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Interview: Lori Loughlin

Currently in its third season, the Hallmark Channel series When Calls the Heart is proving that there is a market for faith-based programming in today’s television landscape.

Since the first season of When Calls the Heart, the series has continued to grow in the ratings and viewers. With its stellar cast and impressive writing, the future seems very bright for When Calls the Heart.

One of the members of the cast is a name many of you should already know. Lori Loughlin got her big break early with the television series Edge of Night. She became a household name playing Rebecca Katsopolis in over 150 episodes of the hit series Full House and recently reprised that role in the recent revival of that series Fuller House.

Today, she stars as Abigail Stanton in When Calls the Heart and is also a producer on the series. We sit down to talk to Lori about her work on the show, what it means to be a producer on the series and how the fans, known as the Hearties, have helped the series succeed.

Pop Culture Principle – Now that When Calls the Heart is in its third season, do you think the series has finally found its rhythm?

Lori Loughlin – I think in our third season we found a really nice balance between the first season and the second season. I think we took what worked from both seasons and we blended them for Season Three. The network moved us to Sunday nights—which is a very competitive night—but we are doing well, holding our own, and our ratings our good. We are growing every week, and I think that the show is finding even more of an audience.

Pop Culture Principle – Abigail Stanton has had her share of ups and downs on the series. For you as an actor, how do you enjoy playing such a layered character?

Lori Loughlin – I love it because it gives you so much more to dig into. It’s much more exciting to have conflict to play and obstacles to overcome.

Pop Culture Principle – We see at the beginning of Season Three of WCTH that Abigail and Pastor Frank seem to have feelings for each other, but Abagail seems a little apprehensive at first. Would you agree?

Lori Loughlin – Yes, I think so. I mean, thinking he was a pastor then learning that he was covering up and he was an outlaw at one point, I think she had to do a lot of soul-searching to find out how much she believes in this person. does she think that they have reformed, changed and turned their life around.

So it’s a leap of faith when she decides to take a chance with Frank, but not without some thought, especially now since she has young Cody in her life and she’s basically a mother figure again. She had to take that into consideration as well.

Pop Culture Principle – We read that you really fought to have the Cody storyline in the series. Why was that storyline important to have in the show?

Lori Loughlin – I wanted another layer for my character, and I thought bringing in a young child and to have Abigail all of a sudden take on the role of a mother and that maternal figure again was really important. And, again, I thought it would add more layers to play.

I personally love working with kids, and I’ve spent a good portion of my career working with them. I think that Cody just adds an extra special element to the show, as do all the kids on When Calls the Heart. I love all the kids who are on the show. I just wanted to have something more for Abigail to play, and I thought a young child coming into her life could be additive to my storyline and also additive to the series and other characters, to interact with this young boy.

Pop Culture Principle – Do you think Abigail needs Cody as much as Cody needs Abigail?

Lori Loughlin – Oh yes, I really do. Absolutely. One of my favorite scenes in Season One was when Abigail loses everything and she says to Elizabeth, “I don’t know where I belong anymore, and I don’t know where I fit in. I don’t know what my purpose is.” So I think to have a young person come into your life and be dependent on you, it gives you purpose. And what better way to have purpose in life than to help others? So this child, who is now an orphan, doesn’t have anybody and I think it’s the perfect match for Abigail and Cody.

Pop Culture Principle – Bill Avery is now a partner in Abigail’s Café. Do you think he has an ulterior motive in becoming her partner, or is this strictly a business move for him?

Lori Loughlin – I think it’s a business move, and I don’t think it’s an ulterior motive in a romantic sense. I think he just genuinely cares for Abigail and knew that she was in a bind, and just out of the kindness of his heart wanted to help her. I really believe that he saw that Gowen was going to sell his half of the café to someone which would have been very hard on Abigail and was going to make Abigail’s life difficult.

Bill had enough money to buy the guy out and I think he believes in her, believes it’s a good business venture, and he wants to help her out because he genuinely cares about her and she’s his friend.

Pop Culture Principle – When Calls the Heart is filled with great characters, but we see Abigail as the heart of the series. Would you agree with that?

Lori Loughlin – I would agree with that. I do think that Abigail is the heart of the show. Not to say that other characters on the show aren’t great or pivotal to the series, but there is always one character who seems to be the grounding force, and I think that is Abigail.

Pop Culture Principle – As a producer on the series, are you even more invested in the success of the When Calls the Heart?

Lori Loughlin – You know, I don’t know if it’s because I am a producer, I am just invested because I just love the show and I love all the characters, the actors portraying the characters, our writers and directors, and our crew up in Vancouver.

I am passionate about every aspect of this show, and the fact that I can wear a producer’s hat and get in there and have a voice makes me really happy. I’m just passionate because I think it’s a good show and I’m really proud of it.

What I like is that there is room for all types of programming out there, but I like that we have this show as an alternative, and it’s a good family friendly alternative. And all of that to me is very important.

Pop Culture Principle – How important have the Hearties been to the series and what would you like to say to the fans of When Calls the Heart?

Lori Loughlin – I would like to thank them a million times over from the bottom of my heart. Without the Hearties I don’t think the show would exist right now, to be honest. There is a lot of competition out there, whether it be on television or online, and there are many things for people to watch. It’s hard to get the word out for people to pick up and watch a show.

After the first season, although we did well we were sort of on the bubble, and the network wasn’t sure if they were going to renew the series for another run. But the Hearties wanted a second season so badly that they bombarded the network with fan letters, trinkets, and things that they made!

Not only that, they are very loud on social media. They are heard on social media from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram; they are everywhere! I think that homegrown support from the Hearties is what has made our show thrive, grow, succeed, and have a Season Three—and hopefully, as we continue to grow, a fourth season and many more to come.

Pop Culture Principle – Do you see the town of Hope Valley as its own character, and how does that set help you get into character?

Lori Loughlin – Absolutely! Where we shoot up in Vancouver, it’s an amazing old Western town. All of the buildings are practical. We don’t go to a soundstage, we are living it and that Western town is our home. So, I think Hope Valley and the time period is a major, major character in the show.

Pop Culture Principle – What can fans look forward to with the third season?

Lori Loughlin - Oh my gosh, every episode gets better! The stakes get higher, and they can look forward to so much! There’s adventure, there’s conflict, and there’s love. So much for the Hearties to enjoy! There’s a potential natural disaster that may happen, and the town has to come together. Each week I think the show this season just gets stronger, more exciting, and more layered.

We would like to thank Lori Loughlin for taking time out of her extremely busy schedule to talk with us. You can catch brand new episodes of When Calls the Heart every Sunday night at 9/8c only on the Hallmark Channel. If you would like to keep up to date on all of Lori's latest news and projects, you can visit her official Facebook page here or follow her official Twitter @LoriLoughlin.

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

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