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ICYMI Katherine Kelly Lang and John McCook interview

Soap Opera Digest: What is your first memory of B&B?

Lang: My first memory was my audition with John McCook. I was so nervous but John put me at ease right away and we did the scene together — and I landed the role of Brooke Logan.

McCook: I knew then and there she had the part. I loved the whole concept of the show even before it started. I referred to us as a boutique soap opera, the little sister of Y&R, and I still feel we are. We’re small. We are a half-hour. It’s all about glamour. The stories go fast. There are a smaller number of stories and characters than the other soaps. We are different than the other shows, and that has served us well. We are still going strong, and I suspect we will be around for a long time to come.

Digest: In 36 years, what is the best advice Executive Producer/Head Writer Brad Bell has ever given you?

Lang: I’ve been so fortunate to have [Creator] Bill Sr., then Brad, by my side for the past 36 years. At different times, they both told me to keep doing what I’m doing because they love what I bring to the character. From day one, I’ve felt supported and valued.

McCook: Brad never really gave me advice. Several times over the years, he’d give me a heads up about what was coming. The best thing that Brad has given me over the years is the gift of respect. After five years of working with his father on Y&R [where he played Lance], and then again in the beginning years of B&B, Brad appreciated my experience on the shows, and he did the same with Susan Flannery [ex-Stephanie], and we were very appreciative to have that. That’s not something you find very often, in any field.

Digest: Who was the first friend you made at B&B?

Lang: Joanna Johnson [ex-Caroline/ex-Karen]. We got along so well and we’d have dinners and hang out. She was the first person I actually did things with outside of the studio.

McCook: The first person I met at B&B was Katherine Kelly Lang when we screen-tested. Then I met Ronn Moss [ex-Ridge] before we started. I didn’t meet Susan until we had been shooting for about a week, but I had met her years before on the back lot at Universal when I was doing an episode of HARPER VALLEY PTA. Of course, I knew who Susan was because of DAYS OF OUR LIVES [ex-Laura] and The Towering Inferno, and she kind of knew me from Y&R. At least she said she did [laughs]. But on our first day of shooting, we were off and running, so those were my first three.

Digest: Do you have a favorite 

Lang: There have been so many wonderful stories to play. I loved when Brooke was a businesswoman and created the BeLieF formula and also when she created the men’s line, Taboo, with Thomas. Of course, the best was when Brooke launched the Brooke’s Bedroom lingerie line, and all of the shenanigans that came along with it.

McCook: My favorite is the last one I had with Eric’s ED, and the complicated solution he came up with, which turned out to be the wrong decision. I thought that was a clever way for that story to move on, and then Eric realized he’d made a mistake. In the earlier years, I loved the conflict with Eric and Stephanie. We were in conflict practically every week on the show. Susan would always say, “Where’s the conflict? If there’s no conflict, it is boring to watch,” and she was right. I really enjoyed when Eric realized that Stephanie had been lying to him about the paternity of his oldest son. That was a really good, emotional story.

Digest: What was the most difficult story you had to play?

Lang: The storyline that I got to play with Susan when Stephanie and Brooke became friends at the end of Stephanie’s life. Stephanie asked Brooke to be with her when she passed away. It was extremely emotional, especially after having worked together for so many years.

McCook: Again, the ED storyline. It definitely had its challenges.

Digest: What has your character done that has surprised you the most?

Lang: First, I was very surprised when Brooke realized that she slept with her daughter’s boyfriend Oliver, thinking it was Ridge, because all the men were wearing the same masks and jackets and all the women were wearing the same masks and dresses. The most recent surprise was that Brooke became friends with her longtime rival Taylor. It’s quite refreshing for Brooke to have a real woman friend.

McCook: Eric playing pickleball [laughs]. Actually, I would say the love story with Quinn was surprising. In the beginning, it was shrouded in secrecy and they kept it quiet for quite some time, and eventually it grew into a beautiful love story. The family hated it but Eric didn’t care. He’d finally found happiness again and he was not going to give that up for anyone.

Digest: What was your favorite location shoot?

Lang: All of the Italian locations. It is so beautiful and romantic there, and I’ve made many lifelong friends there.

McCook: My favorite was our biggest one, because so many of us went to Lake Como in Italy for the fashion show. That was pretty cool. We shot for four or five days, which is unusual. Usually we shoot for two days and get out but [we] shot there for quite a while. We had a lot of the cast and they hired about 10 internationally known models coming in from Milan. That was my favorite.

Digest: What was your favorite on-screen wedding?

Lang: Brooke’s first wedding to Ridge, where she arrived on horseback in Malibu. It was such a fairy-tale moment.

McCook: My favorite wedding was when Eric married Brooke and they honeymooned in Palm Springs and they took the hot air balloon ride. They actually had a cameraman in a helicopter shooting it. The hot air balloon was a surprise, and it was beautiful to see them drift off into the desert.

Digest: Who was your favorite guest star?

Lang: It was pretty awesome to have Usher [ex-Raymond] on the show early in his career. Also, Obba Babatundé [ex-Julius] is just a fascinating actor and it’s hard to take your eyes off of him when he’s performing.

McCook: Fred Willard [ex-John] was my personal favorite. When he walked into the [Forrester living] room, before we had any dialogue, there was the big portrait of Stephanie over the fireplace and he looked past me and said, ‘Yowza,’ and right away I laughed. As a character, he knew Stephanie and didn’t particularly like her and he was a little scared of her and the look on his face when he saw that picture and said that, it was really funny.

Digest: What co-star do you miss the most?

Lang: Oh, I miss working with all of them! I think the answer has to be Susan Flannery and Ronn Moss, because I was most involved in storyline with them. Susan was such a wonderful role model. I learned a lot from her. And, Ronn was so easy for Brooke to fall in love with over and over and over and over again!

McCook: Yes, I would say the same about Susan and Ronn. When we celebrated B&B’s 25th anniversary, we had an episode with just the four of us, and that was great fun and really special.

Digest: In 36 years, what’s something you have yet to do on the show but would love 
to try?

Lang: For me, I think we’re telling it now: Brooke as a strong independent woman without relying on a man. It’s empowering to my character and also, I think, to many of our viewers.

McCook: Now that Eric is with Donna, I would really like everyone to see how wise Donna is. I’d love for the world to discover depth in her that no one to date has ever seen. I think if her dad came back, since he has been around again, saying, “What are you doing with Eric Forrester? He’s just using you!” and for her to stand up and say, “Look, Dad. He loves me. He respects me and he asks my opinion and he listens to me. It’s the first time in my life that anybody asked my opinion about anything. I love him.” I would love her to stand up to her dad that way.

Digest: What has been your most memorable fan encounter?

Lang: Oh, my goodness. Again, so many to choose from. You know, all of the fans have been wonderful and I’m very grateful for every single one of them. Their love and support mean the world to me. From our fan events to those who tour the studio, to those I meet in public. I think my most memorable ones though, are the bus tours we do, and the event each year in Louisiana at the Little Big Cup restaurant, as those fan events raise money for the Cancer Support Community, which is a cause very close to my heart.

McCook: My favorite was when [wife] Laurette and I were celebrating our 20th anniversary and we rented a small villa on the Mediterranean coast, very close to the border with Monaco. We had to wait for the red light to cross and sitting in front of us was a little Mercedes with the top down with a beautiful European couple and they were talking and laughing, and when it turned green and time for them to go, he looked up an me and waved and said, “Ciao, Eric,” and drove away, and I said to my wife, “Now, I’m a movie star.” That was pretty cool. We truly have the best fans all over the world so thank you, and Happy Anniversary to you!