Jack Wagner Felt 'Five Stages of Grief' After Lori Loughlin's 'When Calls the Heart' Exit (Exclusive)

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Jack Wagner is opening up about Lori Loughlin's When Calls the Heart exit amid the college cheating scandal.

ET's Deidre Behar was exclusively on set with Wagner and Josie Bissett as they filmed the 2019 June Weddings Preview Special, which airs May 25 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on Hallmark Channel, and Wagner likened Loughlin's firing to "the five stages of grief."

"I can't describe it any better than that," Wagner, who plays Bill Avery on the series, said. "When you lose something or someone, I would describe it that way."

New episodes of When Calls the Heart were pulled in March as a result of Loughlin's alleged involvement in the cheating scandal. Hallmark cut ties with Loughlin, who played Abigail Stanton on the show, soon after.

Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters, Olivia and Bella, admitted to the University of Southern California as recruits for the crew team, even though neither of them participated in the sport. They have both pleaded not guilty.

Despite the drama surrounding Loughlin's exit, When Calls the Heart is set to make its season six return in a two-night event on May 5 and May 6. The show has also been renewed for a seventh season. Wager said that it was "a real group effort" for the cast to rework the series in the midst of the controversy.

"I'm really happy the show is coming back," he said. "I think it's a testament to the show itself, that it's on its feet again and it's survived quite a few different things in the six years and now going into seven years, so I'm really proud to be a part of it. It's really found a place in my heart. Just being in that pioneer town as an actor is just a really special feeling.

"... It really was a real group effort of feeling like we had to feel our feelings and then we had to move past that and that's what we've done," he added. "We hit our marks, gave the best performances we could, which is what we've always done... what we're technically hired to do, and so that's kind of the attitude."

Wagner also said the series' ensemble cast -- which includes Erin Krakow, Paul Greene, Pascale Hutton and others -- had to "come together as a team" to ensure the show's continued success.

"I think it's a testament to this show, a testament to the fan base of When Calls the Heart, and it's a testament to the commitment of the Hallmark Channel and the people at Hallmark Channel about their commitment to the show," he said. "... This is a show that's an ensemble cast and we are trudging on and very grateful to come together again and again as an ensemble cast with a real positive attitude."

Though he wouldn't discuss any potential storylines or specific ways Loughlin's exit is being handled, Wagner said cast is "really grateful to come together" as they began "lovingly moving ahead."

"When a show... loses a character or something that is just such a key component to the show... you really have to kind of regroup and restructure," he explained. "... Ultimately it's about how you're going to write the show and what the attitude is going to be amongst the actors as professionals, so that's been tested again and we all showed up, we hit our marks, and we're trying to do our best."

As for the fans of the series, Wagner assured Hearties that the cast will match their loyalty with their own devotion to the show.

"They've been so loyal to the show as a whole," he said of the fans. "Just know that all the performers and people at Hallmark are there to be as loyal to you as you've been to us."

Aside from When Calls the Heart, Wagner is also set to star alongside Bissett in Wedding March 5: My Boyfriend's Back, which is due out in June. As for that flick, Wagner once again spoke to the cast's ability to come together on set.

"The greatest testament to this franchise... is that when we wrap, people say, 'I don't want to leave this movie, I don't want to leave this set. It's been so much fun, can we keep working?'" Wagner said. "It's a compliment to the scripts, and the franchise, and the fact that Josie and I really love to be light-hearted and have fun when we work. It really is a fun loving environment."

Fans of the films can rest assured that a sixth flick is likely to follow, as "there's groundbreaking stuff going on at the end" of the fifth movie. "Believe me, by the end of five, we set it up for a six," Wagner teased.

When Calls the Heart returns Sunday, May 5 at 9 p.m ET / 8 p.m CT and Monday, May 6 at 8 p.m / 7 p.m CT on Hallmark Channel. 

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