Christmas brought some heartwarming gifts to the residents of Hope Valley, including the sweetest gift of all — Elizabeth Thornton’s adorable baby!
ET’s Deidre Behar recently sat down with the cast of When Calls the Heart — including Erin Krakow, Lori Loughlin, Jack Wagner, Pascale Hutton, Kavan Smith and Paul Greene — on the series’ Vancouver set, and got an inside look at how the beloved Hallmark Channel family drama celebrated Christmas and what fans can to expect from the upcoming sixth season.
While the show’s fifth season ended in tragedy — with the death of Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) leaving Elizabeth (Krakow) a widow — a glimmering ray of hope cut through the darkness when the beloved Hope Valley school teacher learned she was pregnant!
During the When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing holiday special, which debuted Christmas Day, fans saw Elizabeth fall in love all over again, this time with her precious new baby boy — whom she even named Jack, in honor of his fallen father.
“He’s got big blue eyes and a little man face and his little baby body and just really sweet,” Krakow gushed over her character’s adorable bundle of joy.
For the actress, having her character become a mother wasn’t just a wonderful development for the series, but also a sweet moment for “hearties,” the show’s devoted legion of fans.
“I feel like we were in a really sad, low spot for a minute there. It was really sad for us as a cast and crew, [and] I know it was very surprising and sad for the hearties,” Krakow shared. “So I think this is gonna be a special gift to them, to get to see Jack’s legacy live on through this little baby.”
“[Also,] I just love coming to work with babies because they’re so cute!” she added with glee.
“The love affair that Elizabeth has with her new baby is so moving and heartwarming and so heart-melting that I think the fans will find joy in that,” added Loughlin, who plays Elizabeth’s closest friend, Abigail Stanton, who helped deliver her baby in an abandoned cabin during the dramatic conclusion to the show’s Christmas special.
“Even though the Jack character is now gone, the new love in her life and the love affair that she’s having with this baby is so uplifting,” Loughlin added.
As for Wagner, who stars as lawman Bill Avery, bringing a new baby into the world of the show has been a great way to add a new dynamic to the town and a new layer of emotional complexity into the character’s lives.
“I think it’s a great choice for the show,” Wagner explained. “It’s like another chapter on top of the romantic chapter, on top of the town chapter, and I think to have a baby now is just a new chapter in this sort of big book of When Calls the Heart.”
The roller coaster of emotions that was season five finale didn’t just hit hard with fans, but with the cast as well. Greene, who stars as Dr. Carson Shepherd, admitted that his “throat got really tight” when he read the end of the finale script where Elizabeth’s pregnancy was first revealed.
“It was such a big moment, because you could really feel what her character would have felt,” Greene reflected. “It’s exciting for the town. We get a little piece of Jack in town, and it was really important to carry his spirit on.”
Krakow’s also opened up about her new role as an on-screen mom, and the actress explained how she developed her character’s maternal instincts.
“I’ve worked a lot with babies and kids. I was a nanny for a long time and I did a lot of babysitting in my day, and I have a younger brother, so I’ve always been pretty comfortable working with kids and babies,” Krakow explained. “I guess it comes pretty naturally, but then again, I’m not having to change the diapers or get up at 3 a.m.!”
Loughlin echoed her co-stars’ sentiments, sharing, “She is like a duck to water with children.”
“You even see in the schoolroom, in the classroom, how she’s good with all the young actors on the show, and she really spends a great deal of time with these kids off-screen,” the actress added. “She has relationships with all of them, she cultivates those relationships and she just has a bond with the twin babies [who play her son].”
As season six kicks off, Elizabeth is head over heels in love with her new son, but as fans will see in the upcoming episodes, there are some uphill battles and real challenges she’ll be facing when it comes to raising her newborn.
“She has her own dilemma this season of being a single mom and having to go back to work and what that means leaving the child home with childcare during the day,” Loughlin shared. “So we touch upon on that and her struggle.”
The actress admitted that it’s a familiar issue “for many women in today’s world,” but that the emotionally supportive and inspiring way Hope Valley comes to Elizabeth aid is “always lovely to see.”
When Calls the Heart‘s sixth season premieres Sunday, Feb. 24, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Hallmark Channel.