Chris McNally Startled by WCTH Character Change: ‘I Felt Defensive of Lucas’

Chris McNally

Hallmark/Heavy Chris McNally

Chris McNally, who plays Lucas on “When Calls the Heart,” recently opened up about just how much the storyline has changed from season 6 to season 11. He said new details about Lucas’ backstory surprised him, and he had a very different feel for Jeannette back when she was first brought into the story in season 6. But, he added, he’s very happy with where things are now.

McNally Was Surprised By the Change in His Backstory, But Now He Likes the Complexity

In an interview with Suspenders Unbuttoned, McNally shared what it’s like to see Lucas change so much and have new details added to his backstory. At first, he said at around 21:55 into the interview, some of the changes surprised him.

“It can be startling when you read something and go, ‘I didn’t realize that about my past… This is new information for me,'” he said with a laugh. “But then once … that subsides, it’s great. It allows you to stretch and sort of thicken the backstory that you have for your own character. And ‘When Calls the Heart’ has been going on for so long. I haven’t been there for the whole time obviously, but I still think my tenure there … has been long enough that you now have a very sort of complex character development to draw from and to keep adding to. So when things like this are brought up about your backstory, it’s fun to sort of unpack it and analyze it and see how that might factor into how you … approach scenes in that season and moving onwards and adjust.”

When asked how he felt when the show hinted that Lucas had been engaged before Elizabeth (but later revealed that he wasn’t,) McNally said he felt a little defensive of his character until he saw what was planned.

“I was surprised by that [engagement] because Lucas hadn’t said anything to Elizabeth,” he said. “And I felt defensive of Lucas, but then I read the next episode and realized, oh OK, Jeanette was just trying to twist it.”

He Had Pictured Jeannette as Being a Platonic Friend & Lucas Was Close with Her Husband

McNally also revealed, around 16:45 into the interview, that he had a very different idea of who Jeannette was when they filmed season 6 versus what she’s been revealed to be in season 11.

“The story has changed with different show writers, you know,” he said. “When Alonso (Moreno) was showrunner, when I first joined ‘When Calls the Heart’ … Jeanette was mentioned as an old friend of his (Lucas) and that he had helped her in a bind when she owed money to this lone shark, to Amos Dixon, and that he tried to kill her and burned her place down. And Lucas just barely got her out of there on time…”

His idea of Jeannette has changed a lot since then, he added.

“So I will say that at that point, based off of what had been written and what was created at that point, I had an idea of who Jeanette was and it’s changed as new people come in or the same people decide to add additional information later on…” McNally said. “(They) kind of … add a backstory that was not there before. So Jeanette has shifted for me personally from the beginning until now. But I don’t think that it changes the viewers’ experience at all.”

In his viewpoint, back in season 6, Lucas and Jeannette were just platonic friends, he shared around 18:47 into the interview.

“For me it wasn’t sort of a Bonnie and Clyde situation…” McNally clarified. “It was a good platonic friend of mine that I cared for deeply. And she was a widow whose husband passed, so I had in my mind that I knew her husband. Now that I’m saying this, I’m hoping that I’m not contradicting things that were scripted back in season six or seven that I’ve forgotten about… It was more like a friend … whose safety he cared about and well-being he cared about very strongly at that point when we shot six.”

However, he added that it was really fun to shift to a more Bonnie and Clyde type of feel, including the photoshoot that went into creating their old picture together.

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