Erin Krakow Wasn't The First Actress To Play When Calls The Heart's Elizabeth

"When Calls the Heart" has been a staple on Hallmark since premiering in 2014, continually ranking as one of the network's most-watched programs. The series is set on the 1910 Canadian frontier, following Elizabeth Thatcher as she leaves her high-society life to assume her first teaching position in a small mining town.

The period drama features a cast of recognizable Hallmark actors, including Erin Krakow as Elizabeth, Pascale Hutton as Rosemary LeVeaux Coulter, and Chris McNally as Lucas Bouchard. While the series has garnered quite the fanbase, there are some details about "When Calls the Heart" that only the biggest hearties will know, including the fact that fan-favorite Krakow wasn't the first actress to play leading lady Elizabeth.

Before the "When Calls the Heart" show debuted in 2014, a made-for-TV movie of the same name aired on the Hallmark channel with a notably different cast. Poppy Drayton, who's known for her leading role in the MTV series "The Shannara Chronicles," appeared as Elizabeth in the 2013 movie. While it's unclear why Hallmark took the show in a different casting direction, Krakow has talked about her experience taking over the much-loved character.

Little is known about the When Calls the Heart casting change

While the 2013 "When Calls the Heart" movie follows an Elizabeth Thatcher storyline as the series does, it introduces a second plotline about Elizabeth's aunt who had journaled about her similar experiences moving out west as a teacher. The young Elizabeth is played by Poppy Drayton, who is most often associated with the original role, while Aunt Elizabeth is played by Maggie Grace.

It isn't explicitly known why the creators of "When Calls the Heart" decided to go in a different casting direction with the series, but there are some possible reasons behind the change. Since the series isn't a direct follow-up to the movie, with the dual storyline element being scrapped in the show, creators Michael Landon Jr. and Brian Bird may have chosen to go with a different cast to disassociate from the original installment.

Filming location could have also played a role in the recasting of the series. As explained by Brian Bird on the Hearties Hotline Podcast, Poppy Drayton and Daniel Sharman were cast out of England when the movie was being filmed in Romania. In contrast, the "When Calls the Heart" series is filmed in British Columbia, Canada, with many of the actors being American or Canadian. In this way, actor proximity and filming convenience may have played a role in the change from Poppy Drayton to Erin Krakow.

Erin Krakow has talked about taking over the role

While little is known about why the creators of "When Calls The Heart" decided to go in a different casting direction with the series, Erin Krakow has discussed her personal experience with assuming the role. Luckily, the "It Was Always You" actor wasn't intimidated by the prospect of becoming the next iteration of Elizabeth Thatcher.

"Truthfully I didn't really spend any time thinking about that. I wasn't concerned with putting a unique spin on Elizabeth OR trying to emulate Poppy Drayton's beautiful performance," she explained in an interview with From the Desk. "I just approached the role in the way that felt right and truthful to me. And I feel fortunate that that was never really a discussion. Luckily, those in power liked what I brought to the table and the rest is history."

While we're fans of both performances, there's no denying that Krakow has thrived in her role. We're just happy that the two actors appear to remain on good terms with one another. "I'll always feel connected to Poppy through Elizabeth," Krakow added. "Hopefully we'll get to work on something together soon. That would be special."