Kimberlin Brown Returns to ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ as Supervillain Sheila Carter
She could sell a space heater to Satan himself: Consummate con artist Sheila Carter—one of the all-time great soap supervillains—returned to CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful in a shocktastic cliffhanger episode on June 9.
Yep, Kimberlin Brown is back, baby! And TV Insider has the exclusive interview.
Brown: My gosh, did you ever think we’d be speaking again?
Well, I never lost hope, but who knew it would take this damn long! It’s been 11 years since you last appeared as Sheila on The Young and the Restless, and nearly 14 since she was seen on B&B. What got you back on the CBS’ radar?
I don’t know for certain, but a few months ago I was invited to be in the big CBS Daytime group photo [commemorating the network’s 30 years at number one], and that’s where I ran into [B&B executive producer] Brad Bell. Who knows? Maybe seeing me again sparked something in him. All I know for sure is that I am very excited to be back!
Word is, the security measures B&B used to keep your return a secret have been pretty intense.
I was listed on all the scripts and call sheets simply as “Jane,” and I would enter CBS through a rear entrance in complete secrecy with a hat so big it covered my eyes and my cheekbones. And every time I was shooting—or anytime a character would mention Sheila—they’d black out the feed throughout the CBS building.
When I wasn’t on the soundstage, I was basically under house arrest in my dressing room. I was not allowed to leave it at all. They brought me food. A couple of weeks ago I was a bit under the weather and they even sent out for chicken soup. So it’s been kind of fabulous being waited on! But now that I’ve finally hit the air I am looking forward to walking into CBS without being “Jane.” [Laughs] Secrecy is exhausting!
And so much harder to maintain these days. Since you last played Sheila there’s been a little invention called social media.
I’ll admit that I’ve had to tell quite a few white lies to keep things quiet, even with members of my own family. Some of them have heard I’m back to work, and they’ll call and say, “Ooh, have you returned to one of the soaps?” I simply say, “No. It’s actually a primetime gig and I’ll let you know about it when I can.” I was taking no chances whatsoever!
Sheila gets away with murder. Literally. Why would B&B’s old guard—Eric, Brooke, Ridge—let her back into their lives? They know there is no limit to her evil.
You say Sheila has committed murder and gotten away with it, only she hasn’t. She hasn’t gotten away with anything, and that will come to light in the next few episodes. She’s actually done her time in prison and is trying really hard to rehabilitate herself and become a good person.
Wink, wink. You’ll have to wait and see exactly how it plays out, but the scripts are very exciting. Is she completely rehabilitated? Well, rehabilitation is an ongoing process. Is there an occasional slip into her past anger issues? Maybe. But Sheila is really, truly trying to change things, and that’s going to be the interesting thing this time around. It’s the old Sheila with a new twist. She is legitimately struggling with her past behavior. You’re going to see her try to be the person—the good person—she really wants to be. And part of her rehabilitation is making amends to the people she’s hurt. That’s a big part of the story.
So why is her first stop Los Angeles? She’s got even more and greater amends to make in Genoa City!
Sheila has never been stupid! [Laughs] Maybe it’s easier to start with the characters on B&B and work her way up the list. Why not start in the city with the man—Eric Forrester—that she thinks is the most likely to forgive her? John McCook and I are having so much fun with this reunion. We just giggle all day long.
And I really love that I’m finally getting a chance to act with Heather Tom [Katie]. We share the same manager, and we’ve known each other forever, and we’ve worked on a couple of shows at the same time, but we’ve never had scenes together. I used her dressing room when we were both on One Life to Live. In our early days at Y&R, I would take her to work because she wasn’t old enough to drive yet. That’s how far back we go. I’m also working with Dick Christie, who plays [security guard] Charlie Webber, so it’s been “Fun with Dick and Jane”!
Hmmm…shades of Sheila and security guard Mike Guthrie.
I loved working with Ken Hanes! That’s one of my fondest memories of being at B&B, plus all those scenes I had with Susan Flannery [Stephanie].
Other soap supervillains can be very theatrical, but Sheila always played it low-key, even when she was at full boil. Was that purely an acting choice, or is it just not in you to get hammy?
For me, playing evil has never been about being bitchy or over the top. I’ve always felt that less is best, so I keep it matter-of-fact and understated. But I do have a few moments coming up where…well, let’s just put it this way: You shouldn’t touch Sheila when she doesn’t want to be touched. [Laughs]
What, in your mind, is the worst thing Sheila’s ever done?
I will never forget the day I got a script at Y&R that said Sheila was going to cut off baby Scotty’s birthmark. I got a call from [producer] Ed Scott and [Y&R co-creator] Bill Bell saying, “You might want to lay low for a couple of weeks after this airs.” And they were right, because the phones at CBS lit up like you wouldn’t believe. Sheila’s done a lot of horrible things, but nothing topped that.
And now baby Scotty has aged—by what appears to be 30 or 40 years—and he’s back on Y&R.
I saw that! And he’s so adorable!
You really took your lumps for speaking at last year’s Republican National Convention. Did you worry how that might affect your career in ultra-liberal Hollywood?
I honestly thought I would never act again. People who know me well were negative at the get-go without even hearing what I was at the RNC to talk about. I wasn’t there speaking as a conservative. If anything, I consider myself an independent, though I don’t agree with a lot of what independents have to say.
I was asked to speak on behalf of small business and women in business. [Brown owns a California avocado farm]. Small business is what keeps our country running, and the rules and regulations that have been placed [upon us] have made it incredibly difficult to survive. But the second they announced I was speaking, I was declared a homophobe and a racist. It was even said that I was going to KKK meetings. It was a real eye-opener. It’s amazing how people decide that they know you based on the venue where you’ve chosen to voice your opinions.
Even some of your most hardcore fans bailed on you. How did you handle that?
It was heartbreaking. I had a lot of fans saying they’d never watch me again, but I also had an enormous group that stood up for me and reached out to me and gave me the strength I needed. Even though some of them didn’t agree with me on the presidential candidate I chose to back, they agreed with my message. I am so grateful for the ones who stuck with me.
If you had the chance, would you do any of it differently?
No, because what I had to say was reality. It was about what I deal with every day as a business owner. It was the truth. As far as the freedom of speech issue goes, I’m tired of people telling me what I can and cannot say, and telling me what is politically correct and what is not.
Well, you can’t get more Democrat than Brad Bell, who was a major fundraiser for Obama. He’s also married to Colleen Bell, who was appointed by Obama as his ambassador to Hungary. Clearly, he didn’t have an issue with your RNC appearance.
When Brad and I talked at that CBS Daytime photo session, I could see he was not disappointed with me. He was not disappointed with my message because he actually listened to it. He had watched the speech and understood that it was not politically based. It was business-based, and he is a businessman. I am very happy that he heard my words and didn’t hold any of that against me and that he wanted to hire me again. I am teary-eyed that Brad was brave enough to take this chance.
The Bold and the Beautiful, Weekdays, 1:30/12:30c; 12:30 PT, CBS