Ahead of The Bold and the Beautiful’s 34th anniversary, we had the chance to speak to the show’s newest star, Tanner Novlan.
The Canadian actor was born in Paradise Hill, Saskatchewan, and made his debut on the soap last summer as Dr. John “Finn” Finnegan. Novlan chats with us about being part of the first North American television production to resume filming admist a pandemic, the quick popularity of SINN (his pairing with fellow Canuck, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Steffy), a tease about Finn’s backstory, and some hockey.
It’s been a big week for Finn! He found out that he’s the father of Steffy’s (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) baby and he’s now engaged to Steffy.
It’s been a big week. Yeah, man… It’s nice to have a little bit of a happy ending on this show. It’s not very often that we get a sweet ending!
You’ve been on the show for barely year. You made your debut when the show was among the first to resume production during the pandemic. What was your audition process like?
Yes, this was pretty unique.
The audition process was, believe it or not, normal. I came in for a chemistry read with Jacqui. I believe that was on March 10 or 11, 2020, which I believe the day before [COVID-19] was declared a global pandemic and the NHL suspended their season, and everything started to change around us.
I didn’t really know if the role was going to continue and the producer said, “We’re taking a hiatus and we don’t know how long it’s going to be. We’ve got to evaluate everything.” I kind of sat on ice for a little while to see if it was going to happen.
Amazingly enough, our producing team worked well with the COVID guidelines and we were able to be the first production to be back out of North America in the new normal.
That was a whole new experience for everyone.
Everyone kept saying, “This is so different.” But it was just how it is for me! We’re doing all this dialogue with masks on and eight feet apart at all times. It is a little tricky building intimacy with a co-star and professing your love to them when they are eight feet away and shooting really tight! Lucky enough, we actors got the hang of it and the director is able to cut it and make those shots work.
You also lucked out because your wife (Kayla Ewell; ex-Caitlin Ramirez) was on the show before.
Yeah, Kayla is an alumnus of B&B! I was able to lean on her a little, especially during the audition process and she was able to give me some quick tips. Little did she know, a few months later, she’d be making a “secret comeback”!
She’s been playing my intimacy double, for Jacqui. This has been an interesting experience for her too – being back on those old sets, being wigged, and learning all the COVID rules. I’m so grateful to have her. Lucky enough, the same height as Jacqueline and we were able to continue with this storyline because it would have been pretty tricky otherwise.
Yes, you didn’t have to use a mannequin.
Yeah, I lucked out that way. Poor Jacqui talks to a mannequin a lot of the time with my jacket on. [Laughs]
She’s lucky that mannequin didn’t come alive like the other one!
[Laughs] Yeah, it’s really fun to see how this show started have some fun with it and lean into it. It’s been a really fun experience in an awkward and weird time.
Did you grow up watching any soaps? Was your family familiar with The Bold and the Beautiful?
Oh yeah, my mom is a die-hard B&B fan. When I first found out that I got the role, I had to keep it under wraps because she might have put it on Twitter, or something like that! She was really excited. My family dog’s name was Thorne! With an ‘e’! All the way down to the tee. She’s a big B&B fan and watches every single day. She’s super proud.
Let’s talk about that fandom… Soap fans can be very intense.
Usually, it takes a while for audiences to warm up to not only a new character, but a new pairing. B&B fans quickly jumped aboard for your character, and for SINN. What has that welcome been like for you?
It’s been really great. Unfortunately, with COVID and stuff, I haven’t been able to really interact with a lot of fans. But online with social media, it’s really fun to sometimes see the comments and everyone loves to predict where the storyline is going to go. The ins and outs. That’s a lot of fun for the fans to try and figure out where everything is going. Everyone has been really great. I love interacting with the B&B fans and that whole universe, it’s been really cool!
Within the year you’ve joined the show, your character has been part of a paternity twist and has gotten engaged. You’ve hit the ground running.
Yeah, that’s for sure. [Laughs]
Has it been overwhelming?
No. Luckily, I have a great cast. Thorsten Kaye (Ridge), Matthew Atkinson (Thomas), Scott Clifton (Liam), and especially Jacqui they are all veterans in that world and luckily, I won them over a little bit to give me tips along the way and I can bounce ideas off of them and work through this together.
The cast has been amazing, and the directors are great too. If I listen to them, I should be okay!
The engagement episodes have been fun to watch. Finn couldn’t just lead with “Yo, I’m the dad! Marry Me!” He asked her to marry him first and then told him he’s the daddy. What was it like getting the script and seeing that you were going to keep that cliffhanger going for a few extra days?
[Laughs] Yes, that’s kind of a theme we have with this. We’re on every day, so we do have to stretch some storyline out. But it made sense to me… Steffy was running away and here’s a guy who has put his life on the line and said, “I’m going to stick by you,” and trying to get through to her. She’s going to try to say, “Oh, you don’t have to do that.” She feels that “if you love them, let them go,” kind of thing.
I think he just wanted to hear her out and let her express her feelings and then he’d hit her with the big one. [Laughs] “It’s our baby, Steffy! It’s okay!” It was really fun.
Vinny was responsible for switching the paternity tests. Are we going to see some follow up with that? It was quite the fight scene with the two of them and Thomas.
Yes, I think we’ve got to explore that… What’s exactly going on there? For now, I think that’s more of Thomas responsibility. He’s taken that on. I like the kinship between Thomas and Finn. It’s been a cool arc for him to have some redeeming qualities and find a new voice in the show in that way.
For sure. Thomas has been against Liam forever and now he has someone else on his side. As viewers, it’s been great to see. Now two people are calling Liam out!
Yes, exactly! You are right. Finn has been able to kind of change the perspective of a lot of the other characters that have been in these storylines for a while now and there’s a fresh face to deal with. Maybe he doesn’t have all the knowledge of the past but sees the situation for what it is in the moment and I think that’s really refreshing for the B&B fans.
You guys had some intense scenes last year with Steffy’s addiction storyline. Which was also thanks to Vinny. I wonder when they’ll figure that out?
Yes, those were pretty intense days. Jacqui was amazing to watch and to feed off of her energy in that scene. Those were some really tough days, but also some rewarding days. It was a good message that maybe a lot of people can relate to, unfortunately.
What are your hopes for Finn’s backstory? I know he gave Steffy the engagement ring which belong to his mother. But we don’t if she’s passed. Your family’s been a fan of the show, so what if it’s revealed that Sheila Carter (Kimberlin Brown) could be Finn’s mother? That would really shake things up.
Yeah, it’s really fun to hear the rumours. That’s what’s been really rewarding for me, coming on as a new character that we’re really going to build out. We got a wedding to plan! And with weddings, comes family! So, we’re going to get to see some backstory on Finn – where he really comes from, which is going to be really fun to do and interesting.
That’s something we can all look forward to. Obviously, with Jacqueline’s maternity leave – did you guys pre-tape much or will there be a break between Finn’s appearance? Or can we expect Finn to interact with some of the rest of the cast?
We get to see him with the rest of the cast a little bit. I think this is great time for Finn and Steffy to relax for a minute. It’s been an intense few weeks! Maybe a little bit of break with the storyline, but again, we’ve got a baby on the way and a wedding to plan. There’s lots of wheels in motion! It’s going to get pretty intense again, I’m sure.
Have you still been able to work on Roswell, New Mexico?
Yeah, we have had a little bit of hiatus and I’ve been able to shoot [Roswell, New Mexico; where he plays Gregory Manes] in Santa Fe and do some episodes on that show, which has been really fun. I get to switch it up a little bit and work on a different production, and then come back to the B&B family. It’s been really fun.
You’ve referenced hockey twice in this interview. That was not lost on me… I’m a Montreal Canadiens fan.
I’m an Oilers guy! Although, I live in Los Angeles now [Novlan was born in Paradise Hill, Saskatchewan], so that is my second team. I always think that you should cheer for the team in the city that you live in. Support the city. I’ve always loved the Kings, too. Even with saying that, if they play the Oilers, I’m cheering for the Oilers.
You did a pilot called Puckheads, which was about a hockey team.
Yeah, that’s really cool! We shot that in Chicago where the Wolves [an AHL team]play, which was really fun. I still play hockey once a week with the guys – well, there’s been a pandemic, so I haven’t been out there since. This is actually the longest that I’ve been off the ice, in my whole life! Hopefully, I can still do it! We’ll see. [Laughs]
Thorsten’s a hockey fan as well! He’s a fan of the Detroit Red Wings. Do you guys get into it?
Yeah, all the time! Ken Holland is the GM of the Edmonton Oilers and used to be with the Detroit Red Wings. Thorsten’s close with him. So, I’m always picking his brain, “What’s going on with the Oilers? What’s next, Thorsten?” He doesn’t tell me anything either… I’ve got to talk to him about that!
It’s really fun to shoot hockey talk with him on set. It’s really cool!
Thank you for your time, it was great speaking with you!
Any time! Go Habs, man!
The Bold and the Beautiful airs weekdays on CTV2 and CBS. Canadians can also stream B&B on CTV.ca, the CTV app, and on Crave.