‘When Calls the Heart’: Why Did Erin Krakow Replace Poppy Drayton as Elizabeth After the Original TV Movie?

For devoted Hearties, Erin Krakow is Elizabeth Thornton. She’s played the now-widowed schoolteacher on When Calls the Heart since the series premiered in 2014. But the actor wasn’t actually the first person to portray the character. In the original When Calls the Heart TV movie, a different performer stepped into the role of Elizabeth. 

Poppy Drayton played Elizabeth in the ‘When Calls the Heart’ movie 

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Hallmark’s Channel viewers were first introduced to the world of Hope Valley (then known as Coal Valley) in a 2013 television movie based on a novel by Janette Oke. 

When Calls the Heart tells the story of a young Candadian woman named Elizabeth Thatcher who travels west to a small frontier town in 1910, where she plans to work as a teacher. While journeying across the country, she reads from her aunt’s journal, who took a similar job years earlier. Scenes from her aunt’s life are seen in flashback while her niece has her own adventures as she makes her way to Coal Valley. 

In the TV film, Poppy Drayton plays the part of Elizabeth Thatcher. Her aunt — who is also named Elizabeth Thatcher — is portrayed by Maggie Grace. 

Erin Krakow took over as Elizabeth for the TV series 

Erin Krakow
Erin Krakow in When Calls the Heart | ©2020 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

After the TV movie aired, Hallmark Channel decided to further explore the world of Hope Valley in a television series. The show is inspired by the books in Oke’s “Canadian West” series of novels but diverges from those stories. 

When Calls the Heart the series focuses on the character of the younger Elizabeth, who was played by Drayton in the movie. But for the series, the role was recast, with Erin Krakow taking over the part. 

Krakow spoke about stepping into Drayton’s shoes during an interview with From the Desk of Kurt Manwaring in 2018

“Truthfully I didn’t really spend any time thinking about that,” she said. “I wasn’t concerned with putting a unique spin on Elizabeth OR trying to emulate Poppy Drayton’s beautiful performance. 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.”

It’s not clear why the role of Elizabeth was recast 

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We don’t know exactly why Hallmark decided to go with a different actor for the When Calls the Heart TV series. However, it seems like they made a smart choice. Hearties love Krakow as Elizabeth. And the series has been a hit for the family-friendly network, with production on an eighth season recently kicking off in British Columbia. 

As for Drayton, she’s continued to work with Hallmark, appearing in the 2018 movie Home By Spring. She’s also starred in MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles and had a regular role on the reboot of Charmed.  

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