Tag Archives: Graham Wardle

Links: Heartland, Season 14

From Eric Volmers of Postmedia News:

Link: Amber Marshall opens up about the heartbreaking season opener of Heartland
“I understood the journey he was on and that nobody should stand in the way of someone who wants to pursue what their true heart’s desire is.” Continue reading.

From CBC:

Link: Graham Wardle’s Message to Fans
Here is in an exclusive interview with Graham as he discusses his appreciation for the fans, his love of the show, and why he felt it was time to move on. Continue reading.

From Leora Heilbronn of Brief Take:

Link: Interview: Heartland’s Amber Marshall
Heartland season 14 begins on CBC with its biggest season opener yet. Continue reading.


Heartland: Amber Marshall addresses Season 14’s emotional return

[Spoiler alert: Do not continue reading until you have watched the Season 14 episode, “Keep Me in Your Heart.”]

Midway through last fall, TV, Eh? began getting emails. There were rumours among Heartland fans that Ty Borden (Graham Wardle) would not return to the show. We the rumours true, those emails asked? I don’t like rumours, so I didn’t address them. Instead, I let the Season 14 premiere of Heartland speak for itself.

And, sadly, as those rumours were true. On Sunday night, viewers learned that Ty succumbed to the gunshot injury he received in Season 13. “Keep Me in Your Heart” was an emotional hour with a memorial for Ty as its centrepiece, a year-later goodbye for the characters that was truly emotional. Here, Amber Marshall answers our questions about Ty’s death and what it means for Amy and the rest of the family moving forward.

Congratulations on Season 14 of Heartland. Can you believe it’s been 14 seasons already?
Amber Marshall: It seems like only yesterday we were all meeting for the first time. The beautiful thing is the excitement we all shared to be a part of that first season, is still strong over a decade later. We genuinely love and respect one another. The cast and crew have remained close and all have each other’s best interests in mind.

COVID-19 threw a wrench in everyone’s lives. How difficult was it for you and the Heartland family to adapt to filming during the pandemic?
AM: Being such a close and social workplace, it took a while to become consistent with a new routine. We are a group that hugs when we meet in the morning and when we leave at the end of the day. We spend many hours on set in close quarters and typically in between scenes and setups we usually all huddle together and run lines, or chat socially. This all had to change in season 14 to allow for COVID protocol to be followed. Lunches were now spent alone in our trailers or vehicles and any time we had in between setups or scenes was usually spent the same way. In some ways it allowed me to get more ‘homework’ done during the day, but the social side of Heartland looked very different.

Sunday’s episode revealed that, unfortunately, Ty developed complications and passed away. As a cast member and friend of Graham’s, how hard has it been to not have him around on-set?
AM: The story of Amy and Ty has been very prominent since Heartland’s beginning. Graham and I have had many beautiful stories on Heartland over the years and have remained very close friends off-set as well. This year was a strange new reality on all fronts. In a way, the longevity of the Amy and Ty story gave me inspiration as an actor to be able to feel the grief and sorrow of losing that character. Graham and I still spoke often throughout the season and I was able to visit him recently as well.

What would you say to fans who are upset Ty is no longer on the show? He and Amy have been the centrepiece of this show since Day 1.
There are things in our lives we can never prepare for. And when something devastating happens it feels as though our world is ripped apart and could never be put back together. I know fans of the show will be deeply saddened by the loss of Ty and I hope that they can join Amy and the Heartland family during this season of healing. There will always be events in our life that are out of our control and upset us. Instead of attacking them, or shutting down, we experience the most growth when we remain open and understanding.

When we pick up with the new season, a year has gone by. How do you feel about the time jump?
AM: Heartland was supposed to begin filming Season 14 in April of 2020. At that time the scripts were written to be six months after Ty’s passing. When the pandemic caused us to push our start until September is was a beautiful thing for our story. Now, instead of ‘six months later’ we have a more powerful story of a whole year passing. I believe this added immensely to the journey of our characters. The memorial on the one-year anniversary of his death was so much stronger than if it was only six months later. Also, the seasons and backdrop to the stage we were setting was far more tailored to the events. To me, the colder climate and fall/winter landscapes make the audience feel the grief so much deeper than a spring/summer backdrop.

Ty leaves a huge hole in the family. How will Amy adapt to this new life, especially being a single mother?
AM: Amy is no stranger to loss. The series begins with the death of her mother and her journey forward down a new road which she must travel without Marion. It is the horses that have always grounded Amy and as she works to heal their traumas, they, in turn, heal her. When Amy loses Ty, she goes through a wide range of emotions. She is numb to it for many months, then has strong guilt for not doing more to prevent it. With Jack’s help and understanding, she accepts that it was out of her control and the best way to honour Ty is to move forward and be present for their daughter. Amy leans on what has always comforted her in times of sorrow: horses. She includes her daughter in this form of healing and together they share some beautiful moments.

What can fans expect from the new season of the show?
AM: As always, be prepared to laugh, cry and maybe throw something at your TV – perhaps all at the same time! This season is undoubtedly an emotional one, but the strength of the Heartland family coming together and the beauty of the cinematography brings so much to the hearts of the viewers who join us on this journey.

Heartland airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of Michelle Faye Fraser for Rescued Horse Season Fourteen Inc.


CBC’s family drama Heartland heads into shorter Season 12

For Heartland fans, the most obvious change for Season 12 is the episode count. We’re so used to 18 episodes of life on the Heartland ranch that it’s been a shock to wait until January for new stories contained in just 11 episodes.

That change affected the actors, writers and producers as well. But, as stars Amber Marshall and Graham Wardle told me, it meant a tightening up of storylines and the strongest possible tales involving Amy (Marshall), Ty (Wardle), Tim (Chris Potter), Jack (Shaun Johnston), Lou (Michelle Morgan) and Georgie (Alisha Newton). We spoke to the pair during CBC’s winter media day back in November.

What were your initial thoughts on finding out this season of Heartland was going to be 11 episodes instead of 18?
Amber Marshall: I know that it really sent our writers scrambling. Our showrunner, Heather [Conkie], is very meticulous and she likes to have everything set out far in advance. She had said, ‘I’ve always arced for 18 episodes. I don’t even know how to arc this show for 11.’ For her, she’s like, ‘How do I even tell all those stories in 11 episodes?’ I think that, in the beginning, it sent everybody, especially our writing department, into a bit of a frenzy trying to think, ‘OK, how do I keep these stories great, and start and end a season with a nice arc, but in a much shorter amount of time?’

In a way, I think it was really great for our creative team because it allowed them to think outside of the box and also pick and choose the best episodes that they would have had in 18 episodes and compress them into 11 because they had already arced for 18. They had already figured out what they wanted to do over an 18-episode season and pick and choose what they wanted to bring into 11 episodes.

Graham Wardle: It’s like there’s more refinement. I hope that it shows up on-screen that there are more improvements and there are richer and deeper stories.

I’ve seen the first episode, and, obviously, the biggest change is Tim’s hair.
AM: It was so funny when the first photos were posted of him this year on social media. A lot of people were saying, ‘Who’s the new character?’ Some people didn’t even recognize him. It’s funny how much of a difference just a small change like that can be.

In the first episode, Amy, Ty and Lyndy go on a road trip. Talk about the journey that these two are on this season. Obviously, with a baby, there are a lot of changes, logistically, just behind the scenes, but story-wise, where do these two go now that there’s a baby, and do they want to upgrade? Do they want to move out, because there was talk about that, too?
GW: That’s right.

And this husband that keeps taking off and going to Mongolia and upsetting every fan on Heartland.
GW: No worries. No Mongolia.

AM: I think we’ve sorted that out.

What can you say about these new parents this season?
AM: I think that this really resonates with people that try to raise a toddler in a small home. A lot of people do it, and just living and experiencing the stories that we have on the show, I don’t know how anyone could ever do that, but I think that it’s something that it brings a little bit of comedy into it, as well as showing the struggle and being able to just overcome all of that as parents and as a family, and we’re so lucky with those twin girls who play Lyndy because they really capture the essence of a toddler, and I love seeing the joy that they have on set and different things. There’ll be scripted things for them to do, and maybe they don’t want to do that that day, so we’ll switch it up. We’ll try something else.

The great thing about these girls is they’re at the age where they love to mimic, so a lot of times, if there’s something going on, I’ll mention just before ‘Action,’ ‘Look at the puppy,’ and then ‘Action,’ and they’re like, ‘Puppy, puppy, puppy.’ They love the horses, and they love puppies and all of those things that I think, for our audience watching, is fun. They want to see these kids having fun on screen.

GW: [Ty and Amy are] starting to work together in Season 12, and they have to take on that responsibility and what that means. They’re both involved together, and they’re raising a family. I think, in many ways, we drew from our experiences of both trying to work with this baby and make these things work, and that, too, plays together in the relationship with the characters.

It says in the press materials that this is a season of change and upheaval and that everybody faces that, even Jack, and I always think of Jack as the rock. When everything else is going wrong in everybody’s world, he’s the guy that you can rely on. 
AM: Jack, I think, goes through some emotional experiences that he hasn’t really dealt with in the past, and he’s always been … I don’t want to say the lone soldier. You said, ‘the rock,’ which is great, but he’s always this symbol that stands just off-side and watches everybody and looks over everybody, and I think that shifts a little bit this year, and he still is very much that strong rock of the family, but he goes through his own emotional journey, as well.

Heartland airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

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Heartland’s Graham Wardle talks the winter finale and Ty’s journey

Whoa, talk about one heck of a winter finale for Heartland. “A Horse with No Rider,” was jam-packed with drama and danger on both sides of the world.

First, Ty and Bob were on the hunt for the elusive—and endangered—Gobi bears in Mongolia. They ran into some pretty tough customers on the road and then battled the heat and terrain in their quest before finding a cub whose mother had been killed.

Back in Alberta, Tim, Georgie and Amy fought for their own survival after a rockslide crushed the truck and horse trailer. With a horse trapped inside the trailer, Tim suffering from a concussion and Amy in physical distress with the baby, Season 10 is taking a break with plenty of drama.

One of the most interesting—and galvanizing—storylines this season has been Ty’s personal journey. He left Heartland with Bob because of something he believes in, despite Amy’s pregnancy. Not only has this story angle been an adventure for Ty but actor Graham Wardle, who really jetted to Mongolia earlier this year to film segments for the series and Ty’s blog, BordenWithoutBorders. With 10 seasons playing Ty under his belt, we spoke to Wardle about Ty’s journey, his time in Mongolia and what’s the come for his character.


I just watched the pilot episode of Heartland on Netflix a week or so ago. Was it ever a kick to see Ty in a leather jacket and smoking a cigarette.
Graham Wardle: [Laughs.] Yeah, that was the character back then. He was a smoker, but they axed that as soon as the show got picked up. They were like, ‘Yeah, we’re not going to have him smoke.’ I think it was a wise decision, because having to smoke on-screen for 10 seasons … my character would have lung cancer by now. [Laughs.]

What’s it been like to have that character evolution? To go from a guy who was rough and tumble to the man we see today, who not only has a baby on the way but is in Mongolia because of something he believes in?
I’m very honoured to be part of the journey this character has been on and able to contribute to it. I think that’s what every artist wants to get out of their work. To contribute something authentic, to contribute something that inspires them and other people as well and speaks to bigger truths about turning your life around or going from a rebel troublemaker to getting his life straightened out and standing up for what he believes in is a big turn. That’s a big storyline. I’m a bit older than the character, but close enough in age that, as he goes through these things I learn and then want to contribute and add to him. I feel very blessed and passionate about telling those bigger stories, arcs and journeys. This is one of them.

I wanted to talk to you because of Ty heading to Mongolia. You really went there to film scenes. How did that and the story that sent Ty there come about?
It was a bit of a collaboration where I had sort of presented an idea about doing something a little bit different and we were going back and forth. [Showrunner] Heather [Conkie] had found a story about the Gobi bear and how there are, I think, less than 24 left in the desert. They are on the brink of extinction. And, from what I remember, the Cecil the lion incident was kind of part of that idea and how that impacts society, along with the Gobi bear story in Mongolia.

That was presented to me and I thought it was really cool, very unique and very different. As we started Season 10, I thought, ‘Well, what if I really go there?’ Most of the time when a character goes away somewhere they’re talked about but not seen, so I thought this was an opportunity to do something new and different and, I think, add a tremendous amount of value for the audience because they’d see a new part of the world and it would expand the storyline beyond Canada and Alberta. How to other people interact with their animals on the other side of the world?

Scott Lepp, our digital producer, set up BordenWithoutBorders, where Ty updates—within the reality of the show—Amy and his family about what’s going on. I went with a friend from Toronto, a good friend of mine who I went to school with named Peter Harvey. He came along and he shot stuff and I shot stuff. We were out there for just under two weeks and we did everything we could.

This storyline is important to me because I think it’s something everyone struggles with, including me. How do you balance your passion with making time for your family, your loved ones and your responsibilities?

You said you had some ideas for Ty before this was sussed out. What were some of your ideas?
I’m actually meeting with the writers to go over potential storylines for next year and is exactly some of the stuff I pitched to them originally. I could tell you, but then it would be out about what could be happening next year. It speaks to the larger vision that I want to contribute to this role and this show … the relationship of human beings to animals and how we see that relationship. A lot of people see animals as less than us … I want to explore the magical connection between animals and us.

You mentioned yourself and Peter filming the Mongolia bits. It sounds like you’re moving into producing and directing your own stuff. Is that fair?
Absolutely. I’m writing my own scripts and taking classes and doing my best to further my storytelling abilities behind the camera. That fits into that vision of what I feel passionate about in my life and what I want to contribute to the world is telling stories either in front of or behind the camera.

What was filming like in Mongolia? It’s not a country I know very much about.
Neither did I! I got a Lonely Planet book and was reading it. I met a guy from Mongolia who was an actor on the show before I went over. We filmed some stuff in Drumheller and I was talking to him about it and he told me what it was like. Filming there was a challenge at first because of the jet lag. Peter and myself taking care of the acting, the continuity, the scripts, the costumes and the filming … that was a challenge to do all at once. The heat wasn’t that bad, the people were really friendly, we could stop and talk to anybody at the side of the road and find out what was going on. Beautiful country and beautiful people.

OK, so what segments were actually filmed in Mongolia? Bob and Ty looking for the bear cub was done in Drumheller.
Almost all of the Skype calls, the blog and then some establishing shots were done in Mongolia. The rest is Drumheller doubling as Mongolia.


Let’s talk about Ty and Amy. This storyline has been galvanizing for the fans. Some want him on this journey and others think he should be with Amy. Where do you stand, as Graham the actor?
It’s something I took seriously as an actor and a person. We all have responsibilities in our lives, things we are committed to and responsible for. At the same time, we all have dreams, hopes and wanting to experience and give more. This storyline is important to me because I think it’s something everyone struggles with, including me. How do you balance your passion with making time for your family, your loved ones and your responsibilities? I’m glad that the fans are interacting because it means it’s striking a chord with them and they’re asking those questions or stating those opinions. That conversation is out there and I’m happy about it.

What can you say about how this experience affects Ty? I feel like taking care of horses would be boring.
Hey man, you’re onto the nerve of it in a sense. That’s what I want to talk to with the writers. Where does he go from this? How do things change going forward? We have some pretty cool ideas about that.

Heartland returns with new episodes on Sunday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. on CBC.

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