Jason Cermak – When Calls The Heart
By: Ruth Hill
As a devoted “When Calls the Heart” fan, I am one who takes a keen interest in all characters, but new arrivals to Hope Valley always specifically capture my attention–especially when they are handsome and talented. So when I discovered who played Dr. Burns on the New Year’s Wish special, I was quite intrigued to shine the spotlight on this dashing actor and much to my joy, I had the opportunity to chat with Jason Cermak recently. We discussed his role on “When Calls The Heart,” but our conversation detailed far more than that.
What inspired you to become an actor?
I was born in Alberta, Canada and I grew up on a farm knowing deep down that I wanted to do something related to acting or entertainment, but it just didn’t seem realistic. In my town, you were expected to do something like working on oil rigs or another sensible option like that. I went to college and got a business degree. While I was visiting the Czech Republic, I met Matt Damon when he was filming The Bourne Identity. That was when I realized that acting was what I wanted to do and I got an agent.
What attracted you to “When Calls The Heart” and how did you book the role?
I was out in Calgary working with Michael J. Landon, Jr., with the original cast of the When Calls the Heart (“WCTH”) film. One day, about a month and a half into filming, it just so happened that they said it wasn’t going to be filmed any more because they ran out of money. I later discovered they took what they filmed and put together a film for Hallmark, which became the pre-film for the television show.
I actually had auditioned for about four or five roles for “WCTH,” but for whatever reason, I didn’t get any of those roles. In fact, I was second in line for Charles during season two, but Marcus Rosner ended up getting that role. Finally, the producers offered me the role of Dr. Burns and I took it. He is a great character with lots of potential, as he is loyal and has the best of intentions. Really, Hallmark is a great fit for me. It is known that I don’t swear and I have good values. I was known as “Mr. Hallmark” long before I was working for Hallmark.
I am not one who pays a lot of attention to stars so on my first day, I ran into Lori Loughlin, but had no idea who she was. She seemed to have a lot of class and I wondered if she was a day player or something like that. So, in my naive way, I went up to her and asked, “Are you on the show?” [laughs]
Honestly, the “WCTH” cast is great and I would love for Dr. Burns to return as a regular part of the show. The Hearties are great and they received my character very well. After all, Hope Valley needs a clinic, right? Let’s hope Dr. Burns returns next season.
Tell us about your experience on Murder She Baked.
I played the one who gets murdered in the film Murder She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery. I was good friends with Lisa Durupt and Toby Levins already and the rest of the cast was just wonderful. In fact, let me tell you a little story about Toby…When I was working on Garage Sale Mystery, I happened to see a shirtless headshot of none other than Toby Levins. Since I was getting changed, I went ahead and took a photo of his poster. I then posted about how he was watching me get changed and you can imagine how the fans reacted to it. Of course, Toby was a good sport about it.
Ali Sweeney was a lot of fun to work with, but it just so happens that the day we were filming she was sick. As a matter of fact, we weren’t sure if we would be able to continue filming that day. The day was very hot and, in spite of it all, Ali was very hard-working. Shortly after filming our scene, Ali went out to the bushes and got sick. When she came back, I asked her, “Was my acting that bad?” [laughs]
I understand you are on the new Garage Sale Mystery film that just wrapped. What can you tell us about that film?
Yes, I am and I cannot tell you much about the plot as of yet. But I did get to work with Kevin O’Grady and his part is so fantastic. He has definitely found his stride. I loved filming this one and I truly hope viewers enjoy it once it airs. It seems that no matter what Hallmark does, it is always quality. They have the highest quality lead actors, but really at every level they are simply the best.
Do you have any other upcoming works you can tell us about?
Although I cannot say much about it yet, I have worked on what I can refer to as an Untitled Goldberg/Guarascio/Osborne pilot. I also have a small role in The Perfect Pickup, which will probably be available some time over the next few months. I am great friends with everyone in that film and it was great to work with them. Currently, I have even another role in the works that is completely different from any of my Hallmark roles. So, just be sure to stay tuned for updates.
Do you have any plans to direct or write in the near future?
I actually have directed a number of films – shorts and music videos. In fact, I have had the opportunity to direct several music videos for what would be called the Canadian MTV channel. The last short I directed, Irregardless, was one about two gangs who get together to have some kind of fight, but one of the gang leaders is a stickler for grammar. I truly enjoy directing, but I only write out of necessity as writing is not necessarily a passion of mine.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I am one who truly enjoys the outdoors and most things athletic. I like to do snowboarding, rock climbing, hiking–anything like that.
What are your views on actors and celebrity status?
I prefer people who are real in this business and who are not caught up in acting like a celebrity or someone famous. Matthew McConaughey is a good example. When he was working on Interstellar, I got to watch him in action since they did some filming in Alberta. He refused to use the outhouses so when he had to go, he just went right there. Later on, I got to see him on the red carpet, and it was something to see him make the change to “movie star mode.” I saw it happen right in front of my eyes. But the thought occurred to me–this is the same guy who “took a whiz” out in the middle of nowhere. He is one of the real people in Hollywood who only gives the performance of a big star when he must.
In getting to know more about this humble, skilled, versatile actor I realized just what a gem he is. He is friendly, down-to-earth, tells it like is and definitely has a sense of humor. He is one who is honored to share his works with his fans and the support he has received from the Hearties means an immeasurable amount to him. He is consumed with being authentic and I certainly found him to be virtuous, kind and gracious. Be sure to check him out March 20 on “When Calls the Heart” on the Hallmark network and don’t forget to check out his website and social media for all the latest information: