Catching up with Erin Cottrell (Caroline Ingalls) Exclusive Interview!
Hi Erin! It's great to catch up with you again and to talk about
your new role in the "Love Series" films!
1. How was the audition for Missie? Was it very competitive?
It was actually not competitive at all. I never auditioned for the role of Missie. I initially auditioned for a completely separate project for Larry Levinson Productions about Black Beard the Pirate. When it came down to casting me or one other woman for the lead in that mini series the producers started thinking about another project they had already begun that I might be better for. This was the "Love Comes Softly" series. They offered me the role of Missie and sent me the first two movies so I could see how she had already progressed. It was a great honor to walk right into an already successful series and a huge gift to be able to do the next four films. It's the best job I never auditioned for.
2. Have you ever read the "Loves Comes Softly" books by Janette Oke? If so, did the character of Missie help with her performance on screen?
I'm sad to say I didn't have time to read the books before we started shooting. I only had about 2 weeks to prepare the script and start riding horses again before our first day on camera. As I did for "Little House," I would have loved to have read the whole series to really get a feel for Missie's life...the life that the readers had grown to appreciate. However, I quickly became aware that our scripts were very different from the novels and that the conflicting plot lines could confuse the work we were doing more than help it. (Besides, our scripts changed so rapidly I could barely keep up with our new dialogue let alone with what the characters in the books were doing.) Now that it's over though, I'd like to read the whole series and enjoy the books as they were originally intended.
3. Speaking about your role as Missie. What are your thoughts about the character? Are you anything like Missie?
I think in some respects I am very much like Missie. I can become very passionate about the things I care for especially when children are involved. I am actually a teacher, as was Missie, and I work with elementary school children as well. I however, teach dance, Shakespeare and photography... a little more bohemian than Mrs. Lahaye... and my students are inner city kids who are at risk for joining gangs instead of pioneers and Native Americans. I also feel that her sense of compassion and tolerance is something I strive for. She was truly a Christian woman in the sense that she didn't judge or condemn others for being different from her, and although I don't call myself a Christian, I hold fast to those ideals.
4. A couple of years ago when I interviewed you about your role as Caroline Ingalls, I asked what it was like to be in the "Love Comes Softly" series. I remember you sharing with me that you had never thought that driving a covered wagon would be a skill you would use on a regular basis. Is it still a skill you use?
No, it hasn't been a viable skill for over a year now, although I did use it in 3 out of the 4 Loves movies!
5. Many fans were upset about killing Willie (Logan Barthalamew) off in the movies. Especially, since this never happened in the books. What are your thoughts? Do you think this will hurt future movies?
I don't think it will hurt future movies. At this point I don't think there are any future movies. I know a lot of women were upset when Willie was suddenly gone, and I completely understand. It was a total shock to me too. I didn't know that Logan wouldn't be returning to the last two films until I started reading the script. (which was given to us just days before shooting.) And the fans were up in arms about it... but the producers had their reasons for creating the story without him I guess. We all missed Logan tremendously but the movies still aired to great numbers and the DVD sales were still high, so I think that thankfully the fans were able to open their hearts a little wider to let good ol' Zachery Tyler in. Besides, a lot of things happens in the movies that never happen in the books so I think people just understood that this was a different version of these lovely stories, and the die hard book fans just stayed clear.
6. Another thing you shared with me was your work with City Hearts. How are things going with City Hearts? Are you still a teacher for them?
Yes! I am still a teacher for City Hearts. Things are going great. We're celebrating our 23rd anniversary as a nonprofit organization this year! We've helped tens of thousands of kids over the years become strong and respectful adults as they leave juvenile detention centers or homeless shelters where their self esteem has plummeted. We give these kids a voice and an outlet through the arts so that their friends and families can be proud of them again, and so that they can stand with their heads held high. They shine when they realize their hidden talents and they become part of a group that doesn't resort to violence to accept them. I love my kids! Thanks for asking about them. If you want to know more about City Hearts our website is www.cityhearts.org!
7. How would you describe working with the cast and crew? Anybody in particular you enjoy working with?
The cast and crew were AMAZING!
Wow. So many friends from the past three years, I don't know where to start. Well let's see, Samantha Smith, who plays Marty in the last two films has quickly become one of my best friends. We have lunch together all the time now. Since the writer's strike started we have a lot of time on our hands. ;) Holli Coleman who played Belinda in "Love's Unending Legacy" is one of the sweetest girls you could ever meet and one of the most talented actresses I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Logan Bartholomew and I are still friends and he'll always have a very soft spot in my heart. James Tupper, the ex-minister turned ranch hand named Henry, was great to work and we all wish him well as he's shooting the ABC series "Men In Trees" up in Canada. And Brianna Brown who played Belinda, Henry's pregnant wife, is also very dear to me. She and I are part of a new group we've entitled The New Hollywood in which we use our influence for good, bringing integrity and compassion back to tinsel town!
On the crew side, we were all like family. My make up artist, Staci Witt, was more like a therapist than a crew member and we spent hours with Amber Garcia (the hair stylist) laughing, joking and solving the worlds problems. Also my friendships with Jason Mueller and Melanie Hubbard in the props department got me through a lot of long shoot days with their stories about Texas and their fabulous home cooked peach cobbler,... and they always made sure my locket was extra shiny. I couldn't have been happier on that set.
8. Out of the many "Love Comes Softly" films do you have a favorite?
I think it's "Love's Unending Legacy." Although, after seeing "Love's Unfolding Dream" for the first time this past December, I think that one has the best pacing and direction. What do you think?
Lennon: Yeah, I have to agree. The pacing and direction is indeed the best. However, I love all the films. :D
9. Today, I still receive tons of letters from fans sharing with me how much they enjoyed your work as Caroline Ingalls in “Little House.” If the fans get lucky, and another film is made would you be up for reprising your role? It amazes me how long it’s been since the Disney film, and the fan base is still just as strong. Have you heard from any of the “Little House” crew lately?
I would absolutely be up for doing a continuation of the "Little House" series. We were all under the assumption for a full year that we were going to be shooting a regular series on ABC, and then the final contract day came for the network to make the decision and we never heard anything. Unfortunately, now the girls have grown up so much that the chance of the same cast coming back together is slim. But it was a fabulous experience for all of us, and I would do it a gain in a heartbeat. I don't keep up with the cast and crew so much since we shot it all in Canada, but I do get great emails and Christmas cards from the girls sometimes telling me what's going on in their lives. From what I understand Danielle Chuchran is quite an accomplished horseback rider and has won a slew of competitions lately. She was also in a movie that Michael Landon Jr. directed called "Saving Sarah Cain." She was excellent in it and her character's last name just so happened to be Cottrell! It was a pure coincidence, but I was excited.
10. Finally, How are things going for you these days? Any new roles fans can look for you in?
Things are going really well these days. As I mentioned before, there is a writer's strike going on here in Los Angeles and it affects every single person in the industry. Since no new scripts can be written, no new films or tv shows can be made. But I have faith that this will all clear up soon and we'll resume work as usual. I was very fortunate though to get some good work in right before the strike happened. I worked on two different tv shows. "CSI:New York" and "Cold Case." It was great to be able to branch out and play new characters. These shows aired in November and December but with no new episodes being shot they'll probably re-run again relatively soon. Aside from that, I teach twice a week and have a fabulous life with my boyfriend and our new dog "Bowie!" (he has on blue eye and one brown eye just like our dog Jack in "Little House.")
Thanks very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions. Do you have anything you would like to say to all the "Little House" and "Love Comes Softly" fans around the world?
Thank you, Thank you so much. I truly appreciate all of your support and love. Your kindness and reverence for these films has meant so much to me. It has been a privilege to be involved in such inspiring films, and your response to them has made it all the more gratifying.
I wish you all the love and peace your heart can hold.
For More information about Erin Cottrell and her work visit her Official Web site at www.erincottrell.com
Webmasters Note: Interview was done on February 15, 2008.