Lori Loughlin talks WHEN CALLS THE HEART
When Calls the Heart has been a wonderful experience for Lori Loughlin.
During a recent press conference call, Loughlin talked about the Hallmark original series, her character Abigail, and the town of Coal Valley.
A Sense of Community
“I think what I’ve learned, and what I’ve always known in my own life, is that we need other people. It’s hard to go it alone. It takes a village and a support system. And what I love about When Calls the Heart is, even though it’s set in 1910, it feels contemporary to me in the sense that these women really need each other, and they rely on each other. Together they forge ahead and they triumph. I think that’s very indicative of society today.
“At the same time, it’s interesting because I see we can be so isolated nowadays, with the computer and the phone. You see everyone looking down at their phone. But I do think that we really do need each other. I know for me in my life, my friends are very important to me. When times get tough, of course I rely on my husband, but I really do rely on my girlfriends too. And that’s what I like about When Calls the Heart. These women in this community are coming together to make a better life for themselves and for their kids.”
A Touch of Reality
Friendship and community might be nice, but Loughlin admitted she sometimes misses her washer, dryer, and dishwasher. “We had to do a scene where we were washing the clothing and Michael Landon, Jr. was directing that episode. He really had me scrubbing. He’s like, ‘No, you have to scrub like they did years ago.’ My hands were raw by the end of the afternoon.
“But, Michael Landon, Jr. is an absolute dream to work with. I can’t say enough nice things about the guy. He’s extremely talented. He’s very, very kind. He’s a great director, great with actors. He’s kind to the crew, very soft-spoken. He loves to laugh, loves to be funny on set and have laughs during the day. He’s fantastic.
“We do try to be as authentic as we can, even with our lighting. They bring in lights, but as much as they can, they do by candlelight and wall sconces with the candles in them. I can’t tell you the countless times we’ve all banged into them, hit our heads, knocked them down. So, we have a lot of open flame on set. And, after a while, you realize electricity is a great thing.”
A Family-Friendly Project
Loughlin had not read the book by the same title prior to acting in When Calls the Heart, but she did have the opportunity to meet its author, Janette Oke. “She came to set to visit us a few months back. And then I had dinner with her. She’s a lovely, lovely woman, and she’s very funny. She’s so popular, and these books are so popular. She made the comment that she’s been trying to retire for years, but the books just won’t let her. I know she has a huge, huge following, and the books have a huge following.”
That following allowed the series to be quite popular, despite being a family friendly project. Loughlin noted, “Somewhere along the line, something shifted and I’m not sure why, but somewhere somebody deemed that family programming wasn’t popular, and everyone seemed to shift and walk away from it. I find that odd, because years ago, family programming was huge. Scripted television is not geared for family viewing as much as it used to be.
“I realize that you didn’t have as many outlets, and you didn’t have all the cable stations like today, but I know when I was growing up, television was big. We didn’t have a lot of money, and television was a big part of entertainment for us. We would sit down as a family and watch it. We loved shows like Fantasy Island, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family. I mean, I could go on and on with the TV shows that we could watch together. I don’t know how or why that shifted.
“I have to believe in my heart that our country is made up of a lot of families. I have to believe that people wanna watch television with their families. It’s one of the reasons I think American Idol and The Voice and Dancing with the Stars are, not only very good reality shows and great competition shows, but shows that you can watch with your family.
A True Sense of Family
“What I can speak to is working for the people at Hallmark. I can tell you that they are really some of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. They’re very much in contact with you. You really have a relationship with them. I’m able to call Bill Abbott, the President of Hallmark, at the drop of a hat, and he picks up the phone. He gives me his cell phone number. I have his direct e-mail. I have access to all the executives at Hallmark in a very different way, and I have a relationship that feels more like a family than I’ve ever had before.”
A Change for Abigail
As for Abigail, Loughlin loves the character and wouldn’t change anything about her. Oh, maybe she would give her a better hairdo. “She’s pretty simple right now,” said Loughlin. “Towards the end of the season, we start to evolve a little bit. We go for a softer look towards the end of the season. But, other than that, I really love the character. She’s so well-developed, and I really like the direction they’re taking her. I like her strength. I can’t think of anything I really would change about her.
“I also think towards the end of the season, there is potential for a love interest for Abigail. Another thing that I like about her is that she’s on her own, and she has to be independent. In this season, she opens her own business to take care of herself and support herself. And, she definitely goes up against the character of Gowen (Martin Cummins), who’s the guy that runs the company that basically owns the town. She definitely stands up to him when nobody else in town will. She’s afraid, but not enough where she won’t stand up for what she believes in.”
A Solid Foundation
It’s too early to speculate on whether or not there will be a Season Two, but Loughlin hopes so. “I have a story that I’ve already pitched to one of the writers for my character next season that they really like. And, I’m gonna sit down and pitch it to the other executive producers and possibly the people at the network. They’re very, very open to hearing ideas and the broad strokes of it all. Even if you’re on-set and you’re struggling with some dialogue or you’re saying, ‘It doesn’t feel right that I would say that,’ they really take a look at it and go, ‘You know what? I agree.’ Or they’ll say, ‘You know what, this is why we wrote that.’ And, they’ll explain why. So it’s a very collaborative working environment.”
Even if When Calls the Heart should not get renewed for a second season, Loughlin’s relationship with Hallmark is bound to continue. She said, “I did another project for The Hallmark Channel called Garage Sale Mystery, which reminded me a lot of Murder She Wrote. It already aired, and it did very well. So, we’re talking about potentially doing some more of those episodes and having that be sort of, not a series but like an ongoing series of movies.”
When Calls the Heart airs on Hallmark on Saturdays nights at 9.
Cheryl has been a freelance TV/film writer for more than 10 years. Simultaneously, she has worked in PR for Bon Jovi Productions in NYC, PolyGram Records (also in NYC), and Rogers & Cowan Public Relations. Cheryl has published articles at suite101.com, “Sci-Fi Entertainment” magazine, and “Soap Opera Weekly.” She was also a credited researcher for English author Denis Meikle’s JOHNNY DEPP: A KIND OF ILLUSION. Cheryl enjoys writing for the entertainment industry and meeting new people. She is also an animal lover.