Soap Opera Digest: First of all, Jacqui, congratulations on your second Daytime Emmy win for Outstanding Lead Actress.
Jacqueline MacInnes Wood: Thank you so much! I have to say it feels so, so good. I’m really enjoying this moment.
Digest: Tanner, how was it watching your scene partner take home the gold?
Tanner Novlan: It was awesome to have been there and see her work while we were shooting. [Steffy’s opioid addiction] was a very difficult storyline, and her talent just came shining in. To see it from the shooting perspective, then see it air and how great it turned out — and then to see her get recognized for it? It was the icing on the cake. I’m so proud of her. It’s so well-deserved.
Digest: Going back to the beginning, what were your initial impressions of one another?
Novlan: She was a spark plug! I immediately could tell she was wonderful. It was just so easy with her.
Digest: Jacqui, did you know during the audition process that Tanner was the one for the role?
Wood: We meshed really well together. I liked what he brought so when we all spoke about it afterward, he was definitely my choice.
Digest: This relationship blossomed during the lowest point in Steffy’s life. What did you think about that?
Novlan: I wouldn’t want it any other way. The intimacy due to the situation bonded them on a deep level very quickly. They have been through so much in such a short amount of time.
Digest: Your first love scene was memorable. Jacqui, you shared a funny story on our Digest podcast. Will you share with our readers?
Wood [laughs]: Oh, my gosh! The love scene was hilarious because they had me, and also they had Kayla [Ewell, ex-Caitlin/Novlan’s real-life wife] come in, which was great. The two of them basically played the love scene and then, it was my turn. I was in lingerie. I was almost nine months pregnant. I remember I was on all fours on the bed, having to pretend like I’m kissing Finn but I’m just kissing the air, and then we had a tight shot of me and I had to toss my hair from side to side. It was hysterical trying to keep a straight face. I’m so proud [Director] Cindy Popp made that work. She edited it, and it looked great.
Digest: Did your husband, Elan, come in to sub for Finn?
Wood: No. He actually wanted to, but he was also working though the pandemic. He’s in the entertainment industry, so it did not stop. He kept thinking, “I’ll just pop in and be your love interest for like an hour,” and I kept saying, “No. You are going to have to be here all day — and you have to be on the phone with your clients.” Tanner was great, and I had my mannequin…. It all worked out fine.
Digest: Jacqui, your real-life pregnancy sparked the ever-twisting paternity test storyline. Going into it, did either of you know the final outcome, that the baby would actually be Finn’s and not Liam’s?
Novlan: I had no idea where the story was going. I don’t get too far ahead. I stick with the storyline in the moment of where we are, and if I ever have any questions moving forward, I know I can ask. I’m really glad the baby ended up being Finn’s. Steffy deserves a break from that triangle and that whole all consuming-ness of Liam and Hope. I think it was really great for the show to go in another direction.
Wood: I’m thrilled. No offense to Scott [Clifton, Liam], of course. I absolutely love him, and I love filming with Annika [Noelle, Hope]. Obviously, there is still more to come but right now, it’s nice. In the past, I sometimes felt as though Steffy was a walking contradiction. She’s this tough woman. She’s sassy and fun and then, she kept going back to Liam. I like that we have someone new for Steffy, and that she’s finding herself and she’s learning more about herself.
Digest: Finn just got parents — in the form of daytime vets Ted King (Jack) and Naomi Matsuda (Li). How has that been so far?
Novlan: It’s great to have two veteran actors cast in those roles and being able to work opposite them. I was so grateful that they cast my parents. They’re both such giving actors. They know how daytime works. They were easy to connect and bond with.
Wood: I’m so glad they’ve joined the cast! It’s always lovely to have new faces on our show. It’s been really nice — and it’s important for Steffy to get to know Finn’s family, because she wants his parents to like her. That’s very important, because family means everything to Steffy.
Digest: What’s it like having a new baby on the set?
Novlan: Holding the little baby [playing] Hayes was amazing for the both of us, even when baby Hayes had a little accident. It’s like, “That’s okay. We’re used to that. We’re parents. No big deal.” She’s a mom. I’m a dad and we can easily mold into those roles.
Digest: Have your real-life kids ever met?
Novlan: Oh, it’s been fun getting our kids together. We went to the trampoline park together a few weeks ago. Rise and Poppy are close in age, so it’s fun to see them get together.
Digest: Jacqui, what was it like to come back from maternity leave and then have to strap on that pregnancy suit?
Wood: It’s always interesting to put that suit back on, especially after you have a baby. But it didn’t really bother me. I was pregnant for months so another month was fine — and I could take it off at the end of the day!
Digest: Sheila Carter was revealed to be Finn’s biological mother. How excited are you to play out Finn’s backstory and how it directly affects the newlyweds?
Novlan: I love it! Anytime we can get a slap, or a glass to drop, or any of those iconic soap moments that the viewers know and love that come with those shocking reveals, it’s a fun thing to read, and then play and then watch. I love that all that stuff is in there. As Tanner, the actor, I find it so interesting!
Wood: What I love about this twist is that it affects everyone in both families. When Steffy found out that Finn was adopted, yes it was shocking, but it wasn’t going to change anything. It was concerning to know that there were parts of Hayes’s background that we wouldn’t have found out because Finn didn’t know his history, but he finds out very quickly where he comes from and, oh, yeah, there are going to be some big problems ahead.
Digest: Well, we have been waiting for the other shoe to drop with this couple.
Wood: Well, here it comes!
Novlan: It’s going to be tumultuous. They are going to have to navigate this. It will be stressful. I always hope that they survive — but it’s always good to have that drama in a soap because if you’re happy for too long, usually you’re in trouble. But I believe 100 percent you can get through anything together if you work through it, and that’s the name of the game we’re in. I always believe they will make it through.
Wood: I’m sure they will. I hope they will. Oh, really, who knows?
Novlan: As all this sinks in for Finn, we’ll have to wait and see if Steffy is able to be as accepting as he was with her when she went through her tumultuous time.
Wood: I am so thrilled about this storyline. It’s going to be good!