You may recognize Pierson Fodé from the long-running CBS drama series The Bold and the Beautiful, but did you know he also has a serious passion for film? The Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List star chatted with us about his upcoming film It’s Time, playing Thomas on B&B, his obsession with Stranger Things, and more. Read on for our full interview with Pierson Fodé.
First of all, congratulations on your Daytime Emmy nomination for the Outstanding Younger Actor In A Daytime Drama Series!
Pierson Fodé: Thank you very much, I appreciate it! I’m excited!
The Daytime Emmy Awards are on Sunday – how are you feeling as the big day approaches?
Good! This is my second year being nominated, so I feel like the pressure’s off this time. I’ve already been in this boat, so I get to enjoy it a lot more and take it for what it is.
You’ve been playing Thomas Forester on The Bold and the Beautiful for a couple of years now, and you’re the third actor to take on the role. In terms of stepping into a situation where a character is already established, how have you walked the line between staying true to previous interpretations while also making the character your own?
You know, I think the big thing is to go back and do research, but in a way that you’re not doing a caricature of somebody. It’s always important to know what the character’s head space is and where his damage and his baggage come from, because once you’ve got where his head’s at and where he’s trying to go, that informs the rest of your acting. You try not to take on too many mannerisms from the other actors, otherwise it’s not your own piece. They moved on for a reason, and you’re trying to bring back a character with a lot of life and vigor and your own spin on it – something that the audience can adapt to while keeping some of the same intentions that the old actors had.
Being on a soap must keep you busy. How do you find time to work on other projects?
Haha, that is a great question! Normal TV shows shoot an episode a week, but we shoot eight episodes in four days, so our shooting schedule can be extremely grueling. But it becomes kind of like muscle memory after those first few months of doing it. The writers are really available and open to our schedules as far as going out and doing other projects and working on another film or TV show. They want us to go do that because ultimately, it brings back a fan base for them, so that’s been really cool for me. Currently I’m shooting a movie called It’s Time, and I have to literally leave the day after the Emmys to take a 6 a.m. flight out to finish this movie. The [B&B] writers were like, “Yeah, cool, go do it. We’ll move your episodes or write you out for a couple days, and then you’ll come back in with heavy dialogue and keep your story up.” It’s a lot of communication, but it’s been really fun.
It seems like some of the biggest differences between weekday soaps, weekly TV shows, and films are timeline, budget, and amount of content. You’ve worked in all three mediums, so what similarities and differences have you noticed, and do you have a preference?
I tend to lean toward indie film because there’s a sense of camaraderie on the set. If there’s a problem, everybody’s together and everybody is very intentional about solving the problem. On a TV show, it’s usually up to the network heads to figure out a problem, so there’s not always that fun process of getting involved and saying, “What can we do to fix the problem?” But each medium is incredible for its own reasons. TV is now hitting its golden age again with HBO and all these incredible cinematic TV shows. Soap reminds me a lot of theater in the way that we shoot and the way that we have to perform. That’s really fun, and it’s amazing training ground for anyone.
And with both theater and soaps, there aren’t really any do-overs. When you have such a tight schedule, you just have to keep it moving.
Absolutely, and if you forget a line [in theater], you’ve got to either save your scene or hope the other actor saves you. It’s the same with soaps; we only get one to two takes, and if you’re taking more than that, chances are you’ll see your last few episodes on that show! But yeah, it’s fun because it’s so competitive, and I enjoy that.
You have a long history with film and even founded a short film production company in high school. Can you talk a bit about that, and about your latest film venture, It’s Time?
I’d always been obsessed with making movies. I didn’t know what it was going to look like for me when I moved to L.A., but I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. Movies changed my life as a kid. I grew up on a farm that was so disconnected from the big cities of the world, and this felt like a way to touch people’s lives the same way that I was touched through film and TV. I started my own production company and made a series of short films, and so many of them were just awful but it’s so much fun to go back and watch them! The big transition for me – and what I’ve been working toward – is that I started writing again and working on my own projects with directors I’ve worked with in the past. That’s been a really exciting process and kind of a new way to express creativity and share stories.
To that, there have been other amazing opportunities like It’s Time. It’s an incredible movie. I’ve gotten to really be hands-on and dive deep into a character for the first time. I put on 45 pounds to play a football player! It’s Time is based on a true story that happened back in 1989 at an Ole Miss versus Vanderbilt game. My character, Brad Gaines, was catching a pass from his teammate at the three-yard line; he was about to make a touchdown when this young black kid, Chucky Mullins, comes up behind him and hits him square in the back. [Mullins] inadvertently breaks his own neck, and … that rocks Brad’s world and changes the lives of everybody who was at that stadium in a singular moment. Here’s Chucky, who’s the life of the school and such a charismatic person to have on campus, and here’s Brad, who’s a titan of a football player whose entire family were football legends, and both of their lives have been flipped. Brad is contemplating giving up his dream, and Chucky is now paralyzed. They create this really intense friendship, and through that friendship, there are so many things that happen.
Ole Miss had kind of a jaded past related to allowing the first black student on campus years before. There were riots and JFK had to send down his personal body guards to help protect this kid, and 30 years later, you have the same people who were part of these riots now giving every penny out of their wallets to help pay for Chucky’s surgeries and a home for him. There’s that redemption side of redeeming a whole part of the South and this school and these families, but on the other side of it, Brad’s life’s been flipped upside down. He feels this responsibility and weight, and the NFL doesn’t even seem like it’s within reach because why would you want to play a sport that affects somebody’s life like this? They create this incredible love and friendship, and to this day, Brad’s whole life is dedicated to remembering and honoring Chucky. It’s changed thousands of lives down in the South, and I got to be a part of that. I saw people walk up to [Brad] every single day and say, “Your story with Chucky moved me so much.” There’d be tears and hugs, and it was just an incredible experience.
And Brad’s son is actually in It’s Time as well, right?
Correct, yeah. He plays Brad as a kid. I got to run a couple lines with him, and we goofed around and threw around a football. We were playing two generations, so that was fun.
It sounds like It’s Time is going to be a really powerful movie.
Yeah, I’m super excited about it. I was honored to be part of it. And as far as the social climate goes, I think it’s the perfect movie to help heal wounds, so I hope it gets out there.
On a completely different topic, you threw a themed party based on Netflix’s Stranger Things a few weeks ago, which looked really fun! How excited are you for season 2?
Oh my God, you have no idea! I have my Stranger Things T-shirt, I’ve got all these things. I threw my birthday party at my manager’s house, and we’re going to have a Stranger Things opening night ceremony there as well. It’s gonna be amazing. I am so excited.
Speaking of Netflix, what are some of your favorite shows to binge-watch and why?
Obviously Stranger Things! It hits so many levels to me – it’s psychological, it’s sci-fi, but at the same time, it’s got this youthful energy that these kids bring. It’s the childhood you always wanted to have. I had walkie-talkies as a kid, and I went out with my friends and played Army and crawled around in the mud. We wanted superpowers, we wanted a friend with superpowers, so it’s fulfilling those childhood dreams of how exciting life can be.
I think a lot of people around our age really appreciate the throwback to being a child at that time.
Absolutely. And I got my parents hooked on it as well! They loved it, but my mom would scream at the scary parts! Well, she more or less screamed because I would sneak into the movie room and scare the crap out of her! But yeah, it just captures everything you want.
Any other binge-watching favorites?
Game of Thrones is just a go-to. Who doesn’t want Lord of the Rings with all the sex and craziness that is Game of Thrones? Mr. Robot was amazing, too. Rami Malek did an incredible job. He did so little so much of the time, and so much was said through his eyes. It was just captivating, and I felt like I understood what they were talking about because they said it in a way that didn’t make you feel dumb, which was a really cool writing technique. Also, The Night Of, which is about how the prison system can force somebody to change in a way that you would never expect even if you’re innocent. That was so intense and so good and so captivating.
Thanks to Pierson Fodé for talking with us – we’ll be checking our mail for an invitation to that Stranger Things opening night party! In the meantime, you can follow Pierson on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and catch him on The Bold and the Beautiful weekdays on CBS (check your local listings for times).