It’s a very busy weekend for Andrea Brooks!
The lovely actress is starring in Romance to the Rescue on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries on Saturday night, and When Calls the Heart Season 9 wraps on Sunday.
We had a chance to catch up with her to talk about her new movie and get some WCTH scoop for #Hearties everywhere!
Romance to the Rescue features Andrea as a goal-driven woman named Kyra, who is quickly meeting every goal.
The final goal on her to-do list is to find the perfect partner, and she has another checklist for that. Andrea soon finds that there’s a lot more to love than checking out the right boxes.
We caught up with Andrea right after she took a virtual COVID test for traveling, and we marveled at how futuristic things have become of late.
Living in the future rather than in the past was a perfect segue to get Andrea’s insight into what drives someone like Kyra to live by a checklist.
“I think that anyone who compensates in that way is probably hiding something. Maybe it’s a broken heart or a difficult past, or there’s a reason why a character like that would have the nuances they do.
“And especially Kyra. In her life, her home is beautiful and it’s immaculate. And it’s exactly what I would have pictured as a 13-year-old type-A personality. It’s what I pictured my house to look like at that age. I love it, but it’s a little bit out of touch. And it definitely shows that she needs a little dose of reality.”
Andrea thought the set was perfect and helped her better understand Kyra. “I was like, ‘Oh, she’s really this character, not just the little bit, but she’s turned up and even has a sub-list for finding her perfect partner. And she puts traits and preferences over love.”
Walking in Kyra’s shoes allowed Andrew to understand why someone might be following that path.
“I think they’re trying to out logic their hearts. I think that sort of like, ‘Aha heart; I got ya. I know what I’m doing. I’m going to do it in the most perfect way possible.’
“But as we know as people who are in this Hallmark universe, the heart wants what it wants, and it’s not always predictable.”
We all try to out-logic our hearts in some respects, and Andrea thinks that’s why we all like love stories. “Because you can’t predict what the heart wants. So, it’s a little conundrum right off the bat in this movie that was quite fun to play with.”
Krya stays from her list, changing it up to help advance her goals. When she had her heart set on her new manager at work, she went all-in to adopt a dog based on his love for them. Not just any dog, either. Kyra decided to represent her store in the Super-Dog competition.
That changes Kyra in unexpected ways, and her straight and narrow path takes a dramatic swerve.
Andrea said, “I think in the same way that she’s trying to out logic her heart, she’s like, “No, I can out-logic a dog, I can make this perfect plan. Okay, I just need to fill in the blanks here. How difficult can this be?’
“When we were shooting, I said this character is most definitely a cat person and has never owned a dog in their life because they have no idea what they’re in for when you adopt a dog.
“And, of course, it’s just the most perfect solution for a Type-A personality who’s trying to control everything. Throw in a dog who’s going to do what the dog wants to do and throw a little chaos into our existence in the best of ways.”
The dog in question, Sam, is just the cutest. And working with Nova (the dog’s real name) was a lot of fun for Andrea.
“Oh, the cutest dog. I could go on for hours about how amazing this dog is. Nova is actually a super dog up here in Canada. So, she does big events, and she does shows and performs in front of stadiums.
“So, she’s an insanely talented dog. And this was Nova’s first movie. So, this dog has performed for its entire life, but she’s never done anything on camera. It was quite exciting to see that transition happen, and she was fantastic.”
Andrea laughed, “I think she was more obedient than Marcus [Rosner, who plays her romantic interest] or myself. She listened to me. She got everything right away. She was just the model actor.”
One of the ongoing messages in the movie is about dog ownership, and training a dog is really more about training its owner. It was Nova’s first time acting and Andrea and Marcus’s first time acting as dog trainers.
“Neither of us had ever experienced a dog of this kind. And neither of us had any experience with agility training, which is super-specific. It’s very different from training your golden retriever to sit, stay, and don’t eat off our plates at dinnertime.
“This is a dog with hyper confidence, hyper capabilities, who listens to every word, every mannerism. And so, we kind of had to grow accustomed to working with a professional dog of this nature.
“Marcus and I are two people who have grown up with pets and whatnot. But this was the next level. So we had to brush up; we got to crash courses in agility. And luckily, Nova warmed up to both of us right away. I feel really fortunate that we formed a good connection right off the bat.
“And then the nice part is with the story, the dog is not well-behaved and not well trained at the beginning. But as the movie progresses, the connection and the bond is strengthened.
“And it was kind of fun to get to play that as I was also getting to know Nova. I was getting to learn her mannerisms, and she was getting to learn mine. So, it oddly just kind of mimics to real life and worked out really well.”
As you’ll see in the movie, Andrea and Marcus were really working with the dog during its agility exercises, making their roles action-oriented.
“I was really running,” Andrea said. “We didn’t shoot chronologically, but luckily, the finale of the movie took place in the final week. So, Marcus and I had already gone through some of the agility training.
“We had taken our time in those scenes where we’re learning and training the dog together. We put all of that to use for a finale scene where, yes, we’re running and doing the hand gestures, and no one is following us. It was really, really fun.”
There are so many things about Romance to the Rescue that Andrea enjoyed. She felt as if the stars aligned to create a perfect environment for her.
“I love working with Heather Hawthorne Doyle. She’s just a brilliant director. And she’s done so many Hallmark movies now and knows exactly what she’s looking for. Under her eye, we felt confident that we were putting together a really fun project.”
Andrea also jumped at the opportunity because it was dog-oriented, and she’d never had the pleasure of working so closely with dogs.
“I’ve worked with cats and horses and the odd jobs here and there, but I’ve never had a character who’s had this close a bond with a pet before. So that was super exciting.”
She was also thrilled to be working with Marcus. “We’ve been friends for a long time, and we are two of the early alumni from the Hamilton days on When Calls the Heart from the early, early, early seasons.
“Even though we never played opposite each other on the show, we are from the same town. So, we’ve often been connected on social media for that reason. And we’ve been married before on the Hallmark Channel in Harvest Wedding.
“So, we kind of have this trajectory, and I think it was only a matter of time before we got to do this. Once we were paired, we were like, ‘Yes, this is perfect because we get along brilliantly.’
Andrea reminded me that Marcus played Charles Kensington on When Calls the Heart, who “momentarily stole Elizabeth’s eyes away from Jack” as the rich, upper-crust Hamilton Man.
When Calls the Heart has come a long way since then, and we’ve reached another finale, one in which Andrea plays a significant role.
Andrea’s character, Faith, has grown quite a bit in Season 9, and Andrea, too, returned to the series missing her scene partner, Paul Greene.
She recalls her return after his departure. “It’s kind of like when you go back to school and let’s say you’re all arranged in your desks, and you’re very used to the way things are going in a classroom scenario. And then, all of a sudden, the teacher comes in one day and says, ‘Okay, guys, we’re shuffling desks.’
“And in that moment, you’re like, ‘Whoa, I can’t imagine not being seated next to this person that I’ve been seated next to.’ I remember this from being a kid. And then you shuffle. And then things go on. It’s just different. And that’s very much what I think it was like, kicking off this season.
“You become so accustomed to going to work every day and working with the same person for most scenes. And it was like a rewiring. Okay, Faith really is on her own. And as an actor, I’m on my own here in the infirmary. Here we go. So yeah, it was an adjustment, for sure.”
The adjustment aside, Faith has had a fantastic season arc in which she’s become a trusted physician with her own practice.
“It’s so fulfilling to play a character over this many seasons — going on a decade — and growing up alongside your character. I came in Season 2, so this is my eighth year on the show playing Faith, seeing how much she’s grown up.
“She started off as a young, impressionable nurse, and now she’s in charge. So absolutely, the beginning of the season, shooting some of those, thinking, ‘Wow, I’ve grown up; she’s grown up.’ And I’m just proud of her and what she managed to achieve as a character.”
Faith had a significant scene where she took command of her future in which she burned the infirmary sign in the Hope Valley Days bonfire.
Andrea laughed, “I remember reading it the first time and thinking, ‘I can’t quite wrap my head around this.’ First of all, my biggest issue with it was that I don’t think they would burn a piece of wood like this back in the day! I think this could be useful for something else.
“But that aside, jokingly, I think it was actually extremely symbolic. And it just is representative of this moment of moving on and putting your best foot forward even if it’s scary and you’re going into unchartered waters. It was a big step for her.
“So, I think symbolically, it was actually brilliant. But in the moment, I remember thinking, ‘I’m burning wood? Someone could use it!'”
Another significant departure for Faith comes from losing Carson. She’s had a slow burn in which it seems she’s falling for Nathan (Kevin McGarry), the handsome Mountie who was previously wooing Elizabeth.
Andrea admits she didn’t see it coming, but she can see how the connection works, given they were both nursing broken hearts at the end of When Calls the Heart Season 8.
“They both went through turbulent relationships that didn’t work out their way. So, they’re in a similar position. They’re both first responders, so I could absolutely see why there’s a connection there. But how deep that goes and what the future holds, I’m not sure. But they are characters who do actually have quite a bit in common.”
When Calls the Heart Season 9 Episode 11 found Faith and Nathan face to face in her office, sharing a discussion in which they looked deeply into each other’s eyes. It was the kind of scene that gave way to quickening hearts.
Andrea knows the scene well. “Oh, I was really excited for that scene. I’m glad it’s out, and it landed, and people have seen it. I don’t know; it’s kind of one of those things you can’t put words to it. You never know when you’re going to connect with another actor or when the character’s storylines are going to intersect in a way that makes sense.
“And it just so happened that scene, that moment was a perfect opportunity to connect. And I think that’s what that scene is about, at the end of the day, just catching eyes, connecting, taking a deep breath, both thinking, ‘where am I right now?’
“And then he turns to the poster in the infirmary at the end of the scene; I thought that was powerful. And it was just sort of this interesting check-in with one another. And I think that this is something these characters have done before. And I don’t know what it means. I can’t say, but I like it. I think it’s powerful.”
And yes, Andrea and Nathan both knew they were creating something magical with that scene.
“I think you can kind of tell, and you have to work when you have intimate themes. You work closely with a director to say, ‘You know, like, isn’t this working? I don’t know what’s happening.’
‘And the odd thing about this job is sometimes, you have scenes written romantically, and sometimes, they’re not. And sometimes, you find connections in moments that are unexpected. So, it’s a tough thing; you go into it not knowing what the outcome will be.
“So, we kind of dove into that one. We did what we tried to do, and then it’s a bit of a waiting game. You’re like, ‘Okay, I wonder how people will react.’ Because, again, it’s one of those things that’s quite hard to put words into.”
Words aside, Andrea and Kevin conveyed that things had the potential to heat up between them. “Yeah, I like checking anytime there’s a one-on-one scene like that. There’s a lot of potential there. And it’s all about connection at the end of the day.”
While Faith has come a long way, Andrea has ideas about where she could go from here.
“I think there are a few more steps to go in terms of professional life. I do really want to see her get that X-ray machine. And professionally, there’s a little more that she has proven to herself. The community has welcomed her and embraced her as a doctor.
“And she was very fearful of that, of course, being known as a nurse. And then coming back as a new version of yourself is intimidating. But I think throughout this season, we’ve seen a number of storylines that have been uplifting for her. And I think she’s proven to herself that she has the capabilities now.
“But I think that there are still a few more steps to take in that arena. And especially with equipment and fundraising for the office. I believe that there are ways to go, and I look forward to hopefully telling those stories, should we have the good fortune of doing a 10th season.
“But I think that she’s a character who often wrestled with her own emotions and heart. She’s never had an easy time with love.
“And I want her to just get to a point where she’s a little more honest with her own feelings because she’s the absolute type of character who will suppress everything and just say, ‘Oh, no, no, no, I’m fine. I’m fine. How are you? How are you?’
“And I think that’s why scenes with Nathan are interesting when those check-ins happen because she brushes off her own feelings so frequently. When someone really gets through to her, it can be really effective because she doesn’t tend to slow down and put herself first, ever.
“So, a little bit more emotional growth could happen. And I would be keen to see where that takes her moving forward.”
Andrea teased the finale, “Oh, my goodness. Yes, it’s exciting. There are some wonderful pay-offs in the finale that are a long time coming in so many respects for so many of the characters, and it’s worthwhile for the fans who really invested long term in this show.”
Fans aren’t going to forget that When Calls the Heart wraps Season 9 this Sunday, but you should also make a plan to tune in to Romance to the Rescue, which is a throwback for long-time Hearties with Faith and Charles together again, spinning off on a new adventure, so to speak.
Andrea wants you to use that connection to entice you to watch and enjoy what the movie has to offer. “You also get the most gorgeous dog of all time, who was just so brilliant to work with. And even if someone were not to like the movie, you can’t hate Nova, who plays Sam and is just utterly adorable.
“And it’s another theme movie involving training a dog. Some movies are about wine, and some are about vineyards or boating or fishing. And this one is about dogs and agility training and connecting through the love of a canine. So, it’s super fun and definitely for the whole family. And I loved making it.”
So definitely tune into Hallmark Movies & Mysteries tonight at 8/7c to see how the movie unfolds, and watch Hallmark Channel all day tomorrow, as there is a rom-com-a-thon starring your favorite stars of When Calls the Heart leading into the finale.
It’s a great weekend to be a Hallmark fan!!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.