TBT

#TBT - Katherine Kelly Lang

KKL

Credit: JPI

This interview originally appeared in the November 2, 1999 issue of Soap Opera Digest.

Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke Logan, The Bold and the Beautiful) has always loved animals, especially horses, but perhaps in the past few years she has particularly liked them because they don’t talk. An original B&B cast member, Lang has now logged 12 years on the swank and glossy show without significant back-burnering, and has had three children (ages 9, 6 and 2) whom she primarily takes care of herself. Her favorite form of relaxation has been to climb on a horse for as long as 10-20 hours and engage in cross-country endurance races of 50-100-mile durations. Out on the trail, lulled by the rhythmic gait of an Arabian horse, she seeks solitude from her fulfilling but cacophonous life.

“I do need that,” says Lang, expansively, punctuating the point with a tired little laugh. “With the kids, my husband, the work and the stress of everything, it’s always a go, go, go. [Riding] gives me a moment where I feel like I can breathe, and just not have any dialogue. It’s a clearing moment when you’re out there alone, with the wind blowing through the trees. You just kind of meditate. I’m not alone otherwise, and I think everybody needs that. I know I need that. Otherwise, I’d go absolutely crazy.

Of course, it is called endurance “racing,” which implies there are other people involved, and someone is going to win. They just don’t have to talk to one another. “You’re with other people on the trail, if you’re riding in a pack,” Lang confirms. “Sometimes you end up alone because you get up ahead of people, or you’re behind. I like riding alone, actually, without people around me. But it depends on how many people are in the race and how spread out they get. Sometimes a whole bunch end up racing to the finish. I’ve won a few races, and just about every time I’ve finished in the top 10. Usually I finish in the top five.” Lang’s interest in this sport dates back to when she acquired her first Arabian horse, in her 20s. “They’re a smarter breed,” she says, “and they’re known for their spirit and stamina. They’re smaller than thoroughbreds or quarter-horses, and their muscles are leaner and more fluid. They’re just gorgeous animals.” Lest you’re wondering how both animal and rider are sustained during such long treks, Lang says that there are vet checks for the horses along the way, and food and water for both the riders and the animals. “You lunch out in the mountains,” she says, “out in the middle of nowhere. I usually carry mine on my back.”

Lang comes by her athleticism honestly. Her father, Keith Wegeman, was an Olympic ski jumper who later became familiar to millions as TV’s Jolly Green Giant. “When he died, [the company] turned the character into a cartoon,” says his daughter, proudly. “They’ve never replaced him.” Lang was riding ponies when she was 3, had her own horse when she was 8, and did English riding and jumping throughout her childhood. She also engaged in a multitude of other sports, including gymnastics, and did lots of dance. “I loved everything jazz,” she expounds, “and I took ballet, ballet, ballet. Then, during my first pregnancy, when I was six months pregnant, I took up tap-dancing! It was so funny. I had never tap-danced before in my life. It was fun. I was out there tap-dancing until my eighth month!”

Lang spent her first three years of high school in Carmel, Calif., where they offered surfing as part of phys-ed class, so she was in her element. But in her senior year the family moved, and she graduated from the famous (or infamous) Beverly Hills High School. “I wasn’t happy there,” she remarks. “It was cliquey, and the kids were driving Porsches and Rolls-Royces, wearing Gucci shoes, carrying Gucci bags, and had attitudes. Academically, the school was wonderful, but I think I had one girl-friend and one guy friend, and that was it.”

Her mother, Judith Lang, was also an actress, who primarily worked in commercials and a few movies. The three Wegeman children did some commercials and print work, but none could be said to have had careers. “It wasn’t like being a child actress,” Lang explains. “I didn’t actually start in TV and films until I was 17. I don’t like how young actors get stuck on a series at an early age and the series becomes their life. They don’t have normal childhoods. They don’t go to school. They have a tutor on the set, and they grow up with older people, mostly, so they kind of have a false image of what life is. It’s sad, and usually the outcome isn’t so good.”

Which is probably why she initially resisted when her own pregnancy was written into the story and the producers later suggested she use her own son as Brooke’s. “They hired a teeny little infant,” Lang explains. “I was doing scenes holding this baby I didn’t know, and after three months or so I said, ‘You know, I’d rather be holding my own baby and doing scenes with him.’ By then he was older and I felt a little more comfortable doing that. We started using Jeremy, and he worked as my child for four years.” While having him on the set was distracting for Lang (she sometimes found herself reacting as “Mommy” instead of Brooke), Jeremy remembers it with great enthusiasm. “Whenever he sees a commercial for some toy or cereal he likes, he says: ‘Oh, I want to do that.’ And I say: ‘Jeremy it’s not quite what it seems to be. Why don’t you do a school play, just so you can see what kind of work goes into it?’” But you can’t keep them in the school auditorium once they’ve seen a soundstage, so to speak. “Oh, I don’t need to do that, Mom,” the 9-year old responds. “I was on a series for four years.”

When Lang began her “series,” the role of Brooke, as with many of the other roles on the show, was more of less generic, and not excessively delineated. “They didn’t really have a description of her,” she remembers, “and there were some characters that could have been interchangeable. You really didn’t know who was going to be with who until they saw people. I think they were just kind of seeing how everybody came together, how everybody fit.” What happened, of course, was that chemistry cast her as half of a dynamic couple –with Susan Flannery (Stephanie). “Susan is my favorite people to work with,” Lang says, unsurprisingly. “We have so much fun. She’s so professional and so intense. She brings different things out of different actors, and I think she helps them improve. She’s also a very good director. She directs sometimes on B&B.

The multiplicity and shading of Brooke’s character can’t all be credited to chemistry, however, or even just to writing. Much of it has to come from the actress herself. “I see Brooke differently than a lot of people do,” she says. “The fans either hate her or love her, but I personally see her as a good person. Sometimes she causes trouble, and gets people riled up, but mostly I think she means well. It shocks me when all people see is the manipulative side, because what’s so great about Brooke is she’s not one thing or the other. She’s a mixture. Brooke was the girl from the side of the tracks, and she’s made it to the other side. She owns 51 percent of Forrester, but sometimes that girl from the Valley creeps out. The best villains have a sensitive side to them, so you can feel something for them, even when they’re bad.” Lang’s mail reflects this inherent ambiguity, and ranges from those who root for Brooke to those who chastise her. As for being approached in public, Lang offers: “Nobody’s ever told me off, but somebody did warn me once. They came up and said, ‘Oh, Brooke, you’ve got to watch out for Taylor. She’s trying to get Ridge back.’”

While Lang admits there were times she struggled with burnout, now doesn’t seem to be one of them. “I used to go up and ask to have a day off here and there,” she recounts, “or ask them to slow down on the storyline. Things like that. But that’s normal for anything you do for a long time –and 12 years is a long time. We have two weeks in the summer and two weeks at Christmas, and that’s it. Sometimes I start doing dialogue I did yesterday, and I go, ‘Wait. Where’s that coming from?’ And sometimes the scripts are so similar it’s even easier to get confused. I’ve definitely had my burnout times, but I would get through them and keep going. Right now, I think I’m having the best time I ever had on the show.” So does she want to do it for another 12 years. “No,” she says quickly, but with a smile. “Flat out, no. I’m not saying I’m going to leave the show right now, but I’d like to use my outs (contracted time off) and be able to do a movie. I used to do that, and I would like to do that again, but I haven’t been able to concentrate on it too much. I’ve been concentrating on my family. I don’t really have help except an occasional baby sitter. I do most [everything] myself. I take them to school and pick them up. My plate is definitely full.”

Having a little girl after two little boys handed her some surprises, too. Like many others who have been through it, she didn’t expect gender differences to manifest so acutely. “I was shocked,” she says, somewhat incredulous. “The boys, even when they were just crawling, would pick up a car and go, ‘Vroom, vroom.’ Zoe cradles her dolls and rocks them to sleep. It’s so amazing.”

One of the outs Lang used was in 1994 when she won the recurring role of a female gunslinger in the series Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years. “I loved that!” she exclaims. “It was kind of like the character Sharon Stone played in The Quick and the Dead. I got to shoot guns, beat up guys, get dirty, have ratty hair, and ride horses. It was fun. I did five episodes, and then the show got canceled.

She is not, however, interested in directing or producing. “I don’t know how they do it. I don’t have the patience to tell everyone what they should be doing. I’d rather be doing it.”

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