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Shaun Johnston (aka Grandpa Jack Bartlett) recently sat down to answer some questions that weren’t answered in our latest Fan Fest event. Read on for juicy behind-the-scenes questions and answers!

Shaun Johnston: Hello folks! I have some questions here from Heartland viewers.

Ovie Agege asks What inspired you to join Heartland?

Shaun: Well, Ovie, I didn’t exactly “join” Heartland as much as I was lucky enough to be chosen to be in Heartland. I did auditions for the role of Jack. And what do you know all these seasons later? I’ll tell you one thing, it’s the best role I’ve ever had.

Shaun’s Heartland audition tape

Lacey S asks Will you guys make a Heartland movie?

Shaun: Excellent question, but I don’t have an answer for you. I wonder that myself sometimes. We did make one Heartland movie a long time back. It was a Christmas movie, and we all loved making the Christmas movie, so personally, I would love if we made a Heartland movie. I hope we do!

Brooke_wymer asks When you and Amber sing a song for a scene, how do you select the song?

Shaun: Well, Brooke, we write one! Every time that you have heard Amber and I sing a song in Heartland that is an original song that has been written specifically for that moment in Heartland. Out writers create the scene, and once we understand what the mood and the message is we write a song that seems kind of perfect for that moment in Heartland.

Kerri Hayes asks What do you do for fun on your own with your family when not filming?

Shaun: Well Kerri, my kids are all grown up now and so they’re living their own lives and we don’t see them all the time. But we do like to get together once in a while, and, wherever we can that is, you know, Christmases and Thanksgivings and birthdays. Of course, I always have to celebrate the birthdays. You know, we do dinners and such or maybe watch the big game together or something like that. So you know, I’d really like to go on a big fancy vacation one of these days. That’s be really fun. That’d be really nice.

Marren Felter asks Could you let us know where the green Heartland mugs are from or what the brand is?

Shaun: That’s a question that has been asked a thousand times over the seasons and it’s never been answered. Those mugs have been on the show since day one. Jack had his very first cup of coffee in one of those mugs. I think this is kind of how it goes: Way back in the beginning, the art department scoured the land for cool stuff, and, kind of like the American Picker guys, I think they found those mugs that way in some kind of obscure place.

Jack and Tim sipping from those iconic green mugs in Season 17

Bridget Masterson asks Have there been filming locations outside of Alberta? If so, what was your favorite location to film in?

Shaun: Well Bridget, nope. We’ve never filmed outside of Alberta. We’ve made it look like we’ve filmed outside of Alberta, but we have never filmed outside of Alberta. Our art department can make Calgary look like New York City or Drumhelller or Alberta. They can make that look like Mongolia when Ty was over in Mongolia for all those episodes. But, nope, we’re just kind of, we’re homebodies, I guess.

Lenwood Mills asks Are you doing any projects in the off-season?

Shaun: Yeah, every once in a while, I do another project. Just recently, this past November, I was in Toronto, Ontario, making a nice little Christmas movie. I do that once in a while and I’ll shoot the odd short film if somebody is asking for me to help out. I like to do that with young filmmakers to, you know, help them learn and find their way in this business.

Kristin Miller asks What do you hope to see happen in future seasons of Heartland when it comes to storyline, character development, horses, filming locations, etc.? Hoping for more after 17, of course!

Shaun: Well, of course! Well, Kristen, that’s a loaded question. That’s a lot of stuff. Let’s see – you know, when we go into another season, what I always hope for is to see the characters that are younger than Jack to see them striving for their own personal successes and happiness. If they’re moving forward like that, it gives this great opportunity for Jack to help them achieve those goals, and that keeps me engaged in their lives.

Stephanie Stertz asks What’s your favorite animal that you guys worked with on set? Did anything funny happen with the animal that wasn’t planned? Did it make it onto the show?

Shaun: I can’t remember the episode, but we had a cougar kitten on set and it was part of the story. Jack finds this cougar kitten and it was such a cute little critter. It was kind of crawling all over me and stuff. What wasn’t supposed to happen and what I didn’t expect was [going to] happen was the sharp claws on this cougar kitten where they were so sharp and his teeth were so razor sharp that I got scratched and cut all to shreds and I was bleeding everywhere. Well obviously you can’t have that in Heartland; that’s not very handsome. So anyways, no it did not make it into the show and it was kind of funny.

Jack and Tuffy, the cougar kitten, in Season 3 Episode 6 “Growing Pains”

Sicily Coburn asks Even if you know the plot of the episode, do you still get emotional over things that happen?? Or the season for that matter?

Shaun: Yeah. Season 9 Episode 4, “Ties of the Earth.” I’ll never forget that episode. I’ll never forget the number of the episode. I’ll never forget the title of the episode, and we’ve made a lot of episodes! You see, that was the episode that Paint [Jack’s gift horse] died. So it was the hardest episode I’d ever made. Even though I knew every detail about that script, I knew every detail of the plot and every detail of the story weeks before we made it. I barely got through that. So it just goes to show that it ain’t what you know, it’s how you feel about what you know.

Jack mourns Paint, a horse he’s had since Season 1 of Heartland.

Want to hear more from your favorite Heartland stars’ experiences on the show? Check out Heartland Fan Fest for an EXCLUSIVE inside scoop on the show’s top cast, including Amber Marshall, Michelle Morgan, and Chris Potter. Many thanks to Shaun for taking time from his busy schedule to answer these burning questions!

Do you have any questions you’d like answered? What are your favorite Grandpa Jack moments from Heartland?


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Zoie Taylor is the Streaming Coordinator for UP Faith & Family. She loves all things TV & Film. Her top 3 titles on UPFF are Heartland, Wildfire, and The Engagement Plot. Her favorite Heartland characters are Lisa and Jessica.


  • Tina Bonelli says:

    There are SO MANY great Grandpa Jack moments… I would have to say my two favorites (at the moment) are: 1-the cattle drive kiss with Lisa-EPIC. 2- The moment that Buddy accepts the Join-up and Jack responds. I was touched that he put his hand UNDER the bridle to pet Buddy’s face. That spoke volumes to me. Love Shaun and his portrayal of Jack.

  • I love the show of the heartland really good show and on the movie on the dvd with the relationships

  • Tina Joyce says:

    I absolutely love Heartland, such great story lines. The actors are all so very talented and give a real family feeling. Jack’s character is simply lovely, and everyone needs a Jack in their life. Are there many similarities between Jack and Shaun? Thanks x

  • K. Knight says:

    Who wouldn’t love to have a grandfather figure like Jack in their life? He’s always sympathetic to the plight of others and gives sound wisdom when helping. I always listen intently when he speaks regardless of the situation. I love the way he’s warm, soft spoken, and kind. I have no particular favorite episode because it’s all good.

  • Itoo love all the series with one thing I felt a little lost without you why did he half to die? Keeping his wife alone with the baby. Tim I disliked from the git go. He was a rotten man who deserted his daughters drunk pills rodeo till not any good any more and did not even go to his wife’s funeral. Sucking up to daughters knowing Jack would accept him because he would play up to his daughters and Jack would have to go along to keep daughters happy. The roll itself angered me as he was there to get his daughters back but more so to inherit thru them when and or not I hope jacks death or long illness. His cocky attitude early in his return and goading jack all the time he knew he was in and started to try and run everything and spend jacks money .I hated him from the begining of his return and almost stopped watching because the girls were an easy play on and the easy way he got his way always. They were a little too fast in forgiving him and I felt they were too easy to suck them in to Tim’s plans.

    Still hate him even in the new story to come ruining of this series bring back ty somehow to be his with. wife and kids.children.

  • David Amalu says:

    I have been a big fan of Shaun Johnston and I have been a big fan of Amber Marshall and not much Mitchelle Morgan and that is because she is Obsessive and Compulsive and I Love on Season 3 the Third Episode Growing pains cause it is sweet and funny

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