In 2021, fans of Ty and Amy in “Heartland” had their hearts ripped out when Ty Borden breathed his last. They had grown to love Ty for his portrayal of a troubled teenager who transformed into a loving husband and responsible father under their watch. Every person who watched the show came to a consensus that Graham Wardle was perfectly cast for the role, which he spent 14 years playing before his departure from the television series.
Graham is a 36-year-old Canadian actor, whose popularity has risen as he played differing roles in films and television series, peaking in the decade and four years he spent as one of the lead cast members on “Heartland.” Besides acting, Graham is passionate about filmmaking and photography. Born in Mission, British Columbia, Graham has five siblings with whom he was raised in New Westminster, Vancouver.
Graham ventured into an acting career by accident. In 1992, when he was just six years old, Graham and his mother unknowingly sat in a room with other parents and children who were waiting to audition for a commercial. Although he had not prepared for the audition and had never attended one before, Graham walked into the audition room and impressed the director so much that he got the part in the toy commercial. From there, his passion for acting was born and he dedicated his time and education to honing the craft. He went on to enroll in the Motion Picture and Production Program at Capilano University, Vancouver, which he completed successfully, graduating from the program in 2007, ready to put his education and the experience he’d acquired from commercials and other small acting roles into practice.
Before his 14-year-long stint as Ty Borden in “Heartland,” Graham had appeared in several television dramas and a few movies. In 1998 and 1999, he was cast as Young Arin in an episode of “The Sentinel” and Bif in one episode of “The New Addams Family.” He started the millennium with a role in the movie “Ratz,” and proceeded to make appearances in single episodes of “The Outer Limits” and “Life as We Know It”, before landing a role in two episodes of “Supernatural” as Tommy Collins. Since he was cast as Ty Borden, Graham has appeared in several movies that he filmed concurrently with “Heartland,” including his roles as Gabe Foley in “In the Land of Women,” Kyle in Grave Halloween,” Danny McKabb in “That One Night,” and Ty Borden in “A Heartland Christmas.”
— Graham Wardle (@GrahamWardle) September 10, 2020
Besides acting, Graham has edited, produced or served as a casting director in a few films and television episodes. He made his debut as a casting director in the 2007 movie “Versus.” The following year, Graham produced an episode of “Heartland” entitled “Under Pressure,” his first producing credit in a television series. He has since produced two other films, “The Vessel” in 2012 and “Cold Lights” in 2013, under the movie production and entertainment company Lone Maverick he co-founded in the same year.
Graham was still a student at Capilano University when he received a call from his agent. At the time, he’d decided not to take on new acting roles, intending to complete his studies first. His agent insisted and encouraged Graham to take the audition, at which he read the first line Ty would say in the show, and used a cigarette as a prop to demonstrate his ability to portray Ty’s bad boy persona. His attitude impressed one of the show’s directors, Dean Bennet, who stood up and shook Graham’s hand after his audition. He was away in the woods working on a short film with a few of his friends when his agent called with the news that the part was his. To date, Graham remains grateful to her, since for the next 14 years he would learn from the talented cast and gain more opportunities for being in the show while growing his fan base and keeping fans glued to their screens, watching him bring Ty to life.
“Heartland” is the television adaptation of a series of similarly titled books, which were written by Lauren Brooke. It follows the lives of the Fleming family, comprising Jack Bartlett, the widowed patriarch, his son, Tim Fleming, daughters Lou and Amy, their hired ranch hand Ty, a few other workers, and the people they interact with on their ranch in Alberta. The show is the longest-running scripted drama with one-hour episodes in the history of Canadian television.
Graham’s role in the series started with him driving into Heartland, the ranch, to take on his role as the ranch hand. He had been hired by Tim Fleming’s wife and Amy’s mother shortly before her demise. Driving into the ranch, Ty got into a confrontation with Amy, his future wife, for spooking the horses by driving his truck too close to them. The incident began his and Amy’s enemies-to-lovers storyline, which had fans watching season after season to follow their transition to friends, lovers, a married couple, and finally, parents.
Graham’s impressive embodiment of Ty yielded an authentic portrayal of a boy who grew up being abused by his stepfather, had to fend for himself from a young age, and became a nonchalant young man with a passion for motorcycles. As fans watched him shed his attitude, open himself up to the belief that someone could care about him genuinely, and turn into a responsible young man, critics took note of his acting acumen. Consequently, he was nominated for three awards for his role as Ty – in 2009, a Leo Award for Best Lead by a Male in a Dramatic Series for the “Summer’s End” episode, and the following year, the same nomination for the episode “The Starting Gate.” He received a third nomination for the episode “Beyond Hell’s Half Mile” in 2013, but didn’t win.
Although Graham was winless, he was instrumental in getting the show several nominations and awards, including several Directors Guild of Canada Awards for Best Family Television Series, Best Editing for a Television Movie/Mini-Series for the movie “A Heartland Christmas,” and Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Family Series. “Heartland” also won a Rosie Award for Best Overall Sound, while Ty’s fellow cast members Alisha Newton, Shaun Johnston and Amber Marshall won a cumulative five awards.
In 2021, after 14 years in “Heartland,” Graham’s last episode, the first episode of the show’s 14th season, aired. In the final episode of the 13th season, a wolf came running towards Amy and Ty, who realized that someone was shooting at the wolf and tackled Amy to the ground just as a gunshot rang out. Ty realized that the gunshot had hit Amy in the shoulder, and rushed her to the hospital. As the staff wheeled Amy inside, a nurse realized that Ty had been shot too, but hadn’t realized it due to the adrenaline rush he got after realizing his wife was in danger. Fortunately, Ty and Amy were treated and allowed to go home and their fans breathed with relief.
At the beginning of the 14th season, fans were treated to the saddest, most harrowing moment on the show, when Ty died in an episode that was appropriately entitled “Keep Me in Your Heart.” In the scene, Ty is leading Spartan to the barn when he collapses. When Amy and Jack see him lying ‘n the field, they rush to him but he is long dead. After the episode, Ty let his fans know that he would not be returning to the show. He’d been considering exiting the show for a few years, and made the decision two years earlier and informed the director and producers to give them enough time to write his character out of “Heartland.”
Graham made the call after feeling in his heart that it was time for him to pursue a new direction. While grateful for the opportunity to be part of the “Heartland” family for over a decade, and would miss being on set, he was working on some projects that he felt would make a difference and touch people’s lives, and wanted to dedicate more time to them. He thanked his fellow cast members, the creators of the show, and the fans who supported him and the show. The show’s creators acknowledged his sensibility, which had given them adequate time to bring Ty’s journey to an honorable end, by using his character to spread a message of hope for healing after a premature loss.
Yesterday's photos from production tweets were VERY popular with you fans, so let's do it once more. Here are today's…
Graham’s co-star and on-screen wife, Amber Marshall, sent Graham her best wishes in his future endeavors and promised to support him in whatever he chose to do after leaving the show, adding that although Ty’s death would be devastating to viewers, it was an important plot line that shows the reality of death. Chris Potter, who plays Tim Fleming, Ty’s father-in-law in “Heartland,” supported Graham’s decision to leave the show and acknowledged his on-screen son-in-law’s drive to venture into new things beyond the show. The rest of the cast shared the fans’ sadness over Graham leaving, and mirrored Amber and Potter’s wishes for Graham’s success in his future projects.
“Time has Come”
Since closing the door on his time in “Heartland,” Graham has worked on two major projects that differ fundamentally from acting. First, he established a podcast entitled “Time Has Come”, in which he explores topics related to moving beyond one’s fears, and working through things that hold them back by strengthening their courage and faith. He calls for introspection and encourages his listeners and supporters to ask the question, “What has the time come for in your life?” Graham shares an interpretation of fear as a spiritual revelation that hinders one’s ability to take control of their life, and encourages people to have faith and leap into the unknown.
The inspiration behind “Time Has Come” is fear. Graham revealed that after having a nagging call in his mind to pursue a new direction, he had a cancer scare. He discovered an unusual lump on his body, and his first thought was what he would do if he discovered that he only had one year to live. Immediately, he realized that he would wish to spend his life as he had been living it, and decided to only pursue things that were deeply fulfilling from that point. His first step was creating a network to help people transform their lives by discovering the most meaningful ways of living.
Graham has structured the podcast as a community. His listeners can become members by paying a membership fee of CAD 329.99 annually to become a founding member of the “Time has Come” network, or a subscription fee of CAD 4.99 to become a member of the network. As the host, Graham invites people with stories of overcoming fear and other limitations to encourage his listeners to follow suit. Some of his guests include Amber, his former co-star on “Heartland,” Shaun Zimmer, Cindy Busby and Jessica Amlee.
“Find Your Truth”
Graham’s reflection in his efforts to establish “Time has Come” helped him uncover one of his passions – writing. With the time he had freed up when he stopped filming “Heartland,” he set out to write a book exploring the things he found beautiful, the challenges he faced in his life, and encouraging words for his readers to uncover their purpose. He gave the book the thematically-appropriate title “Find Your Truth.” He includes a free signed photograph of himself with every copy he sells as a gift to the reader, and donates all sale proceeds to Sophie’s Place of the Centre for Child Development, a charity in his childhood home in British Columbia. Ultimately, Graham lives up to the reason he gave for leaving “Heartland”, by working on projects that transform people’s lives. His hiatus from acting continues, and he hasn’t expressed the desire to go back to acting since filming his last scene in 2021.