The world of Katie Logan Spencer (Heather Tom) came crashing down upon her when she recently overheard her sister, Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang) reveal to her husband, Bill (Don Diamont) that she is still in love with him. This sent Katie reeling! After all, it wasn’t long ago that Brooke and Bill were madly in love and planning a future together! So, how do you go on from here when you know your sister may still be out for your hubby? For Katie, she has found solace in booze, and thus sets the stage for a downward spiral as can only be portrayed by five-time Daytime Emmy winning actress, Heather Tom.
But while Heather is now front and center in storyline on The Bold and the Beautiful, she has recently taken her knowledge of the daytime medium and expanded her career, adding director to her resume. Heather’s second episode as director of B&B aired today, and it seems like she is well on the way to adding her behind the scenes talents to many a TV show in the future with a burgeoning second career.
On-Air On-Soaps chatted with the always in demand Heather Tom to get her thoughts on: revisiting the Katie/Bill/Brooke triangle, Katie’s obvious drinking problem, working with the cast while wearing her director hat, and what the always politically-minded actress thinks of the current climate of the primary season on the road to the presidency of the United States. Here’s one of the best of the best … Heather Tom.
Viewers recently witnessed a very disturbing moment for Katie. After having it out with Brooke, Katie found a broken drinking glass on the floor, which still had some liquor left in, She then trembles and lifts it to her mouth and drinks out of the jagged edged glass. What did you think of that moment?
HEATHER: She is a bit of a hot mess right now. I think for her it wasn’t as much of, “I have to have a drink!” It was more of a self-deprecation thing. I think she is just in a terrible, awful place, and I think she is at the bottom of where she can be, and taking that drink out of the broken glass made sense to her at that moment.
Nothing anybody says makes Katie feel any better, because in her gut she knows that Brooke still loves Bill. What do you think is going on inside her head?
HEATHER: I think the issue is that these have been feelings and issues with her for a long, long time. These are things she thought she had gotten over and dealt with, and moved on from. Now she is kind of being faced with it again, and it reared its ugly head. For Katie, she can’t seem to get it out of her head, because she feels she is right back where she started, and every insecurity she has ever had has come up. I think it’s become an obsession, although I don’t think Brooke should have told her feelings to Bill, but instead kept it to herself. As far as Katie knows, Bill is not going there with Brooke. He loves his wife, and wants to have a life with her. There’s not anything that is really threatening their relationship right now, other than Katie, but she cannot let this go, and it’s almost like PTSD.
One of the more heartbreaking moments occurred when Katie was talking with Brooke. and was kneeling on the floor crying, “I don’t know how anyone could love me.” That is pretty heavy for her to say, and speaks volumes, wouldn’t you say?
HEATHER: I think right now she is in the throes of a very deep depression. It’s probably something she has been battling most of her life. It certainly came to the surface after she had Will. I don’t think this is unusual. People deal with depression all of the time, and don’t always acknowledge it, or realize it. It sorted of comes to the surface, and then you realize you have an issue, or a problem, and then you either deal with it, or you don’t. Obviously, the alcohol is not helping, and I think she is drinking to help quiet her brain. It’s not that she is drowning her sorrows, but more that she is thinking, “If I can just turn my brain off it will help,” but of course, the alcohol is working in an opposite way. I really feel she is self-medicating from that point of view. Katie has lived her whole life feeling this inferiority, and that doesn’t go away just because you marry the right man, and have a life you dreamed of. Those feelings are inside of you no matter what happens, I think this situation has brought all of that back to the surface.
In Katie’s defense, nobody wants to overhear their sister telling their husband, “I love you!”
HEATHER: Given their history, it wasn’t as if Brook and Bill just had some little fling! Brooke and Bill were going to get married. They had a deep relationship, and that is something Katie can’t deny, nor look the other way about. She thought she could get past it, and that she and Brooke could be sisters, and be a family Katie reached out to her sister and said, “I am going to get past this, because I value our relationship more than this other issue in our lives.” But then to have Brooke turn right around and say these things … and I think anyone would hear that and think, “Well, what did you expect him to say? What do you want him to say?” You don’t say that to somebody and tell them you are the love of my life, if you don’t want them to say it back to you. You don’t say that and then say, “Now let’s be one big happy family.” What I really love about the writing is that Brooke puts these things out there in this “innocent way”, but what it does is create a secret and intimacy. I did not even think about it till they wrote this, but it’s very true. You suddenly share this secret with this person and their spouse or loved one … and I don’t think it’s necessarily something she thinks she is doing, but ultimately that is what ends up happening. I think Katie realizes it, and then hears Brooke make this confession, and in her mind there is nothing innocent about it. It is a move, and it is crossing a line, and it is an absolute betrayal. Meanwhile, everyone is saying Katie is overreacting, because they are just words. They are not, because of the history, and how all these situations have always played out.
Does Katie actually trust Bill then at this point in their relationship?
HEATHER: I think she wants to. I think she believes that he loves her, but he loved Brooke before, too. I think she knows he loves Brooke. She wants to trust him, and she does trust him to an extent and level, but she can’t deny the history. Katie does not know all the fantasying that Bill did! Right now, I think Bill is sincere in this when he says to Katie, “No, you’re my wife. You’re my love. I love my family, and this is what I want. I am not even looking the other way.” But Katie can’t help but look at him and go, “Yeah, but …. that is what you said before.”
When Katie was suffering from postpartum depression before, it ended up pushing Bill away and into Brooke’s arms, didn’t it?
HEATHER: Well, there are two arguments for that. With her postpartum, Katie was convinced she was going to die, and she was looking for someone to take care of her son, and kind of planning for that and the future, and so she orchestrated Bill and Brooke. She thought Brooke would kind of fill in for her, but then when Katie came to her senses she thought, “I probably shouldn’t have done that!” (Laughs) It wasn’t entirely a betrayal, but at the same time Bill knew Katie was sick, and probably shouldn’t have gone there with Brooke.
Is Katie currently taking anti-depressants as well and mixing it with alcohol? In a recent episode the pills got mentioned.
HEATHER: She was taking anti-depressants, and then she went off of them. She thought she didn’t need them anymore. I do like the idea that they are kind of bringing in the idea of depression, and that it is not just an alcoholic storyline. It’s more about something that is very deep rooted.
When you found out Katie was going to be drinking, did you first think, “Oh no! An alcoholism story!” I know you had tweeted when people asked you about the Bill, Brooke, Katie story redux, that it was going to be different this time. As you know, people had a knee-jerk reaction when they learned the show was possibly revisiting the triangle, and felt B&B was retreading the same story.
HEATHER: I was concerned, because I wanted it to build. It’s a little bit of a different triangle, and I think with the reintroduction of it, Brooke did make that confession, but there is nothing else going on. They are not acting on it. They are playing right now that there is actually nothing for Katie to be concerned about, and that she is creating this in her head. I don’t feel like it’s a complete re-tread, even though we are revisiting it. At the same time, I will say, I always thought it was weird that all of a sudden Katie and Bill were together, and living as a happy family ever after. I think that’s weirder to play than actually acknowledging some really screwed up things happened. We either get back together, or we don’t, but we can’t pretend that this just didn’t happen. I’m actually happy that they are revisiting it, and that hopefully it will be exciting. I think they are not just doing – and I have been told – it won’t be Katie goes to an AA meeting and then is suddenly cured. I am hoping they give this story a chance to play out, and maybe Katie does better for a while, and then she doesn’t. I think it’s more about her psychological well-being than alcohol.
I don’t think you have ever played an alcoholic in your soap career, correct?
HEATHER: No, I haven’t! I suppose the postpartum depression was a little bit of playing crazy, but I have never played the whole bats**t crazy thing. I have always wanted to. I am very excited about it, and the way they have been writing it, and the trajectory of it. I think right now Katie has a valid point of view, and so that makes me even more excited about playing it.
Playing drunk is not easy. Many performers in movies, primetime, or daytime television will be way over the top with it. What are your thoughts on playing drunk realistically?
HEATHER: I always feel when you’re drunk; you really try hard not to look drunk. So it’s almost like you try harder to make your point. I think especially with Katie, because the way the alcohol affects her, she is not a fun drunk at this point. She is kind of an angry drunk! (Laughs) It takes her filter away and her inhibitions away. It allows her to say all of the things she has wanted to say for the last five years, and in the meanest way she could possibly say them. It really does give her license to say and do what she wants. It’s not so much about her slurring her words, it’s more about her volatility, and that you just don’t know what she is going to do.
There was that scene where Katie had been drinking and she was trying to serve spaghetti to her son Will, and she was messing things up, and a bit off-kilter, but trying to feed her son. She was seemingly having fun, too!
HEATHER: I think when you are drinking you are having a good time. She is thinking this is fun, and it’s a little bit more manic, rather than anything else. Bill is like, “I don’t want my son around this,” but Katie is like, “Why? We’re having fun!”
There was a recent feature in the EW.com community section about soap actresses, and the correlation between Daytime Emmys and alcoholic storylines. B&B writer, Patrick Mulchaey took issue with it on facebook, when the article intimated that this drinking storyline was for you to have your Daytime Emmy reel this year, which we know, this year’s performances are not eligible till next year’s Emmys, anyway.
HEATHER: I did not submit for last year, so I am not in the running this year. I hope this is not just a quick story for Emmy material, because I would like the story to go on longer. But good material is good material. Honestly, I hear rumors on other shows of actors being given their Emmy reel, but I got to tell you I don’t think that ever really happens on B&B. I think here they get hot on a story and that’s what plays, and then maybe the sun shines on me for a couple of years, and then maybe it doesn’t. Last year, I wasn’t on that much so it just kind of goes that way in soaps. Hopefully it comes back around, and so far it has come around, but I guess we will see what happens over the next six months. I certainly don’t play scenes for Emmys. I just try to do the best I can. I don’t think the writers are writing specifically for that. I think they are trying to write the best show that they can.
What did you think of Chris McKenna coming on to the canvas as Katie’s therapist, Dr. Hayden in dorky glasses, but still looking hot, nonetheless?
HEATHER: I don’t know if he is going to be back, or not, because Katie does need some therapy! (Laughs) But it was great having him. I actually worked with Chris, and played his wife on an episode of Rizzoli and Isles five years ago! It was lovely to have him at B&B.
When fans heard Chris McKenna was coming on to the show, there were rumors that he will be a new love interest for Katie, or she will have sex with him, or he will turn out to be a creepy guy, because why would he be on B&B if he doesn’t have more of a role?
HEATHER: Honestly, as far as I knew it was a one-day thing, but with that said, stranger things have happened. He is my therapist on the show, and Katie is probably going to need more therapy, and so I am always up for new blood! (Laughs)
And, we are all proud that Katie picked a good-looking therapist! Good for her! (Laughs) Now tell me about your other burgeoning career as a director? You have been directing some episodes of B&B. How did it all come about … and you also shadowed on another show, right?
HEATHER: I shadowed on Bones, and I have directed two episodes of B&B, and I think I am getting my third episode pretty soon. It sort of came about because I had been on daytime for 25 years, and I feel like this is something I’m interested in, and should know how to do after being on soaps for so long. I asked Brad Bell (executive producer and head writer, B&B) if I could shadow Cynthia Popp, one of our directors, and he agreed. When he agreed there was no kind of guarantee that I would get a show to direct, but I wanted to learn and I shadowed Cynthia for like six months. So, I got a segment where I could get myself in the director’s chair. Next, they gave me a full show, and then another one. I love it, and I am very excited about it. I am so grateful that I have a boss who can be open to something like this, because he certainly didn’t have to be. Brad could have easily said “no” and that would have been that. It’s been really amazing, and it has really opened my eyes up to how much goes into doing our show every day, and how many people have to be on their A-game to get it done, and how it is kind of a miracle that it ever does get done! (Laughs) It has given me a newfound respect – and I had already had lots of respect for people behind the scenes and behind the camera – but everyone works so hard. Everyone is so proficient at their job. It is truly like a well-oiled machine here.
How was it working with the actors you play in scenes with, but directing them while being on the other side of the camera?
HEATHER: It’s very interesting, because I have to not be one of the gang. That is very hard, because I kind of pride myself on being one of the gang. But you can’t, because you have to run the show, and move things along and be clear in what you want. We move very, very fast. The most important thing is that we make our day, and we get out of the studio in a timely way. We are supposed to be creative, and do something great, but getting out on time is also very, very important. It’s been a little bit of a learning curve as far as that goes, but I think it’s a hat that I feel comfortable wearing.
Will you give the actors a note, or a tweak to a scene, if you want to get something else out of them?
HEATHER: The great thing of what we do is the fact that the people on the show know what they are doing, and they know their characters. I think I have given two actors a “secret”. I find as an actor having a “secret” is more helpful than when a director gives you a “note”. I think one time I told an actress play the scene like you think you’re pregnant, because you are a week late, and see what happens. I also may talk to the actors a little bit before a scene and say, “Hey, when I am reading your story, and your character, this part really isn’t being written, but it should be, so what do you think about this?” But most of the time, the actors don’t need any type of “notes” from me. (Laughs)
You have an episode airing today on March 14th. Will you watch the actual episode when it airs?
HEATHER: I sat in the editing room, and so I know what it looks like. I am happy with it. Cynthia Popp said, “If you are 90% happy with your show, then you have done your job. We move so fast that you have to pick your battles. You have to say, “I wanted it to be this way, but I am going to shoot it from there, and that’s going to be fine.” Honestly, it’s collaboration. Our camera guys are amazing, and can set-up the shots. I am really happy with this episode and how it turned out, and the pacing. I look and it and I say, “OK, next time I am in the chair, I see some things I can approve upon and do differently.” I look at every time as a learning experience.
Would you ultimately like to go and direct a primetime series?
HEATHER: Yes, I would like to direct primetime. Obviously, I love acting, and I am certainly not going anywhere anytime soon … knock on wood. I don’t have to choose between the two of them, but I do see it as a skill I can utilize for a long time, and certainly that is the goal. And who knows? Maybe I will go direct some other shows in daytime!
You are very politically involved, and you and I over the years have spoken on your thoughts on the political landscape. What do you think about what you are seeing with the Republican and Democratic debates, and the way these races for the party nominees are shaping up? It has been the most shocking political season, and race for the presidency … ever.
HEATHER: I am obviously a democrat, and am partisan. But what is happening on the republican side is terrifying. I find Donald Trump’s rhetoric bordering on fascism. I am dumbfounded how things are playing out right now. On the democratic side, I think Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have little to disagree about, really, but they are picking apart things and in their personalities within the debates, but I think ultimately the democrats will come together for whoever ultimately gets the nomination. At the end of the day, there is really not that much difference between the two candidates. However, there is an ocean of difference between the democrats and the republicans in this case, and the two republican frontrunners I find equally terrifying. I don’t know what type of sentiment they are tapping into, but it seems to be a very mean-spirited one. I am a Hillary supporter, and I have nothing against Bernie Sanders. I just feel like if we are looking at electability, and I do love the idea of free tuition for college students, but we have to be pragmatic and look at the ways we are going to pay for all of that stuff. It’s great to say these things, but sometimes they sound as pie-in-the-sky as building a wall at the bottom of the United States! (Laughs) We have to also realize that part of the problem, and the disillusionment that people have with politicians is that politicians get up and say things that are never going to happen. So people get excited about those things, and then it doesn’t happen, and then they become disillusioned. I would rather hear somebody say, “This is what is possible. This is what we can get done, and we will probably have to go through a bipartisan congress, and that is the way our system is supposed to work, and this is what we can try to do.” I like that approach, and I will also say: I am a woman. I think it’s important for a woman to be in the White House.
In closing, there is one other major storyline playing out on B&B that fans are looking forward to seeing Bill and Katie really becoming involved with, and that of course is Quinn (Rena Sofer) kidnapping Liam (Scott Clifton) and pretending she is his wife, and even sleeping with the guy! What have you thought of the whole Quinn and Liam storyline?
HEATHER: Eventually, we have to get involved! Liam has to come back sometime. I think the story is awesome! (Laughs) I think there is so much story there, and it was a surprising and crazy twist that I don’t think anyone saw coming. I love this whole new side of Quinn … this loving soft side of her, (laughs) and I think it’s great. I can’t wait to see the fallout out of it all!
What do you think about Katie’s battle with the bottle? Do you think she will have a complete breakdown? Are you rooting for Katie and Bill, or Brooke and Bill to ultimately be together? Do you think Chris McKenna’s role will be expanded and that there is an opportunity for B&B to put Katie and Dr. Hayden together in some romantic way in story? What do you think of Heather’s blossoming directorial career, and her thoughts on the democratic and republican presidential candidates and primary races? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!