‘When Calls the Heart’: Chris McNally Almost Played Nathan — Not Lucas — on Hallmark Channel Drama

Last season on When Calls the Heart, fans were introduced to two handsome new residents of Hope Valley. First came the dashing but mysterious Lucas Bouchard (Chris McNally), who purchased the quaint burg’s saloon, renaming it the Queen of Hearts. Then, new mountie Nathan Grant (Kevin McGarry) rode into town. 

Both men have been positioned as a possible romantic interest for widowed schoolteacher Elizabeth Thornton (Erin Krakow). She hasn’t made her choice just yet, and with both guys possessing plenty of charm, it’s hard to predict who will win her heart. But if things had gone a bit differently, we do know that a different actor could be playing the role of Nathan. 

Chris McNally auditioned for both Nathan and Lucas 

Chris McNally
Chris McNally | Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

Though he only joined When Calls the Heart last season, Chris McNally’s Lucas has quickly become a favorite with fans. But what many Hearties likely don’t know is that McNally almost played a different character on the show. 

On Friday, Feb. 21, actor Chris McNally was a guest on Hallmark Channel’s Bubbly Sesh podcast. He told hosts Shawlini Manjunath-Holbrook and Jacklyn Collier that he originally auditioned for both Nathan and Lucas. 

“I auditioned for Nathan through my Canadian representation,” he said. “I sent a tape. I was in LA at the time; I sent the tape to Canada. And I went in the room and auditioned for Lucas.” 

McNally didn’t exactly hit it out of the park in that in-person audition, he recalled. 

“I didn’t think it went very well at all,” he said. “It was one of those ones where you leave going, ‘Man, I really screwed that one up. I wish I could roll back the clock and try again.’”

He felt he had more of a chance of landing the role of Nathan 

Though McNally wasn’t thrilled with the way his first audition for Lucas went, he felt better about his chances of landing the role of Nathan. After reviewing his tape, the actor was invited to do a read with Krakow to judge the pair’s chemistry. 

After trying out for the Nathan part, McNally says that the showrunners asked him to stick around and also read again for Lucas. 

“That time, I felt great about the read,” he said. “I felt like I did what I wanted to do; what I should have done the first time.” 

The When Calls the Heart team clearly felt the same way, since McNally ended up getting cast as Lucas. Now, it’s hard to imagine him as the straight-laced mountie Nathan. 

Lucas shows ‘a little more heart’ this season

During the podcast, McNally also talked about what viewers can expect to see from Lucas on this season of When Calls the Heart. 

“You can expect to see a little more heart,” he said. “He definitely tries to go out on a limb and show Elizabeth how he feels. So there are a couple more grand gestures, similar to the one you saw in the Christmas episode.” 

In the 2019 Christmas special, Lucas wowed Elizabeth — and the rest of Hope Valley — with a holiday festival and stunning light display. It’s hard to imagine how he’ll top that. Hearties will just have to tune in on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 8/7c to find out what Lucas has up his sleeve when When Calls the Heart Season 7 premieres on Hallmark.