Exclusive: Hillary B. Smith Teases Bold New Role, Looks Back on OLTL's Emotional Series Finale
When TVLine spoke exclusively with Daytime Emmy winner Hillary B. Smith about her upcoming role on CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful, she could hardly contain her excitement. “I could have gone on that show as a janitor and I would have been happy,” she gushed.
Fortunately, Smith – best known for her lengthy run as Nora Buchanan on the late One Life to Live — joins the CBS soap on March 8 as the far more integral Dr. Stacy Burton, who though not a custodian will still have some messes to clean up — seeing as she is a psychiatrist specializing in sex therapy.
Here, the daytime TV vet gives us a glimpse into her Bold new venture and reveals what she really thought of OLTL‘s swan song.
TVLINE | What drew you to the role of B&B‘s Dr. Stacy Burton, sex therapy specialist?
To be perfectly honest, what drew me to this role was the opportunity to work with [executive producer] Brad Bell… and that’s basically it. [Laughs] I also have a lot of friends that work on Bold and the Beautiful and [CBS sister soap] Young and the Restless, but I just have a great admiration for the Bell family and a great respect for Brad and what he does, and that for me was enough. I could have gone on that show as a janitor and I would have been happy to have the experience to work with him. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Were you actively looking to return to work so quickly after One Life to Live wrapped?
I had no intention of really doing anything and just wanted some downtime. We wrapped [One Life to Live] on Nov. 18 and as you know we were supposed to continue online. But when that fell through I was kind of secretly relieved from a personal standpoint. I could actually spend the holidays not worrying about a schedule and then come out of the holiday not exhausted. It was really kind of lovely to have that opportunity! And then the call [to join B&B] came out of the blue — I wasn’t anticipating it. It was like, “Wow, yeah, this sounds like fun! I’ll do that.”
TVLINE | Can you pinpoint anything in particular about Dr. Stacy that appealed to you, after playing the same character for the better part of two decades?
I think any role would be a good fit for me after all those years playing Nora! [Laughs] However, I’m thrilled that she’s a doctor because I know [OLTL exec producer] Frank Valentini used to say that it was too bad Nora wasn’t a doctor because I know so much medical terminology. I started my soap career as a nurse [on The Doctors] and now I’ve graduated to a doctor — after being a lawyer! — so this is great.
TVLINE | Do you know who you’ll be working with on Bold and the Beautiful?
I have not seen a script yet, but Brad called and gave me a little thumbnail sketch of who I’d be working with and what I’d be doing. I’m going to be working very closely with a contract player and helping them deal with a crisis, so that works for me.
TVLINE | B&B seems to be the most sexual of the soaps, and you’re playing a sex therapist… That would seem to keep you pretty busy.
Hey, if they all need sexual therapy, I’m thrilled! I think they all need to have therapy, and they all need to come to Stacy Burton.
TVLINE | What kind of feedback have you received from fans? I imagine they’re eager to follow wherever you go.
You know, I went on Twitter because I’m on a web series, Venice, and they wanted me to promote it there… and I’ve actually developed some fan friends, or “frans” as we call them. They were all very excited and thrilled that I was going to be back on the air, where they could tune in and see me. Isn’t that lovely? I’m very blessed with loving and encouraging fans.
TVLINE | Speaking of, will you be sticking with Venice during your new venture?
Yes, I will.
TVLINE | Did your previous experience with a web series make you more confident in One Life to Live‘s deal with Prospect Park?
I didn’t quite understand how they were going to do it. I don’t understand how you can raise money for something that doesn’t have a proven revenue point… but you know what? It’s none of my business how they were going to do that. Just give me the script, tell me when I’m going to show up and I’ll be there to bring that character to life. I was nervous and concerned about it at first, so it took awhile for a deal to be hammered out, and then when it all went away I was so sad. I was sad for the fans, that they had it cancelled again on them — that’s the hard part. So, it was very bittersweet saying goodbye. And then when this offer [for B&B] came through, it was like, I guess we all move on.
TVLINE | How were you feeling the day OLTL‘s finale aired?
I was in New York at [an Upper West Side sports bar] with a bunch of the cast and crew and there were times during the episode that I just started to cry, and others when I laughed out loud. At one point I had tears streaming down [my] face — especially when Woodsy [Robert S. Woods] and I say goodbye to each other [on camera]. That was really Woodsy saying goodbye to Hillary and Hillary saying goodbye to Woodsy, and that was tough. Just remembering the day we shot it all, you know, was sad. We just looked around the room and wished everyone well and hoped we’d see each other again. But lives move on. Actors are supposed to be nomadic by nature, but we found ourselves forming a family — dysfunctional albeit, but a family nonetheless — and then suddenly our family was gone.
TVLINE | How do you feel about the way One Life to Live wrapped things up? Was it a fitting conclusion, in your eyes?
I think there was unfortunately a lot of running around and fixing things. They had an ending in mind and then Prospect Park bought the rights and they changed a lot of the ending so that it could continue… So, that was very difficult and was probably really hard for [headwriter] Ron [Carlivati]. And then when the rug got pulled out again [when Prospect Park canceled their plan], they had from Thanksgiving until it aired [in January] to move things around and try to get some sort of closure. I think they did a remarkable job considering how the ending was supposed to go and how it did go. I tip my hat to them.
TVLINE | So, there was supposed to be a different ending for Bo and Nora? They actually seemed to receive the most closure.
There was something else that we shot in case the show went on, but it was very easy to hack off — and so they did.
TVLINE | And now here you are, about to start shooting Bold and the Beautiful. Any nerves about stepping onto a new set after all these years?
You know, it’s not nerves as much as it is excitement. I can bring out the old jokes and they’ll have never heard them. [Laughs] I have great respect for the cast — I’ve worked with Scott Clifton (Liam; ex-Schuyler, OLTL) and Heather Tom (Katie; ex-Kelly, OLTL); I’ve known Don Diamont (Bill) and worked with Susan Flannery (Stephanie) as a director — and I can’t wait to get there and just do. It’s nervous anticipation. I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, am I not going to know my lines?” [Laughs] I want to do justice to the show. It’s a great series and I’m very happy to be a part of it, especially to be a part of the Bell legacy.