For B&B’s Scott Clifton (Liam) And Annika Noelle (Hope), It Was Like At First Sight
Soap Opera Digest: Let’s start at the beginning. When did you two first meet?
Annika Noelle: It was during the audition process at one of the producer sessions, and they were doing multiple chemistry reads. That’s really when it was like, “Oh, it’s getting serious!” It was also a little intimidating because I was the only brunette in the room; usually in auditions a lot of people can’t see past that and you’re kind of at a disadvantage.
Scott Clifton: Yeah, that’s true. But I would also bet you at least two of the other girls auditioning were clearly not natural blondes, either.
Noelle: Well, no. And now I am a part of that club. But I think that worked in my favor. I was like, “Well, as the brunette, this probably won’t go my way, so let’s just have fun and enjoy it.” I honestly think it actually freed me up in the room and I was more at ease.
Clifton: I think you’re right. You were probably the most relaxed person who auditioned. You seemed the most comfortable, and that is a really big deal with Brad [Bell, executive producer/head writer]. He likes to hire people who are enjoyable and he can talk to and who’ll have fun on the show. That’s kind of a big deal to him, and I think you did have that.
Noelle: Reading with Scott also put me at ease. It was evident at the start the rapport that Scott and I have. We have a very similar sense of humor, so when we got in the room, we were immediately giving each other a hard time.
Clifton: Yeah, I kicked her in the shins. She spat in my face.
Noelle (laughs): Not to that extreme! But we were joking around and he made the audition process comfortable.
Noelle: He just made it right.
Clifton: Aw. Aw … My voice is now going to keep getting higher and higher now! I had such an intense story going on at that time [when Liam learned Steffy slept with Bill], but I remember thinking in those initial scenes that we had good chemistry. We were able to work together and memorize together. I remember Annika had done an impressive amount of research about the history, too. There were things that I would tell her and she already knew them. She was like, “Oh, yeah. I know about that. I watched, like, 40 hours of YouTube videos for this.” It was a joy to see that and it made me excited because I really enjoy curious people, and Annika was curious about everything right away. She wanted to know what everything meant and how everything worked. She would text me at midnight saying, “What does it mean in the script when it says this?” I’m proud of what we all do here, and I got to introduce her to that and I think that was infectious because I think Annika started to feel pride, as well. Annika, I’m totally projecting onto you right now. You can correct anything I’m saying.
Noelle: We really hit the ground running. They threw me into the deep end because it was a lot of story from the get-go, which was great because I was either going to sink or swim. I’m so grateful for that because it set the pace for me.
Clifton: That’s true.
Noelle: And Scott and I made it a point to get to know each other outside of the studio beforehand. We grabbed dinner with our respective partners in order to get to know one another outside of work. And then we did some social media posts joking around, where we cut each other’s face out of the frame.
Clifton (laughs): I forgot about that!
Noelle: When our story did start, he single-handedly was the person I spent the most amount of time with when I started this show, so Scott really showed me the ropes. I’m indebted to him.
Clifton: Well, she’s going to Venmo me later, so the debt isn’t going to last too much longer.
Noelle: See? Again, similar sense of humor.
Digest: Annika, what did you think when you were watching the videos on YouTube?
Noelle: Well, I was a curious little cat because when I initially auditioned, I think the character’s name was Lauren or Elizabeth [on the sides], and there was all this talk about a gondola and I was like, “This seems really specific.” So, I did go on YouTube and literally searched “gondola” and “BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL”, and lo and behold, I figured out which character I was going in for and might be portraying.
Clifton: Very clever.
Noelle: But I specifically looked for significant storyline points — those huge, life-changing moments in Hope’s life, like that party where her mother slept with her boyfriend.
Clifton: Ooh, yeah!
Noelle: So, there was the gondola moment, jumping off the yacht with Wyatt when they got married, and the fight with Quinn when she fell down the stairs and miscarried the first child and Liam took her to the hospital. After that, it was just figuring out the family tree and who has interacted with whom.
Clifton: Which is not always easy to track.
Noelle: Right? Scott always said I inherently had similar qualities to Kim [Matula, ex-Hope], but I never felt pressure to be her. What I would never do is impersonate someone — unless it was something like playing Marilyn Monroe.
Digest: More recently, you two were at the center of the show’s 8,000th episode. No pressure there, right?
Clifton: I was shocked when I read it because they were setting it up like it was going to be this big, beautiful, milestone birth of this Logan/Spencer baby, and a new generation being born, and that’s what we were celebrating. Nope! I thought it was such a cool, risky, controversial move. They punched the audience in the gut, threw them out of the car and went, “See ya!” There is a sick, nihilistic part of me that loved that.
Noelle (laughs): Well, that is Scott to a T, right there. For me, it was such an honor that they were trusting us to portray this story. I was mostly concerned with doing it justice and putting aside whatever nerves or insecurities or over-analyzation that I might do, and be as truthful and genuine as possible.
Clifton: She was so guttural. You could feel her crying from her gut. It was almost hard for her to stop herself when they called cut. She was shaking,
Digest: What did you think when you watched the episodes?
Noelle: I didn’t realize how much it was affecting me until I came back from Finland and watched them. Scott said he didn’t even watch because it was difficult to go through it again.
Clifton: I keep telling myself I’m going to sit down and watch them at some point but every time I have an opportunity, I just can’t.
Digest: You must have to inject some levity in between the heavy scenes, yes?
Clifton: Yeah, but listen, we’re not Christian Bale. You can’t be a Method actor on a soap opera. That’s impossible.
Noelle: It would destroy you. I personally need the levity between those dark scenes. It helps to not bring it home with you. I can get a little Method-y at times.
Digest: We know you can’t tip story, but do you think Hope and Liam’s love can overcome such a devastating loss?
Clifton: Well, it helps to reiterate that neither Annika nor I have a clue as to where they’re going. Sometimes we think we know, if we get a hint, but then it changes. Even the writers are not that far ahead in terms of the scripts we’re reading now, so it’s always hard to tell.
Noelle: I certainly wouldn’t want to see them end without a fight. I personally think they’re soul mates and they’ll fight for each other’s love, but sometimes people drown in grief, so we’ll see what happens.
Clifton: I like that in terms of philosophy, I see Annika saying a lot of the same stuff that I would say, too, and that’s fun. It’s like she’s part of the Borg now. That was a STAR TREK reference.
Noelle: And I totally got it! Sorry, we’re Trekkie nerds. Borg humor.
Noelle: Oh, Scott. We can’t take you