The new season of the popular Hallmark series begins on Sunday, May 16, and Barrell is excited for viewers to see how her character, Joy Harper, is faring in Middleton, and what magic is in store for the formidable Merriwick trio, which includes Cassie (Catherine Bell) and Abigail (Sarah Power).
The Canadian actress, writer, producer, and director, is best known for her role as Sheriff Nicole Haught in the supernatural sci-fi western television series, Wynonna Earp. She joined the cast of Good Witch last year for Season 6 and is eager for loyal fans worldwide to be spellbound by the charm and magic of Season 7.
“This is the seventh season for Good Witch, so this was a cast and a show, and a world that the show had firmly established. For me coming into it, it was about deciding who Joy is and how she is like these people and how she is different,” Barrell exclusively told Monsters & Critics.
“Joy definitely comes in and feels like an outsider in a lot of ways, especially as she’s getting to know everybody,” she says. “So, we wanted to make her feel like she was coming with a very different path than a lot of the other characters on the show. I think we especially achieved that with the costuming.”
Monsters & Critics: Katherine, please tell me what you’re looking forward to in the new season.
Katherine Barrell: I’m really looking forward to the magic. We’ve really amped it up this season. I find we delved a lot deeper into the characters’ past; especially the three Merriwick women. We get to know a lot more about them and their family history; how they were all connected, and the extent of their magical powers.
M&C: Have you had any encounters with magic or fantasy in work or your personal life before joining this cast?
Katherine: Well, I work on another fantasy show, and I worked on a couple of different genre projects in the past. But when it comes to magic per se, I would say that Good Witch is definitely the most traditionally magical show I’ve ever been a part of.
M&C: How do you see your character, Joy Harper?
Katherine Barrell: So, Joy Harper is a cousin of Cassie and Abigail. She comes to Middleton in Season 6 after having been on the road and a bit of a drifter for a really long time. She lost her mother when she was 17 and really wasn’t in touch with any other family. So, she’s very much a lone wolf and on her own for a long time. For a profession she renovates houses, so she’s a contractor and a designer and has some architecture skills. So, she will basically travel from place to place, work on a house for six months, sell it, and move on. That was sort of her lifestyle for a long time.
M&C: What else is her backstory?
Katherine Barrell: I think she was running away from a lot of pain for a really long time. We get to see a lot of that addressed this season. At the beginning of the episode, we see that she’s chosen to come back to Middleton. At the end of Season 6 we weren’t sure if she was going to go off with her business partner and best friend, Donna, and just keep flipping houses, or she was going to settle in Middleton and that she will decide to maybe put some roots down and really get to know her family. And that she will open her heart up again as well; after losing her mom. We will see a more vulnerable side of her as well. She starts to let people help her work through some of the heartbreak that she’s gone through in her life.
M&C: Do you think about all of her motivations and the minutia in her life?
Katherine Barrell: Yes, definitely. As an actor, I always try to have those little things in my pocket, even if it’s not directly addressed in the script. I think as an actor one of the most fun things about creating a character is deciding those little things.
M&C: What about the costumes? How much does that inform the character for you?
Katherine Barrell: One of the biggest things to me as an actor is I love working with our costume designers. Anya Taraboulsy, our designer on Good Witch, is amazing and very collaborative. I think we carved out a unique style for Joy that’s a little different than everyone else on the show. She has a little bit of an edge to her. There’s a little bit of a kind of more modern almost architectural element to the way she dresses. We’ve got some really asymmetrical things and some very modern cuts in the clothing that she wears. I think it involves items that are a little bit more reflective of spending a lot of time in big cities in the past.
M&C: Is there something or many things in particular that you enjoy about the whole fantasy genre?
Katherine Barrell: I love working in fantasy and any element of magic. As an actor, I come from a theater background, so I’m really interested in things that are different from real life. I feel like there’s a magic to storytelling and what we do, and I really love when you get permission to play in a world that has different rules than the world that we live in. I feel like these kinds of shows give us a beautiful permission to use our imaginations, be silly, and play, and have some fun, which can definitely fade away as we go through our adult lives.
M&C: Are you involved in any charitable endeavors?
Katherine Barrell: I’m extremely involved with a lot of animal charities. I do a lot of work with the Toronto Humane Society, and currently, the charity that I support is called Coveted Canines. They bring up abandoned dogs actually from the United States up to Canada and find them new forever homes up here in the province of Ontario and I’m involved with them. I’m a huge animal lover, especially when it comes to dogs.
M&C: Are there any other causes you are involved with?
Katherine Barrell: Yes, I also support an amazing charity called the Magic Wheelchair Foundation. They create these amazing super elaborate cosplay costumes for children in wheelchairs that they wear when they attend the Comic-Con conventions. Because I do a lot of those conventions working in the sci-fi and fantasy world. They’re an amazing organization. To see these kids just light up being in these incredible costumes and seeing how much joy it brings them and everyone around them. So, I love what they do and I also do fundraisers to support them as well.
M&C: What movie did you recently work on?
Katherine Barrell: It’s called Cabin Connection. It’s in post-production. We finished a few weeks ago. I think it will probably come out in 2022 and I will have more details in the next few months.
M&C: So, I have to talk about your loyal Hallmark fans. What is it like when you meet them?
Katherine Barrell: When I meet them it’s amazing. I mean, I’ve been very, very lucky to have a huge group of incredible fans that have followed me from Wynonna Earp to Good Witch. Because I’m still pretty new to the Hallmark world and I feel really lucky. I get to spend a lot of time with my fans. They’re incredible, generous, kind, encouraging people and I’m so grateful to them. Just to know that they support me and that they follow me from my various different projects means the world to me.
M&C: What is your go-to snack for watching Hallmark?
Katherine Barrell: I’m definitely a big fan of chocolate. So, for me, anything chocolaty or sweet I love. Like chocolate-covered pretzels, the salty-sweet combination, that’s probably my favorite go-to snack for sure.
M&C: And your beverage?
Katherine Barrell: I’m a big red wine fan. I really enjoy a lovely glass of a bold, full-bodied red is kind of my go-to. I’m pretty classic I guess in that way.
M&C: What is your advice to someone embarking on a competitive field like acting?
Katherine Barrell: I think as storytellers and actors, we play real people, so seldom do we play actors or even artists. I think it’s really important to stay in touch with how other people live. So, just make your friend group and the people that you interact with or learn from as diverse as you possibly can. Those are the things that you have to pull from, in your toolkit is all your life events. I think it’s really important to make those experiences as diverse as you possibly can.
M&C: If I had met you before your career took off and predicted your acting success, what would you have said?
Katherine Barrell: What a beautiful question. Oh, my goodness, it’s been such an incredible ride so far. I’m constantly being surprised. I think I would have just said “that’s amazing, let’s do it.” I would have been really excited to get started. I’m so glad though at the same time that I didn’t know that so many of these amazing things were coming my way because it’s all been such an incredible surprise one after the other. It just makes it that much sweeter when you’re not expecting it. That’s been a huge part of the journey and why it’s been so much fun. I would have said, “Okay, let’s go. Sounds awesome.”
The Season 7 premiere of Good Witch airs on Sunday, May 16, at 9/8c on Hallmark.