INTERVIEW

B&B’s Matthew Atkinson and Scott Clifton share the evolution of their friendship

Soap Opera Digest: What were your first impressions of each other?

Scott Clifton: I can’t remember the first time I met you. I think the first time I met you was in the group scene when you show up and you have Douglas and you tell everyone Caroline is dead.

Matthew Atkinson: That is totally not true, but it makes sense that that’s what you would think. I met you years ago when I was doing Y&R [as Austin] and we went to the CBS Emmy party and we were a little bit toasted out of our brains and we chatted for quite a while. I remember us all having a good time. That was years ago and it feels like a different lifetime ago.

Clifton: I have to tell you something that is incredible. You told me this before but I actually still don’t remember that moment but my wife, as I’m on the phone with you right now, my wife took a notepad out and scribbles on a piece of paper and slides it across the counter to me and says we met at the CBS after-party.

Atkinson: [Laughs] There you go. See, that’s why you need her. That was a blast. I think I met everyone and their mom that night, so I do remember thinking that you resembled Chris Pratt. That is stuck in my brain and then when I saw you later it was like, “Oh, it’s the Chris Pratt guy.”

Clifton: I do remember when you got cast and I IMDB’d you, I was really excited to talk to you about the Alan Tudyk pilot of that super-hero show [POWERLESS] that you did. I watched it until it went away and I was really into that show, so I know I wanted to ask you about that, so that was one of the first things I remember.

Digest: Do you remember your first one-on-one scene together?

Clifton: I think it was in the Forrester CEO office. I can’t remember if Henry [Joseph Samiri] was in the scene, but it was a very Douglas-centric scene and we had just come off that big Forrester scene where it was your first day, and you had to cry in front of 12 strangers. I remember it was really impressive. I remember coming away from that thinking, “Oh, he’s good.”

Atkinson: Awww.

Clifton: And then we had the scenes in the Forrester CEO office and you were showing drawings?

Atkinson: I can’t remember my exact first scene with Scott but that definitely does ring a bell. I remember there being scenes where you would show up and Thomas was manipulating Hope a little bit and throwing Liam under the bus, and there was a scene where I was like, “I can get the Forrester jet and jet you off to London or Paris right now.” It was something like that. That was with Annika [Noelle, Hope] and after that, Liam came back to town and was like, “What the hell, man?” You confronted me about that and I could be wrong.

Clifton: You are right. You and I did not have any scenes together, just the two of us, until Liam was getting adversarial against Thomas and suspicious of him. And that plane ticket thing had something to do with it. Good memory. All of this blends together.

Digest: Do you ever laugh during your intense scenes together?

Atkinson: Oh, yeah, all the time.

Clifton: And it’s always the tag of the scenes where we say these intense things to each other and then we have to maintain eye contact for seconds and seconds, which seems like an eternity, and that’s when we usually break character. This is not our first rodeo, we’ve been doing this long enough to know how many seconds they need; we don’t have to necessarily maintain eye contact all the way until they call cut, but usually in those intense scenes we will start laughing or blow each other a kiss or something uncomfortable like that.

Atkinson: Stop giving away our intimacies!

Clifton: Sorry, yes, I think I’m pulling the curtain back too far. Sorry.

Atkinson: When it comes to breaking character, the trouble is, and I think this is true for both Scott and me, we are just prone to making fun of everything. I make fun of everything, things that I love and things that I hate. No matter what, I’m going to do that, and I think Scott is the same way in that respect. We will make fun of the other person while we run lines, but when we are in the middle of shooting a scene, there are moments where you catch the glimmer in the other person’s eye of what was funny about what you may have just said and then it’s really, really hard not to break when you have the thought. Once you’re on that track, sometimes you just can’t get off of it and then you can’t help but break in the middle of the scene.

Digest: Do you think Liam and Thomas could be friends?

Clifton: I look at Wyatt and Liam. For, like, three years they were mortal enemies and now they are each other’s ride-or-die relationship. They are a constant in each other’s lives, so yeah, I think that’s completely possible. I don’t think that’s even that strange for a soap opera. That happens all the time.

Atkinson: And who knows what’s going to happen in the future? Everything is possible, especially in the form that we shoot, but when it comes down to it, I love hating Liam so I don’t want that to end. It’s so much fun.

Clifton: It’s because you’re lazy, Matthew. It’s easy to hate Liam.

Atkinson: Maybe that’s it, or maybe it’s the dichotomy and the hilarity of that we can have so much fun shooting scenes where we hate each other and then make jokes in between, and it just makes for a playful atmosphere. I like that.

Digest: Was there ever a point when you realized, “Wow, maybe we should hang out outside the studio?”

Clifton: No.

Atkinson: Absolutely not.

Clifton: We have hung out but it started during these days when we were really heavy in storyline. Some of those days were brutal and we’d get to the end of the day, and during Covid, you go to work and you go straight home and there is no real release, there’s no way to breathe. Sometimes we have to learn lines for the next day, and sometimes it just gets to a point, and I think Matthew was the first one who said it, but he was like, “Dude, can we just please go get a beer when this is over and debrief?”

Atkinson: Sometimes on Friday nights, I would come back from Napa or visiting my family, and I would bring back some wine, and I was like, “I’m going to have some wine if you want to stay after.” I think one time Scott stayed after, a few times Annika did. And we started doing that and it became a fun thing, some cast members would show up. But then after Covid, I think everyone was so ready to hang out with some people, not to work, not to run lines, just to hang out and talk or whatever.

Clifton: And also, we discovered our mutual love of camping, which then led to us going on a couple of camping trips, as well.

Atkinson: Right, which is funny because I don’t think until you posted online that you went camping that I knew that you were really into camping. I knew that you kind of mentioned, “Oh, I’ve gone camping before,” that kind of thing, but you didn’t say it was a passion that you really like to do. I am sleeping on the ground without a tent sometimes and usually, people are talking about, “Five years ago, I went on a group camping trip where they had a bunch of yurts,” and it’s not exactly the same thing.

Clifton: Yes. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that you share my snooty elitism when it comes to this, because we have bonded handily over judging people who use the word camping in vain.

Digest: You guys had a well-publicized camping trip and battled Mother Nature.

Atkinson: What worked out very well in that circumstance is when you go on an adventure with someone who is as game for the adventure as you are. You can go on an adventure with people and you can say, “Oh, we’re going to go camping,” and things start going wrong and a lot of people can get upset. I’ve had so many things go wrong in my life, especially when it comes to camping.

Clifton: We got up to the place, and Matthew is really impressive to me because he doesn’t need maps, he just knows where everything is. We just drove up to this site that he knew and it was completely covered in snow, even the ranger shack was closed. There was a sign pinned on the door that said, “If you need a ranger, call this number,” so we called the number and this girl got on the phone and she was like, “You guys are not going to find a place to camp if you go into the place that you wanted to go. We’re going to get about 5 feet of snow tonight.” It was like, “It’s not going to be a few inches, it’s going to be a few feet.” And Matthew has a truck with four-wheel drive, his 4Runner is all souped-up and he still wouldn’t have gotten us out of that. So then we are just sitting in a parking lot in Big Bear. There was another place that we tried and that place was closed. All of our options were running out and we were just sitting with an old-timey map in a parking lot in Big Bear and I started calling ranger stations. The ranger in Joshua Tree, which was just down the mountain, said, “Yeah, things are opening up, first come, first served. I can’t guarantee you anything, but come on down and take a look.” And we drove to Joshua Tree with no real plan and no guarantee we’d find a camping site, and it turned out that on the edge of Joshua Tree, there was this completely abandoned camping ground. Normally, if there are bathrooms and it seems kind of luxurious for camping, usually the problem with that is it attracts too many people, so that’s why you don’t want too civilized of a campground because people show up in droves. But there was nobody there, we had this whole place to ourselves, and it snowed the whole time. It was light, fluffy snow.

Atkinson: Throughout the night, we had some stars and there was some wind but it wasn’t bad. We didn’t have a flooding issue. It worked out really well, the spot was beautiful, and there was nobody else there because this was usually a spot you have to hook up a year in advance.

Clifton: Yeah, that was pretty cool.

Atkinson: A few weeks later, we did get our trip out in the hills and had a much better time, which was great.

Clifton: Which was totally worth the wait, that place.

Digest: So you survived the wilderness. What’s your next adventure going to be?

Clifton: I’m thinking Disneyland, Matthew. What about you?

Atkinson: We can go to Disneyland.

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