By: Markos Papadatos, Senior Editor
Acclaimed actor John McCook (“The Bold and The Beautiful”) chatted with Markos Papadatos about his coveted 2022 Emmy win for “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.”
Walt Disney once said: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” John McCook of “The Bold and The Beautiful” is living proof of this wise quotation by the cartoon legend.
This marks McCook’s first-ever and long-overdue Emmy win. “It was pretty exciting,” he exclaimed. “I was surprised at how it affected me. I am still very proud actually that I won an Emmy and that I got it for this story that we told last year and I am very happy.”
Portraying Eric Forrester
He has played the iconic role of patriarch Eric Forrester on the hit CBS daytime drama “The Bold and The Beautiful” for the past 35 years. From a global standpoint, the show is the most popular soap opera in the world.
McCook is drawn to his character for many reasons. “The best thing I like about it is that I have played him for 35 years,” he said. “I like that he is pretty much a good guy and a family man. I enjoy his relationship with his son, Ridge, I love that. I just find him amusing that he keeps stepping into the place where his need for affection and sweetness often gets in the way over the past 35 years. Other than that, I think he is a great guy.”
He opened up about working with Rena Sofer and Jennifer Gareis (Donna Logan) in the current storyline on the show. “It’s great. I’ve had intense, emotional scenes to play with Rena over this last year, and before that, it was all about our love story and being in love with each other. Rena and I had to deal with the marital conflict that happened with Eric and Quinn, and that really engaged our acting chops, and it was fun to do that with her,” he said.
“Moving into this new beat with Jennifer is how much different and lighter it is. I am very interested to see where Donna and Eric go together as a couple. I am very interested in the future and what they are going to be like. I am hoping for an evolution of some kind for the both of them,” he said.
On his favorite storylines over the years, he reflected, “I like every storyline that I have been involved in. I like it when it was revealed that Stephanie discovered that she was a huge bigger owner of the company than Eric had ever let her know, that was a pretty powerful moment.”
“Another favorite storyline was Eric realizing that Ridge was not his blood, he was not his biological son, and Stephanie lying to him all over these years about who the father of that boy was, that was an amazing revelation. All of these big drama moments are always the best ones,” McCook elaborated.
When asked how he handles being dialogue-heavy (memorizing a great number of pages of script each day for all of these years), he responded, “I am cool with that. That’s one of the skills that we all develop. It’s like muscle memory. We learn it well enough to do it once. If you ask an older (80-year-old) English actor to do a monologue from ‘Hamlet’ that he did when he was 28 years old, he can still remember it. That’s long-term memory, doing theater since he would have to do it every day and he would have to know every other person’s lines too.”
Regarding his career-defining moments, McCook said, “Doing big musical comedies early on gave me a huge amount of confidence such as playing a character in a musical like ‘Man of La Mancha’ or ‘Oklahoma!’ or ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ when I was in my late 20’s or early 30’s. That gave me the confidence that an actor needs.”
“Also, seeing yourself be good on camera makes you very proud and happy. When you see yourself not as good as you thought you are that’s when you learn things about how to calm down as an actor,” he added.
The digital age
On being an actor in the digital age, McCook remarked, “That’s fun, isn’t it? My wife, Laurette, and I are laughing so much right now. On my Instagram page, she and I recorded a clip in the limousine, and it has over half a million hits since it’s timely. It’s amazing.”
“The digital age is incredible. I sit in my dressing room and talk to a camera for a minute or so, and we communicate with fans in that way. It used to be fanmail and letters but now it’s instantaneous communication with the people that watch the show. We get a huge amount of positive feedback, and that is really interesting,” he said.
Advice for hopefuls
For young and aspiring actors, he encouraged them to “just do it.” “If you don’t have an agent, get one. If you don’t have experience yet get in a play or do something that people can see you in. You need to be on your feet doing it as much as you can. If there is no theater in your town, you need to move to a place where there is theater. That’s how you learn, by doing.”
On the key to longevity in the entertainment business, McCook said, “Don’t get sick. Treat yourself well and enjoy it. There is a lot of anxiety these days. Acting needs to be fun, and I have been very lucky. What I have been doing is really fun and enjoyable. In my mind, if it isn’t fun it is too hard. I vow to enjoy it.”
Regarding the title of the current chapter of his life, McCook revealed, “Slow down… but just a little.”
He lives by the following motto: “Try to enjoy this because this is what you’ve got.”
On the greatest lesson that the acting profession has taught him, he said, “it’s about listening.” “You need to listen as an actor to the other character and that makes you interesting. In real life, you need to listen to each other so we can tell how we feel,” he explained.
The soap vet furnished his definition of the word success. “I think it means being calm. Peace of mind. If you have calmness in this life, you have succeeded.”
For his loyal and long-time fans, he concluded, “I am grateful that everybody watches the show. My gratitude is that our show reaches so many people and that they are so enthusiastic about it, that’s the fun of it.”