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Interview: Erin Krakow

Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart will return to our television screens on Sunday, February 19th with its Season 4 premiere. The series has been a ratings winner for its first three seasons and recently, the When Calls the Heart Christmas movie broke ratings records for the network.

One of the key reasons the series has been a winner for the Hallmark Channel is the work of Erin Krakow, who plays Elizabeth Thatcher on the series. From moment one, her character has won the hearts of the shows dedicated fans, known as the Hearties.

We sit down with Erin to talk about how her character has changed from Season 1, what fans can look forward to with the fourth season of the series and she discusses the power of women on When Calls the Heart.

Pop Culture Principle – Heading into its fourth season, do you feel that When Calls the Heart has finally found its rhythm and its voice?

Erin Krakow – I feel like the series has found its voice already. I really think that Season 3 was sort of where we hit our stride and found a balance that worked best for When Calls the Heart. Season 4 sort of picks up where we left off in that respect and it just goes even deeper.

We take things a little further and I think it’s a more emotional season. We are taking some risks and telling some very heartwarming stories, some very emotional ones, but I think we are just stretching ourselves a little bit. It’s still very Hallmark Channel and we aren’t straying away from that and the heart of the show. I think we hit our stride in terms of knowing what the When Calls the Heart voice was in Season 3 and I think we just continue in that direction in Season 4.

Pop Culture Principle – How would you compare Elizabeth Thatcher from Season 1 to the Elizabeth Thatcher heading into Season 4?

Erin Krakow – In Season 1 she was very much a fish out of water and someone with strength, convictions and big dreams. Now, she is this strong, capable woman who is very comfortable and confident in Hope Valley and she is someone who has really made her life there.

Pop Culture Principle – Now that you’ve lived with the character for four seasons now, how protective have you become of Elizabeth Thatcher?

Erin Krakow – I am very protective of this character, but I feel like everyone involved in the show is very protective of Elizabeth, so I really don’t have to fight many battles necessarily. I don’t think any of the writers or directors or anyone at the network level would ever put me or Elizabeth in a position where either one of us would be doing something that didn’t feel right for that character.

It was interesting in Season 2, I think the Hearties had a lot to say about Elizabeth and her choices in lifestyle, in men and things like that. It was sometimes hard to hear some of the things that they had to say about Elizabeth and I certainly felt protective of her then because it was an exploration and a departure for the show to be exploring those kinds of storylines in Hamilton and to see what that life was like for her. I think it was an essential part of Elizabeth’s growth as a person to go through that and to really confirm for her what she probably already knew deep down which was who the right guy was and the fact that she was really meant to become a Hope Valley woman.

Pop Culture Principle – You had some very powerful scenes in the final episode of Season 3 where it was just you speaking to Jack who was still injured and unconscious. How do you prepare for scenes so emotionally charged where you have to carry the scenes?

Erin Krakow – You know, that is an interesting question. I have a brilliant director who is there to help me. As far as my preparation and what was happening in the moment? I try not to overwork these things and I have some gorgeous words to say. The reality is that even though Jack was unconscious in that scene, I was still taking a lot from him. All I had to do was look at him and put myself in that situation with him and it came pretty naturally. That’s one of the blessings of having spent this much time as Elizabeth and in the Jack and Elizabeth relationship is it’s such a part of me that there is a lot to draw from at this point.

I think anytime you can just be present and in the moment and allow emotions or thoughts or responses to come is wonderful. Sometimes that’s from an unconscious Jack or sometimes it’s from an adorable child or whatever, just being open to those real resources.

Pop Culture Principle – We finally get to meet Jack’s mother and although the relationship started off a little rocky, Charlotte and Elizabeth have found common ground. What was it like working with Brooke Shields?

Erin Krakow – She was great! Brooke is a fantastic actor and she was so happy to be there. Brooke is quite a star and she had no ego and she came to work every day very prepared and was a lot of fun. She was a seamless fit from the very beginning. She’s such a pro and has so much experience and really was equally capable doing the more dramatic bedside scenes when Jack was unconscious and the lighter, comedic scenes where she is putting lard into everything Elizabeth was cooking. She really was an excellent addition and we loved having her.

Pop Culture Principle – Elizabeth and Rosemary still have an interesting and fun friendship. Rosemary can still get in that little dig at Elizabeth, but you just can’t be mad at her. Can you talk about how that relationship has evolved over the series and being in scenes with Pascale?

Erin Krakow – Our friendship has really grown as our character’s friendship has grown. She has become such a dear friend to me and is just the kindest, sweetest person and is just so much fun and so funny! She’s just wonderful and you can see that come through when she is playing Rosemary. Pascale as a person will give it to you straight and tell it like it is. It’s been really fun for us to play those moments together. Obviously, Rosemary and Elizabeth didn’t start off on great terms, but they have found this weird friendship together.

Elizabeth I guess can’t really get mad at Rosemary for some of the comments that she makes because the first half of the sentence is a compliment and the second half is I don’t even know what. Elizabeth thinks she is getting a lovely compliment from Rosemary and while she is digesting that, Rosemary is telling her she has worry lines or that she has to let her dress out. There is always something with Rosemary, but it’s always fun to get to play those moments and there are more coming in Season 4.

Pop Culture Principle – Elizabeth had finally finished her novel Short Stories from the Frontiers and sent it off to several publishers. Will we learn more about her novel and its fate in Season 4?

Erin Krakow – I know that we do learn a bit more about it. It’s not a huge focus necessarily this season though, but we do have a lot of stuff packed in the upcoming season and we can’t wait for everyone to see it.

Pop Culture Principle – Jack and Elizabeth’s relationship has been one of the main storylines in the series. Do you feel the writers’ pacing of their relationship so far has been good or would you like to see that pace change a bit?

Erin Krakow – It’s a unique situation doing a show that takes place in the early 1900s because relationships moved at a different speed then they do now. I think the writers have done a really good job finding that balance and I wouldn't want to criticize how they’ve written that relationship. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here. I am excited to see how it progresses as well.

Pop Culture Principle – When Calls the Heart has really done a great job mixing comedy, action and drama. Would you agree?

Erin Krakow - I do think that we are a show that offers all of those things and even more actually. So, it’s pretty special and I am glad that the fans of the show are enjoying it.

Pop Culture Principle – One of the major takeaways from this series is the number of strong, independent women in Hope Valley. How important has that aspect of the series been to you?

Erin Krakow – It’s really nice to get to play such strong willed and strong minded women. I feel like it’s nice for women of all ages to get to see that on television. We have more of it today then we did in the past, but I think it’s important that we continue to see even more of it on television. The fact that we have so many strong women on our show is a step in the right direction.

I think it’s really balanced as well. We have some strong and sensitive male characters on our show also and it’s nice to get to see them in both respects. It’s not a show that’s all about women, although we do have some pretty fierce ladies on our show.

Pop Culture Principle – You recently attended the second Hearties fan event. Can you talk about what it was like to be there for the second time and meeting the fans?

Erin Krakow – It was a much bigger event and it was probably more comfortable for everyone this time because it was in a nice hotel and not outside in the cold and the rain. I was so glad we could do it in a more comfortable environment this year. It was so nice to be there and to meet so many new Hearties and to see some Hearties I have met before. We really start to feel like we create relationships with these people through our connections through social media.

It’s nice to meet the Hearties in person and hear some of their personal stories. It went really fast and I think we had like four minutes to say hello to each group of Hearties. I felt really bad because there were some that I really didn’t get a chance to say hello to. If you are reading this and I didn’t get to say hello to you, I’m sorry and I’m sending out a big hello right now.

Pop Culture Principle – As an actor, how does it feel knowing this show has created such a community and is loved my thousands?

Erin Krakow – It makes me feel really good and it’s incredibly validating and very flattering. I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to lead with kindness and hope to leave the world a little better than it was when I entered it, I think that’s important. It makes me happy to know that this show has brought a lot of joy to our viewers. One of the beautiful parts of the Hearties community is seeing how many friendships were formed as a result of this show and as a result of the Hearties movement, it’s really special.

Also, we’ve heard countless stories of people who have lost loved ones or other tragedies in their lives and how they have told us how crucial When Calls the Heart has been in their healing process and how our show has been a good friend to them and an absolute source of healing for them. It just makes me feel so good to know that When Calls the Heart has been such a positive part of people’s lives and I hope it continues to do that.

Pop Culture Principle – What can the fans of When Calls the Heart look forward to with Season 4?

Erin Krakow – I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say there will be a lot more of all the things you love about When Calls the Heart. We are going to tug at your heart strings just a little bit harder. We are going to make you smile, make you laugh and make you cry. It’s going to be an incredible ride!

A big thank you to Erin Kraknow for talking with us about the upcoming season of When Calls the Heart. Season 4 of the series premieres on the Hallmark Channel on February, 19th at 9/8c. If you would like to keep up with all of Erin's latest news and projects, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @erinkrakow and her official Facebook page here.

**Photos Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Eike Schroter**

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