When a show has been on the air for 10 years and is watched in over 119 countries around the world, how exactly does it keep its viewers consistently coming back for more?
“We did this really elaborate voodoo ceremony to make everyone obsessed with the show,” laughs Michelle Morgan. The star of CBC’s Heartland, the longest-running Canadian one-hour drama in history, knows that the success of the show is probably due to something a little less ominous than the dark arts. “There is chemistry between the actors that makes us feel like a real family. I think that’s the reason a lot of shows don’t succeed is that the chemistry isn’t there in the casting.”
After spending a decade on a show, Morgan admits that if the end ever comes, she’ll be taking Heartland‘s love of horses with her. “Now that I ride horses basically every day, if I were to end up moving I wouldn’t mind being closer to an equestrian community or like near a ranch,” says Morgan. “I’d want them to still be close by.”
What would you say your worst habit is?
Oh, procrastinating. Yeah, I definitely love to leave things to the last minute and it drives my husband crazy.
If you weren’t acting what would you be doing?
I would be a journalist. I actually got accepted to do my masters in journalism at the University of British Columbia and I declined at the last minute to, you know, give acting one last try and here I am.
When did you first know you wanted to act?
Grade 7. I remember the exact moment. I was doing a play, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and I had no lines. I got to wear a feather boa and bright hot pink lipstick and I made the audience really laugh, I really played it up. Every time I got to my part everyone just totally cracked up and I was like, “Oh, this is fun! I can make people laugh.”
Who was your first celebrity crush?
It’s so weird. I watched Night Court as a kid and John Larroquette’s character had this really intense sexual crush on the female lawyer. They had this really intense sexual energy but she was always putting him off and he would keep flirting with her. It was the first show I watched where someone was acting like that, and I remember thinking, “Oh, I like this guy.” I even had a siamese fighting fish and I named it Larroquette.
What is your biggest fear?
I think my biggest fear is failure. I’ll be going to try this thing that’s really exciting to me and scared I’m going to fail, but I think it’s really important to work past that fear.
Do you have any superstitions and if so what are they?
I’m Roman Catholic, which is a religion based on superstitions. I can’t get on a plane without saying a Hail Mary. I do a little bit of yoga in my trailer before I get to set. I do a sun salutation series, and if I ever don’t do that before I get on set I feel like my whole day is off and I blame it on the fact that I didn’t do my sun salutations. Of course it has nothing to do with the yoga, but I blame it on that.
What’s your favourite book?
I think it would have to be the Leonard Cohen book The Favourite Game. It’s just him becoming an artist, and when you’re reading it you get so sucked into his world and his way of thinking, and it kind of puts you in this mood. It’s a very powerful book.