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THE CHRISTIAN LEBLANC INTERVIEW – DAYTIME EMMY NOMINEE

On The Young and the Restless, Christian LeBlanc may be the most respected actor from the A-class acting troupe, who day in and day out, brings us the lives of the characters in Genoa City.

Last week, Christian received another Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, something many were certain he was a lock for. Now he looks to be one of the front-runner’s for the prize. Winning is no stranger to Christian, having walked off with the top prize at the Daytime Emmys both in 2005 and 2007. Will the man who plays the complex Michael Baldwin take home his third when the ceremonies are held in Los Angeles on August 30th? I chatted with Christian to get his thoughts.

christianMain.jpgMICHAEL:

So, here we are again, Mr. Emmy Nominee! My guess is that you submitted the Christmas episode where Michael does his take on “It’s a Wonderful Life” story. Am I correct?

CHRISTIAN:

Yes, I did. I had to be talked into it, because of the length. I loved it, but since the competition went to submitting only one show, it was going to stick out as being long. Then I talked to Thaao Penghlis (Ex-Tony, “DAYS”) and he said he submitted a 27-minute show. I said, “Thaao, I am not so shy anymore.” It was a perfect show. Everyone in it is amazing and they made me look good. It was hard to put together, and not just for me, but everybody who worked so hard on it.

MICHAEL:

I loved that on CBS.com, they had an online special with you commenting and doing the narrative as the scenes unfolded, giving the user and the fans an inside look at the making of this amazing episode, and your take on the performances.

wonderfulLife.jpgCHRISTIAN:

I never heard my narrative, and they told me it came out really good. But truly, that was the first time I had seen the episode back. It was fascinating!

MICHAEL:

Why did you choose this show for competition? Did you know that this was the one?

CHRISTIAN:

I was convinced I put up my best work. That is the only thing you can be sure of in yourself. I looked and looked, and I did put the work in. If you are going to play the game, do your homework! I put my actor reel together as I go, because it helps me look back. I put things on it that I like. I tried not to put the Christmas episode in, but it just came back to being the best thing.

MICHAEL:

It was a true ‘tour de force’… a clear, stand-alone performance! Was that written as your Emmy show?

CHRISTIAN:

That doesn’t happen on our show. You will hear that a lot on set, “Emmy time”. Sometime some shows lend themselves to submitting something, and granted I had Ted Shackleford (Jeffrey) in my Emmy reel last year, and it was the whole show of me ranting at Ted in a wheelchair! I think people, as a compliment, say things like, “There is your Emmy reel!” I don’t know if the writers go about that or say, “Let’s give him his moment in the sun,” kind of thing. I think when you have the special combination of wonderful writing, and that I loved the original movie “It’s a wonderful Life”, it worked well. I think it was a happy medium.

MICHAEL:

It was your show, but there were some pretty incredible moments from your cast mates, as well.

CHRISTIAN:

I thought it was an amazing show, but I thought the writing was seamless and they should have put it up for Best Show. I thought everyone was on their best behavior because the actors really got to do a lot of character work, and they were excited. I looked good because everybody else was good, and the writing was amazing! I’ve got to tell you that when you walk in on those characters, those were done in one take. Not many people could have pulled that off, except daytime people.

door.jpgMICHAEL:

You had discussed this in previous interviews, and if I recall, the scenes were shot out of order and done in one day.

CHRISTIAN:

Yes. For instance, I had to open the front door to the Lauren scenes and had to do the scene outside the door where the magic happens, then wait to get through the door several scenes later. So, you had to recapture the moment of finding Lauren and seeing that she was there after she has slammed the door in my face at the very end. That’s like film work every day. I got the benefit from it, and it got me the nomination.

MICHAEL:

Were you shocked, as so many were that perennial powerhouse “Y&R” did not get Emmy nominations in Show, Writing or Directing?

CHRISTIAN:

I am surprised we are not up for Best Show, but so much is relied upon what you submitted. It’s so subjective, and I am under no illusion that I am the overall best leading actor, EVER! Damn it! (He laughs) Look, it’s an honor, but it’s an honor we give to daytime in general because the Emmys are a business proposition. We want to get people to watch by showing them what our best could possibly be.

tracyChristian.jpgMICHAEL:

Where were you when you found out you were nominated?

CHRISTIAN:

I was at my computer, and a friend of mine called from New Orleans going, “Aren’t they today?” I truly did not know this was the day, because it had become so confusing when it was going to be.
So, I was at my computer, and Tracey Bregman (Lauren) called me. Tracy is always the one who knows. She has her finger on the pulse of everything, and it’s always good when your hot TV wife calls you first.

MICHAEL:

Are you familiar with the other actor’s work in your category?

CHRISTIAN:

Those are really great people. Thorsten Kaye (Zach, “AMC”) I respect. Every time you say “Thorsten Kaye” to anyone, especially the girls, they go and repeat, “Thorsten Kaye.” It’s so upsetting! Tony Geary (Luke, “GH”)… I always know he is going to have phenomenonal work, and Peter Reckell I don’t know. I have never met him. Bo and Hope are legendary and iconic for “DAYS”… and Daniel Cosgrove (Bill, “GL”) is excellent, too. I haven’t handicapped it yet, but Tracey would know!

MICHAEL:

So, it looks like you have a great shot at the prize!

CHRISTIAN:

You want to be the one, even if you lose where they go, “You were robbed. Why didn’t you win?”

dressUp.jpgMICHAEL:

I thought it was an interesting twist to use the Christmas episode dream, or ‘time out of time’ shows to refer back to when Kevin was in a straightjacket for his latest dilemma. He was in a straight-jacket in the same room with a padded cell in Michael’s dream. Did you think they were going to use that, moving forward for story?

CHRISTIAN:

I didn’t think so. I was not told. I had no idea they would reference the dream. I did not even know I would comment on having it. I started referencing it, which I like, and I liked they used it later on. I thought it was brilliant. There was no indication that they were going to renew Kevin’s father issues in such a big way, with the Marge kidnapping. That was a
pleasant surprise, and what Maria has been
doing is tying in old storylines and making
it relevant to what is going on the show now,
and it’s terrific.

MICHAEL:

Are you going to pick out something to wear for the big event on August 30th?

CHRISTIAN:

From the floor you mean? (He laughs) Joseph Abboud measured me himself for my tux, and I am not giving that one up that easy. It’s a recession, my friend. Maybe I will be on the red carpet with my lunchbox and bring it to the banquet!

MICHAEL:

What did you think about the Emmy broadcast finally landing a home on the CW?

christianNaked.jpgCHRISTIAN:

We can’t afford to be lazy or run lax. I think at NATAS and ATAS no one can afford to feud. Maybe the CW is where we need to be. We need to entertain the people and we need the ratings up. I don’t think that is an impossibility. The audiences are shrinking, and that happens because they don’t see what they want to see. I don’t think it’s about dummying things down. I think it’s about stepping up and being more intelligent and not less. Despite what some may think, the audience does not want to be talked down to. There is a place for daytime. What there is not a place for here are people sitting on their laurels or being complacent. It’s a business, baby! We have to find a way to fill the seats and we will find the answer. And, it’s about a good story!

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Elizabeth Hendrickson Makes Another Return To Y&R

Interviews

Y&R’s Elizabeth Hendrickson and Greg Rikaart Talk On The Return of Chloe and Kevin

Fans of The Young and the Restless were overjoyed to learn a few months ago that Kevin and Chloe played to perfection by Greg Rikaart and Elizabeth Hendrickson were headed back to the CBS Daytime drama following the regime change at the top.

Rikaart had previously with the series for 14 years before he was taken off-contract, and then journeyed to Days of our Lives to take on the role of Leo, while Hendrickson went to General Hospital to take on the role of Margaux Dawson, only to eventually head back to Genoa City.

Michael Fairman sat down with the popular on-screen duo recently on the set of Crimson Lights at CBS Television City for a special conversation via The Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

When discussing what happened behind the scenes that led them back to Genoa City, Liz expressed: “It was definitely a surprise to get the call. I wouldn’t say it came out of nowhere because I saw Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea) was coming back and Michelle Stafford (Phyllis) was coming back, and it looked like they were getting the gang back together.  I wasn’t sure if I was next on the list, but when I did get the call, I was really excited, and so I chimed in with my better half (Greg) and he was too, so then I was like, ‘Well, let’s do it.”  Greg related: “I had a conversation with Josh Griffith (head writer, Y&R) and expressed that it was nice being back in the building. and a little bit later, I got a phone call inviting me back.”

Photo: JPI

If viewers have followed recent developments on Y&R, Chloe and Kevin kidnapped Billy for is own protection (Jason Thompson) to a cabin, after he tried to kill Adam.  In the ensuing scenes, Kevin injects Billy with a syringe filled with a drug to knock him out.  Rikaart shared, “Doesn’t it make sense, that if anyone had something on them to knock someone out it would be Kevin .. on the ready!?”

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Liz said of Billy’s deteriorating mental health state and working with Jason Thompson (and Billy’s revenge against Adam): “Chloe also knows that Delia would not want her father to take revenge.”  As far as working with Jason Thompson, Hendrickson shared: “Jason is really, really wonderful.  I have known him personally outside of the soap world from mutual friends.  And in getting to work with him, Jason is just great. He is a really solid guy, as well.

Photo: MFTV Inc

Later, Liz and Greg weigh-in on their favorite all-time scene together.  Greg admitted, “The first one to come to mind is our New Year’s scene, because that is when we first got together. and the build-up to that was a really long time coming. I thought it was so beautifully played where Kevin had finally given up on the idea of them being together, and he is out with spray tan girl and it’s New Year’s Eve and all he is doing the entire time is complaining about Chloe. Meanwhile, Chloe is home in her pajamas eating ice cream with Esther – it was very much a throwback to a John Hughes 1980’s rom-com.”

On their return to Y&R, Greg concluded:  “I think the fans are excited that we are back, and I think that fuels my excitement too, because when I was gone I really missed this place and knowing people missed having me here, I realized I wasn’t crazy …. this was something special.”

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So are you happy to see Liz and Greg back on Y&R? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. But first check out their video interview!

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General Hospital

GH’s Michael Easton Talks On Finn’s Hayden-Less Story, Finola Hughes & Favorite Soap Roles

It was a pretty wonky summer for General Hospital’s Dr. Hamilton Finn (Michael Easton), especially concerning the women in his life.  After proposing to Anna Devane (Finola Hughes) she exits to go deal with her twin sister, Alex, thus facilitating Hughes’ summer break from the series.

Meanwhile, another great love of Finn’s life, Hayden (Rebecca Budig) re-emerges on the canvas during Liz (Rebecca Herbst) and Franco’s (Roger Howarth) wedding reception, and is now clearly involved in some story with Jasper Jacks (Ingo Rademacher).  But what about the unresolved feelings and story with Hayden and Finn? After all, she left him and Port Charles and had his child (who is apparently alive) but is not letting her ex know that little fact.

Meanwhile as a doctor, Finn has had to deal with numerous medical infectious disease crisis’, with the latest being what happened to Sasha (Sofia Matteson) at the hands of the evil Cassandra Pierce (Jessica Tuck), who Finn would love to put behind bars for all of her nefarious drug-related crimes and for what she previously perpetrated on him.

Michael Fairman TV recently caught up with one of our favorite gents in daytime, Michael Easton, to get his thoughts on the on-screen developments in Port Charles, what he hopes is ahead this fall, a look back at some of his favorite soap roles (from One Life’s John McBain to Port Charles’ Caleb Morley), why One Life to Live was such a gem of a soap and a special time for him and his enduring soap career, and much more.  So, here’s what Michael shared in our irreverent entertaining, and candid chat.

Photo: ABC

Hayden has been back.  But you and Rebecca Budig have not thus far shared many scenes together.  Do you think we will eventually circle back to their story?

MICHAEL:  First of all, it is amazing having Rebecca back.  I’d like to say that I had forgotten how beautiful and talented she is, but I didn’t.  She stays with you, and her performances resonate.  So, coming back to work with her is like falling back into it.  For selfish reasons, I am somewhat disappointed that I thought when Hayden came back; she would completely turn Finn’s life upside down.  So, to be honest with you, I don’t know much more than what you are seeing is going on.

I don’t understand why the show is keeping that apart.  That’s what people wanted to see when Hayden came back, because many fans loved them together.

MICHAEL:  I’ve taken a hit anytime I’ve run into fans because I think (any fans that follow that couple), when they left, are a little disappointed in what they are seeing in that the girl who left is not the girl who has come back.  I think that has been the difficult thing for Finn.  It’s almost like she has reverted back to a character she was a few years prior to that.  In terms of having his life upturned, it hasn’t been upturned because she has been rather cold to him.  So, it probably isn’t the way I would have told the story, but maybe they have some great stuff up their sleeve.  I think the stuff that we have had together has shown promise.  Hopefully there will be more, because I enjoy working with her so much.

So, there’s a baby.  Does Finn ever think the baby Hayden said died, could be alive?

MICHAEL:  I don’t think he does.  I think he (just from Finn’s nature) would believe that she would never to that to him.  I imagine his thought would be, “What did I ever do to you?  You would do this to me,” because he was clearly in love with her, and she broke his heart.  I don’t think he ever sees that coming.  I know it’s hard because the audience all knows that, and it’s hard to play the person who is not in the loop when everybody else knows the truth, but you have to play that.  You have to play that you don’t watch the show.  I think Finn has to come from that place that she would never do that, and I think that will probably take it to a place (if that is the case) that will just make the fall that much grander, but again it is incredible having Rebecca back.

Photo: ABV

Has Rebecca said anything to you like, “What’s going on?  I’m barely talking to you on the show?” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:  Yes.  I don’t want to speak for her, but I think she probably thought it was going to be more the character that left who was coming back.  I think we’ve all been a little surprised, but maybe the writers have some great surprises up their sleeves, and this will play out.  It’s just different than I thought it would play out.

Finola Hughes had gone off on her summer vacation for awhile which put a pause in what’s next for the Anna and Finn romance, as well.

MICHAEL:  Well, you work with me long enough, and then you need some time off, right?  It’s like PTSD, right?  You need a three-month treatment plan to make it back.  So, I don’t blame her for taking some time off. (Laughs)

Finn proposed to Anna with this impromptu-at-her feet-moment at the Nurses’ Ball.  Did you like the proposal?

MICHAEL:  The only thing that I would have done differently is that I originally thought she said no, just because I love playing uncomfortable, embarrassing moments.  I would have had a lot of fun with that because being embarrassed in front of groups of people is something that I would like to play.  I do that quite often in my own life. (Laughs)  I didn’t watch it back, but in the moment, it felt really nice.  She’s lovely.  Who wouldn’t propose to her?  So, there wasn’t a great deal of difficulty in doing that.

Photo: ABC

Do you sense the on-screen magic between Finn and Anna?  

MICHAEL:  I hope we both bring each other out of our comfort zones a little bit.   I think Finola embraces that, and I embrace that.  I think we both sort of pull each other a little bit.  When the writers write it that way, especially early on, there was a lot of great dialogue and banter, it was like a very adult-type of movie for a while, and I really enjoy that.  It is like Sullivan’s Travels or something like that.  That’s a really dated reference.  Who else do you know that is going to pull out a reference to Preston Sturges movies?  (Laughs) How about Moonlighting?  Even that might be dated now, but it’s closer.  (Laughs)  I think that’s it.  She’ll go with it.  Sometimes just in the flow of it, stuff comes out, and nothing goes by Finola.  There is no ad-lib or gesture that you can make where she won’t go with you on it.  She’s such a pro, and she is so good at that.

Photo: JPI

You’re both smart actors, in a way.  

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MICHAEL:  She’s smart.  She’s really smart.   She’s extra smart, and I’m a little bit under, (laughs) and she balances us out.

Do you think Finn will finally help apprehend Cassandra?  How is it when you get to work with Jessica Tuck?

MICHAEL:  Yeah.  I would imagine.  I love Jessica.  I think she is fantastic, and I always like when the “bad guy” doesn’t know they’re the bad guy.  I know when I played Caleb on Port Charles; one of the things I liked about him was that he never thought he was the bad guy.  I think that is always the right way to play a bad guy, and Jessica certainly doesn’t play it that way.  She plays it like she is just really devious.  She is lovely. I sort of look at it like a team, and anytime you lose good players, your team is not as good.  So, anytime someone says something about someone coming back who is a really good actor, it’s great when they come back.

Photo: JPI

How does Finn feel now about his brother, Chase (Josh Swickard)?  He just can’t seem to get himself to show his affection towards his younger brother.

MICHAEL:  He does love him, and that’s right.  That’s the conflict, but it’s hard to be mad at Josh because he is the sweetest kid.  He looks at you with those big brown eyes, and you go, “Why am I being such a jerk to this guy?  He’s just too nice, but it’s good.  I think we’ve slowly developed a rapport, and it’s just one of those things that I think every so often, daytime gets right where you can almost tell something in real time.  It wasn’t rushed.  It’s taken a year, and they are sort of coming around to one another, but there are still a lot of secrets.  That’s coming up.

Photo: ABC

Where would you rate Finn in the scope of your characters?  I mean, for me, McBain will always be #1.

MICHAEL:  Is McBain 1?  (Laughs)  You and Steve Burton (Jason, GH).  I’ve never sat and ranked them. Obviously, I played McBain the longest, and it was probably the character who was the most like me I did ride-alongs with cops in New York City for like a month.  So, I was able to ground him in some reality for myself, and I was able to stick to that.  We had a great adviser on the show for over a year who was a former New York City detective, gold shield guy.  Someone once asked why the police department was so good at One Life, and that was it.  They really embraced it.  We didn’t have people sneaking out of the jail-cell with a bobby pin picking the lock. (Laughs)

It was a bit grittier on One Life.

MICHAEL:  I enjoyed that.  McBain not saying “I love you” for 10 years, being on daytime and being able to do that – now that is quite the accomplishment!

Photo: JPI

I remember when McBain FINALLY told Natalie (Melissa Archer) “I love you.” I lost it, but then again, I am sucker for soapy goodness like that. It was a big moment.

MICHAEL:  It was.  Then, he had to kind of retract it and said, “I was drugged.”

Yeah right, he had that “What did I do?” moment.

MICHAEL:  “What did I do?”  That’s right.  So, that was a challenge, and that was really interesting.  Port Charles’ Caleb was probably the most fun to play because that was just an incredible amount of freedom.  There was no grounding it in anything.  It was the biggest sandbox I’d ever played in.  If you wanted to walk over to the couch, you walked over to the couch.  You did whatever you wanted to, and obviously, getting to work with the lovely Kelly Monaco (Ex-Livvie, Port Charles, now Sam, GH) every day… it was just nice.  Caleb only had one intention.  He was in love with this girl, and he just wanted to be with her, and anytime you get one specific need as an actor, it makes it so easy. You’ll stop at nothing to be with this girl, and that’s so fun to play.

Photo: ABC

Right, and Kelly Monaco and you have amazing chemistry when you have been paired romantically together in story.

MICHAEL:  Yeah, I think those things exist in a special place, and they probably belong in that special place.  Although, I thought it was an interesting dynamic for a period of time, it would have been interesting to see where that would have gone on GH with McBain, and Jason, and Sam, because there was something there that they could have built on very slowly.  I don’t know what would have happened, but I think that dynamic was the only dynamic that could have worked for a period of time.   I don’t think Fin would work, but that one dynamic would have been interesting when you have the cop, the outlaw, and the girl who comes between them.

Photo: ABC

One Life to Live recently would have celebrated its 51st anniversary if it was still on the air.  Back in July, I posted these photos of major characters through the years.  I received so many “likes” and so many comments on social media such as, “I miss it so much. Bring it back!”  What can you say about those enduring One Life fans and being part of that one-of-a-kind show?

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MICHAEL:  They’re the most beautiful fans.  All of the daytime fans are beautiful, but I think it was a really nice connection with the One Life to Live fans, and we got to know so many of them working in New York on the streets, you came out of the studio, and people were right there.  So, you really got to know them.  You got to engage with people.  I love that show, and I miss it.  Otherwise, I still stay in touch with a lot of them.  I think that speaks to it.  I have lifelong friends who I met on that show, which never happens.  Usually, you walk out of a show on your last day, and you’ll never see anybody again.  You’ll all say, “Yeah, let’s exchange numbers.”  I walk out of there and I go, “Thank you, and I’ll never see you again.”  I don’t even lie to people.  Like, I know I’ll never see you again, and I never have except for that show, and I am still in touch with so many of those people.  So, I think that spoke to how close we were.

Photo: JPI

Were you and Roger Howarth (Franco/Drew) always close on One Life, or are you closer now because you do all of the personal appearance events you do together?

MICHAEL:  Well, Roger and I have known each other; it must be going on… 25-30 years now.  So, it was pre-One Life.  I think at some point we both had long hair, and both had done daytime, so we were pretty interchangeable.  I think one time they called him about a part I did, and one time, they called me about a part when he left.  I actually know Roger because I did a series called 413 Hope St., and Jesse Martin was the lead in it.  It was a Damon Wayans series for Fox.  So, I had known of Roger, but I really got to know him at a New Year’s Eve party in like 1995/96.  Obviously, I’ve become really close to him now because we never did appearances or that sort of thing, but I think we have both sort of gotten over ourselves a little bit now. (Laughs)

Because you weren’t very visible before.  That goes for both of you!

MICHAEL:  No, and that’s by default.  I don’t think we ever discussed it.

Photo: ABC

It wasn’t a conscious decision?

MICHAEL:  No, I just thought (especially when I came back to daytime to do Caleb) it was just more interesting if people didn’t know a lot about me because the character was that.  So, it took me a while to ease into it, and also, I just had to get over myself.  I had a fear of engaging with large groups of people for a while.  In a strange way, Roger and I have kind of gravitated to each other.  I think we are both similar types.  Between the two of us, we make up one real man, you know?  Each of us is like half a man. (Laughs)

Together you can conquer.

MICHAEL:  We are a good crutch for each other!  He picks up my half, I pick up his.  That’s the solution.

So what do you think GH viewers can look forward to coming up with Finn?

MICHAEL:  I’m assuming at some point he is going to get his world turned upside down when he finds out about Hayden and the baby, and how he is going to react to that will probably be interesting.  I hope that’s going to happen.

Photo: ABC

If he became an addict again, how would you feel about that?

MICHAEL:  I think him struggling and getting over that would be interesting.  I would hope that wouldn’t be his reaction, but I guess that always hangs over your head.  Certainly, him falling apart would be interesting.  I think your faith in the universe would be crushed in that moment.  I don’t know how he would react.  I’m just really curious to see how that would shake out and to play that.  I think it would be a challenge.  I think you’re always looking for some way to turn everything … and I invite that.  I always think that sometimes in daytime we play the gimmick, but you should always play to the heart of the story.  What’s going to make you feel something?  If you feel something as the character, as the actor, I think the audience will feel something with you.  I think it is maybe one of the things that we have gotten away from a little bit is that emotional attachment.  When I watch shows that really move me, it’s still that emotional attachment between two people, and at the end of the day it should still be a love story … no matter what it is.   I think that is the heart of what we should be doing.  I think every poem should be a love poem of some sort.  I know they have to weave the other stuff, the science fiction, and the memories, and the missing babies, and the twins, but at the heart of it, it should really be about two people finding themselves in love.

Are you working on graphic novels, movies?

MICHAEL:  I’m always doing something, Michael.  It keeps me balanced, and it keeps me from losing my mind.

Photo: JPI

Will you be producing and directing any new short films?

MICHAEL: Trevor St. John (Ex-Todd/Victor Lord Jr. OLTL) and I are always talking about doing a short film.  Every time we drink too much beer, next thing you know, we are going to be doing a movie.  We have many beers, and then we shoot a film.  Then, we call our friends like Kamar de los Reyes (Ex-Antonio, OLTL), and Sherri Saum (Ex-Keri, OLTL), and Dan Gauthier (Ex-Kevin OLTL), and we go, “Now you guys, drink many beers, and you will join us on this film.”

See, now I get how movies are made!  

So, are you hoping that GH tells more of the story between Finn and Hayden?  Are you hoping that Anna and Finn make it to their “I do’s? What would you like to see happen to Finn? And finally, of all Michael’s soap roles which has been your favorite? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Interviews

B&B’s Scott Clifton & Annika Noelle Chat On Liam and Hope’s Long and Winding Road To Their Reunion With Baby Beth

“The wait is over” were four of the happiest words for fans of CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful when they learned, and then watched, after agonizing months, how beleaguered parents, Liam (Scott Clifton) and Hope (Annika Noelle) finally were reunited with the baby girl they believed had died at birth, when they were victims of a heinous baby switch plot.  To make their journey all the more agonizing, Steffy (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) had ‘adopted’ baby Beth along the way and was also duped in the process.

In this story arc, several characters learned of the secret, but for one reason or the other chose to keep mum about it, thus not letting long-suffering Hope and Liam know the truth! Chief among them was now bad boy, Thomas (Matthew Atkinson), who is still legally-married to Hope and in wanting her all to himself, blackmailed others along the way to keep quiet, and even ran poor Emma (Nia Sioux) off the road because of what she might spill!

However, Liam, with a major assist from little Douglas, was able to figure out how he and Hope had been lied to and manipulated this whole time.  To think, this string of events all started on that fateful night in Catalina when Hope delivered Beth into the corrupt hands of Dr. Buckingham (Wayne Brady), who needed cash to pay off a gambling debt.

Fast-forward to just a few weeks ago, and viewers witnessed the emotional reunion between Liam and Beth, and then Hope and Beth, in a sweeping epic soap opera tale that delivered in so many ways.  But is there more trouble ahead?  From the looks of it, and with Thomas going over a cliff, we would say so! For now, B&B set a ratings record for the show during the big reveal, while Scott Clifton and Annika Noelle delivered gut-wrenching performances that will be remembered for some time to come.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Scott and Annika, who were at the epicenter of this exhausting, twisted, frustrating tale to get their thoughts on: playing out the key scenes, how they got through it month after month, what they think might happen next, and some behind- the-scenes insight on how several of those major moments came to life on-screen.

Photo: JPI

When you both went into play the scenes where Liam puts two and two together and is reunited with his daughter, and then Hope finding out that Beth was alive, did you feel added pressure that you had to get the performance, and the payoff just right, because the audience had been waiting so long for this?

SCOTT:  Annika had a bigger job to do there than I did.  I have been doing this long enough to know that to get in my head about it having to be just right, it’s not going to be, and so, I was pretty good about that.  It turned out pretty well, but I think Annika had a lot of pressure on her as well.

ANNIKA: I think the payoff was even bigger with Scott, because Liam was the one who figured it out and had that revelation.  It unfolds a little more slowly in regard to Hope finding out the news.  When she initially finds out she is not with the baby.  I was more nervous about the baby in the key scenes. They are not actors, and they’re teething right now, and they’ve been working so much lately, that sometimes by the end of it, they are kind of cranky.  The main thing I was concerned about in my head was, “I hope the baby really likes me today, so we can have that magical moment.”

Photo: JPI

The Bold and the Beautiful  is known for delivering the culmination of an emotional storyline on a large scale, but not before having plot point after plot point where none of the characters are quite figuring out what transpired, and thus the story drags out for a time, and thus can frustrate the audience.  For you as actors where you like, “When will this end?” or “Please end this! Now!” (Laughs)

SCOTT:  Oh, pretty early on. (Laughs)  It takes about a week of crying before any actor is like, “Let’s move on,” and I think Annika was crying for – what was it?  7 months?  8 months?

ANNIKA:  I think it might have been 8 total.  (Laughs)

SCOTT:  That is a sort of interesting kind of philosophical question you posed that I have been asking myself lately.  We have gotten so much pain and grief from fans on the story – not personally at us.  They understand and are very complimentary of our acting, but I get people coming up to me in grocery stores going, “When is this going to end?  My God, I can’t take it.  It’s just been months of this.  It’s the same thing over and over again.”  For a long time, we had no answer for them, and it was just, “Yeah, I know.  I hear you, but it’s going to pay off.  Trust me.  Brad Bell (EP and head writer, B&B) knows what he is doing,” and he did know what he was doing, and he did pay it off.  It makes me wonder if we hadn’t made our fans suffer right along with the character for 8 months, would the exact same payoff that we got had been as profound?  I don’t know.  I wonder if… it needed to be that long.  It needed to drag, I think, for this moment, and here we are with the highest ratings we’ve had in forever!

Photo: JPI

Yes, and that is a fantastic news!  In fact, looking at the ratings on the strength of the ‘Phoebe is Beth’ reveal, B&B finished #1 of all daytime shows (that includes soaps, talk and game shows) in the 25-49 womens demo for the week of August 5-9, which was a first in the 32-year history of the series.  In addition, B&B finished #1 in the key womens 18-49 demo (ahead of all the other network soaps) for the weeks of July 29-August 2nd, and August 12-16th.  A big “congrats” to everybody at B&B, and of course, the two of you, who were instrumental in playing out the story on-air. That’s pretty amazing. 

ANNIKA: It is wonderful and amazing.   When fans would ask me, “When will the truth come out?”  I’d answer, “Trust me!  Nobody wants that more than me.”  They would tell me, “Oh, my God!  I’m going crazy, and I’m just so depressed watching this happen,” and I’m like, “I’ve had to live it.”  (Laughs)  I agree with Scott, though.  I do wonder, as well, if the reaction would have been as strong if it the reveal had been sooner.

I don’t think so, because I remember watching it, and I wrote about this.  It was such a heart-tugging moment when Liam realizes that Phoebe is Beth, and they have that first moment together as biological father and daughter. The payoff was so big with the slow motion of the scene, accompanied by the music underscore.  I think, you had to have the story drag out to get to that moment where it was so emotional and touching.

SCOTT:  I think that is probably true.

Photo: JPI

When you saw the scripts that contained within them that the truth was going to come out … did you call each other up, and go, “OMG! I think this is finally coming to a conclusion!?”

SCOTT:  It was kind of a slow burn.  There wasn’t any particular announcement or memo to the cast or anything like that, and it is not like it all comes out in one script, either.  At first, there were kind of whispers.  There were kind of rumors like:  “Sounds like Brad might be wrapping it up soon.”, “Really?  You think Brad might be wrapping it up?  Is this the light at the end of the tunnel?”  “I don’t know.  Maybe it is.  Maybe, it isn’t.”  Then at the wedding, when Liam overhears Flo and Thomas kind of arguing about it, to me, that was when I started to think, “This might actually be close to the end now.”  It still could have easily not been the end, but that was a qualitative change in tone and pace for the story that kind of tipped me off, but even then, it was still another month before the actual truth came out.  It just had to start somewhere.

Photo Credit: JPI

Annika, were you just done crying? (Laughs) I can’t recall such a long stretch for a character, or an actress, having to cry month after month, scene after scene!  And to top it off, you have this epic moment on the rooftop where Hope and Liam connect, and in a way, celebrate that Beth is alive against all odds.

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ANNIKA: The cinematography of that episode on the roof was beautiful, and I was so happy we got a drone up there to capture it, and the timing of when we got up to the roof … the sun was setting … and it was just a beautiful moment.  To get all of those shots, Scott and I had to do that scene – I don’t even know how many times, and there was lots of crying there!

SCOTT:  It was probably like twenty times that we had to do that wide shot with the drone, and we are used to doing one.  So, it took a lot out of us, but it was so worth it!

Photo: JPI

It was worth it, because it was that kind of spectacular, sweeping moment that The Bold and the Beautiful executes so well when they get to a climactic point their storytelling.  So, let’s talk about Matthew Atkinson who comes in and plays Thomas, and his character becomes unglued, and obsessed.  What has it been like working with Matthew in this story, and how Thomas’ character flipped from when the character was previously on the canvas?

ANNIKA: I was saying that we needed it, because he was a catalyst for all of the actions to unfold and all of these domino pieces to start toppling.  It’s been nice having a bad guy on the show again.  I’m just kind of curious now about what is going to happen to Thomas.  I’m also curious, and we will have to wait and see how this is going to unfold with Thomas, because Hope is still married to him, technically.

Scott, you had to have that fight scene with Matthew, as Liam was trying to tell Hope that Beth was alive!  How was that to pull off?

SCOTT:  That was really, really fun.  I think Matthew and I both really enjoyed that.  The show was really nice in giving us a lot of creative input in that.  I went into it having this idea that I really, really didn’t want it to be glamorous.  I really wanted it to be raw, and kind of dirty, and asymmetrical.  I wanted them to be on the ground, and tired, and sluggish; I didn’t want them to be Kungfu fighters.  I didn’t want it to look like a beautiful dance, like a lot of fight choreography does look.  We are not martial artists.  We are two guys, who don’t really know how to fight, just beating the shit out of each other, and that was my pitch.  I got a little bit of pushback on that.  They were like, “Well, it’s still a soap opera, Scott.  It has to look kind of sexy, you know.”  I was like, “Aw, man,” but Matthew and I got to kind of choreograph it along with our stunt doubles, who helped us and were amazing!

Photo: JPI

Scott, weren’t you glad that they didn’t make Liam a doofus and that he was the one that did put everything together and figure out the baby switch?  Sometimes, the guys on soaps are made to be not-the-brightest-bulbs in order to facilitate story for the female characters. 

SCOTT:  Well, (laughs)… I think a person in real life would have figured that out sooner.  I’m really glad Liam figured it out.  There were a couple of episodes where Liam was doing detective work and shining flashlights on old documents, and making phone calls, and asking questions.  All of that was really, really fun.  There was a period before that happened where, just the way the pieces were falling together, when I thought, “What if Wyatt (Darin Brooks) figures it out?  Wouldn’t that be cool?  Oh, my God! Maybe Wyatt is going to figure it out.”  I thought this because Wyatt and Thomas really hate each other.  Wyatt stole Ivy from Thomas.  So, I just thought that would have been kind of interesting.  Kind of the analogue to that is Arya killing the Night King instead of Jon Snow in Game of Thrones.  You’re like of like, “Woah, I didn’t think she’d be the one.”   But I get it though, it had to be Liam.

ANNIKA:  In a way though, it was Douglas (Henry Joseph Simiri), which I love that they did from the mouth of the baby.

SCOTT:  Well one of our writers, Michael Minnis, said he really wanted it to be out of the mouth of the babes.

Photo: JPI

I got blasted on Twitter because I said, “Liam figured it out! He is the hero!” Fans pushed back and said, “No, he didn’t!  It was Douglas who figured it out!  You are wrong!”  I get it.  Douglas was key.  I was just trying to publicly give props to Scott for his outstanding work in those scenes.  (Laughs)

ANNIKA: Henry has been doing such a good job.  I loved the scenes, Scott, with you and him together when Liam was figuring it out.

SCOTT:  You know, I still haven’t watched those scenes. There is no self-consciousness or anything like that.  That’s never been an issue for me.  When we lost the baby, or when we thought we lost the baby in the delivery room, I never watched those scenes, and then I realized, I didn’t want to.  I don’t know if this is that situation where I will just never go back and watch it.  I don’t know what it is.

Courtesy: CBS

You should watch it, and I would certainly suggest that if you do submit yourself for the Daytime Emmys next year, that this is a great scene for you to choose for your reel.

SCOTT:  Thank you!

ANNIKA:  It’s hard.  I did watch it, though.  I remember watching the baby episode, I had to mentally prepare myself for it, and watching it, I was almost reliving it again.  I was crying right along with the episode because I had forgotten.  That episode came together beautifully as well.  There was something cinematic about it.  It almost felt like film, the way that they shot it.  I have to give credit to Cindy Popp, who directed that episode.  I get it.  It’s the same thing, watching yourself.  I’m my biggest critic.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  I learn from it, but at the same time, I can’t stand watching myself.

Photo: JPI

What’s interesting now is that we are seeing Hope taking control of the situation after learning of everyone’s part in the cover-up of baby Beth.  Last week, she even bitch-slapped Flo (Katrina Bowden).  Is Hope going to want payback and retribution on everyone who wronged her?  What is she thinking at this point? 

ANNIKA: I think the main thing was that she had to be so lost in her grief that she was making these decisions that were completely illogical and had to be in a place, where she felt so out of control in her life that this is now the moment where she is seizing that control back.  Hope has the strength to do that, and she has the renewed confidence to make the choices she needs to make.  So, it’s kind of like the phoenix rising from the ashes.  I really do hope this is a true moment of growth for her and she isn’t as naïve anymore; that she isn’t as prone to being gas lighted in a way.

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SCOTT:  Now, she will just be completely distrustful of everybody.

ANNIKA:  No babysitters.  Nobody is babysitting my kid!

SCOTT:  Never again.  “Can I hold your baby?”  “Nope.  No, you can’t.  Nope.  Sorry.” (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

What can you say about working with your ‘Best Supporting Actresses’, who play baby Beth?  They are pretty cute, and the timing and the facial expressions they make works in the scenes so well!  

ANNIKA: I was saying that we have set baby goals.  We have set child actor goals.  What we have been getting, and the fact that we have captured them (because there are two of them, there is Madeline Valdez, and then, there is River Davidson) saying “Mama”, saying “Dada”, or clapping, and crawling over to my wedding dress, or pulling on my wedding dress, what we have gotten is so lucky for us.  I know for me, the scene where I was watching Scott as Liam finding out for the first time it really hit home, because Scott was crying, and she says “Dada” when he comes into the room.  Then, Scott is like bawling holding her, and she just reached up and touched his face at one point.  I have to give the parents credit, and the babies, who don’t even know that they are acting.

SCOTT:  Those kids are amazing.  The one you see the most is Madeline.  She was the one in the scene with me and in the scene where Hope is reunited with her as well, but we also have River, who is a little sweetheart too.  She also does some very interesting things.  They both just do something interesting in every single scene, and it’s an actor’s dream because it forces us to be present.  You know, we have to react in real time to whatever it is they are doing, and we were just very, very lucky to find them.

Photo: JPI

What do you think all of these revelations means for the future of Liam and Hope, and Liam and Steffy? 

SCOTT:  I don’t know.  I think we have got to be back-burnered at some point.  People have got to be getting sick of us (laughs) because it’s been Hope and Liam, and baby Beth all the time.    Brad knows that, so I’m guessing that there has got to be some break for Liam and Hope.  After that, there is no way they are going to live happily ever after.  We don’t want that.  We want more drama.  We want something to go wrong.  I don’t know what it could be, but if I value my soap career, I want something else to go wrong for Liam.

Annika, how were those scenes to tape with Jacqueline MacInnes Wood where Hope has to tell Steffy that Phoebe is Beth … and that she is taking her biological child and leaving with her, knowing how that would affect Steffy?

ANNIKA: Getting to play scenes with Jacqui is always such fun.  There is a beautiful give and take that happens, and in that moment, Hope is still very empathetic.  She understands what it is like to lose a child, but at the same time, there is no way that she is walking out of there without her daughter.  Also, it’s just a moment where you have to step back and go, “Aww,” and just watch Jacqui do some amazing work, and to let her have her moment to shine, because she did such a beautiful job.  Those were pretty stressful days because the babies were in every single scene, which means we have a certain amount of time to get those takes.  So, those were actually really difficult scene to shoot.  We had a lot of pressure to get them done, and also, having to hold a baby who is now, I think almost 20 pounds.  My arms just started going and I am thinking, “Wow! I need to go to the gym to work on my upper arm strength.”  At one point, I literally was like, “I can’t hold this baby right now.”  They wanted me holding her so that Steffy sees another woman holding “her” child.  You’re about to see Steffy go on a bit of a vengeance with all of this soon.  I hope they tie-up the loose ends before they move on with everyone’s story.

Photo: JPI

Hope is this long-suffering heroine, and last Friday, Thomas came to try to talk to her to explain why he did the things he did, and then he went over a cliff!  Is there any happiness ahead for Hope, really?

ANNIKA:  Hopefully, if she gets that annulment!

SCOTT:  When Hope is standing over Dr. Buckingham’s (Wayne Brady) dead body, then she will find her happiness.

ANNIKA: If we could just bring Wayne Brady back just for a scene, please! (Laughs) We can only hope for Hope. (Laughs)  I know Thomas certainly isn’t going to make it easy to get an annulment, and I hope that we solidify that Beth is legally Hope’s, and that the marriage is annulled and never happened.  Maybe she and the baby can get a few moments of happiness and joy, but I’m sure that a wrench will be thrown in.

Photo: JPI

What would you want to say to the viewers who were put through the wringer with this storyline, and yet stayed glued to the story?  What could you tease is yet to come?

SCOTT:  We put our viewers through hell.  We tortured them.  We tortured them for 8 months, and the fact that the ratings are what they are shows that our viewers are the exact gluttons for punishment they we hoped they would be. (Laughs)  They’ve stuck with us, and I hope they feel rewarded.  They certainly tuned in for their reward, but the payoff is not over yet, and we hope to keep making it up to them.

Photo Credit: JPI

Annika, you get the final word.  What would you like to say to the B&B audience?

ANNIKA: Thank you for joining on this emotional rollercoaster ride with me, and thank you for all of the support.  I’ve gotten a lot of very positive feedback, and I think a few new fans from it along the way.  I’m just very grateful that they stuck with us and the story, and echoing what Scott said, hopefully now there will be a lot of beautiful, fun, juicy, awesome moments for the fans to enjoy after the fallout.  With a soap opera, the ride never stops.  Now there is a corkscrew instead of a loop de loop.

SCOTT:  That’s a good metaphor.

ANNIKA:  We’ll see what happens with crazy Thomas, and Flo, and now that Sally is back in town, what is Wyatt going to do, etc,  So there’s lots of fun stuff coming the audiences way, for sure.

So, what were your thoughts on the climatic episodes where Liam and Hope are finally reunited with their daughter, Beth? What did you think of the performances of Annika and Scott?  What do you think will happen next with Thomas, and with Steffy?  Can Hope, Liam and Beth have a respite from all the drama? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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