SC: How would you describe Helen Bouchard?
TR: I like to think of Helen Bouchard as how she was written; a powerhouse, who is secretive, guarded, protected, and you don't really know what she's thinking. She’s very honest, bluntly honest, and I adore her. I agree with those who described her as cold. It was hard because me personally stepping off that stagecoach, I would want to throw my arms around my son, but I had to keep that guard up. I thought it was a really nice introduction to who this woman is just by the body language.
SC: Christmas with a Crown was the last one wrapped up for you before Covid shut down. Was When Calls the Heart the first production for you after the break, and did you feel there was a switch in the protocols?
TR: It was the first and it was interesting. If I recall, I think that was the first production that started up post-Covid break here in British Columbia, or at least in the Lower Mainland area. It was very strict, and I remember thinking “wow, they have this down.” I felt very safe, they had everything in place, and it worked. You could see every single one of us was just so happy to be back working again that nobody was going to do anything wrong. We were all, “let’s just get this done.” It was such a treat, especially having that role and being on that show as my comeback after Covid break. It was huge and I loved every second. I remember stepping on to this set, into the town of Hope Valley and having that inhale of breath and going, “I am now back in time. This is phenomenal” and I will never forget that feeling. I could smell the horses and then turn around and see people that I haven’t seen for a while. The hardest was not being able to hug people to say hello, so there were lots of elbow bumpings. The Director, Peter DeLuise and I chose to do a little butt bump to say hello to each other. It was just amazing, and I loved it.
SC: Had you ever been out to the Jamestown Movie Set prior to this role? What was your first impression when you arrived there?
TR: No, that was my first time and all I can say is wow! I'm looking at the backdrop behind you during this interview and I'm seeing the carriage and the beautiful white church; it's just breathtaking. When you get there at a certain time, there's this mist, and it reminds me of the musical Brigadoon where every 100 years this town would appear and then it would disappear; that's what it was like. You leave the city, drive to set, and when you arrive there’s this little pocket of a different time zone and it’s just magical.
SC: You have worked with some people from WCTH on previous shows. As Helen, were you in scenes with people that knew from before, or were the people in your scenes new to you?
TR: They were all new and it was great. There were so many people to meet and I want to go back, as I just loved it so much.
SC: We know you have a love of horses. What was it like for your entrance to be in a stagecoach?
TR: Are you kidding me? I loved it! And I've worked with the wrangler over the years too. In fact, I remember when I wasn't working, and I went to the horse auction with my riding instructor. We were sitting there watching this crazy cowboy who jumped up on the back of the horse to help sell it, and that was Jamie Payton. He is the wrangler for When Calls the Heart and he was the stagecoach driver too. So, I was hanging with him and I also knew his assistant Kerry as we worked together on Flicka. It was just great being with these guys and kibitzing when we were in between shots, so that felt like home. And of course, they were his horses and I worked with Jamie’s horses before, so that was great. I loved it and I loved looking around on set and seeing the horses tied up to the post.
I have to tell you this moment too: I was standing on the street in between takes and I look over in one direction and see the horses, of which at that point we had to keep our distance, and then I remember looking down the lane and watching some of the Hope Valley kids in their 1900s attire doing a TikTok dance. So, I’m watching a TikTok dance in this century, watching them do what they’re doing down there, and then look over here and see the horses and was like “WOW, I wish I had my camera on me” as I would have videoed that. It was magical.
SC: What were your initial thoughts on Helen’s wardrobe?
TR: I remember going into the fitting, looking at the closets and saying, “oh my gosh” and “what a chore” and stating to Barbara, the designer, “wow, you put in so much work!” I was standing there, and she had this modern jacket, velvet kind of thing and with a little crinoline down below, and she said, “I’m just going to get some measurements” and shared some ideas that she had. So, they literally built a lot of Helen’s wardrobe. Seeing it in those stages as she’s pinning and tucking and doing all of that, and then arriving and trying on this amazing dress, it was again a testament to how everybody in the film world has a job to do and they all do it so well. The costumes are magnificent, all of them. The wardrobe there is so beautiful. I love what Helen wears, in particular her fabulous hat that they built for that character to make her entrance.
SC: If you could take one item from Helen’s wardrobe with you, what would it be?
TR: My arrival outfit. I loved it! There were an incredible amount of hours that their family put in to create the wardrobe. Her mom is amazing, her dad and brother are there as well. They’re such a great family and make us all look good.
SC: Do you think there’s more to Helen’s history that isn’t explored in this season and would explain more of her behaviour?
TR: Absolutely. There is a reason, and it would be great to explore in a future season.
SC: What was your favourite filming location in Hope Valley, or where would you have also liked to film?
TR: I would have loved to film in the church. It's such a sweet, beautiful little church and the setting is just so beautiful there. So yes, I would have loved to have gone in the church at some point.
SC: Were you aware of When Calls the Heart and the Hearties prior to auditioning?
TR: I absolutely knew about When Calls the Heart. I was doing three seasons of Cedar Cove, another Hallmark series, and it was during that time that When Calls the Heart came to be. I knew that it was a period piece and it's something that I always wanted to be a part of it, so when this opportunity came along, I just was thrilled. I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was.
Having been on a lot of sci-fi shows, Stargate in particular, I remember being so surprised about that genre and the Sci-Fi fans. Stargate went for seven years for my character and they went on to do ten seasons. With that following of fans, you go out and do different conventions, and they are so loyal and get involved in the work and characters and get so attached. I embraced that and to this day I have this fanbase and call them friends, who continue to follow me wherever I go and whatever work I do. What I’ve come to understand and learn is that the Hearties are an amazing part of this show, and there’s a part of it that just drives this show. They’re so invested in the characters and the storylines. So, I just put my hands together in prayer and say, “come on, Hearties, I really hope you embrace Helen because I certainly love playing her and I love this show.”
SC: Have you auditioned for any other parts for When Calls the Heart in the past?
TR: I have. Sometimes I can't audition because they'll know right away that my schedule won’t allow me to shoot during that time. I think I’ve had two auditions and then this one. So, I guess three’s the charm.
SC: What did you think of Helen when you had opportunity to audition for this character?
TR: Reading the sides and knowing what her character is about, I loved it. Are you kidding? I love that secrecy of Helen, the mystery of Helen, and reading about her reserve. So, I was like “oh this is going to be fun. I want to get into this character.”
I have had the odd character that’s been a bit owly in various Hallmark movies or Christmas movies, who ends up coming around and you embrace her, but I think it’s nice to mix it up to have a character that’s like this. It gives the actor a place to go, and it gives the writers a place to go. They can decide if they’re going to keep her along this line or if they will change it up. From what I recall even Henry Gowen’s character started off being more like Helen and is known for the contrast. I love watching different shows where I don’t want to like the person or can’t wait for them to go, then you see another side and start to embrace them. Then they’ll turn them around again, and I like that.
SC: What most surprised or wowed you during your time on When Calls the Heart?
TR: I have to say all of it, all of it wowed me. Just being on that set; I’m not even able to find the words, but it reminds me of the first time I went to Disneyland, and I was an adult. I remember seeing the castle and feeling overwhelmed with emotion. You can’t help but go there emotionally when you’re standing in front of the castle and there was a similar feeling in Hope Valley. As a kid I would watch Westerns with my grandfather and so that’s what it is to me, that moment of walking in the town and going, “wow, I’m here” and “I’m back in time.” It’s just so difficult to articulate.
SC: Are there other projects coming up to keep an eye out for?
TR: Definitely. Right now, we’re filming season 2 of Nancy Drew which is a CW and a lot of fun. It’s keeping me busy and I’m loving that. Season 2 of Virgin River was released and did well, then they announced there’s going to be a season 3. The best is to keep checking my social media as I’ll post there when I can.
SC: Is there anything that you would like to say to the Hearties?
TR: I'm so happy to be a part of your world. And again, I hope you embrace this character because I'm thrilled to be a part of this show that you all love so much. I love the fact that you are all so loyal and invested. I'm just in awe of that and I aspire to be somebody you choose to want to like. Sending a big, huge thank you to the Hearties.
SC: If Helen’s appearance in Hope Valley has left a message, it is a reminder that people are more complex than meets the eye. With her story only partially unfolding, it is anyone’s guess what chapters have been written since she journeyed home, as well as the history that has not yet been revealed. As you wait to see if Helen will return to Hope Valley, keep up with Teryl by following her on social media, so you can learn what happens in the next chapters of her life.