Canadian actor Viv Leacock has played plenty of parts over the years. Before he took on the role of Joseph Canfield in Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart, he appeared in horror movies, TV crime shows, and even in a Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen project.
But it was his experience on the 2001 film I Spy, in which he co-starred with Eddie Murphy, that left the biggest impression on him.
“My first love is standup comedy,” Leacock said during a recent interview on the Everything About Hallmark show. “Eddie Murphy is my idle.”
Leacock was handpicked for his role in I Spy, and it was during filming that Murphy gave him a valuable piece of advice. When the comedian noticed Leacock chatting with everyone and making them laugh in between takes, he told him to stop.
“He was like, ‘When you’re in a lead position on a movie, you have to conserve your energy,” he said. “…I was like, ‘I’m 26 years old, I can talk forever.’”
But Murphy was right. Leacock finished the movie exhausted. From then on, he toned it down when he was on a set.
The new Little House
Leacock and British actress Natasha Burnett joined the cast of the popular series in Season 8 as Joseph and Minnie Canfield. On the show, they have two children, both of whom are played by Leacock’s children, Vienna and Elias. (His third child, Lennox, is also an actor, though he does not appear on the show.)
Both have said how special it is to be part of the series, which is Hallmark’s longest-running original show.
“For me, it’s like a callback to Little House on the Prairie,” Leacock said.
The series is produced by Michael Landon Jr., who has also directed some of the episodes.
When Calls the Heart debuted on Hallmark Channel in 2014. Based on a series of books by Canadian author Janette Oke, the show follows the residents of a small Canadian mining town at the turn of the 20th century.
A family affair
But when one of the show’s producers, Peter DeLuise, heard that she was intimidated, he made a video and sent it to her.
“He made a video of himself saying, ‘Vienna, I will not let you fail,’” he said.
She auditioned and won the role of Angela Canfield, who is both blind and a musical prodigy.
“When it’s meant to be, that door just keeps opening,” Leacock said.
Season 9 of When Calls the Heart will premiere on Sunday, March 6 on Hallmark Channel at 8/7c.