Andrea Brooks – When Calls The Heart
By: Ruth Hill
If you are a long-time viewer of Hallmark’s “When Calls the Heart,” you are probably familiar with one of the characters who agitated fans during season two–Nurse Faith Carter. While Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow) had her elite crush last season, Mountie Jack (Daniel Lissing) had a potential distraction as well. This season this character has returned and Nurse Faith’s reception has mixed reviews amongst the Hearties. However, there is no doubt the woman who brings this controversial character to life is as beautiful as she is talented. Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with Andrea Brooks and we discussed her many works for various networks including Hallmark (“Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” “When Calls the Heart” and The Bridge Part 2), Lifetime (“UNREAL”) and more.
What inspired you to become an actress?
I was always fascinated with acting from a young age. I was a figure skater, but I also had an interest in musical theater. When I was fifteen years old, there was an open casting call for Disney’s film Ice Princess. I decided to go for it and I actually was up for the lead. Although I lost out on that role, I got an agent out of the deal and so began my acting career.
What was it like working on The Bridge? Did the fan reaction surprise you?
First of all, I am good friends with Katie Findlay (one of the stars) so that was made the experience lots of fun. I was not overly surprised at the fan reaction that caused part two to be shown earlier than expected. I’ve seen firsthand how fans can change the course of an entire network show. The wonderful thing about filming The Bridge is that it was the first time (for me) that the author was on the set. This was Karen Kingsbury’s first novel to be made into a film and she was able to share her vision with us. Of course, it also meant we had a lot to live up to. I was concerned I might not meet her expectations, but it was a high compliment when she would tell me how fantastic my scenes were. The director, Mike Rohl, was also wonderful and his daughter is my friend as well. (I have a lot of friends in the Vancouver acting community.) Wyatt Nash was an amazing actor to work with as he is incredibly talented. Thankfully, I have been lucky with Hallmark. Both Wyatt and Daniel Lissing have been actors who give me something to work with, and I give them something back. When filming a romantic scene, I have been in situations where there is just no spark. Luckily, in the end, everyone thought we were great in our scenes where I felt nothing, but it’s so much easier when the actor you’re working with is someone who truly gives you that special element to work with.
What drew you to the part of Nurse Faith in “When Calls The Heart?” What do you enjoy most about your part?
I have always wanted to do a period film or TV show. I am fascinated with the pioneer days and I loved “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.” Something I have never told anyone is that, originally, I was considered for the role of Elizabeth’s sister on season one. I really thought I had it, but of course, it fell through. That’s the nature of this business all too often.
I happened to hear about a new character for season two and I was automatically interested. When I found out I got the role, I realized just how big this role could be. Right before I was supposed to go film in Vancouver, I was on a trip in Portland with my mom and I spent the entire trip going over my lines with her. My mom learned all of Jack’s dialogue and it was worth it. I knew how special this character could be as she is helpful, generous and honest. She also adds a bit of conflict to the romantic storyline.
When season three came about, it was a waiting game to see if Nurse Faith would return. When I found out that they decided to bring her back, I was overjoyed. Lori [Loughlin] is a lovely person and doing scenes with her was always a treat. As to Kavan [Smith] and Pascale [Hutton], that energy that you see on screen that is so hilarious rings true off screen as well. Their pairing is what you call dynamic perfection. It was such a treat to get to see those two interact.
“When Calls the Heart” is a dream show, as far as I’m concerned. I was never treated like an outsider. From the beginning, the cast was warm and welcoming. Also, I got to work with make-up artist Jenn Komisky again, as I had worked with her on The Bridge.
Did you do any research about nursing in that time period and how medicine was practiced back then?
Because I was given the role so quickly in season two, I didn’t get a chance to do the kind of research for the role that I would have liked to. My grandmother is a nurse so I got her insight on patients, especially those in critical condition. She helped me understand what kinds of feelings these patients might experience. It was very helpful.
I would like to point out that all the instruments that Nurse Faith uses on the show are real antiques. That includes old bandages, syringes and more. I also watched “The Knick” with Clive Owen in order to prepare. It is graphic and gruesome, but the main reason I watched it was due to the medical language that is used. I learned a few tricks as I have no medical background. It really did help me.
In one way, I can see why Jack and Faith might be an obvious connection in the show. They both are “commoners” and come from working class families. Both work in service to others. They never had the privileged life that Elizabeth has. It makes sense that they would be friends. But I do agree that Elizabeth seems much more mature and maybe a little bit older than Faith. I would love being a permanent part of the show, but we’ll see what happens.
I also see “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” in your credentials. What was it like working on that show?
Well, Crystal [Lowe] and I are good friends so it was great to work with her. I played the ditzy Kimmy Cooper, who was a rival for Rita in the Miss Special Delivery contest. My character had to play the tuba so I had to have some basic tuba lessons. Thankfully, I had played the trumpet before so I knew how to use the mouthpiece. I was so happy that I was able to get a sound out of that massive instrument!
It is because of the fans who campaigned tirelessly that even though the show was not renewed for another season, there are films being made in the series. As far as I know, there are no plans for that to stop any time soon. And that is all because of the devotion of the amazing fans. I am so glad I got a chance to be a part of that show.
What about your work on “UNREAL?”
My role in that show was that of an opera singer, but unfortunately, they cut my story quite a bit and it ended up being very small. Although working on this show was different from Hallmark, at the end of the day, these shows are about a group of people trying to make the best show possible. The show was met with a lot of enthusiasm and it even won a Critic’s Choice Award.
Before I worked on this show, I used to sit and watch “The Bachelor” whenever I was in L.A. Unfortunately, now I can’t watch. It’s kind of ruined the show for me now that I know that they push the contestants to try to get such drama out of them.
Any upcoming works you can tell us about?
In addition to The Bridge Part 2, I am involved with Rescue Me, which is a romantic comedy. I also am in The Circle which is a dark horror, very different from any of my Hallmark works. Cindy Busby is in that one with me, too.
Do you have any plans to eventually write or direct?
In many ways, I am similar to Dan [Lissing] in that respect. There comes a point when you are tired of saying other people’s lines and you want to write your own. So yes, I am writing now. As to directing, I would love to do it, but I have a long ways to go. I see directors as masters of dealing with chaos. I need a little more training on the technical side before I’m ready to direct, but I definitely want to do it.
What is most rewarding about being an actress?
Let me say that I do not watch my works often. I focus on my job and I just let it be. You have no control over what the editors will do with your work so there’s no point worrying. You’re attached to the project and that is great no matter how it turns out.
The best thing is that there is a possibility that people will take such an interest in the project in which you are involved and it will inspire the viewers. They will open their hearts and positively receive it. That is the best thing about being an actress, and it what I hope for each project I do.
No matter what you may think of her character on “When Calls the Heart,” it is indisputable that this woman has a natural knack for acting, a lovely personality and an unblemished reputation and outlook on the entire entertainment industry. It would be worth your while to check out the fabulous Andrea on any of her upcoming works, but don’t forget to tune into the Hallmark Channel every Sunday evening to see her resplendent work on “When Calls the Heart.” Oh, and you might want to follow this beauty on Twitter as she is definitely one who welcomes genuine fan interaction (https://twitter.com/andreakbrooks ).