We’re just minutes away from the season finale of “When Calls the Heart” on Hallmark Channel, so sit back and enjoy our chat with series star Kavan Smith while you wait!
We recently sat down with Smith to discuss his on-screen chemistry with costar Pascale Hutton, the upcoming “The Perfect Bride” sequel, and why he’ll need his head sewn back on if he’s ever to return to “Supernatural.”
TrunkSpace: You and your “When Calls the Heart” costar Pascale Hutton are doing a sequel to your movie “The Perfect Bride,” which seems like a rarity for the network. It must be a vote of confidence for the work that both of you are doing to have such support from Hallmark Channel?
Smith: Yeah. You know I think that, with the one that we did last year, “The Perfect Bride,” the first sort of installment, I guess, neither of us were really sure, because we’ve had a lot of people talking over the last couple of seasons about having us doing something together that was more contemporary, and they just kind of threw it at us last minute. So when we read the script, we weren’t really sure what it was they were looking for, and ultimately just kind of decided to do what we thought we did best, with just kind of basically making each other laugh. And it worked out. It was really a lot of fun to do. And then ever since we finished that last year, it seemed like the fans did like it and responded to it, and we’ve been trying to find a way to convince them to do a sequel. So we actually ended up going down to Los Angeles, the two of us, and pitched it together as a team. So not only did we work together as an acting duo, we kind of had our first foray into trying to produce something as a tandem, and it was a lot of fun. For our very first attempt at trying to get something made together, the guys down there at the studio were really, really receptive to us, and it went really well. And for whatever reason, they decided to go again. And I think that script was written a little differently. It was the same writer, but this script seems to be written a little bit more towards what we do, whereas the other one, it was like, “We have this script. Let’s throw Kavan and Pascale at it and see what they can do.” This one is a bit more, “OK, we’ve seen what you did in the first one. We’ll write that way, and good luck.”
We read it today for the first time out loud, and really all we did was laugh. We laughed for an hour and a half sitting around a table, so I think that’s a good sign.
TrunkSpace: When you’re working with someone like Pascale who you know you already have solid chemistry with, do you try to alter than chemistry at all when you’re dropped into new roles opposite each other, or do you stick with what works?
Smith: I think it’s kind of a combination. I think both of us as actors think about making changes and think about making conscious choices to be different than our characters on “When Calls the Heart.” But I also think that sometimes just the language alone being so different and the feeling being different, it really kinda does it for us. What seems to work for us, and I think what our chemistry is, for lack of a better word, and what has built our friendship off camera as well, is really a desire and a joy of making each other laugh. It’s kind of like having a buddy that you just like to go out and have a beer with, and just laugh for an hour with, only we do that during the course of a shooting day. In some ways it almost feels like cheating because it shouldn’t be fair that you go to work and laugh all day. It just doesn’t seem quite right. But we do, and I think that the more we foster that, the more that it reads on camera. So I don’t even know that if we were to try and make too many conscious choices to make it different, that that would work. I think part of what really works for us is just the joy that we have of kinda riffing off of each other. And we just have a very similar sense of humor. I grew up with a kid, when I was very young, and we had that same sense of humor. And she’s kind of like my friend from when I was eight years old. It’s just a good fit, work-wise.
TrunkSpace: Well, that’s got to be the dream, right? Not only enjoying the work, but enjoying the process of working?
Smith: Yeah. Absolutely. That’s why I said it feels like I’m kind of cheating the system a little bit, because it should feel harder, but it’s really fun. And even though we love working with everybody else on the show, and I think we work well with the other actors, when it’s just the two of us and the director and the crew kinda just say, “Oh, good. It’s just Kavan and Pascale now.” It’s kind of fun for those moments to have that. I do think it sort of leeches into the crew as well. And when you can have people who are… I wouldn’t say in charge, but when people that are sort of higher up are having a great time, I think it’s infectious for everybody, and it makes the whole day fun. Like the last time we did one of these shows… we did this movie last year. I don’t know if I’ve ever had that much fun on a show. Martin Wood was the director, and we both knew Martin. I’d worked with him in the past, so it was really like a trio, and I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed that hard on a show in my life. I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed that hard anywhere in my life. I can’t express enough how rare it is in my business to find somebody that you work well with, that you get along with, whose families get along. “When Calls the Heart” keeps going and they keep giving us other opportunities to do more. It’s kind of like a partnership, and that’s sort of rare in my field. Usually you do a gig, and you move on. You do a gig, and you move on. And you try and develop friendships, and you try and develop chemistry, but we had a natural chemistry just from really wanting to make each other laugh. And now we’re building more depth to it because it keeps going, and because we keep getting more opportunities.
TrunkSpace: Season 5 of “When Calls the Heart” finishes up tonight. What has that long-term journey with the character been like for you, especially with the series being presented in relatively short season orders? Does that change the dynamic for you as an actor in terms of the character journey?
Smith: I do think it changes the dynamic a little bit. And to be totally honest with you, I think most actors are fairly selfish, and I’m included. I want the story to be about me, and I want to develop more. I want to do more. I want to push the bounds of what he is, and the world that he lives in, because it’s fun. I really enjoy visiting this guy’s life and the limited seasons… I think series television is new for Hallmark, and I think it’s something that they’re working on. And I think we’re in a way, a bit of a test – a test child. They’re testing the waters. I really wish it was more of a 16 to 20 episode show, where you really got to get a few episodes that were really about Leland and Rosemary and their journey. I think that we’re sort of handcuffed from time to time, because in a short run like this, there’s Elisabeth and Abigail and Jack and Bill. And there’s a lot of stories that need to be told. And when you’re only doing 10 episodes, you want to go further with it. And I think that’s the mark of having something that you are enjoying, is you want to do more of it. And we all definitely want, selfishly want, a little bit more. And I do wish that maybe the network would be open to that, but that’s way over my pay grade.
TrunkSpace: It does seem like, in terms of the television industry in general, things are going more and more in that direction.
Smith: Yeah, definitely the landscape is changing a lot. The traditional 13 to 22 or 26 episode run seasons are an anomaly now. I guess money being what it is, and people’s attention span being what it is, and the fact that you can list off 50 new shows that everybody’s talking about, it’s hard to… I think that what’s unique about this show is that, because it is what you would call a family values show, I personally believe that the market and the audience is there for a longer run. I think that on some of those shows, because that subject matter almost seems to be a little over-saturated right now, that people’s attention spans might only be six episodes or 10 episodes where everybody dies, and everybody’s doing drugs, and whatever. Our show, being a little cleaner, I still think people crave that. Families crave that. I think there would be an audience for 13 to 20 episodes, but I don’t control the purse-strings, sadly.
TrunkSpace: And it does seem like the network has such a passionate, loyal fandom. The Hallmarkies, and in your particular show’s case, The Hearties, are committed to the content.
Smith: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting… because I’ve done sci-fi in the past, a fair bit of sci-fi, I’ve had experience with science fiction fans, which are phenomenal fans. They are rabid. They really, really bite into that, being that fandom thing. And I didn’t think that is existed anywhere else. I knew that people were fans and there wee lots of other fans, but I always thought sci-fi fans were sort of the most extreme version. But Hearties are proving me wrong. They are a very loyal, outspoken bunch. They are remarkably positive. I’ve done all sorts of shows in my career, and I’ve been on good shows and bad shows and all sorts of genres. And you read fan stuff, and usually it’s OK, it’s pretty nice, but there are always haters and you try not to read too much. But the Hearties, I guess by definition, are so positive. These are things that you can easily have my kids read. Occasionally when I’m not paying attention, they’ll grab my phone and they’ll look at a Twitter feed or something. There’s never anything on there that I’m worried about them reading. They’re very positive and they’re very complimentary, and they’re really into their show, and it rivals any sci-fi fan base that I’ve ever been a part of, that’s for sure.
TrunkSpace: And that’s very refreshing in this day and age, because you don’t see a lot of that, especially online. It’s hard to find anything positive online, to be honest.
Smith: Oh man, I’m so used to seeing and hearing nothing but constant rivers of negativity, and I also think that that’s part of why, whatever your political bent is, I think that on either side, people are so stressed or so tight, that something like this has a home. I think it’s not just the show itself, but it’s that… I guess people are embracing the whole positive vibe of the show. We’re trying to embrace humanity and positivity and community and things like that.
I think that these types of things, given time to bloom, will just get other people more and more involved. And it’s kind of nice to go online and see positive things. When I first started on following the Hearties and stuff on Twitter, I did so apprehensively, thinking “Well, there’s going to be a ton of people that hate this character, and they’re going to hate the positive message, and they’re going to hate…” But it’s really been just a stream of positivity. It’s really something. My kids are quite young, and with all the negativity in the world, it is nice to be able to show them that something daddy does has a positive effect on some people.
TrunkSpace: We’re rabid “Supernatural” fans here, and we always enjoyed your character Cuthbert. If there was ever a character with a built-in backstory worth exploring, he is it.
Smith: I agree. I really, really enjoyed him. And the backstory to that, I did a movie with Jensen’s wife, her name is Danneel Ackles, and we did a movie maybe about a year or so before I did “Supernatural.” And so I got to meet Jensen a couple of times and he came to set – really nice guy, and we kind of hit it off a little bit. So when I got cast on the show, I went in and they were warm and accommodating. His wife came in to say hi, and she and Jensen sort of took me under their wing a little bit, and kept calling the producers every day saying, “We gotta get him on more. We gotta get him back more. It’s a great storyline. It’s a great character.” And I almost felt bad, because I felt like they were going too far. (Laughter) Sometimes when you push producers on something, they react the other way. So it’s like, “I really appreciate the love, but you might be pushing these guys too far.” (Laughter) But I really did enjoy that guy, too. I thought that it was a really interesting bridge that they’d built that they didn’t explore. But they have a million story lines on the show, so I guess I just wandered into obscurity. But I really, really did love doing that role.
TrunkSpace: Well, if there has ever been a show where a character can come back years later, “Supernatural” is that show! (Laughter)
Smith: Well, I have to find a way to get my head sewn back on, but yeah, if there’s ever a show, that’s the one.
The season finale of “When Calls the Heart” airs tonight on Hallmark Channel.