Of course, to Hallmark fans around the world, Kavan Smith is no stranger. He’s played Lee Coulter on the hit Hallmark Channel series When Calls the Heart for the past eight seasons and the series was just renewed for its ninth season. Also in the Hallmark universe, Kavan has starred in the films Love on the Menu, The Perfect Bride, Wedding Bells and The Irresistible Blueberry Farm.
Today, we sit down with Kavan to talk about his latest project, what it’s like working with Pascale Hutton and what it was like shooting in Hawaii!
Pop Culture Principle – Doing our research, is it true that both you and Pascale Hutton came up with the idea for this film?
Kavan Smith – Yes, we did. A friend of ours ended up directing a movie in Fiji and Pascale and I got a bit jealous and decided to try to come up with a pitch that involved a destination. I asked her what type of character she’d want to play and said I’d be the exact opposite of that.
Kavan Smith – Ben is a fly by the seat of his pants, spontaneous “young” man who never wants to get bogged down in too much planning or scripted bits. Kind, decent guy who has been burned in the past and has decided that to avoid any chance of getting burned again he’s going to avoid making plans. If he doesn’t make plans, he can’t have them fall through.
Pop Culture Principle – From the previews we’ve seen, it seems like your two characters are oil and water when they first meet. Would you agree with that?
Kavan Smith – 100%. They look at life through completely different lenses. BUT as if often the case sometimes, it’s opposites that attract. Not to mention that if you look hard enough, you can find things in common with almost anyone.
Pop Culture Principle – There is a scene shot at the Waimea Valley Falls that just looked stunning. Can you talk about what it was like filming there?
Kavan Smith – Yes, beautiful place. Very important spiritually to the native Hawaiians. Very special place. I love waterfalls. They feel magical. As did this one. And that sound. Something so soothing about the sound of falling water. Makes the scene easy when the view is so beautiful.
Pop Culture Principle – Would you say that Hawaii is itself a character in the film?
Kavan Smith – Absolutely. Hawaii is one of the main characters. All the way through, the beauty, the sound, the smells, the people, it filled our little movie with so much magic. Shooting a scene on a Hawaiian beach was a treat, let me tell you. I want to go back.
Pop Culture Principle – You have a long working history with Pascale Hutton from When Calls the Heart to several Hallmark movies. Can you talk about what it’s like working with her and why you both have so much chemistry when working together?
Kavan Smith – She’s one of my best friends and we love working together. We’ve been incredibly lucky to be given the time to build this bond and we hope we can keep it rolling. Mostly what it boils down to is a real love of making each other laugh. We’ll do almost anything to get the other person to crack. I think that joy is what people see on screen.
Pop Culture Principle – So, we find out from Pascale Hutton that you may have a little bit on an obsession with meteorology and the weather. Is that true?
Kavan Smith – BAH. She’s just trying to make me look like a curmudgeon. We had a few rough days of weather on our shoot and every morning when we’d get to work, I’d say, “Gee, I hope we get some serious sun today” And for that, I’m a meteorologist.
Pop Culture Principle – What would you like fans to take away from this movie after watching it?
Kavan Smith – Joy. This movie is all about the joy. I hope people laugh; I hope they get the feels. In truth I hope they want a sequel. Ha.
Pop Culture Principle – When Calls the Heart recently finished its eighth season. We find out in the Season finale that Lee Coulter is going to run for mayor. Do you think eventually that was his destiny?
Kavan Smith – I think in his heart Lee loves to help people. I think that might just be his “thing” and what better place to do it than by being Mayor of Hope Valley?
Pop Culture Principle – Many of the When Calls the Heart fans look at Rosemary and Lee as the heart of Hope Valley. What do you think about that?
Kavan Smith – Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of heart in Hope Valley. If people like to think that Lee and Rosemary are a big part of that, then I’m honored.
Pop Culture Principle – Of course, the big storyline for Season 8 was Elizabeth finally choosing between Nathan and Lucas. She chose Lucas. What do you say to the fans who are disappointed and upset that she didn’t choose Nathan? (Will you admit if you were Team Lucas or Team Nathan?)
Kavan Smith – Tough question. I never bought into either camp, I knew the choice wouldn’t be made recklessly and that many, many things would be considered before making the final choice. People are passionate about this little show that could. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t be here. But when Jack left, people were also very upset, and in my humble opinion we got better, we had new stories to tell, new places to explore. Now we have another moment of division. I guess I hope fans on either side will give us a chance. I would also hope that whatever side you choose to be on, however you see or don’t see it, that we can all agree to be civil. After all, its HOPE Valley.
Pop Culture Principle – It was also announced that When Calls the Heart will return for a ninth season. How does it feel knowing that not only do the fans love the show, but the network continues to support the series?
Kavan Smith – I’ve said it from the start: This is the little show that could. Without the support of the fans, this show never would have got out of season 1. We owe everything to the fans. So, thank you for all your kindness and support over the years. Let’s keep this show rolling people. Many more seasons of storytelling yet to be told.
A huge thank you to Kavan Smith for talking with us about his upcoming Hallmark Channel movie You Had Me at Aloha which premieres on Saturday, June 5th at 9/8c!
**You Had Me at Hello photos courtesy of Crown Media United States LLC/Zack Dougan/Michael Larsen**
**When Calls the Heart photos courtesy of Crown Media United States LLC/David Dolsen**