March 5th, 2011  |  Leave a comment

The Jack Wagner Interview – The Bold and the Beautiful

© JPI Studios

He’s on the world’s most watched soap opera, and has had multiple successes in daytime and primetime television, theatre, and recording.  Not to mention, he is one hell of a champion golfer.  We can only be talking about The Bold and the Beautiful’s cantankerous former seaman now turned fashion business mogul, Nick Marone, played to the hilt by Jack Wagner.

On the storyline front: With Nick dealing with a lung cancer scare and facing his own mortality, plus dealing with the inconceivable pairing (to him anyway) of his mother Jackie, and her much younger boy toy husband, Owen (Who had a baby no less with his then wife, Bridget) it has not been smooth sailing for this captain of the ship.

On-Air On-Soaps sat down with Wagner in his dressing room to discuss Nick’s bold and beautiful 6,000 episode intervention; why Nick and Brooke should still have a chance at recapturing love, his recent amazing trip to South Africa, and the revelations that came from it.

Also, we get the low down on his upcoming 5th Annual Jack Wagner Celebrity Golf Classic, to help raise awareness and funds to benefit Leukemia Lymphoma.  And, we learn why teeing off stretches your mind, not just your body!  Here’s the witty, ever so charming and talented, Mr. Wagner!

MICHAEL:

Nick was integral to the special 6,000 episode of The Bold and the Beautiful due in part to his cigar smoking.  The show featured real life cancer survivors talking with Stephanie to create a support group, since Stephanie has been battling stage four-lung cancer.  Nick is along for the ride since the episode serves as sort of an intervention for him to come to terms with what he is doing to himself via smoking. Did you watch back the episode?  What did you feel performing in it?  And, did you think it was effective and accomplished what it is set out to do?

JACK:

© JPI Studios

I did like how it turned out.  I thought it was kind of groundbreaking to have no script.  I have done improv and all of that, but never worked without a script.  To be in character and to have Susan Flannery (Stephanie) be in character, with the guests giving their testimonials (who are cancer patients telling their story) was interesting to see them being who they are and me reacting to it as Nick and this sort of denial he is in.  His denial about smoking only one cigar a day, or every two days type of thing, was interesting.  It was interesting to be in the reality of it, and then play the denial.

MICHAEL:

Part of Nick’s character from the beginning was that he was this crusty seaman who drank and smoke cigars.

JACK:

Yes, that was very apparent at the beginning of my time as Nick.  He was heavily smoking cigars. And then, CBS Standards and Practices had enough of the smoking on the show, but they decided to bring it back and allow it for the telling of this storyline.

MICHAEL:

Working with Susan in this special episode, you were reactionary and we the viewers, would watch your eyes and watch things unfold in your eyes, especially when the opera singer, Zheng Cao, sang her aria and your look was of,  “Oh my God!” Hankies! Very touching.

JACK:

It was very emotional and I was tearing up and just letting it go, and it was very unexpected. We asked Zheng Cao to sing right there on the spot. Brad Bell was right there on the set and came up with that.  So it kind of felt awkward when she did it, but it worked.  She is so good and it was poignant.  I think Nick was touched by it.  What a gift with her voice, and to tell her story and have it end on the guy who they are trying to reach, who is Nick.  Add to that, Stephanie, who has already gone through her cancer treatment and is still going through it.  So yeah, I think it worked, I really do.  It was different and groundbreaking at the same time.  I am glad I was picked to do this storyline with Susan, because you have two people who have been around for quite awhile, and if you are going to have two people who are going to be available for a different feel of a show, Susan is really the best at that.  I loved working with her on this!

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MICHAEL:

Now that B&B Executive Producer and head writer, Brad Bell, has tackled social issue after social issue recently, is there any issue you would love for him to touch upon, using your alter-ego Nick?  We have to say, you have sort of been in several of the issue-driven stories of late!

JACK:

When I reflect back, Nick has uncovered his childhood through this and had some great scenes with Lesley-Ann Down (Jackie) through that.  And, then I realized with the Aggie story, there was a rape that had to do with her, and Nick was kind of heroic and helped her though that. Then there is this baby with Nick’s mother’s husband coming up along with the cancer!  I am like, “Wow. We have done a lot of stuff here.”  You know what I would like to see is, I always liked the rivalry with Ridge and Nick. That seems to have been replaced. Now Jackie M. has its own world, and Forrester has its own world and they used to be rivals.  Now it seems it has gotten away from that.  I like mixing it up with those two families with those two characters.  I really do!

MICHAEL:

What about Nick‘s love life?  Sarah Brown (Aggie) had been dropped to recurring as Aggie.  And Bridget, played by Ashley Jones, is on recurring and barely on the show at all.  So, who could be next in line for Nick’s heart?

JACK:

Nick is like the recurring stud for hire!  (Laughs)  I don’t know about his future love life.  I think its kind of a sailboat without a sail right now and it’s floating out there.  And, if you look at your pieces of the puzzle, if we are going to work a romantic storyline, it would have to be a revisit with someone… unless it’s with some younger girls, which I think Nick’s available for! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Wagner Golf LLS

You have a very big golf tournament coming up for Leukemia Lymphoma.  It’s your annual Jack Wagner Celebrity Golf Classic. Tell us the information on it and how long you have done it?  And, what other celebrities will be participating?

JACK:

It’s April 18th, and a one day event out in Los Angeles at the Valencia Country Club.  This will be the fifth year for the event, and it’s actually a long time for a golf tournament when you think about it.  We are hoping to get to one million dollars in the five years after the golf tournament this year. And this is a small event with celebrity friends of mine, and with people who buy groups to play with the celebrities.  So we get anywhere from 15-25 groups, and then there is a silent auction and a live auction with a banquet afterwards.  It’s a day of golf with athletes, actors, golf pros, etc.  For example, Marcus Allen and John Elway, former pro football players, have come out and television and motion picture stars, Tim Allen, Joe Pesci, and Heather Locklear are there every year. Also, hockey great Wayne Gretsky comes out.  I just called a bunch of other guys today to participate.  It’s usually a who’s available mix of celebrities, and it’s a fun day.

MICHAEL:

Any one from B&B play?

JACK:

Kyle Lowder, who played Rick, and Brad Bell plays every year, of course.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/UPI.com

Why did you decide to do this and start your Celebrity Golf Classic?

JACK:

I lost my father to blood cancer known as multiple myeloma in 1990, and then my brother was diagnosed with Leukemia in1999. And strangely enough, I was asked to do Celebrity Week on Wheel of Fortune in 2006.  I just won this golf tournament in Lake Tahoe that NBC airs and it’s a very big deal every summer, and I had never won and I finally won.  And when I won the Wheel of Fortune, my partner on the show was incredible. We broke the record and I gave the money to Leukemia Lymphoma and they were like, “Didn’t you just win a golf tournament?”  And that is kind of how it came together; the germination of golf and fundraiser and me.

MICHAEL:

Why are you so good at golf?  You are “thee” guy in the celebrity ranks!

JACK:

I am from a little town in Missouri.  I picked it up because my father played this little nine-hole course.  I did not take lessons and I was not a country club kid.  I sort of just picked it up.  And, I was a natural at it.  I stuck with it as I grew up, and when I got General Hospital, I had already quit golf while I was in drama school for three or four years. Gloria Monty, who was the executive producer at the time of General Hospital and her husband, were members of Bel Air Country Club.  She came up to me and said, “Darling, I hear you play golf?”  And so I went out there with her husband and he sponsored me to join the club.  So I have been a member of Bel Air since 1986.  That is how I started playing again.  Then, I played in the AT&T and The Bing Crosby tournament in 1991 and won it.  So I started slowly playing a lot more visible tournaments and started winning a lot of them.

MICHAEL:

I can’t watch golf because it’s like watching paint dry to me.  However for you, what is it like playing?  What is it about the game that fascinates you?

JACK:

It’s like life… You just wake up one day and you just never know what is going to happen.  You can be prepared, but stuff will happen and you go,” Well, I wasn’t quite prepared for that to happen!”  You can eat right and sleep perfectly, but you never know what to expect, and that is kind of the challenge with golf.  It is unpredictable and always tests your emotions.  It’s physical, but it’s really about your mind.

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

Back to B&B for a moment with Nick’s mother Jackie and her much younger hubby Owen.  Where’s Nick at with the relationship of his mother and this young guy?  After all, he did preside over the wedding, even though he doth protest too much.

JACK:

I think this is such a great example of this character, Nick.  He can roll his eyes at what happens around him. It’s like the breaths I take, and the eyes roll, and the scowling and the frowning; that I think is so perfect for “my” mother and this guy.  It is just a bit bizarre!  He is my step-father. “Owen six-pack,” is my stepfather!  And so you’ve got to look at that as they are always making out and pawing each other.  So it’s this running underlying joke of, “Could you just go get a room somewhere!  I am trying to run a business. Hello! Our overhead is like one hundred thousand dollars a month.  Could you keep your clothes on?”  That is my attitude with every scene. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

We had spoken in the past that you would be interested in reigniting the Brooke and Nick romance.  Do you still feel that way?

JACK:

I always thought those characters had great chemistry.  But I don’t know how that would happen now.  Their lives are so far apart now and separate, but that is the magic of soap operas.  You can bring people back and you can reconnect people.  That relationship has not been revisited for so long.  I think that has been since there had been a baby with Taylor, and the In –Vitro storyline about two years ago.  So then there was this baby, and Brad really kept to keeping two people together for a long time with Ridge and Brooke.

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

Which he had not been doing!

JACK:

Yeah.  I mean, how many times can Ridge and Brooke break-up?  I guess a lot. (Laughs) But I guess what Brad decided to do there was to have these two stay together for a while.  I have always loved working with Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke).  And with Bridget not being there right now, it always felt to me that Brooke was Nick’s real rooted fire and his real flame when he first came on the show.  He was always fighting very hard for Brooke to have her back and protect her all the time.  So I think at the core of Nick’s life has been his love for Brooke.

MICHAEL:

What is it like working with Katherine? You joke around a lot on set, because you can be quite the prankster, we hear.

JACK:

I don’t joke around all the time, but we have to be able to do that.  It’s a kooky business and we are kooky people. We have our laughs but we are very serious too, because there is a lot of dialog to know and you have to be very focused.  It’s always about that and having a good time.

MICHAEL:

Are you worried about the eroding canvas of daytime soap operas?  The ratings are dropping; shows have been cancelled, etc?  What are your thoughts on this as a daytime veteran?

© Gilles Toucas

JACK:

I don’t think you can ignore what is happening on the daytime landscape right now.  There are too many shows with numbers that are down, and others soaps have been cancelled. We have lost a generation of viewers because there are so many more options in entertainment right now.  People are on the Internet, on their cells phones, and there are 600 channels.  Everything is suffering, not just soap operas, but also all of daytime programming.  How do you go about getting an audience when you can’t show nudity or use profanity?  We can’t shoot shamelessly or what they shoot on HBO. We have a lot of rules and have to answer to Standard and Practices, and it makes it tough. We are then limited.  So the question becomes, how do we get a young audience that wants to tune-in to MTV and watch The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and all that stuff, or tequila shots off navels?  How do you get them attracted to tune-in from 11AM-2PM in the afternoon, when they are in school?   Well, the way we used to do that was generational.  There were about four stations to watch, and you would sit there and watch with your grandmother and mother, period.  And now it is the other way around, where the mother and grandmother watch what the kids watch to have some contact with them because there is so much distraction in life.

MICHAEL:

What do you think of the new opening sequence of B&B?

JACK:

Flashy! Very flashy and contemporary!  Yes, we were in front of a green screen to do our looks but you know, I hit my mark and do what I am told.  I used to battle everything, but I am older now. (Laughs)

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

Remember the old “bad boy Jack Wagner” days?

JACK:

I do…my hair changes…my look changes….battling… script changes…. all of that and that attitude was fun at the time, but now its like, “Ok, where do you want me?”

MICHAEL:

You recently appeared on the TV Land hit comedy sitcom, Hot in Cleveland working alongside Valerie Bertinelli.  How was it going into that realm?

JACK:

It was a great experience.  I got to chat with Betty White and we hung for quite awhile. Valerie’s son and my son were in the same class together at school, and so we saw each other at functions. So we knew each other. The sitcom is such a different medium, yet when you have some seasoned veterans you are able to adjust to it.  I had a lot of down time, but when it was time to work they are pretty intense, and as an actor you have to be pretty on it.  The notes are very different than a soap opera, in that they are very specific, and very specific about what they want for the comedy and how they want you to play it.

MICHAEL:

Are there a lot of last minute script revisions and joke revisions?

JACK:

Yeah, there are, and that’s OK.  But for me, it was about breaking everything down and doing so much less than I would normally do on B&B.  Less animation, less forcing something, less trying to make a moment out of something, it’s about just being exactly how you are and letting it be.  It was quite an exercise for me.

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

So, after whetting your appetite on Hot in Cleveland, does it make you stop and think, “I want to do more of that?  More sitcoms!”

JACK:

I would love to do more and I love the sitcom format.  I try to play it Nick with sarcastic wit and humor, and if you look at what is happening from a realistic viewpoint on B&B, there is a lot of kooky stuff happening.  There is the camp, and that harkens back to the part of our discussion about Owen and my mother, Jackie on the show.  I want Nick to be grounded and let the audience sort of live through his reactions.  That is why I love the sitcom.  It’s really a craft.  It’s not like soap opera or live theatre. In Hot in Cleveland, Valerie had to be more animated and giddy and thrown, and the more grounded I could be the better.  I had to trust the director and be the man at the door.  So in that scenario, I am the guest-star and it is really about them, the stars of the series.  So I played it the way they wanted me to.

MICHAEL:

So if someone said let’s do a Jack Wagner sitcom, you would be up for it?

JACK:

Oh, I love that stuff!  It’s fun to mold comedy material.  And, what is fun for daytime does not read correctly in a sitcom.  It’s a different medium and a whole different performance.  And in sitcoms, it’s all for the joke.

MICHAEL:

Jack, you just recently returned from a personal appearance trip for The Bold and the Beautiful to the country of South Africa.  How was it meeting the fans there and being in the environment?

JACK:

Courtesy/Qwest Records

If I could go back to Jack Wagner circa 1985-1990, and the fan hysteria of General Hospital and back in those days, that is what it was like in South Africa.  I was there with Brandon Beemer (Owen) and Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Steffy), and it was like when the Beatles landed in New York to do The Ed Sullivan Show!

MICHAEL:

Wow. When that happened to you were you like, “Oh, Cool?” Or, were you like, “Oh God… No!”

JACK:

I knew how to handle it, and for the other actors there is an adrenaline and a pump that happens, which requires you to be cool, because the fans are the ones that are getting stirred up and crazy and so the cooler you are as the artist or the actor, the easier things go.   What was great was going back to the vans and the rooms of the hotels.  Because of that experience, to have hysteria from ten thousand people all in one place, not many performers or actors will get to feel that, and these two younger actors got to feel that.  It brought me back to the days when I had hit records, and was touring around the country and on General Hospital, which was number one at the time. It brought me back to the feeling of that whole teen idol thing.  So it was really great for me to re-experience that in South Africa, and in particular, with the black people who were just so amazingly open with their feelings and available and loving.  It was not really about shaking hands and signing autographs. When we were around the staff at the hotels at the restaurants, you hug and hold people, and it’s very real.  In America and other countries, we are very guarded and jaded, and driven for success and finances, and especially when we get older with children.  I just found there in South Africa, that at any level, be it the wealthy or the poor, they were very free and expressive with their feelings.  It was a gift for me to be available and to just give back and say, “hello” and hold them.  And, as an artist to be that famous or popular to them and to give that gift, and I was very grateful.

MICHAEL:

When you look back at all the successes you have had in your career, you must have some “pinch yourself” moments where you think how cool some of your accomplishments have been.  Not many performers can say they have had success and dabbled in all forms of the entertainment medium like you have had!

JACK:

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It’s really never like that, because my kids are like, “Did you get the Oreos?”  You see, I came home from South Africa and they say to me, “How was it in South Africa?”  And I go, “Pretty crazy.”  And they go, “Did you get the Oreos?”  So it kind of puts it in perspective. (Laughs) When I look back, it is kind of like defined to me this way; the 80’s were the All I Need era and General Hospital. The 90’s was going to a nighttime series like Melrose Place from daytime, which was really a big jump, and then doing like 10 movies of the week, which was another big step.  And then, for me to go to Broadway and perform in Jekyll and Hyde, is always something I will pinch myself over.  It is just thee role for an actor to get to perform live on stage.  Then to come to B&B, which is not just a domestic hit but an international hit, and experience this now back in daytime television, I have to ask myself, “How am I going to recreate myself back in daytime television and not feel as though I have gone backwards?”  I am sustaining myself here, and it is about how can I do my best.  And as I have gotten older, that is the transition for me… to be grateful for what I had, and say today, how can I do my best today?  Or, what can I bring to the table today that not only gives my best as a performer, but brings my best as a human being to other human beings?

  1. Doe says:

    Love your interview, Michael. I first became aware of Jack when he was Frisco on GH. I think the scenes with Susan have been really powerful. She has been at her best.Personally, I don’t want Nick to be with Brooke. She is used goods and has to be stopped sometime. Bring on someone new and exciting, like Heather Locklear. Hah! We need a new face! I have watched Jack on the celebrity golf tournaments and enjoyed his efforts and interplay with the celebrities. It’s fun to watch. Even better his support of the Lymhoma charity. I would like to know if Jack’s sons play golf with their father. Just a side line. Will be watching B&B and Jack…Loved the new opening, It’s very smart and classy……

    Reply

    mmc replied

    oh what a great pairing…Jack and his RL gal Heather Locklear.I actually like KKL, but not for Nick either!

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  2. mmc says:

    a handsome man and underappreciated actor.Maybe one day TPTB will let Nick find a good woman and be happy but just for a while.We can’t have Nicjk get boring!

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  3. Stephanie says:

    I hate Nick and Aggie pairing. Actually I was one of the rare few that actually liked Nick and Bridget as a couple.

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  4. diamondgirl says:

    I love you Nick!

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  5. kay killgore says:

    I think Brad Bell is making a big mistake by focusing on the younger actors actually I think they need to revisit the story with the baby he had with Taylor and have her be the real mother not Brooke.

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  6. red and vanessa forever says:

    i would love a nick and taylor reunion

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    mmc replied

    I don’t like Nick and Taylor together, actually I don’t like Taylor at all anymore.i did at one time.and I can’t stand the Steffy character….I wish she’d go away and take Amber with her!

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  7. Ekaterina Gustavsson says:

    lIKE all av you!Have a nice time!Take a care my friends!Hope we can have yours,,B&B longng time jet!Manny hugs!

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  8. Ted says:

    Michael, this was a great interview of a daytime legend who I’ve been an admirer of for over 25 years. You seemed to penetrate his usually guarded nature and elicit more than the stock, and cliched responses he has been known to give. Would love to hear more music from this 80′s hitmaker. I’ve heard he still performs in concert from time to time. Thank you Mr. Fairman.

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  9. Tony says:

    Jack go back to GH……Port Charles needs Frisco!

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  10. birdie says:

    Fantastic interview, Michael! I hope B&B finds a storyline that challenges its most dynamic and compelling character: Nick.

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  11. birdie says:

    P.S. – LOVE all the pics too!

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  12. debbie silverman says:

    I hope they bring back Bridget. Of all the women on the show with whom Jack has worked, it is Ashley with whom he had the best chemistry. Since she left, Jack has been left hanging. He is too good for his efforts to be wasted and I don’t want him to leave the show, but he does need a love interest. Ashley and Jack are the only reason I started watching B&B and the only reason I continue to watch it as I continue to hope they bring back Ashley. Please bring back Ashley, get her on contract and give her the “outs” she needs to do her extra work, so she can have the best of both worlds and we can have the best of her.

    Reply

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