Andrea Brooks Looks Back on Joining Hallmark Channel’s "When Calls the Heart"

By Behind the Scenes in Hollywood Archives
Cover image for  article: Andrea Brooks Looks Back on Joining Hallmark Channel’s "When Calls the Heart"

Editor's note: The following interview was conducted before the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike.)

Hallmark Channel’s flagship series When Calls the Heart will mark a milestone on Sunday, August 6 with the telecast of its 100th episode. "Producing 100 episodes is a great achievement and a tremendous honor," Laurie Ferneau, Senior Vice President, Development, Programming, Hallmark Media has said. "It makes us so proud to do what we do and proves there is a place for this kind of storytelling on television." While the series has undergone changes over the years, its feel-good, heartfelt storytelling has remained a constant.

One of the series’ regulars celebrating the 100th episode is Andrea Brooks (pictured at top), who since joining the series as nurse Faith Carter in season two has become a beloved character. Carter’s arrival was initially met with mixed reaction by fans. At the time many were very invested in the Elizabeth (Erin Krakow)/Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) love story, and anyone posing a threat to that storyline wasn’t welcome. The fact that eight seasons later all that has changed, and she’s now a beloved character, is something Brooks cherishes.

“When I came onto the show, I wouldn't quite say that I was a villain, but [Faith] obviously took some attention away,” she laughed during a recent exclusive interview with MediaVillage. “She was a very sweet character, but [with] that situation going on all those years ago ... It was a surprising reaction, but at the same time I was warned.

“The Hearties were already a loyal force as the first season had aired,” she continued. “When I came in, all the actors were like, ‘Oh, you will be a hashtag!’ I was like, ‘What's a hashtag?’ ‘What are we talking about?’ I knew that it could get strange, but I had no idea what I was stepping into and had no clue where this was going. I think some people were, perhaps, agitated by the character. But they quickly saw she was harmless and had a good heart. It all kind of quickly moved on from that introduction back in the day. But yeah, it's kind of a full circle situation that's now funny to think back on and how Faith was originally introduced. Here we are all these years later still kicking the can. In the end, it all turned out for the best.”

Going into production on the tenth season of When Calls, Brooks, along with her co-stars, feels fortunate that Hallmark Media had greenlit an 11th season. With fans usually hanging each year waiting to hear if the show is returning, commencing production on season 11 felt different. “This is the first year we’ve embarked on a new season before the previous season aired,” Brooks reflected. “It was a little strange having my first [costume] fitting. As a side note, I was nine months pregnant when I last played this character -- now, I’m not. We had to do some major adjustments so, I was there for quite a few hours.

“It’s a little funny,” she added. “In the sense that, usually, we kind of know what worked, and maybe didn't work in the previous season. Then we get to see how it is all cut together. We almost always overshoot these episodes, and there's a lot left on the cutting room floor. Sometimes I have memories of a scene that didn't even air, and that can really change the track, the trajectory of your character, and your arc. If something didn't air, then it never happened in the story, right? Especially not having seen the previous season, or heard the reaction from the network, or the fans and producers.

“I feel like we're walking into a new adventure,” she continued. “Usually, we can orient ourselves based on where we left off. Now we've got two seasons we’re currently dealing with at every given moment, which makes it very interesting. In my mind, I'm like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to remember what I did last season, and remember how to connect all this.’ I do feel responsible for two seasons right now, as opposed to just one.”

A long-running series is a wonderful predicament for any actor to be in, but not giving anything away proves problematic when encountering knowledge-hungry Hearties wanting some new season scoop. ”I’ve encountered that at group gatherings,” she laughed. “What I usually tell people is there are some especially fun moments this year. Because it’s the tenth season, I feel we put a lot of extra effort into giving Easter eggs to the fans that kind of mention a lot of things from past seasons in ways we haven't [before]. It's really a season of reflection, of gathering -- a season of fun. And it's a season of dinners! There are a lot of dinners to look forward to.”

Like her co-star and series executive producer Erin Krakow told us, Brooks is anticipating the reaction to some of the new characters descending on Hope Valley in season 10. “Oh, the new characters are fun, they're really fun,” she teased. “Some will bring a new sense of mystery as they are coming to town, and they're all so fabulously played. We always have new characters, but these ones, I think, will really stick out this year so, I’m very excited to see their character portrayals and to see the audience's reaction. Oh, and there's some new conflict on the horizon.”

As she moves full-force into When Calls the Heart-land production, Brooks admits it does become all-consuming and leaves little time for other projects with Hallmark - - like a Christmas project. “When we're shooting, it's hard to do much else because [everyone there are friends], and we like to hang out together when we're not shooting,” she said. “That part of the year is carved out completely for When Calls.

“I have also been writing and pitching a couple of different things with my creative partners and some of those are actually in the Hallmark spirit,” she said in closing. “We'll see what happens. I'm hoping to wrap a couple of those pitches in the next year or two, and maybe get some of those projects off the ground.”

When Calls the Heart is telecast Sundays at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Channel. The 100th episode will premiere on Sunday, August 6.

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