When Calls the Heart's Erin Krakow Talks Elizabeth's Passions, Balancing a Nuanced Love Story

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There is no greater love story on television right now than Elizabeth Thorton's search for her next great love.

At the heart of that story is Erin Krakow, who embodies Elizabeth with all of the joy and wonder and confusion associated with falling in love again, especially since she has two wonderful men vying for her hand.

We caught up with Erin to talk about Elizabeth's journies, both professional and personal, and a whole lot more. As you prepare for When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 12, I hope you our discussion below.

Erin Krakow as Elizabeth - When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 9

Did you ever imagine that When Calls the Heart was going to be such a phenomenon?

Oh, you're going to get in right through it, aren't you? I am very much like a glass-half-full kind of girl, and so I hoped that the show would be successful, particularly because it's one that I care about very deeply.

But I don't think I imagined that it would explode in the way that it has, and I really credit The Hearties for that.

Their support and passion for What Calls the Heart over the years have just taken it to new levels. And the fact that our ratings continue to climb, I'm just very grateful for the Hearties. I get to continue doing the job I love.

Yeah, they're an amazing bunch.

Yes, aren't they?

Elizabeth Welcomes the Canfields - When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 4

Yeah, they really are. I can't imagine what a wonderful feeling it is to have that kind of support in a position like yours. It so often gets the opposite, really.

It's true. It's true. It's the exception to the rule when I find myself reading comments that aren't entirely supportive. In general, our fans are so loving and kind and supportive of all of us actors on When Calls the Heart. And it's really a nice heartwarming experience to get to read their feedback.

And of course, you play a character who is just lovely on so many levels, and she has so many different facets to her life, but right now, everybody seems to be focused on the triangle, of course.

But there are so many other facets to Elizabeth's life, and I'm wondering what's your favorite part to play? What do you love most about Elizabeth?

Oh, it's so hard? I don't know how to choose just one corner of her character. You're right, though, in pointing out that there's been a lot of focus on her romantic life of late.

I think partially that's because it's a very exciting thing to focus on, but I also think part of it is two other elements of Elizabeth's life that are really important to her are being a teacher and being a mother.

And unfortunately, because of the state of the world shooting during the pandemic, we really had to limit our scenes with the children and with the two little toddlers who play little Jack. So we weren't really able to dig into those elements of Elizabeth's character this season in the way that we normally would.

So I guess I won't necessarily choose a favorite, but I will say that I miss being able to play out the scenes where we really get to see Elizabeth shine as both a teacher and a mother. I just miss the kids.

Baby Jack at Church - When Calls the Heart Season 7 Episode 3

On When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 11, you had a really lovely scene with little Jack, and you got to sing to him. It had been a while since we'd seen her really connect with him on that level.

Yeah, it's funny. I do see comments every now and again from the fans saying Elizabeth is spending way more time with the guys than she is with her own son, and her son is spending more time presumably with the nanny than with his mom.

But we were just doing the best we could to shoot a TV show in a pandemic. And unfortunately, that was one of the consequences of that.

But that scene where it's raining outside, and we're all snuggled up on the couch together, was a really, really sweet one. And you never really know what you're going to get when you're working with babies. And luckily, our little Jacks were very cooperative that night.

Elizabeth Gets Things Started - When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 5

When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 12 also reintroduces Mr. Landis and kind of puts a real damper on Elizabeth's idea to teach Angela despite how much she tries to get him to understand.

And since he knows how welcoming and warm she is, it's surprising that he isn't more receptive to her thoughts on teaching Angela and not leaving the other students in the dust. What's her game plan going to be to try to prove herself? And can she, in light of this impending 100 students, make it all work?

Yeah. Right, right. There are a number of things that are going on there as far as the information that Mr. Landis is bringing into Hope Valley. Elizabeth did not realize that they were going to be introducing that many new students, obviously.

So that is a new hurdle, but I think what is most important and what's directly in front of her in that moment is trying to find a way to convince Mr. Landis that she should be allowed to include Angela in her school.

And that even though she isn't necessarily accredited and technically ready to teach Angela in that moment, she is learning and she's making it a priority, and that Angela is deserving of an education, just like every other child in Hope Valley.

And so I think in true Elizabeth fashion, she is just going to set her mind to something and, through that determination, make it happen. And she's just going to continue trying to convince Mr. Landis, but he shouldn't get in her way, basically.

Teaching Angela Tall - When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 8

Elizabeth doesn't just have a teaching career. She's not just a mother or a love interest. She's also an author.

Yes.

Time really has been flying on the show. I couldn't believe that it was back to school already. I thought she just got out for the summer, and now all of a sudden, it's fall, and she's teaching again.

But what about that book? Is it published? Are we going to find out, and how do you think publishing that novel is going to affect her life?

Well, I'll just speak to the back-to-school thing for a moment. I agree with you that time really does fly. But time is a very funny thing in Hope Valley, and we are able to manipulate it a little bit as it is most helpful to the stories that we're telling. So we let certain things slide.

But as far as her work as an author, yes, I think we have seen that this is something Elizabeth is passionate about. We've seen how frustrating it's been for her getting the copious notes from Helen Bouchard and having to navigate that. It's been a real journey for her.

And I think that it will be very satisfying for Elizabeth when she's finally able to complete the book and find that published. It will open a whole new chapter for her. How about that? [laughs]

There For Each Other - When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 3

How writerly of you! And the other thing about time passing is that it seems like Rosemary and Elizabeth had been at odds for far too long by this point.

And they keep trying to connect again, but they can't get past, and honestly, it was hard for me to get past Rosemary's thoughts on the issue about Jack, as well. But what is it like filming those scenes after playing best friends for years because that'd be heartbreaking?

Oh, it's terrible. It's awful. I hated it. And it was a storyline that we were both excited to play because it's something new and different and challenging for us as actors and for our dynamic as characters, but it was not pleasant.

And even as I'm watching it back with the fans, I am sort of re-experiencing just how unpleasant it was. So I agree, I'm ready for them to be friends again.

And I appreciate what you said about how it was hard for you to accept what Rosemary said about Jack as well. Did you think that she was a little bit out of line?

The Best of Friends - When Calls the Heart

I couldn't believe it. It seems really out of character for her not to understand. I imagine that's because everything in her life seems so happy. She hasn't had a lot of angst.

How Nathan handled everything was one thing, but her very best friend saying, "Well, you know, get over it. It's not that big of a deal." That freaked me out.

Yeah, I know what you mean. I think what she was trying to say was even though it was horrible, what happened to Jack, it was in no way Nathan's fault. And I think she was a little abrupt in the way she worded it.

But I also really think Elizabeth was not in a position to receive that information that way. So I think many people are quick to blame Elizabeth. And I do think Elizabeth is probably mostly at fault, but I don't think Rosemary handled it like a dream either.

Best Friends on When Calls the Heart

No. And when it's your best friend, and you are still aching, you expect that friend to be there for you and to commiserate even if it may not be exactly what you need.

Yes. One of the benefits of being friends with a person like Rosemary is that you can always count on her honest opinion. And so sometimes a person's honest opinion stings, and that's what we found in this situation.

And what a perfect new career for her, reopening a newspaper in Hope Valley.

Yes. Very exciting, she's always got her finger on the pulse of what's going on in Hope Valley. And so I'm sure she's the right person to turn to for the news.

Elizabeth Has a Decision to Make - When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 1

And do you think if their friendship gets back on track, which I know is just a matter of time, but if things go awry for Elizabeth and teaching that she could use her writing skills to help Rosemary in some way?

Oh, what an interesting idea! We will have to see if that's something that could be explored in the future. Hopefully, we'll get a season nine, and we'll be able to find ways for those two characters to work together.

I have to assume that it's just a matter of timing to get season nine going because I can't imagine Hallmark would shut a door on such an amazing situation. There's no other cable series out there that does what When Calls the Heart does. It's captivating.

Thank you very much for saying that. Thank you, I really appreciate that.

A Very Big Decision - When Calls the Heart

And, of course, we've brushed on it a little bit. We do try to have to talk about the love triangle.

Sure.

It seems like people are starting to finally understand Elizabeth a little bit and how she's operating, and how she's processing her feelings during this whole thing.

Well, everyone except maybe with Lucas, who seems a little bit more in the dark even than Nathan, if that's possible. And I have to commend you on your acting on all these scenes with Chris and Kevin.

Thank you.

Nathan Says Howdy Do to Elizabeth - When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 11

I could really feel everything that Elizabeth was feeling. She's torn inside just like everybody else. But it's not always as simple as wanting to fall in love. There are all different types of love, and it seems like she's experiencing all of them.

So what's been the greatest challenge of being at the center of a triangle like this, both from a character perspective and from your perspective as an actress, which I'm sure has taken its toll?

Oh my, that is a big question that I think, unfortunately, or fortunately, did not have a simple answer.

One thing that has always concerned me about the love triangle is not wanting to alienate our fans. And I think that's been a bit of a hard part for me, seeing how they occasionally get a little harsh with each other because they are so passionate about their own team -- team Nathan or team Lucas.

Lucas and Elizabeth Attend the Wedding Together - When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 10

But the flip side of that coin is we are telling stories in a way and through characters that they're excited about that inspire this kind of passionate conversation. And so, as much as I feel protective of our fans, I'm also really happy and proud that this triangle has been so captivating for them.

As far as an actor, one of the things that has been challenging is we want to end up telling a story about Elizabeth finding her next great love, right? And so I never really wanted it to feel like I could go either way.

She'd be happy with either guy, and all of this will make a bit more sense once the season finale airs, I think.

But it's been tricky navigating how we show the kind of love and affection and care she feels for each guy in its own very special and specific way. Making those feelings, at least balanced enough that it continues to feel like a triangle, but not so very balanced that it won't make sense that who Elizabeth ends up with is her next great love.

Going Public - When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 7

I would agree that that's got to be hard from your perspective. And I think that any love triangle on TV has to balance all that.

But what I've also seen, at least what I have believed I've seen, is that there is a path and it's more of, I hate to use the word manipulation, but it almost that you're dangling the carrot out there because let's be honest, these things are rating's gold.

Every great show on television has done this.

Yeah.

People's favorite shows, The Vampire Diaries, my God, for years, they went on about that, and people still talk about it.

Right.

How Long Will Those Smiles Last? - When Calls the Heart Season 7 Episode 10

So being able to be that passionate and to have this kind of feeling for characters and to write fictional stories about them, that makes them happy in the end, regardless of what happens, all that stuff is incredibly important to the success of a show like this, in my opinion.

Well, yeah. I mean, I agree. We did not set out to use the triangle as a vehicle for good ratings.

No, that's not what I meant. I could have worded that better.

No, and I didn't think that you were applying any kind of judgment on that either.

But what I did want to share was the Jack and Elizabeth love story that we told over the course of five years was so special and so precious to our fans that I think it was more in an effort to avoid cheapening that in any way.

Because if we had immediately brought in a single man to sort of replace Jack, it would have put an incredible amount of pressure on that actor and that character. And I think he would have been at risk of being resented by the fans.

So this was our way of sort of gently reintroducing the idea of Elizabeth finding love again. And luckily, it has exploded into the kind of passionate conversation that we're finding amongst the Hearties and the incredible ratings that we have found over the past few seasons as well.

Romantic Rivals - When Calls the Heart

I know that when you go into these stories, as you said, you didn't want to introduce just one person and put all that kind of pressure on any one character.

But by introducing two suitors, was the story malleable enough that, depending upon your chemistry with each of the actors and with the way that how you portrayed them and you looked at the dailies and things like that. The way that you saw the storytelling, did the original path ever change?

We did not know on day one of bringing in these two new love interests. We did not know who Elizabeth would end up with if that answers your question.

And that was something that was a journey to get to that answer. But I had chemistry reads with a whole bunch of incredible actors, Kevin and Chris included, and they were both phenomenal.

And so we knew from the beginning that there was going to be a really nice chemistry there with both of them. And that really, we would have been in great shape with Elizabeth choosing either one, Nathan or Lucas.

And I feel very, very grateful that we were able to find Kevin and Chris because they had big shoes to fill, and they are such great guys off-screen. They're good friends of mine, and they're really wonderful actors who are a joy to work with every day on set. So I'm very, very grateful to know both of them.

Elizabeth Welcomes the Canfields - When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 4

And by introducing them the way that you did, we've had a really solid character journey for each of them, which is amazing in itself.

So good job on that, too. I think that even people who came in strong one way or the other this season see so many different facets of both characters that there's a love for both now.

Yes. I think it's really important that both Nathan and Lucas have lives, characters, purposes beyond just being a potential love interest for Elizabeth. We want to keep both of these characters around for a long time.

Hopefully, we'll get a season nine, and we can continue to tell those stories. But we really wanted each character to have a real solid identity, and I'm glad you feel it was accomplished that goal.

Erin Krakow is Elizabeth Thornton - When Calls the Heart

And I know the three of you are good friends. I've seen you on podcasts and interviews, and you're having a lot of fun together. What's it like for the three of you whenever you're filming these scenes, especially those over and over scenes where she'll be talking to one in the street, and the other just saunters up. Do you find that amusing by this point?

Yeah, there are elements of these things that we have to laugh about, absolutely. I think we just have such a good time together. I think we are able to laugh at and enjoy the occasional awkwardness of the triangle scenes where all three of us are together.

For example, the scene at Clara and Jesse's bachelor-bachelorette parties last season where they're kind of playing darts, and it's like a revolving door of people who are going to play darts with Elizabeth, or just meeting in the street and having that awkward exchange of each one of them says the word great, because what else is there to say?

It's awkward, but it's kind of delicious in its awkwardness. So we appreciate those moments, and they tickle us, I think, in the same way that they tickle the fans.

A Little Rain Must Fall - When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 6

And it seems like Fiona... and Faith and poor Carson, I think that they're done, that's my guess. But Fiona and Faith are kind of getting set up as potential love interests for whoever does not get to be whoever isn't chosen by Elizabeth.

Are you looking forward to the pressure being off of you and Elizabeth and handing off the new romance to somebody else?

That's funny. I don't know that we were setting up Fiona or Faith to become next in line. I don't think that that was something we were really thinking about too much.

I think part of that is because, at least at this point, we don't necessarily want to see -- I'm choosing my words carefully here -- we don't necessarily want to see the suitor who doesn't end up with Elizabeth rush into another romance.

Elizabeth and Lucas at the Party - When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 9

Sure.

We talked about cheapening a love story; that would just, kind of, cheapen what was present for that character and his feelings for Elizabeth.

So hopefully, again, hoping we have a season nine; hopefully, we'll be able to really kind of take our time with that and tell that kind of story in an authentic way.

As far as being happy not to have the pressure on my shoulders, sure, yes, I will be very relieved once the decision is made, once everyone has seen the episode, and we can kind of move on. I think that'll be a good feeling.

Teasing the Finale - When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 12

And with that, my final question for you is what can you tease about the finale without spoiling anything?

It's very hard not to spoil anything. I will say that John Tinker came on as our showrunner this season, and he has done a really outstanding job of packing every single episode with so much story. We've gotten to know characters in a way that we have never before.

And he and our team of writers have just brought Hope Valley to life in a way that feels new and fresh. And because of that, they have the challenge of wrapping up a whole bunch of storylines in one episode.

So I will say you can expect the season eight finale to deliver a lot of answers, a lot of story. There's going to be real passion, tenderness, drama, and of course, a final answer to the question that everyone is asking, who is Elizabeth's next great love?

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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When Calls the Heart Quotes

Elizabeth: Why are you so interested in setting up the library?
Lucas: Hope Valley needs one.
Elizabeth: Is that the only reason? Because if I have in any way led you to believe... Never mind.
Lucas: Now I'm not going to deny that I was aware of your beauty, but as I got to know you, I became fascinated by your goodness. [picks up a book] Dangerous Liaisons. One of my favorites. I wanted a library because it seemed like a good thing. No disrespect.

Elizabeth: I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that Lucas let me go. He just knows me so well. He could sense there was something happening with Nathan.
Rosemary: People come into our lives, some for a reason, others for a season, and some for a lifetime. Jack was a season, and it was glorious. Now it's up to you to decide who might be here for a reason or perhaps even a lifetime. And once you've settled that in your heart, you'll be able to throw yourself into that person's arms with all of your being.