Interview

Rodney Van Johnson On His B&B Stint

Rodney Van Johnson, best known to soap fans as PASSIONS’s Russell family patriarch, T.C., tells Digest he couldn’t have been happier to add B&B to his resumé. “I’ve always wanted to be on BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL because everyone wants to be on B&B,” he chuckles. “Because it is bold and it is beautiful and so your ego says, ‘Yeah, I want to be there. I think I’m bold. I think I’m beautiful [laughs].’ It was great to be back in the environment of soap operas. It’s a hard job. It’s a challenging job but it’s also as an actor, it is a very rewarding job, and I really enjoy that.”

Van Johnson, who plays Sheila’s attorney, instantly hit it off with her portrayer, Kimberlin Brown. “We laughed a lot, let’s put it that way” he relays. “I had never worked with Kimberlin before and she is such a rock star. She is so professional, and so funny! You can see someone on television but when you meet them in person, that’s when you see what they’re really like and she is just such a funny, cool person. I hope we get to do it again and again and again.”
Despite the fact that it had been 15 years since his Harmony gig, Van Johnson quickly acclimated to the pace. “It was like riding a bike,” he shares. The lay of the land was also familiar, as the actor played Y&R’s Trey from 1998-2000. “Since Y&R is across the hall from B&B, I knew a lot of people. I knew where I was going. It felt like home being back in the studio. I was so grateful to be there, and once the camera rolls and you get into that moment, it’s there. It just comes back.”

Despite the fact that it had been 15 years since his Harmony gig, Van Johnson quickly acclimated to the pace. “It was like riding a bike,” he shares. The lay of the land was also familiar, as the actor played Y&R’s Trey from 1998-2000. “Since Y&R is across the hall from B&B, I knew a lot of people. I knew where I was going. It felt like home being back in the studio. I was so grateful to be there, and once the camera rolls and you get into that moment, it’s there. It just comes back.”

With his former co-star, James Hyde (Jeremy, Y&R; ex-Sam, PASSIONS), toil- ing in Genoa City, Van Johnson made a surprise visit. “James is my best buddy,” he says. “Our kids grew up together. We see each other all the time. We fight all the time. We compete all the time. So when I was working, I text- ed him and said, ‘Yo, what’s going on?’ And he’s like, ‘I’m working. I’m too busy to talk. I’m at Y&R,’ and I asked him what [dressing] room he was in, and I went up and saw him. We had such a great moment. It was great to be working on the same day.”

As for PASSIONS, the actor has mixed feelings about his 1999-2007 run. “I enjoyed the supernatural things that went on,” he recalls. “I had a brand-new kid, my son Quincy, but what I didn’t enjoy was being the angry Black man. That really took a personal toll on me because I had to gear up for that kind of energy. I would have to drive one or two hours when I left work just to calm down because I was so hyped up from being this angry Black man on the show. But I was grateful. I was grateful to have work. I was grateful to be the patriarch of my family, and that was amazing because you don’t get those opportunities very often. But honestly, it was extremely psychologically stressful because I had to deal with that anger…. I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. It made me who I am today, but there were challenging times playing that character.”

Though soaps haven’t really been on his radar since, Van Johnson has been involved in the genre, most recently through GH’s Avery Pohl (Esme). “I used to run track with her father years ago,” he explains. “He was a high jumper. Now he’s a dentist. We became the best of friends. One day, Doug, Avery’s dad, called me and said his daughter was in L.A. and she wanted to be an actress, so we met. I ran through everything with her [before her GH screen test]. We talked about all the camera angles and movement. She read it and she was amazing and I said, ‘You have it.’ All she had to do was focus, which she did spectacularly, and she got the part. She is going to be a star!” And now that he’s dipped his toe back into the daytime pool, Van Johnson is also ready to shine again. “Absolutely!” he enthuses. “I would love to work more on B&B. My first day there, they put me in a Hugo Boss suit. I was fly. I looked good. I felt good. It’s such a great vibe over there that just feels good.”

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