We at TV Fanatic are thrilled to bring you more from the cast of Good Witch.
We sure hope you’re enjoying the interviews, and it’s our pleasure to share with you our chat with Katherine ‘Kat’ Barrell, who plays the newest Merriwick in the family, Joy Harper.
Kat has been on some of our favorite shows, including Wynonna Earp and Workin’ Moms, so her addition to Good Witch is fabulous!
Before joining the cast, Kat was only vaguely familiar with Good Witch, but she’d already been affiliated with the Hallmark networks. “I had worked for Hallmark on a Christmas movie a couple of years prior called Nutcracker Christmas. That was my first introduction to working with Hallmark and I really enjoyed it. I had a really good time filming,” Kat shared.
“I was very excited to get onto Good Witch. Then of course, once I was cast, I was able to watch some episodes from previous seasons and understand the show a little bit better before I started, which was really great. I’ve just had such a blast working on it.”
Joining a cast that has been working together might seem intimidating, but that’s not Kat’s experience on Good Witch. “It was really great. Everyone was super kind and very inclusive and made me feel like I had been there for so much longer than I had, which I just appreciated so, so much.
“They really made me feel welcome and answered any questions that I had and they were just really nice. It was a wonderful experience working with them.”
Joy is getting her feet wet as a Merriwick on Good Witch Season 6. She’d been searching for family after spending years on her own after the death of her mother. That makes her introduction to Cassie and Abigail, who are keenly aware of the Merriwick special abilities, a lot of fun.
“I think she’s a super fun character. I love that she’s a fish out of water coming to Middleton. We’ve, of course, just learned that she’s a Merriwick, so that’s going to open up a whole new chapter of her life really because she’s been on her own since her mom passed away when she was a teenager and hasn’t really had access to family.
“I think it’s definitely something she’s been searching for. It brought her to Middleton in the first place.
“I think, what a wonderful family to be a part of with Cassie and Abigail. You couldn’t really ask for a more welcoming family to join. I think she’s still a little cautious. She’s been on her own a long time, and I think when you spend a lot of time fending for yourself, you do have some barriers up to protect yourself.
“It’s going to take a little while for her to completely break those down and settle in Middleton. That’s what I really like about her journey.”
One of my first questions when getting introduced to a new character is where they have been and what made them who they are today. Well, Kat says that’s not going to be the focus of Joy’s story.
“We do get little hints of it, but I think we spend more time looking forward to the future. We definitely know her mom’s passed away. It’s been a good amount of time. It’s been quite a few years. It still obviously hurts, but she’s gotten to a phase where she’s a little bit more reflective and accepting of it and just, I think, knows in her heart that it’s time to move on.
“I think her coming to Middleton and seeking out the Merriwicks was her really making that decision to move forward and be happy and find her family and redefine what family means to her.
“I think we do learn a little bit more about her mom and definitely in the form of a lot of fond memories that she shares with Cassie and Abigail. Then there’s also this lovely sense of her trying to move on while honoring her mother’s memory, but also just finding her happiness and finding a new place to call home.”
On Good Witch Season 6 Episode 3, we discovered that Joy’s a little more aware of her abilities than she initially let on. It seems like that kind of accountability might be new for Joy. Kat explains.
“I think Joy definitely used her Merriwick abilities to get ahead a little bit and maybe not always in the most honest way. I think she got used to using these abilities to swing certain situations into her favor, and we can definitely see in the episode that Cassie really reminds her that when you have gifts, you have to use them for good. I think that’s a big lesson for Joy.
“Being on her own and having to fend for herself has put her in some situations where she had to do what she could to survive, and we even have a scene where she says that to Abigail.
“I think one of the lovely things about that scene with Sarah Power, who plays Abigail, is there’s a lovely moment where she says, I wish I could remember the exact line, but she says that you’re a Merriwick now, that’s how we roll.
Abigail: It’s tough, isn’t it?
Abigail: You’re used to doing things your own way.
Joy: Well, when you’re on your own, you do what you gotta do.
Abigail: I get it, believe me. But you’re part of a family now.
Joy: So I’m just supposed to change who I am?
Abigail: No, but you may want to change the way you look at things. Cassie’s just looking out for you.
Joy: It’s been a long time since anyone’s done that.
Abigail: Well, you’re a Merriwick now. That’s how we roll.
“But what she’s really saying is we do things the right way. We do things out of goodness and not to get ahead and not to cheat, but we use our powers for good.
“I think that’s a good lesson for Joy to be learning as she has the example of these other women in her life who have a lot of the same abilities she does, and she can see how they’re using it for good.”
They guy on the receiving end of Joy’s manipulative suggestions, shall we say, was named Carter, and Kat says we’ll see him again. “I would say it is more than meets the eye perhaps, and perhaps not the type of relationship that we first expect out of the two of them.”
The three Merriwick women together on-screen feels natural, and Kat seems to have a great rapport with Catherine Bell and Sarah Power, too. “I think we have a really great dynamic between the three actresses when we’re together and working on the scenes together. It was a very natural friendship between the three of us.
“I mean, those scenes were definitely shot still towards the beginning of when we had just met each other. I had just started working on the show. I think I really just give a lot of credit to Sarah and Catherine, who made me feel so comfortable and so welcome.
“It’s very difficult to do scenes where you’re playing characters who are really close if you feel like an outsider as an actor, and I definitely never ever felt that way. That really helps me a lot to just relax into those scenes and play the truth of the moment.”
Kat continued, “What I like is that Joy is still new, and she is still figuring everybody out and figuring out the energy of the home and how it all works and what the town is like. She’s not used to a small town, either.
“She’s very independent and not used to people knowing her business or knowing a lot about her, and she can remain anonymous. Whereas that’s not really the case in Middleton, so she’s getting used to all of that this season.”
If you read my review of “The Clock,” then you know that I’m enjoying what seems like a bit more focus on the magical qualities of being a Merriwick since Joy arrived. It feels as though Joy is getting trained on being a Merriwick with all that being a Merriwick entails. Kat thought that was an interesting observation.
“I have to say that, specifically, I guess because I wasn’t on the show before, even though I had watched previous episodes, there was a discussion of okay, how magical is magical? To what extent are the powers accessible to Joy? Does she have the same powers as Abigail and Catherine or Abigail and Cassie? Do some of them have stronger powers in certain aspects?
“There are all these little nuance things, and we definitely talked about that with our showrunner and made some decisions as far as how strongly the intuition affects you, what is something that might come into play to hinder it or dampen it.
“All those are always questions that we definitely talked about on set. I really love your observation of when they’re all together, it almost seems like magic is a little more at the forefront, and I’m interested to see if that continues.”
Now that she’s getting to know the lay of Middleton and Good Witch, Kat is looking forward to learning more about Joy’s personal life. “I would like her to really find a home in one spot, whether that’s Middleton or whether that’s somewhere else remains to be seen, but I’d really like her to set some roots down and get comfortable for a while.
“I do get the sense that she’s been, not on the run, but she’s been hopping from place to place and not really settling down anywhere where she could feel like that was really home. I think everything’s been really temporary for most of her life so far. I think she’s getting into a new chapter, especially looking for a family.”
Being an actress herself, Kat understands a life on the go and the drawbacks of excessive traveling. “I think I can identify with that in Joy because you do get to a place in your life where you go, ‘I just want to know that these relationships I’m building, I’m not going to have to say good-bye to anytime soon.’
“I can definitely identify with that. I think she’s at a place much like me in my life. I got to a place where I thought, ‘You know what? I really just want to be in one place a little longer.’ You do get a little bit weary from saying good-bye so often. I’d like Joy to have a period in her life where she doesn’t have to say good-bye quite so quickly.”
I love that Kat uses her experiences to better connect with Joy. Her insight on her own life already seems to be adding a layer of depth to Joy. Kat said, “I know the feeling very well.
“It gets you down after a while when you have that barrier of like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to get too close to this new friend because I know I’m just going to have to say good-bye in six months.’ I think it prevents us from creating these deeper lasting friendships because of the pain of the constant leaving just… It’s easier just not to make the relationship.”
When asked what sets Joy apart from the other characters she’s played, Kat laughed because she usually sees so many similarities between her various roles. “I see a lot of similarities with her and the character I played, Nicole, on Wynonna Earp because they both are outsiders coming into a new place.
“They’re a bit of a lone role trying to find a new family, right? Both of them very much. So they’re really similarities. But what makes Joy different is I think Joy’s got a sneakiness to her that I’ve never really played.”
“I think there is purity with some of the other characters I’ve played. Not to say that Joy is a bad person. She isn’t at all. She’s a very good person, but she’s had to do what she needed to get by for so long that she’s not as tied to a moral compass as are some of the other characters I’ve played like Alicia on Workin’ Moms or Nicole on Wynonna Earp who are very pure-hearted, 120% what they believe and they’re not going to sway from their moral compass. “
Kat went into more detail. “I would say Alicia and Nicole have a very clear-cut moral fabric of right and wrong, and it’s very black and white for them, whereas Joy is a little bit more on the fringes.
“A lot more is open to interpretation with Joy, and she’s not afraid to do what she needs to do to get ahead. That might not always be the right decision, which is why I think we can learn a lot from her. That’s a good Hallmark way to put it.”
“You know what? Here’s another thing that’s different: I’ve never had powers on a show before. Also, I’ve played characters who are outsiders. Alicia in Workin’ Moms is very much an outsider, very much ostracized from the group, unfortunately, which I was very sad about.
“Then Nicole, very much an outsider. Coming in, she’s not part of the family. She’s doesn’t have powers. Arguably she’s one of the only characters on the show that doesn’t have any supernatural powers.
“I look at Nicole very much as almost representing the audience in Wynonna Earp. She’s the one coming in and going, ‘Whoa, this is crazy.’ We’re seeing the story through that lens because we can identify with her. After all, she’s just a person.
“Joy is different for me because she’s coming into a town where she’s on the inside just by default, and that’s really interesting. I’ve never played a character with powers before, and that’s a really exciting new thing for me as an actor.”
And it’s the similarities that Kat finds between Nicole and Joy that she thinks should help sway her ardent Wynonna Earp fans to leap Good Witch.
“I think there are lovely similarities between the two characters. Like I was saying, the fish out of water and being an outsider and trying to find your family, which I think is something we can all relate to. I also think it has a lovely touch of whimsy and magic. I think for me, what I really love about working for Hallmark and watching Hallmark is I just love the world where everything is good.
“There’s so much goodness in the Hallmark universe, and it’s really nice to escape to a world, especially now during these trying times, to just have an escape to a world where everything is full of goodness and love, and it feels very safe, and that’s one of the things I really enjoy.
“I would say if people are looking for a place where they can come and just have an hour of levity and happiness and community, it’s a really great place to be.”
Whether you’re a long-term fan who loves to watch Good Witch online or just joining us as we follow the enchanting series, you can’t deny that Kat’s addition as Joy has jolted the show in a good way.
After this discussion, now you also know that just like Joy, Kat is utterly delightful.
Good Witch airs on Hallmark Channel Sunday nights at 9/8c.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.