The highly anticipated second season of the hit Hallmark Channel series When Calls the Heart premieres on Saturday, April 25th at 8/7c. The season two premiere will be two full hours and looks to pick right up where the first season left off. The series has struck a chord with its audience and has one of the most devoted fan bases of any series on television today. With the new season comes new characters and one of those new characters that will be introduced this season is Viola Thatcher played by Devon Weigel.
The Canadian born actress is a graduate of The Mount Royal College and is definitely making a name for herself in the industry. She starred for two seasons on the Canadian television series Falcon Beach as Tanya Shedden. She’s also made guest star appearances on shows like Supernatural, Smallville and Fairly Legal.
Devon sits down with the Pop Culture Principle to talk about her character Viola Thatcher, what it was like to be on the set of When Calls the Heart and what fans can look forward to with the new season of the hit series.
Pop Culture Principle – Were you aware of When Calls the Heart when you were first approached about the role?
Devon Weigel – I actually hadn’t heard of the show, but once I got the role I watched the entire first season and really got into it. It reminded me of two of my favorite shows from the 90s, Christie and Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman. I ate it up. At the end I really wanted to see what was gonna happen next – then I realized I’d get to be a part of the story continuing from there which was quite a surreal and cool feeling!
Pop Culture Principle – What type of preparation if any did you do for the role?
Devon Weigel – After I watched the first season of When Calls the Heart, I binge-watched Downton Abbey. That definitely informed what I brought to the role. It helped watching the way those characters of the same time period and similar social class spoke and carried themselves, and the manner in which they interacted with each other.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us a little about your character Viola Thatcher?
Devon Weigel – Viola is the oldest of the Thatcher sisters and very much her parents’ daughter. Unlike her younger sisters Julie and Elizabeth, she is much more concerned with class, status and keeping up appearances. She has a tendency to lean towards the traditional, the way things have always been done. She has a lot of opinions and is not afraid to let them be heard. Her delivery can sometimes come across a bit insensitive – she can be rigid, judgmental, intolerant…haha I’m making her sound quite unpleasant. But I think she values her family immensely, she cares a great deal, that’s why she’s so vehement in her attempts to convince Julie and Elizabeth to see things her way – she feels she is protecting them.
Helping to steer them towards the way things “should” be done and the way they “should” be living. She thinks she knows best, but I also think she is scared – she’s not much of a rule breaker or a risk taker, and she feels safer and more in control that way. To get Julie and Elizabeth on board would reinforce the stance she has taken in life. But deep down I think part of her wishes she could break free of the restrictions imposed upon her and that she’s imposed upon herself, to see what it would be like to live from her heart as her sisters do.
Pop Culture Principle – This seems to be different from many of your past roles. Was accepting this role a conscious decision to stretch as an actor?
Devon Weigel – To be honest when I read the scenes for the audition I didn’t think it was the type of role I’d ever get. I’ve rarely auditioned for anything period and didn’t see myself doing something like this. But I liked it, and I worked hard on it. I was surprised when I watched my tape back that I actually felt I was in fact right for the part. I’m glad they thought so too! This has been such a great opportunity for me to do something unlike anything I’ve done before and I’m grateful I got the chance to explore the character across the whole season. I learned a lot.
Pop Culture Principle – When Calls the Heart had a very successful first season. Did you feel any anxiety or nervousness joining the series for its second season?
Devon Weigel – I didn’t feel nervous at all, I was really excited to dive into it. Although having watched the whole first season, when I met Daniel and Erin it did take me a minute to adjust to the reality that they were not, in fact, Jack and Elizabeth 😉
Pop Culture Principle – The sets for the series are amazing and set the tone and atmosphere for the city. Would you consider the town of Coal Valley to be a character in the show as well?
Devon Weigel – The town is absolutely its own character and I think that’ll be illustrated even more clearly in season 2 because of the contrast provided by the new setting of Hamilton, Elizabeth’s hometown. They’re two totally separate worlds. It becomes apparent that Elizabeth has a distinct relationship with both places, and that they bring out different parts of her that prove to be in conflict.
Pop Culture Principle – Along with the amazing sets, When Calls the Heart has some amazing costume designers. What was it like wearing the clothes from that time period?
Devon Weigel – SO fun. The costume designer this season, Alissa Swanson, is fantastic. Every time I’d go to a fitting I’d have a huge smile on my face the whole time and be gushing to her about how stunning everything was. There were so many options, so many beautiful dresses and ensembles I was only bummed I didn’t get to wear them all! The corset was interesting….I’d worn them before in plays but it was quite a different thing having one on for up to 12 hours. On one occasion, mine seemed extra tight or I’d had some extra lunch or something because at some point into the day I noticed I was having trouble breathing and the next day my ribs felt bruised. I made sure not to do it up as tightly from then on, but for me wearing it helped with things like posture and immersing myself more fully in the period – as soon as I’d put on the wardrobe Viola would emerge much more effortlessly.
Pop Culture Principle – Will we see any sibling rivalry between Elizabeth and Viola?
Devon Weigel – There will definitely be some of that – Viola and Elizabeth have never been very close and don’t seem to see eye to eye on most things. But the family love and concern is still there, despite their differences. Viola being the oldest has more traditional values than her two younger sisters. She can’t understand their desire to step outside of the long-upheld ways of high society, and she makes her disapproval known. Even so, she means well – she wants what she feels is best for her sisters and for the family.
Pop Culture Principle – What have you enjoyed most about being part of When Calls the Heart?
Devon Weigel – I’d never thought I’d get the chance to do a period piece and I loved every second of it. I’m a bit of a history buff so stepping into another time period was so much fun for me. The locations were beautiful, between Langley, BC and the old mansion in Vancouver that we used for the Thatcher home, I took a ton of pictures. The best part though would have to be the people I got to work with. I’d wager to say this is one of the best casts and crews I’ve encountered.
My very first day I worked with Erin, Daniel, Charlotte Hegele, and Max-Lloyd Jones and they were all so warm and welcoming it put me at ease right away. But everyone, from the directors, to the assistant directors, the hair and makeup team, wardrobe, camera, sound, props, transport, I could go on but it’d be a huge list – just some of the most lovely, positive, hard-working, fun people I’ve met. I couldn’t have asked for a better working environment – we had a lot of great chats, laughs, and I think, produced a solid second season for the show that I’m really proud to be a part of.
Pop Culture Principle – When Calls the Heart has a very vocal and loyal fanbase know as the Hearties. Have you had any interaction with them yet?
Devon Weigel – I know of the Hearties and I’ve had a small amount of interaction with them so far – I’ve only posted a few pictures on social media from my time working on the show, but the comments have been unbelievably sweet and supportive. I’m blown away by all the heartfelt letters and thoughtful and creative gifts I’ve seen come in for some of the cast and crew from last season. It’s wonderful the show has such enthusiastic support from the Hearties and I’m looking forward to connecting more once the show starts airing April 25th!
Pop Culture Principle – What can fans of the series look forward to with the second season of the series?
Devon Weigel – The second season brings a slew of new characters to stir things up. Family tensions, love triangles, the clashing of different worlds, new love and old, risk-taking, trouble-making, following of hearts vs. making sensible choices, fancy dinners, dancing, danger, plenty of piano playing and more attractive gentlemen to look at. If you’re into that sort of thing.
We would like to thank Devon Weigel for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk with us. Don’t forget, the season two premiere of When Calls the Heart airs this Saturday, April 25 at 8/7c. If you would like to keep up with all of Devon’s latest news and projects, you can follow her official Twitter account here and you can also like her official Facebook page here.