On Sunday, February 21st, Hallmark Channel’s longest running original series When Calls the Heart returns for its eighth season. In today’s television landscape, many series don’t make it past two seasons, but When Calls the Heart has been a consistent performer for the cable network and continues to grow in popularity.
One of the reasons for the success of the series has been the work of actor Pascale Hutton. She joined the series at the end of Season 1 and from the beginning, her character, Rosemary has been one of the most talked about characters on the show.
We had the chance to sit down with Pascale Hutton to talk about the upcoming season, how the relationship between Rosemary and Elizabeth has grown and if there will be a baby in the future for Rosemary and Lee.
Pop Culture Principle – COVID-19 played a big role in the shooting of the eight season. Can you talk a little bit about filming during the pandemic, the protocols and safety issues in place?
Pascale Hutton – For starters, it didn’t affect our production schedule which was pretty unique. We wrapped right before Christmas, so before the pandemic started. We were always supposed to be on hiatus from January through July, which was right in the thick of the pandemic.
So, it didn’t affect our filming schedule, but once we were gearing up to get started in July, just like normal, then of course it was affecting how we were going to run the show. One of our producers who kind of oversees things, she did a truly meticulous job and thought of every little detail. Our show was one of the first shows in Vancouver to start up, we were kind of setting the groundwork for a lot of it.
Of course, everyone from the cast and crew were tested every week. We had a COVID officer on set who was a paramedic. So, he was on set doing the tests, but when he wasn’t doing the tests, he was making sure all the COVID protocols were being upheld. He was also a sounding board if you saw something or you were feeling something that wasn’t up to the standards, you could bring it up to him and he would address it.
One other thing that we did was the crew, and the cast were divided into bubbles. They really tried to keep things isolated so that if any sort of outbreak did happen, it would be contained in just one of those bubbles. Also, of course, everyone was wearing masks all the time and the only time the cast took of their masks was when they were shooting.
Pop Culture Principle – Knowing that there is a pandemic happening while shooting, does that affect your acting at all?
Pascale Hutton – I think all the actors made a consensus decision early on that we all would be really committed to the protocols while we were at work and when we were not. It was like we had our own safety protocol between all of us because we were the ones who had to interact without masks on. The people I work the closest with are Erin and Kavan. So, before we even started, I phoned Kavan and asked him what he was comfortable with. He and I made a pact that we would act our scenes as we normally would and trust the choices each other was making.
Pop Culture Principle – Heading into Season 8, you and Kavan Smith still have amazing chemistry onscreen. Can you talk about working with Kavan?
Pascale Hutton – The chemistry was there pretty much out of the gate and it’s only become more so as we’ve spent more time together. Kavan is truly one of my best friends in the entire world and the fact that I get to do a job that I love with a person that is one of my best friends, that’s just such a rare anomaly in one’s career and I just enjoy every second of it.
Pop Culture Principle – One of the big storylines in Season 7 for Lee and Rosemary was the fact that Lee had a sister and hadn’t told Rosemary, but Rosemary was an integral part of those two coming together again. How important was it for Rosemary to help Lee reunite with his sister and how much did Lee’s accident play into his wanting to reunite with his sister?
Pascale Hutton – For me as an actor, it was really fun for to see that other side of Rosemary. We don’t often see Rosemary bite her tongue and she did on so many occasions for the greater good. She knew how important this relationship was for Lee and knowing that her own feelings were secondary in navigating that relationship. She was there to help her husband and that was her purpose. I really enjoyed that new dynamic and new relationship. I mean after eight seasons; I find it very exciting when you can find new uncharted territories for characters that have been so well-developed. So, this storyline was really fun for me.
Pop Culture Principle – Rosemary is always upbeat and happy, but we get to see an entirely different side of her when Lee is injured in an accident. Can you talk a little bit about her mindset during that horrible incident and what it was like getting to show another side of Rosemary?
Pascale Hutton – Well, that’s what I have always loved. I’ve always loved that about the character Rosemary is that she is so light, she is so joyful, and she brings so much levity to the show and yet, they usually give me a few moments of that depth where we see that she’s not just a one-dimensional character. Rosemary is a fully realized, complex and complicated woman. I really enjoy those moments and enjoy when we get to see that with Rosemary. I think it’s a testament to the depth of their love and that’s what I think is so beautiful.
Pop Culture Principle – In Season 7, Rosemary and Lee were talking about starting their own family. As we head into the eight season of When Calls the Heart, will we learn more about their attempt to start their own family?
Pascale Hutton – It’s an interesting question without a straightforward answer. Probably the most direct answer is to say that this season you see Rosemary trying to find purpose and direction in life when life doesn’t unfold as she expects it to, and what she discovers is a surprise to herself (and hopefully fans).
Pop Culture Principle – Even though Lee was injured, and she was obviously hurting, Rosemary still thought of someone else when she asked Elizabeth to check on Jesse to make sure he was ok. Can you talk a bit about that gesture?
Pascale Hutton – That is a testament to how far Rosemary has grown as a human being from Season 1 and Season 2 to now at this point where she really cares about this community. She sometimes cares about the community more than herself sometimes. She values this community and the people who live there very deeply.
Pop Culture Principle – One of the most rewarding relationships to watch grow over the run of the series is the friendship between Elizabeth and Rosemary. Rosemary has become one of Elizabeth’s most important and valued friends since season one. Would you agree with that?
Pascale Hutton – Yes, I would definitely say that. They have become best friends. Erin and I are really close off camera, so again to play best friends with one of your best friends is a real treat. I think it’s such a good lesson for people. You just never know where those lifelong friendships are going to emerge. I don’t think anyone expected Rosemary and Elizabeth to be at this point in their lives when Rosemary first arrived in Season 1.
Pop Culture Principle – We would love to see an episode were Elizabeth and Rosemary go on some sort of adventure together and how their two personalities would handle such an adventure. Would you like to see something like that?
Pascale Hutton – OMG! We have been pitching this idea for years now! Our characters have very different personalities and very different approaches to life. We thought a little girls road trip would be hilarious. So far, no one is biting, but I will continue to pitch it because I do think it’s a really good idea!
Pop Culture Principle – Looking back on eight seasons of playing this character, she has never become stale or put in a corner. What would you say is one of the most rewarding aspects of being Rosemary Coulter?
Pascale Hutton – I think it’s the only way. It would become boring if they had wanted me to play the same note over and over for eight seasons. That is not stimulating and exciting for a performer. Fortunately, I have never had to have that conversation because the writers have presented new and exciting stuff to me for Rosemary to explore each season. That is just wonderful and such a gift. It has made it exciting and fun for me to play this character for so long.
Pop Culture Principle – Would you ever be interested in doing a spinoff series with Rosemary and Lee as the main characters?
Pascale Hutton – We have been talking about maybe not a spinoff series, but maybe doing a spinoff movie. I got really excited about a spinoff movie idea that we had, and I wrote a huge outline and script breakdown for the movie and it looked like people were excited for a while and it has kind of dwindled away.
You know, normally we do ten episodes a season and a Christmas movie, so that leaves so many months for the Hearties with no content. I always thought we should make a movie and air it in the summer or September. It hasn’t happened yet, but I think that would be really fun!
Pop Culture Principle – In a recent interview, Brian Bird said he is “Praying that season 8 will be a huge booster shot of hope for everyone who watches — a vaccine against the frustration and loneliness of 2020.” Would you agree with that comment?
Pascale Hutton – Absolutely! I feel like our show has always been a bright light for fans. It does bring hope and it does bring joy. It brings families together and I really hope that it continues. We were airing just as the pandemic started to hit and I can’t tell you how many fans wrote to me saying they were stuck in lockdown and they would tell me When Calls the Heart was the one thing that they looked forward to. I hope we can bring that this season as well.
Although there is a vaccine out there, life has yet to change dramatically in terms of our day to day living. So, I really do hope that our show can bring that same joy, hope and escape that people seem to want and desire.
Pop Culture Principle – In today’s television landscape, a series going into its eight season is very rare. It has to make you and the rest of the cast and crew so thrilled to see the show continuing to flourish after so many seasons.
Pascale Hutton – Most shows might hit their peak around season three or four and then dip, but our show has continued to grow exponentially each season. It feels wild when I think back to when I first came on the show in Season 1. I thought I was doing two episodes and then leaving. Even when they called me back and wanted me to be a part of Season 2, the show still hadn’t really caught on yet. So, to see the show’s popularity and its reach continue to grow, it has been very exciting. It has been very unexpected because it is so rare. People don’t get this very often in the world of acting, so it feels really special and unique and I do not take it for granted.
A huge thank you to the lovely Pascale Hutton for taking the time to talk with us. When Calls the Heart returns for its eighth season on Sunday, February 21st at 9/8c only on the Hallmark Channel!
**All photos courtesy of Crown Media United States LLC/Photographers: David Dolsen and Ricardo Hubbs**