'The Bold and the Beautiful': EP Bradley Bell Talks Thorne, Maya, Sheila and More
Shocks. Defections. Politics. It’s all happening on CBS’s The Bold and the Beautiful—behind the scenes! Exec producer and head writer Bradley Bell is here to answer our burning questions.
Your decision to recast the legacy role of Thorne with General Hospital star Ingo Rademacher was a jaw-dropper. What’s your thinking?
I’ve long admired Ingo’s clean and honest acting style. He also has real power that I needed because Thorne is coming back to the show to challenge his brother, Ridge [Thorsten Kaye], for Forrester Creations and for the attentions of Brooke [Katherine Kelly Lang]. He’s sick of being Ridge’s little brother and sick of the oppressive regime Ridge has been running. Thorne is fortified for battle.
What makes him so confidant? Thorne has never been an alpha dog.
We’re going to find out that he’s been working with Forrester in Milan and Paris and learning from the great designers of Europe. He’s been putting pen to paper himself, so he’s moving right into Ridge’s territory. At first, he wants to be a part of the team but, upon hearing about Ridge’s indiscretion with Quinn [Rena Sofer] and the ongoing disrespect Ridge has for Eric [John McCook], it motivates him to take Ridge on—fully and wholeheartedly.
Does he have Eric’s support in this?
He’s going to work for that support, and for everyone else’s support. He will point out that Ridge is only looking after his own kids. It’s all about Ridge’s line of the family and he wants the other people who’ve done so much for the company—Rick, Brooke, Katie—to be recognized. It can’t be the Ridge and Steffy Show anymore. Thorne has been through a lot of mourning and soul searching after the deaths of his wife and daughter and he’s come out of that with a newfound purpose and direction in life. He’s seen how fragile life is and he’s going to make the most of the time he has left. No more being reactive. Now he’s proactive.
How is Brooke feeling about Thorne’s return? They were once married but, compared to Ridge and Bill (Don Diamont), he’s fresh meat.
Brooke is thrilled he’s back! Thorne is such a nice, decent guy, especially in contrast to Bill. When Brooke and Thorne were married they were like best friends. He’s so easy to talk to. There’s no question there’s still an attraction.
Your two young leading men—Pierson Fodé (Thomas) and Rome Flynn (Zende)—suddenly up and quit. Will you replace them?
I have no plans to recast either role. When an actor leaves, it can really strip your gears but I will be bringing in some new characters. And we might see some favorites from the past. Casting is in progress.
So no Thomas means no Caroline?
That decision has yet to be made.
If you aren’t going to recast Zende where does that leave Nicole?
Reign Edwards has been busy with other projects [including a recurring role on MacGyver] but I love working with her. She’s incredibly talented on every level.
No promises, then?
I think Nicole still has great potential but it’s either recast Zende or they have a big blowup and Nicole comes back to LA with Zende in her rear-view mirror. I’m still wrestling with that one. I love writing for the whole Avant family. The actors are all so excellent and committed. I hope we can continue with these characters moving forward.
Maya (Karla Mosley) arranging for Nicole to work outside the country seemed highly manipulative, if not downright wicked. Was that the old Maya showing her teeth or just your way of working around the Zende problem?
We are not going to see Maya revert to her evil ways. Yes, she had underlying concerns that Nicole was too bonded to the baby, but Maya was just being protective of her family. A lot of people thought we’d play the story that has been told many, many times—that of the birth mother not being able to separate herself from the birth child.
But we thought that because you started to play it that way. Are you saying you didn’t?
Maybe Maya did orchestrate Nicole out of the country but she put her in a posh apartment in Paris and gave her and Zende great jobs. It was a terrific opportunity for Zende to further his career at Forrester International. I don’t think there was anything evil about it. It might speak to Maya’s underlying insecurities, but it was nothing horrible.
There’s a bigger Maya issue we should address—namely that she’s been pushed to the back burner and lot of fans are unhappy about it. She’s a landmark LGBTQ character and one of your crowning achievements. What gives?
I’ve come up with probably 20 [story] ideas but haven’t found the right one. We got great story out of Maya being transgender, and now she has transitioned into a happily married woman with a child and a wonderful life who has been accepted completely. That’s a great flag for her to carry until the next big story comes along—and I’m proud of it. The ultimate triumph is that she fits right in with everyone else.
Maya’s husband, Rick (Jacob Young), is also lost in the shuffle. Shouldn’t he be a power player?
Rick will also be inserting himself because he, too, has been pushed to the side at Forrester. There’s a revolution coming and it will involve Rick heavily.
You’re headed toward a sex dalliance between Bill and his daughter-in-law Steffy (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood). Why on earth would Bill do this to his son, Liam (Scott Clifton)—especially after almost killing the kid in that building implosion?
Bill runs his life like a mob king. He sees no boundaries, which is great for accumulating wealth, but that can really get in the way of the family. He and Steffy will immediately regret what they’ve done. They will feel very guilty about it. [Bill] does not think it’s OK to take his son’s woman, but there’s an undeniable connection between Steffy and Bill. He has feelings for her. She loves Liam but finds Bill fascinating, now that she’s been able to spend more time with him. Both men are sexy and alluring. It’s a story of darkness and light.
But Steffy siding with Bill seems really out of line here. Where is this coming from?
She thought Liam went too far in blackmailing Bill and recording his confession about the arson. That didn’t ring right with her.
But Bill committing arson did ring right?
Steffy is a rebel. She’s always been our biker chick, the one who is feminine and sophisticated and poised on the outside but a rough-and-tumble tomboy on the inside. She can excuse Bill’s behavior more easily than Liam can. This helps us get to know Steffy a bit more, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t true to Liam. Her commitment is to Liam and that will remain.
Explain this budding Sally-Liam romance. What does Sally do for him that Steffy doesn’t?
Steffy was born with a silver spoon in her mouth while Sally provides a cause for Liam. He fights for the underdog. He wants to support this woman who is doing everything she can to make it in the fashion business. Liam loves that Sally is independent and scrappy. He’s her white knight. He loves to play that role.
Do you think your new Spectra clan has been a success?
It takes a while to establish a family but, yeah, I think the Spectra group has been a great hit. Every actor in the group is spectacular. They’ve provided us with a necessary element for drama—the have nots. You can’t have a show with all wealthy people.
Where are you going with Wyatt (Darin Brooks) and Katie (Heather Tom)? Will this sex buddies thing turn into something more?
This has been a very surprising story. I know it certainly surprised Heather. She said to me: “I’m in lingerie every day and I love it! I only wish your father would have written this story for me on Y&R—when I was 20!” She and Darin are a lot of fun to watch. They have developed a wonderful charm and humor in their scenes, and they’re great kissers. I don’t know, does there have to be more? Why can’t we just have a couple who are friends with benefits? We’ll continue to explore this open relationship and celebrate a couple with no boundaries and open minds. It harkens back to the early years of Y&R where that show had relationships with no strings—not to say that no strings doesn’t sometimes present its own set of problems and complications. In this age of people hooking up via Tinder, we’re trying to be reflective of what’s going on. People are having a lot of fun out there.
Quinn and Eric teaming up to humiliate Sheila seemed so cruel that it left us siding with Sheila, which is weird considering she’s the devil incarnate. Why’d you play it that way?
Quinn and Eric had to teach Sheila a lesson. Words don’t always sink in with Sheila. She had to live it, feel it, and see the reality of the truth—that she will never be Eric’s wife. They created a bubble of hope for her and then they burst that bubble to make the point that she needs to move on. Sheila needed to see that portrait go up on the wall and then see it come down.
But after all the hoo-hah over Sheila’s return, why defang her so quickly?
We haven’t seen the last of Sheila. Until the next chapter, she is going to continue to work at the restaurant, continuing to hover. She always has a way back in. She didn’t shoot or kill anyone this time around. Yeah, she beat up Quinn but that was the worst that happened. Maybe she will find her way to a place where she can be a dynamic and positive presence in Eric’s life.
What about bringing on her daughter, Mary?
We’ve been considering that. We haven’t seen Mary in many years. We know that she was really under her mother’s influence as a young girl but now she’s all grown up. It would be interesting to see who Mary is now—and who Sheila is as a mother. [Laughs] It’s a frightening thought.
Kimberlin spoke at last year’s Republican National Convention. Now she’s announced plans to run for Congress. What will that do to your story plans?
The election is a year off, so there’s time to figure this out. We’ll have to wait and see how it might work. Kimberlin really enjoys being with us, and I have plenty of experience writing for actors who are juggling two jobs—just never villainess and congresswoman!
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