In much the same way his character Carter in The Bold and the Beautiful would, Lawrence Saint-Victor has been taking the pandemic in his stride. We spoke to him about his life right now, what to expect from the show in October… and oh, those mannequins…
It’s life – but not as they know it. Lawrence gives us the low-down on what living in LA is like at the moment, how everyone is coping and how a wedding on The Bold and the Beautiful (Eva, DStv channel 141) this month is going to really shake things up.
The Bold and the Beautiful has been taking extra steps to prevent actors from contracting COVID-19. One of these is using mannequins in love scenes, and that has caused quite a stir. What has it really been like?
Uh, you know, the kissing scene was strange and funny. We all got a riot out of it and our wonderful director that day really helped me, saying: “Lawrence, you gotta get in there!” What was more challenging was when Carter and Zoe are having lunch in the office and Carter says all these heartfelt things to her, but the table in the office isn't long enough for us to be in the scene together. So I had to be heartfelt and really try to connect to Zoe, but I'm not looking at her, I'm looking at a mannequin.
This must all be testing everyone’s acting abilities to the limits.
Yeah, but because those obstacles are there, it's weird – it almost makes you super-focused, super-aware.
It’s incredible how the directors and special effects team then make things look so real.
Man. They blow my mind. I sit there and watch them do movie magic and it'll look as though we are literally standing face to face and I'm, like, that's amazing!
The Tonight Show host Jimmy Kimmel picked up on a TikTok of you in a love scene with a mannequin and it’s gone viral. How did it feel to be the centre of a social-media storm?
It was like a pebble rolling down a mountain full of snow. It didn't start off big. Then a friend of mine on Twitter said: “Hey man, is this you?” Then the TikTok thing went boom! I think it's had 1.6 million views, that clip. Then Issa Rae commented on it, and then it was like, oh wow, this is really taking off. Then Jimmy found it and that was the second wave. But you can't take yourself too seriously, I thought it was all fun.
How have you been finding things otherwise in these strange, strange days?
My sister's a nurse in New York, so she's been amongst it – right at ground zero of the pandemic. And my son [who is two years old] is good. He’s adapted really well to the fact that we have to socially distance ourselves from people. So I really can't complain when it comes to how crazy things have been, although they have been crazy.
Having a nurse in the family must have meant you really understood what was happening on the frontline.
We were hearing the worst-case scenarios way before it really affected California. I was hearing awful stories. So I was aware and that made me super-cautious and concerned before it really hit us the way it did.
Are you finding that people are still being cautious or has it petered out a bit?
I think 98% of people are being cautious. Then I'll go into a Target or a grocery store, and in my head I'm, like, there's always going to be one in here, no mask or mask down. There's always one! All we can ask is for us to do the best we can and it may not be perfect, but it’s a start.
Let's talk a little bit about Carter. You've been playing him for quite some time now. What would you say are his strengths and weaknesses?
I think Carter's strengths and weaknesses are one and the same. He has a strong moral compass. He’s a good guy. He just naturally believes the best in people. And I think that's also a weakness. Although he is a lawyer and is very worldly, he's seen everything and has experienced so much, but he still approaches things with this almost innocent, optimistic point of view.
You can be blindsided by that, but that's just his nature. Michael Jordan once said something in a documentary that I thought was perfect for Carter. He was about to shoot a shot in practice and a guy says: ‘There's no way you can think you can make this shot.’ And Michael Jordan was like: ‘Why would I think I can't make it? I haven't shot it yet.’ That's kind of Carter's mindset. Why would I lose when I haven’t tried? Which is great, but can also be a problem.
There’s a big wedding coming up in the storyline in October, between Hope and Liam, and a lot of drama goes down. You must have witnessed a good few weddings on set in your time on the show. What’s it like?
They are actually really exciting because we’re all on the set at the same time and that doesn’t happen a lot. You mostly see only the people you work with the most, you know, but we all actually like to hang together so we get shouted at by the producers a lot and told to stop playing around, but we can’t help it. I mean, it really is a family. It's so much fun.
One of the central storylines has been Maya’s revelation that she is transgender. How did you feel when you first found out that was going to be part of the storyline, knowing it is quite a controversial topic?
At first it was funny, because for many, many episodes she has this secret and we [the cast] are like the audience. We don't know what it is until we get the script. Karla, who plays Maya, knew beforehand, but she wouldn't tell me. When the script was finally released and I read it, my jaw hit the floor. I was completely surprised. I did not see that coming at all.
Did it all make sense to the storyline?
My first thought was: ‘Does this track?’ I started to think about all the other episodes with Maya for the past two years, and when Karla and I were talking about it, all of a sudden, this story filled in a lot of the blanks as to why she has been so mysterious.
How did you manage Carter’s reaction?
It was very exciting to be able to tell this story, because they let every character have their own authentic response. Rick, who you would assume would be the more aggressive one, actually surprises her by being loving, and Carter, the level-headed one with the good moral compass, is the one who's really upset by it. I felt honoured to play the role and we were very careful not to make light of it or to offend anyone.
It’s been an extremely interesting year so far. And in the US, in particular, there’s so much more to come. What are your hopes for the country going forward?
I think for better or worse, everything happens for a reason. And I really do hope and pray that we can learn from this time of uncertainty – of political uncertainty, of racial tension, of sexism in the workplace and gender inequality. I hope this very uncomfortable time paves the way for us to just reassess and create a new normal going forward.
The Bold and the Beautiful is on weekdays on Eva (DStv channel 141) at 17:30 and 23:30 with an omnibus on Saturdays at 16:00 and Sundays at 23:00.