Lori Loughlin Interview: Hallmark's "When Calls the Heart" Star Talks Christmas Special and "Fuller House"
Image attributed to Lori Loughlin
Lori Loughlin is best known for her role as Rebecca Donaldson-Katsopolis on the ABC sitcom Full House, appearing in the series from 1988 to 1995 and reprising her role on Fuller House, the sequel that began airing as a Netflix original series on February 26, 2016. Season two of Fuller House is currently streaming on Netflix.
From 2008 to 2011, Loughlin played Debbie Wilson on the teen drama 90210, a spinoff of Beverly Hills, 90210. Other TV appearances include The Edge of Night, Suddenly Susan, Seinfeld, Spin City, Major Crimes, Blue Bloods and several television movies. From 2014 to the present, she portrays Abigail Stanton in the Hallmark Channel original drama series When Calls the Heart, based on a book by inspirational fiction author Janette Oke.
"We have an incredible fanbase who hashtagged themselves the Hearties. They’re very loud on social media. They have a real presence on Facebook and Twitter, and they’ve been a real tour de force in making the show successful. Hallmark’s pretty big on films, but have only a few original series. The #Hearties were really instrumental, I think, in helping us to get picked up after season one. They were very outspoken. They reached out to the network. So, we have a very strong, loyal fanbase, which is incredible."
A new, two-hour, sneak preview special, When Calls the Heart Christmas, will premiere December 25, 2016, on Hallmark Channel. The special preview of season four of the popular series When Calls the Heart will be presented with limited commercial breaks. In addition to Loughlin, the special features Erin Krakow, Daniel Lissing and Jack Wagner.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Lori, tell me about When Calls the Heart and your character, Abigail Stanton.
Lori Loughlin: When Calls the Heart is now in its fourth season on Hallmark, so when we premiere on Christmas Day, that’s a kickoff to our fourth season. It’s a frontier piece and reminds me of Little House on the Prairie. It’s maybe a little more adult than Little House on the Prairie, but it’s good family programming. When you meet Abigail in the first season, she has lost her son and her husband in a coalmining accident.
I would say this show is about community, life, friendships, faith and relationships, but it’s all set in the back of a frontier town, which is nice because you can go back to a simpler time without television, cellphones or modern technology. Things were much simpler then. It’s a very sweet show with a really good heart.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I understand there’s a social media phenomenon known as #Hearties?
Lori Loughlin: We have an incredible fanbase who hashtagged themselves the Hearties. They’re very loud on social media. They have a real presence on Facebook and Twitter, and they’ve been a real tour de force in making the show successful. Hallmark’s pretty big on films, but have only a few original series. The #Hearties were really instrumental, I think, in helping us to get picked up after season one. They were very outspoken. They reached out to the network. So, we have a very strong, loyal fanbase, which is incredible.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): When Calls the Heart was developed for television by Michael Landon, Jr.?
Lori Loughlin: Michael Landon, Jr. did develop the show. I think he did it because he was passionate about the project, but I also think it’s a little tribute to his dad.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Had you ever worked with his dad?
Lori Loughlin: I never did work with Michael Landon, but I was a longtime fan. I never did have the opportunity to work with him, although it’s funny. When I was about 12 years old, I came out to California. It was the first time I had been to California on a family vacation. We were going to do all the touristy things, and we must’ve gone to Universal Studios. I honestly had forgotten this story. But, we saw Michael Landon. It was in the heyday of Little House or Highway to Heaven, I can’t remember which show, but he was a big television star.
Anyway, we did see him, and my mom was quite excited, but I totally and completely had forgotten that story. I forget everything, and that went out of my head. About a month ago, we were actually on set shooting, and Michael Landon, Jr. was directing. He directed an episode in season four. I got a text message from a friend of mine, my longtime friend from 4th grade. She’d been going through an old box of stuff in her house, and she found postcards and letters that I had written to her while I was in California on my trip.
In one of the letters, I wrote how we were just at Universal Studios, that we saw Michael Landon driving in his car and how it was so exciting. I wrote this whole thing about Michael Landon, and I showed it to his son. I showed it to Michael Landon, Jr. and I was like, “Hey! I want to show you something funny that just came to me via text.” I explained my trip to him and said, “I want you to read that.” He was like, “Oh, my gosh! Can you send that to me?” So, I took screenshots and forwarded it to him. But, that’s kind of cool to come full circle like that. It’s funny.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Very cool. What happens in the When Calls the Heart Christmas movie?
Lori Loughlin: Well, we pick up where we left off at the end of season three, but more than that, if you haven’t seen the show, it’s a great time to jump on and watch because even though it is the kickoff to season four, the movie stands alone. There’s a story with a beginning, a middle and an end, so it’s a great time to watch a really good, feel good Christmas movie on Christmas night with your family and to also jump on board to start watching the series and familiarize yourself with the characters and the plotlines. So, if you love a Christmas special and the characters, you can jump on board.
I think our premiere date is February 19 for season four, so you can start watching the series and also catch up on iTunes if you haven’t seen seasons one, two and three. Netflix will also be releasing season three pretty soon, and I think when that starts streaming, you can watch seasons one, two and three.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What can you say about season four of When Calls the Heart?
Lori Loughlin: On, my goodness! I don’t want to give too much away. There are some things that are happening which I actually can’t give away. But, we have a lot of twists and turns coming in season four. I think it’s one of our strongest seasons by far. There’s a lot going on, some shakeups here and there, some really high, happy moments. We have some moments where life hangs in the balance. It is jam packed with a lot of emotion.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You and your daughter, Bella, also appeared in Every Christmas Has a Story, which premiered on Hallmark in November.
Lori Loughlin: That was Bella’s debut. That was the first thing she has ever acted in. Well, she has done some theater and plays locally here in town, but that was her first time acting on camera. It was really fun. I was very nervous. I think I was more nervous than she was.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Has Bella chosen acting as a serious career?
Lori Loughlin: I think right now this is what she really wants to do. Hopefully, she’ll find success. She’s pretty passionate about it. I will say that since the time she was a little girl, she has been an avid movie goer and television watcher. She just has a real passion for the medium. So, I think that right now this is what she wants to do. This is her destiny.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): An interesting item on IMDB says that you guest starred in a TV series called The Smith Family with Henry Fonda at age seven. Is that true?
Lori Loughlin: No. That’s wrong. In fact, you can print that. IMDB … I wish that database was more accurate. They have credits on there for me that did not happen, IMDB, in my opinion, is not accurate at all. When you try to contact them to tell them they’re wrong, they just completely ignore you. I’m not thrilled with IMDB. I think they need to update and really do their work and due diligence before they put stuff on there, and they don’t do that. I’m going to call them out right now in your article.
Anyway, I never did that series. I started out modeling when I was 11. I wanted to be an actress, but I started doing some modeling, and one thing led to another. I did commercials and finally started to get into acting, but my family wasn’t in the business, so we were just trying to figure it out as we went along. When I started modeling, it was one of those things that there was a modeling agency that basically had an open call. You walked in and the agent looked at your picture. You had to bring a snapshot to see if you were photogenic, and that’s kind of how I got started. I literally walked in off the street to an open call for an agent, and that’s how I did it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What was the audition like for Full House?
Lori Loughlin: It was good, I auditioned and was only supposed to do six episodes for Full House. Six episodes turned into seven years. The series was on for eight years, and I was on for seven. But, yeah, my character was only supposed to be there for a six-episode arc. I had a great time on that show and still thankful it went on all those years. They are my family. It has been really amazing to jump back in and do Fuller House with everybody. It has been fun, too.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is it a blessing or a curse to be forever known as “Aunt Becky”?
Lori Loughlin: Well, I’d never say it was a curse. Ever … in a million years. I’m very grateful.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Candace Cameron Bure has said she hopes Fuller House goes on forever right into “Fullest House.” What about you?
Lori Loughlin: Oh, I would continue playing Becky. John (Stamos) and I only go on and do three episodes. There are just 13 episodes, but John and I will only do three, so it has been fun, but we’re not there full-time. I can certainly see why those guys would want the show to continue on. It’s a great schedule. Everyone gets along really well. It’s a fun environment. So, I totally understand why Candace would want it to go on forever. As long as they keep asking me back, I will happily do it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I enjoyed your performance on Blue Bloods for their season seven premiere. Do you enjoy those heavier, dramatic roles as much as the lighter, comedic ones?
Lori Loughlin: Oh, thank you! I had a great time doing Blue Bloods. I really enjoyed myself. It was such an honor and a privilege to work with Tom Selleck. Oh, yeah. I like both comedy and drama, you know? I really do. If I had to choose, I don’t even know if I could. I loved doing Blue Bloods. I thought it was a good group of people and really good material. I’m a fan of the show. It’s my mother’s favorite show. It was a win-win for me.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Any other projects coming up, Lori?
Lori Loughlin: Yeah. At the end of January, I’m going to start doing another Garage Sale Mystery movie. I’ll do either two or four of those next year. We’ve already done seven of them, and those air on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel. So, I’ll be jumping back into that. It was supposed to be just one movie, and it has turned into a franchise of films, which has been great.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Your last feature film was Crawlspace in 2013?
Lori Loughlin: Crawlspace or Old Dogs with John Travolta and Robin Williams. I love doing feature films, too, but I’ve just been so committed to doing these other projects. I just don’t have enough time, thankfully. I feel very lucky. But between Fuller House and When Calls the Heart and the Garage Sale Mystery movies, I’ve been pretty busy.
I’ve also signed on to do the Meaningful Beauty campaign, which is going to be Cindy Crawford’s skincare line, so I’m doing that with her. I’ve been busy and have just recently explored doing a clothing line with Evine, which I’m really excited about. I love fashion, and this opportunity came up, so I’m going to get my toe in that water and see how it goes.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What’s Christmas like at your house?
Lori Loughlin: We do a big Christmas Eve with family and friends, and then we do a quiet Christmas Day at home with just our immediate family. Merry Christmas to you!
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