When Stephen returns to the B&B canvas last week in the form of Patrick Duffy, who previously played the role from 2006-11, he’s not alone — he’s got the beautiful Lucy, played by Linda Purl (ex-Peyton, GH), on his arm. The duo dished to Digest about falling in love and playing a couple on B&B.
Soap Opera Digest: Linda, I must start by telling you what an awesome job you did during your recent stint as GH’s Peyton.
Linda Purl: Oh, thank you. It was a really lovely part and Laura [Wright, Carly] is so fantastic, such a good actress. The whole thing was a real joy and privilege to do.
Patrick Duffy: I saw it, too, and she was remarkable!
Digest: Did you have any advice for her, Patrick, about coming into this medium?
Duffy: Yes. I told her not to pay attention to anything I say! Obviously, she took it [laughs].
Purl: One of our best friends is Gregory Harrison [Gregory, GH], and when Gregory went onto GH, we saw him for dinner and he told us what it was like. When I did a soap [THE SECRET STORM, where she played Doreen] way back when in New York in the ’70s, they had teleprompters, for goodness’ sake! So, Gregory had shared his experience and because of that, I sort of knew what I was in for.
Duffy: When I first did BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL, I was completely unprepared for not just the amount of pages, but the pace and the authenticity of the actors to work at that pace and deliver what they deliver. It was mind-boggling to me! I came from, you know, seven and eight pages a day, shared between 10 people, and then I was handed a New York phone book’s worth of dialogue! God bless the other actors, especially [Katherine] Kelly [Lang, Brooke] and Jennifer [Gareis, Donna] and Heather [Tom, Katie]. They’re your safety net and you just feel so protected in a scene when you’re working with them. It was wonderful, and hopefully to be repeated!
Digest: So, let’s back up a bit. I’m a sucker for a good love story, and if you would indulge me, I would love to hear about yours.
Purl: We have been acquaintances because [show business] is a small community at the end of the day. Through our younger years, we’d crossed in the halls ever so briefly and we did a reading together. More than 20 years ago, I had been in England and went to see Richard Thomas when he was doing Art on the West End with Patrick. It was like, “Hey, how ya doing?” and that was that. And then three or so years ago, I was living in New York and Patrick was living in Oregon and we bumped into each other at a convention. I was going to see Richard in about three days’ time, which I told Patrick, and he said, “Here’s my email, put me back in touch [with him], we’ve lost touch.” Within a few days, the three of us were in a group text. And then the pandemic hit, so we all scattered to our little hibernation holes. Patrick and I had exchanged just very occasional texts, but then, with nothing to do on any of our calendars for the next year, we just sort of fell into these FaceTimes, eventually Zooms, and pretty soon we were Zooming every night for two-to-three hours. We sort of started as Chatty Cathys and then it just would drop into a deeper level. And then what, honey?
Duffy: Well, Richard had dropped out by then, so it was just the two of us. We got to the point where we’d say, “What books are you reading?” Or, “I wrote a poem, do you want to hear it?” One night, as we were signing off, I said, “Okay, good-bye, I love you.” I hung up and went, “Oh, my God, I said the ‘L’ word!” The next day when we talked, I was very nervous as to whether she would say, “Enough of that, Patrick! Get yourself together!” But that took it to a completely different level. She was living in Colorado and I jumped in my car and I drove from Oregon and ended up in her driveway and I’m like that houseguest that never leaves! Can’t get rid of me!
Purl: Thank heavens!
Duffy: Standing opposite each other in her driveway was one of the most exhilarating and awkward moments of my life.
Purl: We were both shaking like leaves.
Duffy: A silence fell and finally I said, “May I kiss you?” We did and it was just like, “Okay, then!” She had a “Welcome, Patrick” sign pinned to her front door. We were obviously in love before we met on the driveway, but it’s been a remarkable two-and-a-half years.
Purl: It was such a gift of the pandemic. Everyone had their own ups and downs and extraordinary journeys and challenges, but I feel grateful, certainly — and guilty, in a way, because honestly, if I’d kept busy working and you’d kept busy working …
Duffy: We would have dropped off again.
Purl: We wouldn’t have had that time. When in any of our lives do you have time to chat in such a relaxed manner for two to three hours every day? You just don’t, or we don’t make the time, I guess is the point. But we were gifted that and so we had this knowing that was afforded us through the many, many weeks of conversation. And here we are!
Duffy: And we still talk incessantly! We haven’t run out of things to discover about each other.
Purl: In some ways I sort of feel like, “Okay, we’ve finally found each other, so we’ve got to make up for lost time.” We got to go on the road and do a play in England together, which was an absolute blast. And then we started this company together, Duffy’s Dough [duffysdough.com], selling sourdough starter that’s been in Patrick’s family for 72 years. We’re jumping into projects and activities and it just sort of builds more threads of our tapestry together.
Digest: How did adding B&B to your list of shared activities come about?
Duffy: [Executive Producer/Head Writer] Brad Bell is the most fatherly, big-brother kind of producer I have ever worked for. Our friendship transpired over the time I was on [B&B] and continued after I left the show to redo DALLAS [on TNT]. In our conversations we kept saying, “When is Stephen coming back?” He said, “Anytime you want to come back….” and the last time we met that [came up again] and I said, “Well, what about a couple coming back in Linda?” And he thought that was a great idea and that’s how it happened. He wrote the premise that Stephen returns, just as a visit, to see his daughters and gets dropped into Brooke’s problems with Ridge, and his new love is included in that dynamic. We did two great episodes and we hope that there will be more coming!
Digest: How did you find out this was in the works, Linda?
Purl: Through my agent, Patrick [laughs]! That’s another one of his talents. But I was so thrilled and it’s odd that I did GH and then BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL right away, but it was really fun.
Duffy: Linda and I are pretty old ponies in this parade and I think the fact that we are a couple and still working is attractive to a lot of people. We are now very public in our relationship and translating that into a workable on-screen duo has been, in my opinion, very successful. Obviously, we are going to work separately, and have, but whenever we can work together, it’s a gift. I’ve never felt more supported and obviously, Linda, the caliber of her work is the result of her history. I do the same two performances my entire career. When I do something that’s a little out of the norm, I have to look over and see if she approves or disapproves! It’s almost like voting on DANCING WITH THE STARS — give me a thumbs-up or thumbs-down!
Purl: Always a thumbs-up.
Duffy: It’s just the most enjoyable working situation I can be in.
Purl: To walk onto a set holding hands? It’s like, “Oh! No, this is okay. We can do this!”
Digest: So, Patrick, all three of your on-screen daughters were just giddy at the prospect of working with you again.
Duffy: I would like to think I was the exception, but I’ve seen them now over the years and they treat everybody with such respect and such anticipation of good work to be done. When I walked into the makeup room, Kelly was in the makeup chair and then she saw me in the mirror, and the first thing that left her lips was this squeal: “Daddy!” And then in comes Heather and I got another, “Daddy!” and in comes Jennifer and I got another “Daddy!” And their acceptance of Linda was as if they were accepting Daddy’s new love. They are the most remarkable three women, the most wonderful people to work with. I am so honored to be in their presence and playing their father.
Purl: The welcome I got was great. It was so lovely to see these grown women squeal like little girls and throw themselves over Patrick. How could you not love that? It was a joyful atmosphere to be in.
Digest: How would you describe Lucy, Linda?
Purl: It’s early yet, and I hope we have a chance to discover [more of] who she is. She seems like a pleasant, supportive loving person, but who knows? Maybe she’s a bad girl! I don’t know what’s going to happen if we come back.
Duffy: In the scenes, there was no hint that she could be an ax murderer or anything! When I first played Stephen and now coming back, the writers made him a really substantial, upstanding, right kind of guy, so I think the assumption to begin with is that of course he would have a right, upstanding partner. But daytime soaps are wonderfully notorious for throwing the curveball, and so anything could happen, which would make it even more interesting and more fun and enjoyable to return. So, it’s in the writers’ and Brad’s hands right now.
Digest: What does it mean to you to know how excited viewers were at the prospect of seeing you back as Stephen?
Duffy: My entire professional life, I am filled with such gratitude on a daily basis for what I’ve been able to do, what I’ve been asked to do, and privileged to do over these years. And BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL was the next step in my career to be able to do that. So, the fact that the character has been embraced by the viewing audience? I’m thrilled and I can’t wait to pay off that enthusiasm with my gratitude. It’s humbling in the sense that, when you’re not working, you think you’re invisible, and then when that kind of reaction happens, you think, “I am so fortunate in my life and occupation to be able to have that payback on a regular basis.” It’s a wonderful thing and I appreciate every single person who exhibits that toward me, or maybe not so much toward me but toward the character. Being on THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL is truly one of the most rewarding experiences that we have encountered and I certainly want the viewing audience to know how appreciative Linda and I are.
Purl: You bet.
Duffy: It’s an experience I will never forget.