In the second-ever episode of The Bold and the Beautiful, John McCook often stood several feet apart from scene partner Susan Flannery in order to shine a light on the malaise that had crept into the marriage of their characters, Eric and Stephanie. Today, McCook says that actors are staying apart from each other for different reasons.
John McCook: A Whole New Soap World
“On our show,” McCook shared on BBC’s In the Studio, “even before COVID imposed these protocols, our body language [was] minimized.” The drama would cause characters to sometimes make physical moves, but McCook says “We’ve taken that stuff out…it’s harder to shoot [when you’re moving around a lot]. More mistakes can happen.”
So now BB’s blocking is even more simplistic than it used to be. “We come out and we stand there and we talk and the scene is over,” McCook notes. “That’s all we do – talk. We don’t ride in cars, shoot guns, run up and down hills, or chase each other in alleyways.”
While in some ways it may be easier, McCook says that because actors must stand eight feet apart, it’s more difficult to do what soaps do best… namely, to show an emotional connection between characters. “My first day back was a scene with five people in it,” the Daytime Emmy-nominated star shares. “That becomes complicated.”
Everyone on the set wears masks and stays six feet apart… and while shooting scenes – when the masks come off – they add an extra two feet to the distance for increased safety. “I was in a scene with my [TV] son [Ridge, Thorsten Kaye] and his [wife, Denise Richards, Shauna] who were on the other end of the room.” McCook quips that he couldn’t hear them, not only because they were so far away, but also because “I’m an older actor!”
He adds: “It’s frustrating to have to be cued. It takes me out of the scene.” The good news is that since then, McCook has mostly done only two-person scenes. “And those have been just fine,” he says. The Bold and the Beautiful airs weekdays on CBS. Check local listings for air times.