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ICYMI Tanner Novlan (Finn, B&B) Interview

It’s been just a little over a year since “Liberty Biberty” became a part of our cultural vernacular, but that’s when Tanner Novlan garnered national attention as the tongue-tied, clueless, narcissistic actor in Liberty Mutual’s line of popular commercials. “I had seen the series they were doing of Liberty Mutual commercials in front of the Statue of Liberty,” Novlan relays. “And yes, people do come up to me all the time and say, ‘Liberty Biberty.’ It’s so fun that everyone can relate to that obnoxious actor. He was so much fun to play. When you get BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL, you’re like, ‘Wow, this is a career-changer,’ but for a funny little commercial like that, you never think [like that].”

Novlan auditioned for B&B in March and landed the part but couldn’t start, or even talk about it, until the soap began production over four months later due to the coronavirus pandemic. “I don’t know their old way of filming, so this is my new normal,” the actor relays. “Being the first production in North America to be back, it was amazing. It’s like, ‘This really is the new normal.’ It’s been such a unique process but it’s been amazing how all the producers have come together to figure this out and put forth these groundbreaking guidelines, making things safe and efficient and being able to work around all of this and keep everything alive. They’ve come up with some really creative ways of making shots work, but also feeling natural. Yes, we have to socially distance. We always are wearing our masks so we’re very cautious in that manner, but when you get into the scene and you’re reading opposite Jacqui [MacInnes Wood, Steffy], even if she is off camera, the connection is there, and I think it comes through.”

Novlan is thankful that he had some inside knowledge of how things worked at B&B, since he’s the real-life husband of B&B alum Kayla Ewell (ex-Caitlin). “It’s so perfect to have someone who has already been a part of the family to walk me through this,” he says. “She’s great for advice, and not just on work stuff. She gives me advice all the time on life. Listen to your wife. It’s always a good idea [laughs]. But with this team, I feel like I can ask any questions, and everyone was welcoming and straightforward.” Novlan and Ewell’s real-life love story sounds like it could be part of a soap, too. “It was technically kind of a setup because we both starred in this music video for an Australian band [circa 2009],” he relays. “The band is called Sick Puppies. It was one of their first hit North American releases. The name of the song was called ‘Maybe’ [which can currently be viewed on YouTube]. So, that’s how we met, on this music video at 3:30 in the morn- ing in the high desert [of California], which is where I met the woman of my dreams. We were very professional on set, but there was definitely something special about her — and I held her sunglasses for ransom. We were shooting outdoors and locations were changing and the makeup lady accidentally took our sunglasses home with her. The next day she called and said, ‘I have your sunglasses.’ I went and picked them up. I saw hers sitting there and thought, ‘I’ll give these to Kayla,’ so I snagged them and I said to her, ‘Lunch and your sunglasses?’ Luckily she took the lunch, probably just to get her sunglasses back.”

The rest was history, and the duo has worked to navigate the demands of their chosen profession. “The job sometimes involves distance and being away from one another, and there is also the time away that certain projects can require,” he points out. “It can be difficult sometimes but the trick is, we try very hard to make sure our schedules coordinate so we can be with each other. We have a two- to three-week rule where if one of us is away working for that long, you have to fly out and see the other. It’s almost like a must. And with our new baby, Poppy, we’ll definitely make sure that’s the case. But that’s the beauty of a having a great job like B&B. Luckily, I’m here. I’m local in L.A.” Novlan’s mom, a B&B super-fan, couldn’t be more thrilled about her son’s new gig. “My hometown has 500 people in it,” he explains. “I come from a very small farming community so even just coming home was a shock to her, but she’s cool. Kayla is so down-to-earth that none of that mattered. But believe me, my mother is chomping at the bit to come and visit the set of B&B as soon as COVID [passes]. That may be the real challenge, like, ‘Mom, you can’t wander onto the set. You’ve got to stay over here.’ That’s going to be a great day when it happens.”

Novlan credits his mother’s influence for getting him from Saskatchewan to Hollywood. “My mother was originally from Sacramento so I always thought it would be great to come and work in the U.S.,” he explains. “I started doing some print work in Canada so that’s how I originally came down, but I fell in love with acting as my immigration papers were being processed. I went to acting class here but I never could I have imagined having a career in film. But when I came down here and got a taste of it I was, like, ‘Wow. I’m hooked. This is it.’ ” But he admits he had no idea what he was in for. “My first job was a commercial for T.J. Maxx, back to school,” he recalls. “It was the first audition that I had ever been on and I got it and I thought, ‘Well, this is easy!’ I quickly learned there’s a lot of training that goes into it. So, I came here quite green but over the years, I’ve been able to call it a career.”

Over the next decade-plus, Novlan landed high-profile roles in MODERN FAMILY, ROSWELL, NEW MEXICO, the TV rom-com MY BEST FRIEND’S CHRISTMAS and the upcoming PUCKHEADS. He’s up for a ROSWELL comeback, schedule permitting. “There could be a chance that we might see Gregory again,” he notes of playing the caring brother of series regular Tyler Blackburn (Alex; ex-Ian, DAYS et al). “I know ROSWELL has been picked up for a season 3, and the character has been pretty well-received from the fans, as well, which is always amazing and such an honor. You never know. It was a great experience, but right now, everything is about B&B. Even with COVID, we’re finding a really nice groove with maintaining safety while keeping that classic B&B look. It’s been pretty smooth, I’ve got to say. How lucky am I?”

Novlan

THE CW

“Sinn” City

B&B fans have dubbed Steffy and Finn “Sinn”, which is just fine by Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Steffy). “I told him this character is his own,” she says. “He’s not a recast, so I told him, ‘Make it your own and have fun with it. Even though we are eight feet away from each other in scenes, feel free to play with me. Let’s connect as much as we can in these scenes.’ He’s been great. He’s been absolutely wonderful on set and taking direction very well — and he’s a fellow Canadian so, of course, we hit it off immediately. He’s a really sweet guy and he can keep up with our pace. I think the fans will really like him.”

CBS

Just The Facts

Birthday: April 9 Hails

From: Paradise Hill, Saskatchewan, Canada

My Girls: Married to Kayla Ewell (ex-Caitlin, B&B) since September 12, 2015. They welcomed daughter Poppy Marie on July 16, 2019.

Novlan

Instagram

What The Puck? “I grew up playing hockey, and I like to play hockey once a week with a group of actors. We have these really intense games.”

All The Right Steff: “It’s time that Steffy meets a man with a new set of values, and a new version of what passion and love can bring. She just had her daughter and I think she’s ready. Finn seems to have her best interests in mind, and I think that’s a good thing for Steffy.”

Finn In A Nutshell: “Helping people is in his nature but he can get a little too involved, and that can also get him into trouble.”

Grandma’s Boy: “My grandmother is in Canada in a nursing home and the last FaceTime I got was from my mom asking me to help set up grandma’s DVR. They’re very excited about this, and it’s nice to know that my grandma gets to see me every day — and, she’s super-proud that I’m a doctor!”

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