INTERVIEW

Don Diamont (Bill, B&B) offers insight into his alter ego

Bill has been an iconic character on B&B since your introduction in 2009. What have you liked most about playing him? “His emotional complexity. He’s such a complicated character. A guy who, to his best efforts at times, can’t get out of his own way. The very things that have made him one of the most powerful people on the planet are also the very things that personally can be so destructive for him.”

What do you feel drives him? “That ‘win at all costs’ mentality. While that may have helped him succeed, the edges of that have been softened over the years with Katie, with Brooke, with his children, but I think that’s still a driving force behind who he is.”

How has Bill evolved since you’ve been playing him? “He has evolved in that that ‘win at all costs’ mentality in his personal life can really create chaos. He’s seen that. I don’t think you can bring that mentality into your interpersonal relationships and be successful. In fact, I know that you can’t. So, he struggles with that and it forms who he is.”

What life events would you say have affected Bill’s evolution? “Well, Katie, no doubt. Katie coming into his life softened him. In fact, it was that moment where he could have taken advantage of a drunk Katie and he didn’t. That’s when you saw some heart, some scruples, some glimmer of a moral conscience.”

What do you like most about the Bill/Katie love story? “Ultimately, it’s the Beauty and the Beast story, and while I think I could play both parts [laughs], I was most certainly the beast in that story. That’s his most crucial, life-changing relationship and initially, he was so fiercely protective of her, and she softened his edges — and he brought some tenacity out in her. I loved that he helped her to see she is so much more than maybe she thinks she is — and she made him realize that he can be better than who he thinks he is, so that was crucial.”

What do you think is Bill’s biggest weakness? “I play him as being quite self-loathing and a lot of what he puts out there is a facade. He is a bastard son and to some degree, we have explored that but not really fleshed it out from the paternal side. But being that self-loathing, maybe it’s a certain lack of self-respect that clouds his judgment and informs some of his poor decision-making when those emotional buttons get pushed. When you don’t have self-love, it’s hard to love others in the way they need to be loved, so that’s what I try to bring to who he is. I think it is the most crucial part of playing this character.”

So, big blustery Bill is really self-conflicted? “Yes! Nothing is ever good enough and it’s on to the next thing. No matter how many successes in business, there has to be more. It’s feeding that black hole that exists to prove himself to be good enough.”

On the surface, Bill seems to have it all. “Not to say he seems to have it all, he does have it all! That’s the awful part about it. He does have it all and he can’t recognize it. He can’t see it clearly or really, more to the point, he doesn’t feel worthy of having it all. He doesn’t feel worthy of love. He doesn’t feel worthy of his success and so it’s this wonderful yin and yang that exists in Dollar Bill.”

In the past, you’ve mentioned that we’ve never addressed Bill’s mother. How impactful do you think that aspect is to the character? “[Sighs] More than I can express. This character has been around now for 13 years and the audience has been through so much with him and he has grown so much but ultimately, this is what I think tells the story of his behavior and informs the decisions he makes and is the reason for the self-loathing, the reason for his challenges in his relationships with women.”

How do you think he has fared since then? “He has, at least, thankfully grown from his introduction to B&B [laughs]. Let’s remember that Bill was introduced as the ultimate misogynistic playboy who was blackmailing Donna into sleeping with him, and that was, ‘Either you sleep with me or…’ and I’m using sleep with me since this is a PG-13 magazine [laughs]. ‘You will have sex with me or I will see to it that your husband [then-Eric] goes to prison and he is prosecuted,’ so that’s who Bill was introduced as, and he has grown from that.”

How did the introduction of his surprise sons, Liam and Wyatt, impact Bill? “Liam’s introduction, that came out of nowhere, and this is a guy who never intended to have children. That certainly improved him. Liam was really a moral compass. Liam threw him for a loop and forced him to grow in ways he never anticipated. Bill had to adjust to being a dad and it was not easy.”

And then, it happened again with Wyatt. “Wyatt was more in Bill’s image, initially, but often Wyatt challenges Bill in a moralistic fashion and forces Bill to examine his behavior. Nonetheless, that dynamic with the kids is wonderful because Bill has been very mafia in his approach to family. He could punch his kid in the face, knocking him out cold, but nobody else can touch his kid [laughs]. This is the guy who was going to kill Amber, thinking she was trying to kill his son. This is a guy who has bribed judges to get his way or threatened judges with information to get his way. This is a guy who has burned buildings to the ground, who drops his enemy/challenger [Ridge] out of a helicopter … I could go on and on. The guy manipulated his niece Caroline to feign her own death sentence. He has a mafia sensibility to his approach to life and family.”

Let’s discuss Bill’s taboo relationship with his sister-on-law, Brooke. “I don’t know how taboo that is for BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL [laughs]. Katie’s postpartum story [in 2012] was incredibly moving and was the evolution of how that story developed. My gosh, there had been so much. The Steffy story first, early on, culminating with Katie and the heart attack, that postpartum story led to the Brooke relationship. Of course, the Bill obsession with building his monument to himself, Sky! She was going to be the Spencer tower, so a lot of things grew.”

What do you have to say about Bill’s recent travails? “Sleeping with Steffy, of course, was a big deal and that story with Liam hitting Vinny [killing him with his car]. That was all compelling — and it culminated in the breakup of arguably his most important relationship, which is with Justin, the person who knows where the bodies are buried. He’s the person who has been like a brother to him, who Bill believed he could trust with his life if push came to shove, so that breakup was devastatingly heartbreaking for Bill.”

Who can Bill turn to for advice now? “I guess you could say he’s isolated but I think they could find their way back to each other again, but that would take quite a bit of work, and Bill is always a work in progress.”

Me vs. Him

Who dresses better? “Well, I like to put on a suit jacket and tie and Bill is really anti-that. In terms of day to day, they’re probably similar, jeans and boots and maybe a button-down shirt, but I would say I go way beyond Bill. I like colors and patterns.”

Who has the nicer house, you or Bill? “Bill, of course. I love my house but Bill is living large and rolling in the mansion, the compound. He’s got jets and yachts and the finest things that money can buy. After I do the interviews about Bill and his life, I have to just be me, old commercial-flying Don.”

Favorite set? “Bill’s office has just a sleek, cool, contemporary vibe in there. Who wouldn’t love an office like that? It’s a very powerful space, modeled in his own image, with the Spencer logo on the window behind him. It is an extension of Bill, and that’s how Brad [Bell, executive producer/head writer] wanted it.”

What question do you get the most from fans? “Right now, it’s ‘Where is he [laughs]?’ ”

Describe Bill in three words: “Powerful. Complicated. Passionate.”

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