s so nice. As my mom says, she went out of her way to talk to us. We were both surprised that she teaches acting and is an actress herself! I wanted to try out acting, but my mom had no idea what to do and it was Johannah who helped us.

Now before this summer camp, did you always like acting?

I didn’t really know a lot about acting. I thought it was kinda cool. My brother did a play at a neighborhood theater, and I thought that was pretty cool. So I wanted to get into acting, especially after that. Even though I really started acting in TV and movies this year, I had done some plays in school. Also, my brother is interested in making little films for fun, and whenever he would make a little home movie or something like that, I would act in them.

When I looked at all the things you’d been in, I realized I have actually seen you in a couple things without realizing it. So you were in Wayward Pines last season?

Yeah, it was a pretty small role, and it was actually my very first role. It was two episodes last season, and I thought it was really fun. I was the ice cream kid who gets eaten by an Abby. It was my first time on a major set, so it was pretty fun. The director was Jennifer Lynch from Twin Peaks, so that was interesting, at least for my mom.

I’m pretty sure I remember seeing you. I was watching Wayward Pines because my friend Jaime Callica was in it. 

What my mom said was this. “It’s your first paid gig, and it’s seven minutes from our house. Your life is never gonna get better than this!”

I also noticed that you were in an episode of Travelers. I’m behind on the series, so I haven’t seen your episode yet.

Yes, I was in Travelers. That was really fun. I got to work with Eric McCormack, and that was really cool. Everyone was really nice to me.

It’s good to know that you’re in it because that now makes two science fiction shows that are pretty popular that you’ve been in.

I am also in an episode of The Magicians. That’s coming out on April 5th.  In fact, another kid from When Calls the Heart is in the same episode as mine, but I won’t say who because I don’t think that has been officially announced. But it is a kid I didn’t meet until the wrap party for When Calls the Heart because we really didn’t have any scenes together.

This is really amazing! Sometimes child actors start out on lesser known shows, but you have booked roles on such big shows! Congratulations! {pause} Now, we are going to get to When Calls the Heart, but I notice you were in the Hallmark film The Birthday Wish

Yes, I was, and that was also directed by Peter DeLuise, one of the directors from Wayward Pines and When Calls the Heart. It was a pretty small role, but it was pretty fun working with him again. He’s a really good director.

That would have been the first time Hallmark audiences saw you even though we didn’t know it at the time. Now when you’re booking these roles, how are you auditioning?

Well, all of these roles that I’ve booked have been in-person auditions. Sometimes the auditions are with the casting director and I might get a callback. Other times, it’s immediately going to audition for the producers, and those usually don’t have callbacks. I do some self-tape auditions too.

Now, I don’t know if you realized this, but after your first episode of When Calls the Heart, Marcus Rosner got on and tweeted about how you were in Infidelity in Suburbia. I was like, “Oh my goodness, I saw that!” So I have seen you in several things, but I hadn’t made the connections.

My mom wants to know if that movie was scary.

Uh, it was extremely intense. It was very well-done, I thought. 

Liam’s Mom: I have to say, Marcus Rosner was just so nice. I have been flabbergasted at how nice all these actors have been to Liam. Liam was only in one scene in that movie, and I understand it was an intense movie with intense scenes. We didn’t see it, and at this point, Liam is not going to see it. They did a great job making things comfortable for Liam in his scene so it wasn’t scary or anything like that.

Good, I was going to ask about that. 

Liam’s Mom: He only was in one scene with one line. For us as parents, it was less about the scary part and more about the sexual aspect of the film because he’s looking at his character’s parents. They did a great job of not making that seem weird or inappropriate.

Yes, I remember that. That is actually the opening scene of the film. A lot of the Hearties did see this film because Marcus was on season two of WCTH. So we follow his career pretty closely. 

Liam’s Mom: We honestly don’t know much about these online communities. We knew nothing about the Hearties, but come to find out, Liam’s grandmother on the East Coast watches When Calls the Heart. We had no idea! So I think there are a lot of people offline who watch the show too.

Erin Krakow, Liam Hughes Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Eike Schroter

So Liam, how did you get this role on When Calls the Heart?

Well, I first auditioned for another role in the show. I got a callback for the other role, and I was on hold for that role for awhile. I didn’t get it. Then the next week, the network brought me in for an audition for Philip. The same thing happened with this role, but this one I got. For that audition, my brother read the description of my character, and it said to wear like old-fashioned clothes for the character, so I wore my Sherlock Holmes costume.

Oh that’s cute! That’s great. And you know what? A lot of the kids on the show have had a similar experience to you. They audition for one role, and they don’t get that one, but they end up getting another one. {pause} So what was it like being the new kid in the show. I know there are a few new kids, but what was it like being a new cast member?

At first, I was a tiny bit nervous.  But Erin Krakow–when I met her–she was very welcoming and nice, as were the rest of the cast and crew. There weren’t many kids there that the first day, but the next time I was on set, all the kids were basically there. They were all so very welcoming to the show, and I made some good friends.

I’ve heard that a lot about Erin. I think she really has a heart for the kids. 

Liam’s Mom: I have to say, Erin is amazing. She has all those scenes, and yet she has the time for people like me, who happen to be on set. She’s got this gig that I would think would be pretty stressful since she’s in practically every scene, and yet she’s so nice to everybody. You’ll be behind her in line, and she’ll be asking someone on the crew how his girlfriend is. Unbelievable.

You said you made friends. Who were some of the kids you got close to–ones that you shared more scenes with?

Christian {Michael Cooper} and Ava {Grace Cooper}–I had a lot of scenes with Ava. She was really nice. And Carter {Ryan Evancic} and Jaiven {Natt}–they were all so great. We kids always ate lunch in the trailer together. Gracyn {Shinyei} was very nice too.

The man who plays your dad, Niall Matter, is also a very well-loved actor in the Hallmark community. How was it getting to work with him?

He was really great to play off of in the scenes, and he was super great to me. On my birthday, I was on set, and he gave me some books as a gift, and he said that I reminded him of himself when he was little. ‘Cause I like reading, and he liked reading.

That is great! It looked like you guys connected. According to IMDB, you’re in seven episodes, so I hope that’s right. 

Liam’s Mom: Let me elaborate just a bit. Niall has a wife who had a baby in the heart of the December month right during filming. I was just gobsmacked at the level of effort Niall put into this gift for Liam. These books were obscure titles, and he was explaining to Liam why he got certain books for him.  His kindness was really something. It was just so wonderful. And his wife had only given birth a day or two before. He needs a shout out because he was so amazing.

Liam, can you tell us anything about your character and what we might see without ruining any of the storyline?

Yes, there is quite a bit coming up for Philip. You will definitely see a lot more of his character.

Are there any other actors that you got to have special scenes with?

Erin–I had some really special scenes with her. Andrea Brooks–I had some really fun scenes with her too. And she is super nice too.

How does school work for you when you’re filming?

I go to a regular school–a Catholic school. We have a tutor on set, so in between scenes, we do our schoolwork. If we’re on set three or more days in a row, we have to do three hours of school each of those days.

Liam’s Mom: This was only an issue when he had his big story on the show. During that time, he wasn’t able to go to the tutor at all on one day, so the next day, he had to do six hours. That was interesting. The adults, in between scenes, don’t have to do that, but the kids do.

We went to school in the saloon right behind the horses, so when we were doing our work, we could hear the horses neighing which was very fun.

Since you go to a smaller, private school, are there any issues with your friends treating you differently?

There’s not many issues really. The teachers are pretty supportive about it. But I don’t really talk about it at school.

You also take piano lessons? I think that’s what your mom told me.

Yes, I am in Grade Six piano, and I’m going to take my exam this spring or summer. We use the Royal Conservatory piano program. I have been taking piano lessons for four years. When I have time, I try to practice an hour a day.

So in addition to piano, are there other activities that you do?

I do track and field on Mondays and Wednesdays. I like to read a lot and write a lot. I am a member of my school’s chess club as well. And I also do choir.

You’re very well-rounded. That is so great.  So see one day, Liam, you can write your own scripts, you can act in them, you can direct them, you can produce them–you can do it all! That’s what a lot of actors do.

Oh cool!

So is there anything I didn’t ask you about that you would like to tell us, Liam?

I’d like to talk about a couple of directors I worked with on When Calls the Heart. The directors always did such a good job. I’ve already talked about Peter DeLuise, but I also got to work on a couple episodes with Neill Fearnley and Michael Landon, Jr.

Whenever Peter DeLuise wants us to be quiet on set, he always says, “We want it to be ‘Michael Landon, Jr.’ quiet in here.”

Neill Fearnley also was very helpful in getting me to a good place in acting. But I also have a great story about him. There is one scene where I had to be really muddy, and all the makeup artists wanted to put fake mud on me, but Neall said that I should just go roll around in the mud pit nearby. So I got to roll around in the mud for this scene rather than putting on fake mud. That was really fun.

Now, while Liam has only been in the business for about a year, he has had some phenomenal opportunities come his way. His talent is readily apparent to all who have seen him in action, and this young man is on the road to stardom, in my humble opinion. Along the way, he has had some remarkable mentors who have invested copious amounts of time and effort in order for him to have the moments he has had, and there is no doubt that in the midst of this adventure, he is grateful to be doing what he loves. I appreciated his mother stepping in at various times to amplify as needed, and I understand her concern regarding social media. I greatly respect her family’s decision in this area, and I hope that all the Hearties will applaud her “going against the grain” and doing what is best for her family. After all, Liam is still a boy, and should his career continue its steady ascent, there will be plenty of time for social media interactions as he gets older and matures into more substantial roles. In the meantime, I invite all of you to tune in every Sunday night to the Hallmark Channel and watch Liam portray Philip Cantrell as only he can. Furthermore, consider checking out his other works, and know that even though you are unable to tell him via social media what you think of his amazing performances, any comments you place here on this post will be certain to be read and enjoyed to the fullest extent by him and his family. 

FOLLOW LIAM

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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

3 Comments

  1. Margot C March 18, 2017 Reply

    I have never seen this show, but what a promising looking boy. Lots of luck to him.

    • Author
      Ruth March 19, 2017 Reply

      Oh I hope you get a chance to see it Margot!

  2. Rebekka S. March 18, 2017 Reply

    Liam sounds like a well rounded young man. He’s so talented and I enjoy seeing him on When Calls the Heart. I totally understand about his mother not wanting the children on social media, and respect her decision. He is a talented actor and I believe he will have a long acting career.

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