October 28th, 2008  |  Leave a comment

THE JOHN MCCOOK INTERVIEW – THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

By Michael Fairman

John-main.jpgTV SOAP:

This soap season has been really great for your character, Eric Forrester. It’s been major story!

JOHN:

Yes, major story…. even when I was laying there. I had the scruffy beard, and the bedsores, and it was wonderful. Actually, the bed we had was the most modern hospital bed one can have, and it changes every 20 seconds. It deflates on one side, and puffs up on another, and that’s why it keeps the pressure off one place in your skin. So, it prevents bedsores, and sure enough, I did not get any.

TV SOAP:

Did you love the concept surrounding Eric’s heart attack?

JOHN:

I thought it was great, because it was a heart attack, and nobody realized it wasn’t caused by anybody when it happened. Certainly, none of the actors knew it had been caused by anybody when it happened. I endured a lot of Viagra jokes because it had happened after sex with Donna. I got tired of that. Then, a couple of weeks into his coma, it had been revealed that somebody had caused it and that it was a ‘Whodunit’. Then, that evolved into something else. As Eric recovered, the family worked to keep Donna apart from him. Then, they steal him back, and who does he see? Well, the good news is you’re waking out of your coma; the bad news is, your ex-wife Stephanie is there! Then, it was a really wonderful reunion with Eric and his family after that. Then what happens is that Eric sees Donna and Owen in a compromising position, and it appears to be more than that. Eric freaks out and it almost makes him sick again. They now keep Donna away. But then, this wonderful thing happens of Donna wanting to explain her side of the story, and sneaking into the house to get to talk to Eric. It was pretty cool! It goes on from there.

TV SOAP:

So, Donna pleads her case?

JOHN:

When she first comes to him, he still is monosyllabic. It’s hard for him to wrap his brain around anything, let alone express himself. So, she tearfully explains, “I never lost faith in you. I did not go off with Owen someplace and commit myself. I love you Eric. You are the guy I want to be with. I feel terrible that your family has done this. They are keeping me away from you. They are not telling the whole truth of what happened to you while you were in a coma.” Eric is not able to say, “What are you talking about? Tell me everything?” All of that is in the future with these characters. Right now Eric is still on the edge, and very vulnerable to anyone’s machinations: Stephanie’s or Felicia’s, let alone Donna’s!

steph-eric.jpgTV SOAP:

What does Eric feel for Stephanie? It seems like they will always have feelings for each other, and always drift back towards each other, no matter what.

JOHN:

It seems like that, doesn’t it? That’s the tension. I think what I like about how Brad Bell (executive producer and head writer, “B&B) writes is that he keeps these things unresolved, and these feelings are unresolved. Eric’s feelings for Stephanie are always in flux. He wants to shoot her in the head, and he realizes he owes her so much. He loves her and has been with her for 150 years! (He laughs) I always use to say that, “They used to hunt Bison together. They have been together so long!”

TV SOAP:

But Stephanie and Eric, for all purposes, are an iconic soap couple!

JOHN:

It’s a cliché I suppose, and a staple, and it’s necessary. So for this man to be so dependent, and owe so much to Stephanie, and be adored and loved by Donna is interesting. This is not a pin-up or hot tamale. Donna really loves him. That’s what’s different about this. It starts out as this “hootchie-mama” putting the makes on this older guy, but Eric really loves this gal.

TV SOAP:

What if Owen were to steal Donna away from Eric? How would Eric feel about that?

Owen-Donna.jpgJOHN:

If Donna left Eric for Owen, he would just go, “Donna’s big mistake”, and he would not blame this guy Owen. Owen is just a kid, and a cute kid, who comes around and has hot pants for Donna. If Donna went with him permanently, Eric would just shrug it off. However, he would be sad about Donna.

TV SOAP:

Would it devastate him?

JOHN:

It would devastate him, but he would not blame Owen. I don’t think so. Not to the point of committing a crime or getting into a fistfight with him. I think he would flick him off.

TV SOAP:

What about Eric’s relationship dynamic with daughter, Felicia?

JOHN:

We swept that under the rug; the fact that Felicia offered Owen $200,000 for a crime. They did not go down that road, but they did resolve it in 7 minutes between commercials 2 and 3, where Owen admits it to Donna. (He laughs) He admires her so much, and sees how much she is put upon by her family and Eric’s family. He feels sympathy for her and she admires him for turning it down. That shows that Owen is not some bad guy or some money hungry guy. He turned the money down for good reason.

TV SOAP:

How do you justify all of this? Won’t Eric be hell-bent on getting back at everyone in his family for how they took advantage of him during his coma?

ridge-plug.jpgJOHN:

Eric was very angry with his children prior to the heart attack. I think in the future when all is revealed, and it had not all been revealed to Eric, there is a lot for Eric to learn in regards to what happened to him when he was in coma. He needs to learn how Ridge tried to take the business away from him, and then tried to take the business away from Donna while Eric was down. Ridge wanted to violate Donna’s power of attorney that Eric had put in place. And, he also pulled the plug on Eric, and when Eric finds this all out, it’s going to be stunning! And this business with Ridge, Thorne, and Felicia, is not over.

TV SOAP:

I want Eric to have a backbone. The men on soaps and on “B&B” tend to be portrayed as weak.

JOHN:

These stories are about the women. Women are the manipulators, and fight, achieve, and fail, and I get that. The men are the prizes and are the thing to win or not. So the men have to not be aware of all the machinations going on, which in turn makes us look dumb. Then the scene is happening right in front of us, and you have to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t see that. I am not aware of that? How dumb am I?” And the producers go, “Well, be looking at the fern and pretend you don’t hear it!” So our characters are constantly being compromised by how little we are aware of. It’s true of Ridge Forrester, Eric Forrester, and all the men on the show.

TV SOAP:

22% of the soap viewing audience between the ages 18-49 in last months Nielsen ratings were reported as male. What kind of message does this portrayal of men send to those guys watching it at home?

JOHN:

It’s Ronn Moss’s (Ridge) and my frustration. How the hell am I going to play this and retain Eric’s intelligence at all? These characters are supposed to have achieved something in their lives. They can’t be this dumb or this blind. But, we have to be here. It’s not true on “Gossip Girls”. The men on that show are the prizes, but they are not stupid. As men on soaps, we are constantly having to come up with the spine of the scenes, and make it stronger than what is written for us. I think Eric will be upset when he comes-to, but it would be better if he was angry, rather than upset.

TV SOAP:

Eric needs to write to his children out of his will, like Victor Newman did recently on “Y&R”!

JOHN:

Well, that is a very Victor Newman thing to do! It would be a powerful thing for Eric to do, and to also write Stephanie out of the will, if you ask me. I like when Eric made a decisive choice, like when he chose Donna and he told Stephanie, “I am done with this. I am not coming back to you again. I’m not!” Eric is being nursed back to health after a coma and a heart attack. I think that changes men in business, when they have heart attacks.

wheel-kids.jpgTV SOAP:

Will there be physical and emotional repercussions from the heart attack when Eric tries to regain his life?

JOHN:

That was the thing I talked to Brad about. Does this change Eric? And he said, “No, no, we have to be careful. He did not have a stroke.” He said, “Eric does not have lingering physical or mental changes. He is not injured by it.” But, will he be a different man when he comes back to work? Yeah! It kind of slows a guy down, and makes you doublethink things. “Maybe I do need to ease off a bit.” We move things so fast on our show, that we don’t fully explain things over several episodes so that everyone understands and gets it. We explain it in one episode and one little segment, and if you were not there for that, you have to ask somebody else. I think our show moves too fast at times.

TV SOAP:

How is working with the new Beth Logan, Robin Riker?

JOHN:

I love her as Beth. I can’t wait for her to have more to do. She has a little twinkle in her eye and is a wonderful actress. I think she is beautiful and very attractive. I can’t wait to play with her. I have not worked with her yet, and that’s a surprise. Robin is an episodic television queen. I think I am a big episodic television person, too, but it’s been a long time since I have been out doing it. (He laughs)

TV SOAP:

Susan Flannery’s (Stephanie) moments in the hospital with Eric were wonderful. What’s it like when you work with her now?

JOHN:

It’s wonderful, c’mon! She does not surprise me, but that’s the fullness and the richness of what she does. That’s her skill. That’s her talent, and she does that better than anyone on television, I think.

TV SOAP:

“GL’s” Kim Zimmer (Reva) told me that the level of performance Susan Flannery brings to her role is unparalleled. I have heard that from so many of the top-notch actresses in the soap genre.

JOHN:

Sure they do. They aspire to it. The appreciation these veteran women have for each other is wonderful. They all come back to Susan Flannery all the time, because Susan is powerful and real, and inventive. What surprises me sometimes is how she chooses to do a scene.

TV SOAP:

Does that ever throw you off in your performances?

MacCook-wife.jpgJOHN:

No. I have been married to her for 21 years, and that is almost as long as I have been married to my own wife.

TV SOAP:

How is your wife?

JOHN:

Laurette is great, and she does surprise me all the time.

TV SOAP:

Are there times when you felt your performance was not up to par?

JOHN:

Of course, there are times. I will be in a scene with somebody, and maybe Jennifer Gareis (Donna) or Kyle Lowder (Rick) will say something about their own work like, “I wasn’t very good. Do you think I should do it again?” It’s not being cavalier, but I say to them, “It’s a different scene tomorrow, and that’s the lesson you have to learn. You cannot come out and rehearse and warm up to it in this medium. Nowadays, the first time we rehearse is probably when we are going to shoot it. So, be on it right now, out of the gate. We are all capable of doing that.”

TV SOAP:

How is working with Jennifer?

MacCook-Gareis.jpgJOHN:

She surprises me, to be quite truthful. We have been doing this story for at least a year. When I began, I was very excited to have a story with a young woman, any one woman but Stephanie, because that makes for good story for Eric. I think she was excited because it meant doing something different than she had done before. I had not watched her on “Y&R”, and I saw the ‘sex-kitten’ thing she does really well here at “B&B”. Then as Brad started writing it, I thought, “What are we going to do? Is it going to be Eric and some sex-kitten story?” It’s so, mid-life crisis for Eric. So I went to Brad, and he said, “No. She falls in love with Eric, and then Eric falls in love with her.” Jennifer and I had a quick talk then about how we’re going to approach this, and said, “Let’s make it different than anything we have ever done… for you, Jennifer, and for me, too.” It’s an opportunity to go to an acting place we had never gone before, and she just did fall in love with this guy. Her childlike reaction to loving him is what I reacted to. It was funny, sweet and real.

TV SOAP:

What can we tell your fans to look forward to from Eric in the coming months?

JOHN:

I think they can look forward to the same thing I do, which is really complicated reactions to a very complex storyline. He loves his Stephanie. He is in love and married to Donna, I think. Who is he going to end up with is an overriding story point, but that’s not even the story we are telling. The complex part of the story is, how does he react to the information he learns, and how does it affect him, with this family, kids and wife.

kyle-john.jpgTV SOAP:

When do you see all of this coming into play for the audience?

JOHN:

This will all be coming out between now and Christmas. I don’t know all the answers to those questions, and as we go through fall and come to the end of the year, he is going to know a lot more.

TV SOAP:

Do you think Eric could just fall apart and have a complete meltdown?

JOHN:

Yeah, he could. I would like to see him in an alley in downtown LA, with some of the same people Stephanie hung out with years ago. (He laughs) I think the business is too important to him, so he wouldn’t fall apart. We need to see Eric suffering with the business and bringing it back, and achieving stuff there. We need to see Ridge and Rick there, and see the other kids and everybody in that building, fighting for the millions and millions of dollars that are generated by that family business.

TV SOAP:

How has it been working with Kyle Lowder (Rick)?

JOHN:

Kyle is great, and has a lovely sense of humor. He is an efficient leading man, and it’s fun to fuss with him a little bit, and try to pull him out of that a bit. He is playing good Rick storyline now, and he is pulling that off really well.

TV SOAP:

And finally, you and Ronn Moss have been with the show since the beginning. How is your working relationship with him?

JOHN:

I love working with Ronn. It’s been 21 years. Ronn got better all through the years and every year he has done that. I am staying sort of the same, and Ronn is getting better, and it’s funny. People made fun of Ronn. ridge-eric.jpgIt was so
stunning to see a man who looked like that, even on television. And Ronn has a stunning look, and he is the icon of our show. The jaw, and the zero body fat, and Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke)… the two of the them together in a picture are amazing. But at first, people would make fun of our show because of how Ronn looked. They would go, “How could this guy be any good as an actor, and look like that?” And Ronn proves that he can. He loves the show and the character. We all love being here together, and its great. Ronn says the same thing he said to me the first day, every day. He holds a script up and goes, “What is this?” If I ever win an Emmy, I’m going to thank him and say that! (He laughs)

  1. Nancy Simmons says:

    Been following John for many yrs!! I was hoping he might remember his roots were once in Tx!! The McCooks were kinsfolk from way back!! He has had a awesome career and I am one of his biggest fans!! I love all the family in what is my favorite soap!!

    Reply

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