Working on Heartland on CBC this past year was amazing. Like any new acting experience, it came with its own set of cool and surprising moments.
Here are my 5 favourite ‘behind the scenes’ moments from the set:
1. Victoria Pratt plays a Disney Princess!
It was the first day of working with the soon-to-be one of my favourite people ever, Ms. Pratt, and it was chilly outside. We were shooting at the ranch and headed inside to warm up. The lovely people of the wardrobe department offered us “cool shots” to put in our shoes and pockets. No sooner had they offered, I heard “Yeah baby, here we go!”
I turned around to find Victoria Pratt, face first in the full stance of a Disney Princess, laughing right into the blasting heat. In that moment, I knew we were destined to cause so much trouble together! #sisterfromanothermister
2. Cowboy Dempsey Bryk takes mom out on the range!
The best part about playing a mom on-screen is getting to know some really great kids. Jen’s step son “Wyatt” – played by Dempsey Bryk – is a fabulous 19 year-old young man in real life and we hit it off instantly. So naturally, I agreed when he suggested we head out on our day off to take riding lessons together. After an amazing afternoon at Cowley’s Rafter Six Ranch with our instructor Kateri Cowley, I was very proud of my faux family! It was clear. Wyatt is a pretty darn good cowboy!
3. New Show with an old friend: Andrea meets Peter?
For the past two years, I have loved working on the Murder She Baked movie series for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries with Alison Sweeney, Cameron Mathison and Barbara Niven. But one of my favourite characters on the show has always been Norman, played by the dashing Gabriel Hogan. As the sensible “other man”, my character “Andrea Todd” spent most of her time vehemently opposed to anything he said or did. She’s clearly #TeamMike all the way. Therefore, I was so excited to learn that Jen would be introduced to Peter this season on Heartland! Gabe is one of the funniest people I have every worked with, so it was great to finally get to do a scene together where we could get along. Our first scene was a page and half of me talking, non-stop, with the stage directions ending it off with:
Peter sits thinking to himself, “Now that was chatty woman!”
Gabe’s response to me after reading it? Laughter along with saying, “I read that and thought… yup, that definitely sounds like Durupt.”
4. 6 degrees from Kevin “Bacon” McGarry!
In this case, it was only 1 degree. Back in the day, I played one of the ‘silly girls’ in the musical Beauty and the Beast at Rainbow Stage in Winnipeg and became friends with a beautiful dancer named Alex. I was thrilled to learn she is now the real-life leading lady in the life of Kevin McGarry, the man that Heartland fans know as “Mitch”. Sorry ladies, she is a total gem and wonderful friend. I could not be happier for them.
5. Keeping it in the family with “Tim”!
The best part of working on such a great family show is getting to know the cast and seeing how they take care of each other. That was very clear when Chris Potter (“Tim” on the show) stepped behind the camera to direct episode 7. As a performer, he is very passionate about his work so I knew we were in good hands with him as a director.
He was so great about really wanting to establish who “Jen” was in the Heartland world with the first kitchen scene between Peter, Jen and a whole lot of groceries. My favorite Chris Potter moment was when he walked up to me on-set to give me direction. As he was talking – very seriously of course – all I could see was his misbuttoned shirt. Naturally, I listened politely and then kindly blurted out, “What the hell is happening with your clothing today?”
He lightened right up, laughed and adjusted it. Needless to say, I wasn’t fired so I think it is safe to say we are officially family.
I have had a total blast working on this show and I hope you enjoy the rest of the season!