Heading into its sixth season, When Calls the Heart remains Hallmark Channel’s longest-running original series as well as continuing to break ratings records each season.
The Season 5 finale marked a major change for the series and the direction of the show. One of the shows original characters, Jack Thornton, was killed off and Elizabeth Thatcher found out that she was pregnant. In the recent Christmas episode, Elizabeth gave birth to a baby boy whom she named Jack.
With so many changes taking place in Hope Valley, where will the series take its faithful fans known as the Hearties.
Well, we sat down with Erin Krakow to talk about the Season 5 finale, the new direction of the series and what fans can look forward to in Season 6 of When Calls the Heart.
Pop Culture Principle – Obviously, the death of Jack Thornton at the end of Season 5 came as a huge shock to fans of When Calls the Heart. How did you prepare mentally for that episode not only losing the character but knowing it was the last episode for Daniel Lissing as well?
Erin Krakow – Dan’s last episode was not the episode where we found out that his character was killed. Knowing that Dan was leaving the show and leading up to his last episode was of course very hard. He is a very dear friend to me and will always be a dear friend to me. He was also my partner in crime in a lot of ways.
We’d really created a beautiful love story between Jack and Elizabeth over the years and we loved working together. So, it was hard anticipating having to say goodbye to that. I think we were all pretty emotional about having to say goodbye. So, we just enjoyed the time that we had together and luckily, we knew that this wasn’t a real goodbye forever. We remain great friends and we see each other and we talk all the time, so that was very helpful. At the end of the day, it is make believe, so we had that.
As far as preparing for the emotional episodes at the end of Season 5, it came pretty naturally just through the imagination of such devastating circumstances. There was also a little self-care that came with all of that knowing that many of the days on set were going to be emotional. I would make sure to take a nice hot bath at the end of the day or watch something funny. There are ways to take care of yourself, but as far as preparing for just how emotional the acting on set was going to be, that came pretty naturally.
Pop Culture Principle – During the Facebook Live event, Lori Loughlin made the comment that Elizabeth’s baby will be sort of a rebirth for the series When Calls the Heart. Would you agree with that?
Erin Krakow – Absolutely! I truly believe that and as hard as it was to say goodbye to the character of Jack, we are a show entering its sixth season and it is going to feel like a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways. It’s so lovely to see these little babies included in so many scenes and it’s hard not to smile when you see their adorable faces and they way they mimic whoever is holding them.
Also, seeing the way the other characters that we know and love relate to the world in a slightly different way, knowing there are babies around. It’s a really beautiful thing to see that change in Hope Valley.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you talk a bit about the scene where Elizabeth starts talking to Jack about her concerns and worries about the baby?
Erin Krakow – I remember that scene being a very important shift in Elizabeth’s journey. Up until then, she’s carrying a lot of fear about how s he’s going to do it on her own and obviously she wasn’t expecting these massive life changes. I think through speaking to Jack and trying to connect to him and getting that sign of hearing that man say to his daughter, “Take a walk with me,” I think it just made her feel like she was less alone in the world and that Jack would be watching over her somehow.
Pop Culture Principle – Does the season 6 premiere of When Calls the Heart pick up right after the events of the Christmas episode or does it jump time a bit?
Erin Krakow – We’ve got a time jump. I think it’s four months that we jump ahead. So, the babies have grown a little bit and Elizabeth is just getting started going back to teaching and all the challenges that come with that and also things like finding childcare. So, we’ve got a little bit of a jump in time.
Another thing that comes with that is that we are getting to enjoy Hope Valley and the beauty of Spring. Everything is in bloom; the grass is green and the skies are blue. It’s just a really stunning time of year to shoot the series. It just makes such a difference in the way Hope Valley looks.
Pop Culture Principle – You are also now a co-executive producer on When Calls the Heart. How have you been enjoying wearing that hat along with acting aspect for the show?
Erin Krakow – Thank you for noticing! It’s nice to feel that my commitment to this show is being acknowledged in that way. There have been subtle changes, but I have obviously been very passionate and committed to the show from the very beginning and that comes through in different ways, but it’s been really nice to get to wear that additional hat.
Pop Culture Principle – When it comes to playing a mother on When Calls the Heart, did you go to any of the mothers from the cast, like Lori Loughlin, who also worked with twin babies on Full House, and ask for any advice?
Erin Krakow – You know, no I didn’t. I spoke to mothers like Pascale and Lori when we were filming the labor and delivery scenes. I wanted to make sure that I was making it seem as Hallmark realistic as possible without getting too crazy. I have a lot of experience working with kids nannying, teaching, camp counseling and through the work on When Calls the Heart getting to spend a lot of time with children, that part came pretty naturally for me. I didn’t really take a different approach knowing that they were twins, I just enjoyed spending time with both of them.
Pop Culture Principle – You recently posted a photo of twins Lincoln and Gunnar Taylor, who play your son Jack on when Calls the Heart. What has it been like working with them?
Erin Krakow – They are such a dream. They are so sweet and cuddly and they smell so good! They’ve got great temperament and they are hardly ever fussy. They are incredibly professional and always know their lines because they don’t have any. 😊 I have no complaints! There mom Chelsea is lovely to work with as well and she makes the whole thing easy for us.
I will admit, looking towards Season 6, I was wondering what things were going to be like and how things were going to be different with Elizabeth not having Jack. It’s been really nice for me to get to spend so many scenes with these babies and it’s been such a joy to come to set. I’ve had a great time with them and I’m looking forward to hopefully many more scenes with them.
Pop Culture Principle – Do you feel baby Jack will help fans of When Calls the Heart cope better with Jack Thornton’s death as baby Jack helps carry on his legacy?
Erin Krakow – Oh yes, I truly do. You mentioned that you watched the Facebook Live, I think that for many of the fans, now that they understand that this was really Dan’s choice, I hope that they will have an easier time coping with Jack’s death and moving forward with us and all of the characters from When Calls the Heart.
It all came from a good place and we handled it n the best way we could while showing the utmost respect for these characters and the love story they created. But I have to say, these babies are just so cute and so yummy, that they are definitely going to make it a lot easier for the fans of the show to move on.
Pop Culture Principle – Of course, fans will be torn when it comes to Elizabeth’s future love life. Will we see that be explored right away in Season 6 or is that something that will be explored down the road?
Erin Krakow – I think that our fans would have a hard time if they thought Elizabeth would just jumping right back into a romance with the first guy she lays her eyes on. I believe we are handling that at a very respectful and slow pace. Right now, her only love is her baby and of course her friends in town. Elizabeth won’t be pursuing romance right away, absolutely not.
Pop Culture Principle – If and when she does, do you think Elizabeth will think twice about being involved with another Mountie?
Erin Krakow – Well, I certainly think that will complicate things emotionally.
Pop Culture Principle – In today’s television landscape, many television series don’t make it past their first season. Heading into its sixth season, how does it make you feel knowing that When Calls the Heart continues to do well in the ratings and have a supportive fanbase?
Erin Krakow – I show up to set everyday so grateful to have that job, to get to work with the people that I love so much and to tell these stories and play a character who means so much to me. I think we all know just how good we’ve got it with the fanbase we have. We absolutely would not be on the air right now if it weren’t for all of the Hearties and their loyalty and passion for our show. I mean all of that genuinely and I so appreciate all of the support. It’s just lovely to get to do what I love and I’m so glad that it resonates for people and that they want us to continue to tell these stories for them.
Pop Culture Principle – What can the fans look forward to with the sixth season of When Calls the Heart?
Erin Krakow– There are so many really sweet moments with these babies. I can’t wait for the people to get to know the babies that play baby Jack. There is a fair amount of romance this season although Elizabeth won’t be involved in it in the same way. There are some very sweet, tender and passionate moments that we have coming up.
There is some great drama and surprises. There are some great moments with the school kids and you get to see how they come together to help each other and help the community. I’m really proud of Season 6 and the way we’ve come back from such an emotional end to Season 5. I’m just excited for people to get to see what we’ve worked so hard to create.
We here at the Pop Culture Principle always love talking with Erin Krakow about all things When Calls the Heart. Don’t forget, the sixth season of the series premieres exclusively on the Hallmark Channel on Sunday, February 24th at 8/7c!
**Main photo copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Eike Schroter**
**All other photos ©2019 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: David Dolsen/Eike Schroter**