Daniel Lissing shocked Hearties when he chose to exit When Calls the Heart three years ago — and even he’s surprised to say that he’s returning as Jack Thornton for the season 2 premiere of the spinoff, When Hope Calls.
“In the back of my mind, I thought it’s possible that they would want to do something again [when I left]. I didn’t think it was likely though,” the actor, 40, told Us Weekly exclusively, noting that he had “put the character to bed” when he left in 2018. “I kind of said, ‘Look, it’s gotta make sense, based on the fact that this character was killed off. I mean, how are you gonna bring this guy back?’ I didn’t wanna do anything that was too outlandish for this character or for the show.”
That said, he couldn’t say no when he received a call from a very special person: his former costar Lori Loughlin. The actress, 57, is making her TV return on the season 2 premiere, titled When Hope Calls: A Country Christmas, reprising her character of Abigail Stanton. The Fuller House alum was cut from When Calls the Heart in 2019 after being indicted in the college admissions scandal. She and husband Mossimo Giannulli each served brief stints in prison following guilty pleas, and now, she’s ready to get back to work.
“I was hesitant [to do it],” Lissing admitted to Us about reprising his role. “If it wasn’t done the way we did it, I don’t think I would’ve. And also, if I wasn’t asked by Lori Loughlin. Lori called me up and I’ve gotta give credit to her because this is kind of her idea to have this moment in this episode. She called me and she asked me and the idea of working together in her return to television, and the fact that she’s my good mate, I was like, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Lissing and Loughlin costarred on When Calls the Heart for four seasons before he chose to exit after 44 episodes in 2018, and he couldn’t wait to reunite.
“It was beautiful. When you work with someone for that many years, you build up a bond — not just on set as actors, but as people,” the Rookie star explained to Us. “We stayed in touch through a pretty trying time, and it was a really nice moment to come back to work together and just connect with my friend in that way, reprising these characters again that both of us weren’t sure that we’d ever be able to play again. The fact that we got that opportunity was a really special moment for both of us. We had good connection over that and a lot of gratitude to be on set just one more time.”
The scene between the characters — which the Australia native described as “powerful” and “everything that it should be” — will likely be the last time Lissing steps back into Jack’s shoes. Even though he’s heard the ideas fans have pitched about how the character, who died during season 5, could come back, it doesn’t interest him.
“To tell you the truth, I left the show for a reason, and I moved past this character. I don’t think that there’s any way to bring this character back in any kind of substantial way, based on the stories that When Calls the Heart is telling. Elizabeth’s character on When Calls the Heart has moved on. People have accepted it,” the writer said. “I don’t think that I would want to go backward anyway. Just personally, of course, I’ve got my eye to the future and some different kind of projects and parts that I’m keen on playing.”
The season 2 premiere, titled When Hope Calls: A Country Christmas, debuts on GAC Family on Sunday, December 18, at 8 p.m. ET.