InSession: ‘B&B’s’ John McCook Reveals Thoughts on Thorsten Kaye’s Ridge; Discusses ‘Conflict’ For Onscreen Father/Son Duo
Multiple Emmy-nominee Thorsten Kaye won the hearts of soap opera audiences with his strong portrayal of “All My Children’s” Zach Slater, “One Life to Live’s” Patrick Thornhart and “Port Charles’” Ian Thornhart, but can the actor strike gold again as Ronn Moss’ replacement in the role of “The Bold and the Beautiful’s” Ridge Forrester? It won’t be the first time an actor has walked into the shoes of a major character whose previous portrayer is very much loved in the role, but then again, these aren’t just any old shoes to fill! Soap Opera Network caught up with Ridge’s onscreen dad, John McCook (Eric Forrester), who’s not only been working with Kaye as Ridge since day one, but who’s also quite familiar with the father/son dynamic the two characters have established over the years. Read on to get his take on the bold recasting choice, how he views Kaye’s approach to the role and what’s in store for Eric and Ridge in the weeks ahead!
If you thought you were surprised to hear that executive producer Bradley P. Bell had made the very daring choice to recast the iconic character of Ridge, whose previous portrayer (Moss) had played for a quarter of a century, you may be interested to know that McCook had you beat! “I didn’t think they would do it,” he reveals wide-eyed. “I thought they would cast a man, a 50-year-old man or a 48-year-old man, to play a new character. But I didn’t think they would recast Ridge, and they did. And it was a ballsy choice, man. A ballsy choice to do it.”
As far as McCook is concerned, casting Thorsten in the role was as smart of a move as the powers that be could have made under the circumstances. “I salute the recasting process and Brad’s choices,” he says. “They chose someone with skill and talent, and he comes in with a lot of gravitas and a lot of authority to play the part. And he’s curious about everything. I’m playing his dad, and he’s saying, ‘What are we doing? Would that be ok?’ And I’d say, ‘Yeah, that would be ok,’ or ‘No, that’s not ok, because blah, blah,’ and he’s really interested [in the history of their relationship and Ridge’s history in general].”
However, the actor says that the one thing that’s missing so far is conflict. And it’s the number one ingredient that he says is needed in order for Kaye — as well as himself — to create absolute magic. “Thorsten and I were just filming a scene and I said, ‘We need conflict together, because if you don’t have conflict, what do you have?’” he explains before teasing: “[Kaye] has been playing all this love stuff for Brooke and concern for Katie (Heather Tom); he’s between those two ladies, and he’s seen what happened between them and he disapproves of how Brooke treated Katie and feels sorry for Katie. So Katie is being treated like a woman by him, by a sensitive guy, and she’s now drawn to him, and [I explained to Kaye that] the men in love relationships on our show have a tendency not to choose [between women], not to be adults.’”
Kaye’s response to the unfolding of this possible love triangle? “He said, ‘I would like to come to my dad and say, what the hell am I going to do? And be a man about this and say, Come on, help me!’” McCook recalls. “And then we’d have something for Eric, for him to go, ‘What are you doing, son? Pull yourself together and commit to somebody!’ That’s conflict.”
In fact, the actor notes that his alter ego’s relationship with Ridge isn’t the only place lacking a special something these days. He believes his character as a whole has been on the verge of Snoozeville for quite some time. “My complaint for Eric Forrester is that since Stephanie [Susan Flannery] has been gone, I have no conflict. That’s missing,” he explains. “I have Donna [Jennifer Gareis] who loves me, and Pam [Alley Mills] who loves me… and I have Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang), whom I love and am concerned about, and I have my kids, whom I love and care about, but I don’t have any conflict. And it’s boring for the audience in the end, and it’s boring for the actor, too, because [the audience] goes, ‘He’s the nice guy.’ There have been these characters on television, on soaps especially, and they’re almost always older… who are benign, and I don’t want that to be Eric.”
Given that, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess what McCook’s wish is for Eric in 2014: More conflict! And hopefully, as he tells SON, the upcoming material for Eric and Kaye’s Ridge will help provide that. And if it doesn’t? He says the material in which Kaye appears is likely to be must-watch TV, anyway. “You can’t surprise a guy like that,” McCook notes of Kaye’s strong skills as an actor. “He’s humble about [his presence on the show], but aggressive about the work and aggressive about wanting to get it done and accomplish something great.”