This Saturday, October 27, the latest installment in Hallmark’s mega-popular The Good Witch series, The Good Witch’s Charm, hits the airwaves. It stars Chris Potter as town sheriff, Jake Russell, and husband to “good witch,” Cassie Nightingale (played by Catherine Bell).
Chris Potter is a man of many talents—not just an actor, but also a director and musician. But, says Potter, his favorite role by far is family man. Potter’s been married for more than twenty years. He and his wife, Karen, have four children. “Unquestionably, I am proudest of being a dad and a husband,” says the Canadian-born actor, who also stars in the television drama Heartland, now it its seventh season on the CBC.
These days, with two of the couple’s children in college and two in high school, Potter knows all too well how quickly the time goes. It’s a reality, he says, that’s informed his and his wife’s approach to parenting. “Karen has always said, ‘We raise the kids to leave, not stay,’” he explains. For the couple, that has meant, above all, focusing on their children while they’re still in the nest. “My wife and I have an unspoken agreement that we sacrifice whatever needs to be sacrificed for the greater good. To a fault. We can go years without a vacation,” says Potter, then jokes, “We just enjoy the daily torture.”
That includes making sure his children do their part at home. “You have to give your kids responsibility. You will handicap them if you make it too easy.”
Potter is also a firm believer in not hiding the challenges that life can throw our way. “Kids need to witness our struggle to overcome them,” he notes. At times, that has included parenting challenges. For example, several years ago, as Potter’s girls were maturing into teenagers, their occasional defiance was hard for him. His instinct was to do something dramatic to curb their behavior, but his wife suggested another tactic. “My wife said, ‘Don’t steal their thunder. Do you want them to back down from men every time they pound their chest and try to intimidate them?’” he explains. “She was right. My wife is very wise and patient.”
Spend time talking to Potter and, soon, the conversation turns to music. Music has long played a major role in the actor’s life. “It’s my soul,” he says. Growing up in Toronto, he was in a band. But even today, Potter notes, when stressed, he tends to pick up his guitar.
Although his children have grown up surrounded by his instruments (guitars, drums . . .), none has yet developed much of an interest in playing. “I am an island,” muses Potter. No matter. What matters most when it comes to his children, he says, is that they’re loved, unconditionally. “I want them to be fulfilled and challenged, but I really just want them to be loved,” he says. “That is what I worry about the most. To know that someone cares for them and they feel loved.”
Most recently, Potter – whose been acting for more than two decades – has also been directing (Heartland) and producing (The Good Witch’s Charm and the next installment, due in 2013, The Good Witch’s Destiny). Roles, he says, that are not unlike being a father of four: “There are hundreds of questions asked each day. I try to answer them all and still get everyone to bed by 9:00pm.”