I recently had the privilege to interview Erin Krakow.
Krakow is a talented actress best known for her roles as Elizabeth Thatcher on “When Calls the Heart” and Tanya Gabriel on “Army Wives.”
Kurt Manwaring: Welcome! Before we begin, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you first got involved with professional acting? Did your preparation at Dreyfoos give you a leg up on the competition when it came to having confidence in your auditions?
Erin Krakow: Sure thing! Hi, my name is Erin Krakow. I first got involved in professional acting after graduating from The Juilliard School. Before that, I attended the Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida, and I definitely believe the education I received at Dreyfoos helped prepare me for college auditions.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without my education. I’m very grateful to my teachers and it’s an honor to get to play one on TV.
Kurt Manwaring: What do you most remember about your first day of filming “When Calls the Heart”?
Erin Krakow: I remember the excitement and the smoke. Back in the early days of WCTH we were using a lot of atmospheric smoke, or haze.
The very first scene we shot was between Lori Loughlin and me. It was the scene where Elizabeth had spent the night at Abigail’s (after burning down the teacherage) and was getting up for her first day of school. I just remember being so happy to be working on this new project – and to be working with Lori – and that we were struggling to see each other across the rowhouse because of all of the smoke!
Dan joined us for the next scene we shot, and it was clear even then that we all had something very special. It seems like years ago and just yesterday all at once.
Kurt Manwaring: Newer fans may not realize this, but you did not originate the role of Elizabeth Thatcher in When Calls the Heart. Was it challenging picking up the role so soon after another actress played the part? Did anyone at Hallmark give you encouragement to embrace the role and make it your own?
Erin Krakow: Truthfully I didn’t really spend any time thinking about that. I wasn’t concerned with putting a unique spin on Elizabeth OR trying to emulate Poppy Drayton’s beautiful performance.
I just approached the role in the way that felt right and truthful to me. And I feel fortunate that that was never really a discussion.
Luckily, those in power liked what I brought to the table and the rest is history.
I’ll always feel connected to Poppy through Elizabeth. Hopefully we’ll get to work on something together soon. That would be special.
I also think it helped that we were able to create our own kind of pilot episode out of Season 1 Episode 1 without relying entirely on the WCTH movie to set the tone for the series.
Kurt Manwaring: Several years ago, you worked on Army Wives with Catherine Bell — who is now the lead character on The Good Witch. Do the two of you share any commonalities in how you ended up in at Hallmark?
Erin Krakow: I don’t know the details of Catherine’s journey to Hallmark Channel, but I do know that I’m glad she’s a part of the family because it means we get to see each other at network events!
I LOVED working with Catherine on ARMY WIVES. She was so kind to me and has become a dear friend! She’s also incredibly talented!
Kurt Manwaring: Brian Bird said recently that “When Calls the Heart” almost didn’t happen because of financial challenges. After four years of hard work, the movie was finally finished and the delay led to the creation of the TV series as Hallmark was considering episodic programming at that point. In what ways does Brian’s persistence mirror challenges faced by characters within the show—and how is Brian perceived by cast members?
Erin Krakow: That’s such an interesting comparison, and one I’ve never heard made before. You’re right. Brian, Michael Landon Jr., and Brad Krevoy really brought WCTH back to life after financial challenges stalled production on the movie.
I’m so glad they did because it’s led to the series that has been one of the great joys of my life.
Similarly, the characters in Hope Valley often find themselves in situations where through persistence and determination they’re able to overcome challenges.
Regarding our cast’s perception of Brian, he’s an integral part of the bedrock of our show. He’s one of the visionaries behind adapting Janette Oke’s books from page to screen.
He’s also been instrumental in his support of the Hearties fan base.
In short – we think he’s pretty great!
Erin Krakow: I learn from every job I take and WCTH is no exception! Elizabeth has evolved too. We’ve seen her go from a fish out of water who could barely take care of herself, to a confident, independent, frontier, MARRIED woman, to a woman who has experienced a very painful loss.
And now we can look forward to a change for Elizabeth in Season 6 that will be very big and very small simultaneously!
See what I did there? 😉
Kurt Manwaring: Do you think “When Calls the Heart” will be successful in breaking the “Moonlighting” curse? What are you looking forward to about playing Elizabeth in a marriage dynamic—and what might you miss about playing her as a single woman?
Erin Krakow: As beautiful and anticipated as Jack and Elizabeth’s wedding was, their union doesn’t feel new. These two characters have always seemed destined to find each other; their bond was felt from the start. Elizabeth hasn’t really felt like a “single woman” for years!
But as we know, things didn’t go as planned for Jack & Elizabeth, so sadly we won’t be seeing their marriage dynamic play out.
That being said, Elizabeth will never be alone. She has too many wonderful friends in Hope Valley to make sure of that.
And I’m sure someday she’ll open herself to love again.
Kurt Manwaring: Alfonso Moreno was the new showrunner for this season of “When Calls the Heart.” What did you initially think of him and how did your perception evolve over the course of the season? What kinds of conversations did you have with him about your character?
Erin Krakow: Yes, and he’s done a fantastic job!
To be totally transparent, I felt protective and mildly concerned about someone new stepping in without much time to learn every detail of WCTH’s history. But those concerns were quickly put to rest. Alfonso, and the rest of our team of writers, have done such an outstanding job crafting Season 5.
Alfonso jumped in with such passion for our show, and he worked tirelessly to deliver stellar story lines that jumped off the page and into our viewers’ hearts.
He was also incredibly open and collaborative with us. I had several opportunities to sit down with him to discuss Elizabeth’s arc.
He was also so gracious to let Lori, Dan, and me contribute a few sentences of our own words to the wedding episode.
It’s been very harmonious and I’m so looking forward to seeing what he thinks up for Season 6.
Kurt Manwaring: What was your favorite scene to film in this season’s finale? If you were a viewer, what kinds of questions would you have about what will happen next season?
Erin Krakow: Between my struggle choosing favorite ANYTHINGS, and the fact that this episode was chock full of very emotional scenes, I’m not sure that I have a favorite per se.
But I am very happy that we ended such a heartbreaking episode with such beautiful news for Elizabeth.
Getting to play that scene with Lori where the two of them put the pieces together was the silver lining for me.
Kurt Manwaring: When Calls the Heart is often compared to Little House on the Prairie — and not just because Michael Landon Jr., the son of Michael Landon, has a close connection with the show. Is there a character from Little House you can envision being part of Hope Valley? If so, who — and who do you imagine them interacting with?
Erin Krakow: I don’t know that this will answer your question in the way you intended it, but I would have chosen Michael Landon. And that’s because I would have wanted that for Michael Landon Jr.
I wish I lived closer to and could work beside my family. I love my work, and our cast and crew have become like another family to me, but it would be so nice to get to spend more time with my family.
Kurt Manwaring: One of your fans won the chance to ask you a question. Kaycee Simpson from Pensacola, FL asks, “If ‘When Calls the Heart’ characters did a crossover with “Amazing Race,” who would win, who would be the team to hate, and who would kill each other before the race was over? She lists the competing pairs as Jack & Elizabeth, Lee & Rosemary, Florence & Dottie, Clara & Jesse, Hickam and Carson & Faith, Bill & Frank, and Abigail & Gowan.
My question is a little crazy 😂: If WCTH characters did crossover with Amazing Race who would win, who would be the team to “hate” & who would kill each other b4 the race was over? Jack/Eliz Lee/Rosie FloMo Dottie/Clara Jesse/Hickam Carson/Faith Bill/Frank Abigail/Gowen 😂
— Kaycee (@hallmarkmywords) April 4, 2018
Erin Krakow: This is such a creative question!! Thanks Kaycee!
Well, I’ll start by saying that Jack and Elizabeth probably wouldn’t make it past the first week because the lovely lady who plays Elizabeth – though kind and fun – is not much of a daredevil.
That said, Dan/Jack might be able to make up for that! Winning team?
Abigail & Gowen. Abigail is one of the most determined characters on WCTH and Gowen wouldn’t be shy about playing dirty!
Florence & Dottie would certainly kill each other before the race was over. Did you SEE them try to decide on wedding flowers?
As for the team to hate? I’d have to say Bill & Frank because they’d spend the whole time trying to out-macho each other. Haha!
Click here to read other interviews for “When Calls the Heart.”